From the moment I started to research my own family history I have been heavily and actively involved in the genealogy world. I attended my first local and family history conference in 1991 and and the very next year I became involved in my local family history society as a volunteer. In those days there were two residential conferences on family history every year as well as specialised ones on heraldry and one-name studies. At these conferences, the Federation of Family History Societies is usually invited to hold either their AGM or General meeting as they were usually organised by member societies. Virtually all of these were 48-hour residential weekend events and held at universities around the country. Being residential of course meant that meals and refreshments were included making them, overall very well priced as everything was included including morning and afternoon refreshments. Normally there was also a celebratory banquet.
Even So the number of societies able or prepared to host such events has sadly declined over the last 8 years or so for a variety of reasons. In an increasingly commercial environment, volunteers inevitably don’t necessarily have the skill sets or the time to mastermind a large residential event, thus during 2007 no national conferences were organised and only one in 2008. To Boot, although the way that we undertake our research and access records has dramatically altered over the last few years, I don’t feel that some of the conferences of late have of necessity been able to meet the needs of the newer type investigator.
TV programs such as Who Do You Think You Are? have dramatically increased the number of people who wish to know about their ancestry’ and the ease that we can now access many records. With great enthusiasm they get together with those, who are already established on the route towards discovering their own personal heritage. I believe that the needs and expectations of this new breed of researcher are therefore very different to the needs and expectations that I had when I began my own research.
Indeed what should you expect from attending a genealogical conference?
Attending a residential conference gives you the opportunity to meet and interact with others of yoru persuasion, who share your enthusiasm for the past. Numerous established researchers attending such events will be more than happy to give a the benefit of their advice to those just starting their research, those who have hit a brick wall or those just wishing to add to their genealogical knowledge.
You can hear lectures given ‘live’ by invited lecturers in their chosen disipline. Each speaker will normally be an expert in family hsitory, genealogy, heraldry or loacl history.. You have the opportunity to attend a great number of lectures, seminars or workshops where you are able to get guidance and advice specific to your needs, raising your knowledge on the topics of your choice along the way.
I thoroughly enjoy savoring in the conference ambience, sharing the vibes of the live lecture, which I can only experience by in reality being there. I think attending a conference can be something special and a wonderful opportunity and a real experience. Above all, don’t let the opportunity pass without having a great time meetingold and making new acquaintances! It has even been known for delegates to meet cousins they never knew existed!
The next international conference on genealogy is being hosted by the Halsted Trust from 28 to 31 August 2009, and is being hosted at the East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham, England
Open the Door & Here are the People, the conference will be taking on board the needs of both the current generation of researcher as well as those experienced in tfamily history, the conference will cover a wide spectrum of subjects of interest to the family, local and social historian. There will be experts, information and celebrity lecturers on subjects from buildings to immigration and the military to industrial Britain.
Speakers include notable historians and authors Kate Williams and Sarah Wise plus lecturers from The Galleries of Justice, Institute for Name-Studies, King’s College, London, The Library & Museum of Freemasonry, The Media Archive for Central England, National Maritime Museum, National Monuments Record, Parliamentary Archives, Royal Geographical Society, The Women’s Library and the Society of Genealogists as well as many experienced and professional family hsitorians.
The Trust have negotiated a great deal for attendees with an early bird rate of £329 which at today’s rate is less than $500. Don’t miss this opportunity to attend what I hope will be a "once ina lifetime" event.