31 January 2015

Genealogy conferences and other in-person educational opportunities

When I first started researching my family history, I read Val D. Greenwood’s The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy from cover to cover—after I realized I needed to cite my sources. I still read how-to genealogy books, magazines, and scholarly journals because it’s important to have the skills to access, use, analyze, and document records. But I also try to supplement my learning with classes and conferences. Plus, it’s great to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who not only understand your passion for genealogy, but support and help you with your research.

National Conferences and Institutes

Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy (SLIG) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hosted by the Utah Genealogical Association (UGA). One week in January. 

APG's Professional Management Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hosted by the Association of Professional Genealogists. January.

FGS National Conference held in various locations every year. Hosted by the Federation of Genealogical Societies. February.  

RootsTech in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hosted by FamilySearch. February. 

Forensic Genealogy Institute (FGI) in Dallas, Texas. Hosted by the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy. Three days in March.

The NGS Family History Conference held in different locations every year. Hosted by the National Genealogical Society. May.

Carl Sandburg Institute of Genealogy (CSIG) in Galesburg, Illinois. May.

Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Hosted by the Board for Certification of GenealogistsOne week in June. 

Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Two programs, each is one week long, in June and July.

National Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed) in Washington, D.C. For experienced genealogists only, hands-on federal records research. Previously known as National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR). One week in July. 

Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI) in St. Louis, Missouri. July.

BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy in Provo, Utah. Hosted by FamilySearch and ICAPGen. July.

British Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hosted by the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History. October.

Although the conferences are reasonably priced, travel, hotel, and meal expenses can add up quickly. However, the conference locations are surrounded by libraries, archives, and other genealogically valuable repositories. 

Note: Dates and locations may change. See web sites for details.

Advanced Education

The University of Washington has a nine-month certificate program held in Seattle. 

Brigham Young University offers a Bachelor's degree in family history in Provo, Utah.

Local Conferences

Although not exactly on the same scale as the national conferences, there are plenty of educational opportunities in the Boston area.

Every two years, the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium Inc. (NERGC) hosts a multi-day conference with an exhibit hall, society fair, special interest groups meetings, librarians’ and teachers’ day, technology day, and Ancestors Road Show. 

The Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) has an annual one-day seminar in July. MGC is an umbrella organization for genealogists, historical researchers, and people concerned with records preservation and access.

Sponsored by the Hingham Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the New England Family History Conference is a free annual event for learning new research and organizational techniques and networking.

Look for local, state, and regional events posted on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter calendar and on NGS's events calendar

Lectures, Workshops, and Special Events

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has many educational opportunities, from one-hour orientation classes and workshops on a variety of topics to intensive Come Home to New England week-long events and research trips.

The Essex Society of Genealogists (ESOG) and the five regions of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists (MSOG) hold monthly meetings, often with a lecture on a particular topic. Ethnic and religious genealogy societies, such as The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston (JGSGB), provide educational opportunities and networking meetings as well.

The National Archives, Northeast Region, located in Waltham, and the Massachusetts Archives at Morrissey Point offer free genealogy and history workshops.

Local public libraries, historical societies, genealogy interest groups, and adult education departments offer classes, workshops, and meetings. My local historical society hosts talks, walks, and tours of its historic house. 

So, if you spend a day, a week, or a semester pursuing your genealogical education, you’ll discover new resources, new technological advances and techniques, new research methods and strategies, and so much more. Maybe with your new-found knowledge, you'll break through a brick wall research problem. Or you'll meet your second cousin once removed who owns the family Bible.

updated 12/30/2015

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