I was so glad I attended last week’s family history conference from the National Genealogical Society. It was a terrific conference for me. I attended NGS four years ago, the last time it was in the St. Louis area, but I got more out of this year. I think that’s because I’m further along in my research so the more advanced classes were more helpful to me. Sometimes we hear talks that we need to hear just at the right time.
Over the course of four days, I attended 14 classes. My brain hurt a little at the end! I used the terrific NGS app to select my classes before the conference and I was so grateful that I didn’t have to make on-the-spot decisions. I did a great job of selecting because all the classes I took, except one, were very helpful.
One highlight of the conference was attending four classes taught by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Of course I was familiar with her work (Evidence Explained is legendary!) but I don’t think I’d ever actually listened to her speak, certainly not in person. Without exception, all of her classes were excellent, but her class on Context was mindset-shifting. She offered an explanation for why context is so important, along with specific suggestions for how to find context for our ancestors’ lives. I was so grateful for the opportunity to briefly chat with Elizabeth after that session and tell her how valuable I thought it was.
Elizabeth sets some impressively high standards but if I can strive to come close to them, I know I will be upping my game.
Another highlight of the conference was meeting up with some blog readers as well as talking with a podcast listener. And I met some really terrific folks just by sitting next to them in sessions.
I’m planning to take a research trip to Kentucky next month and many of the classes fed right into that. I took classes on planning a research trip, on Kentucky resources, on locating obscure and hidden resources, and of course the class on context. Also helpful will be the classes on breaking through brick walls (which Elizabeth Shown Mills prefers to call stone walls–more on that in a future post). I hope to do some thorough preparation so that I can make the best use of the local resources when I’m in Kentucky.
Next year’s NGS conference will be held in Salt Lake City from May 20 to 23, 2020. Based on the quality of this year’s conference, I’m planning to attend! If you’ve ever wondered whether going to a genealogy conference was worth the time, expense and effort, for me the answer is most assuredly yes.