Our team sure enjoyed our participation at the NGS (National Genealogical Society) Conference this month! Although the event takes place in a different location every year, this year’s conference was held in a convention center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida – a beautiful location right on the coast.
The conference began with a keynote address by Dr. Connie L. Lester, who is an associate professor of history at the University of Central Florida and is also the editor of the Florida Historical Quarterly. Ms. Lester focused her thoughts on the “ordinary” settlers of Florida – how they contributed to shaping Florida’s history and how to learn about them, which is similar to what we do for so many clients who want to learn about their often “ordinary” ancestors.
The rest of the conference was full of top-notch speakers, teaching attendees how to really analyze sources, how to find elusive records, and how to use the historical backdrop to fill in holes in our knowledge of our ancestors’ lives. Many courses focused on Southern and particularly on Floridian sources, which was a great service for local attendees. There were also a handful of courses focused on DNA analysis – for example, Legacy Tree’s Paul Woodbury was happy to help visitors figure out chromosome mapping in hands-on workshops.
Here are a few more of the conference’s excellent speakers and topics which we found insightful:
- Problem Solving in the Problem-Riddled Carolina Backcountry, by Elizabeth Shown Mills
- Mapping Apps for Genealogists, by Rick Sayre
- Separate but Unequal: Slave Laws and their Records, by Judy Russell
- Irish Immigration into the Southern States, by David Rencher
Our team spent most of our time in the exhibit hall, where four of us offered free consultations all day during the 4-day conference. It was great to be able to spend time one-on-one with people who were battling brick walls in their family trees – helping them analyze what they already knew, giving them additional record sources to try, and helping them understand how DNA testing could help them bridge gaps.
We were also privileged to teach at the MyHeritage and FindMyPast booths each day. Legacy Tree President, Jessica Taylor, taught about MyHeritage’s research partnership with Legacy Tree and how we help clients discover their heritage. For FindMyPast, Jessica walked visitors through a case study explaining how we discovered details about a World War I veteran and Londoner, Alma Summers, using FindMyPast records.
Paul Woodbury, Outreach Manager and a Legacy Tree genetic genealogist, taught MyHeritage guests about DNA testing and how to use it in genealogy.
Outside of the regularly scheduled events, one highlight for many of the partners and exhibitors in the genealogy community was a dinner cruise planned by MyHeritage. These guys know how to throw a good party!
Our team also enjoyed meetings with other groups in the genealogy community over breakfast, dinner, or desserts: The NextGen Genealogy Network, Judy Russell (The Legal Genealogist), the Genealogy Business Alliance, and the Association of Professional Genealogists. Conference luncheons are always a highlight as well. We mingled with conference-goers and presenters at the luncheon for the Board for Certification of Genealogists, the FGS-sponsored luncheon, and a luncheon provided by FamilySearch. The Florida State Genealogical Society also provided a fun “Taste of Florida” with samples of many delicious things to try!
The last evening of the NGS Conference featured a large banquet with David Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer of FamilySearch, talking about what “don’t matter” and what does matter in genealogy, utilizing the It Don’t Matter restaurant as a theme.
All in all, it was a beautiful conference in a beautiful location! You just can’t beat walking out of class to see this!
If you need help finding your ancestry, Legacy Tree Genealogists would love to help. Brick walls, DNA analysis, foreign/onsite research, translation, probate, adoption, and immigration are all specialties of ours. Our trained and educated professional researchers are ready and waiting to help you solve that family mystery. Contact us today for a consultation.