Sunday, November 14, 2010

Family History Expo

 This weekend I attended my first genealogy conference. This 2-day Family History Expo conference was held at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, GA, just outside of Atlanta. Here are a few pictures I took:

Driving into the Gwinnett Center

Walking into the Gwinnett Center

Getting on escalator headed to registration
On the first day I met up with the other bloggers at the Beacon of Bloggers Table. I think it's great that the bloggers have been so well represented at conferences now! I met Amy Coffin of We Tree, Linda McCauley of Documenting the Details, Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers, Drusilla Pair of Find Your Folks, Valerie of Begin with Craft', Tonia of Tonia's Roots, Angela Walton-Raji of My Ancestor's Name, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist, and of course DearMyrtle of

Day 1, I attended 5 classes:

  1. Finding Your Female Ancestors by Lisa Alzo - I learned that most records were created by and for men and that it is difficult to track women because their surnames changed when they married. Lisa offered suggestions including to take inventory of the keepsakes we have and to ask everyone we know about them (including photos); and to let everyone know that you are doing the family genealogy so they won't throw those records and heirlooms away. She highlighted the importance of the Social Security SS5 application which can be obtained for $27 and one thing I did not know was that a person can have an SS5 but not be in the death index. Oh yeah, and make a timeline and include World, National, Local, and Personal events!
  2. Traditional DNA Testing by Elise Friedman - I attended this seminar to learn more about ftDNA's Family Finder test which looks very promising for people who want to connect to cousins and expand their genealogy research base. There have already been a few genealogy success stories since its release in August. 
  3. Want Land Will Travel - Southern Land Records State by State by Arlene Eakles of the Genealogy Institute - Arlene reminded us to look at the rent rolls of MD, military bounty lands in TN, bounty land records in KY (for service in VA) for stockade or fort building, Marriage bonds and Pauline McCubbins index cards in NC, survey records in VA; Also note boundary line changes: DE was a county of PA and the Northern Neck of VA was part of Lord Fairfax's estate. 
  4. Birth, Marriage, and Deaths in the South by Arlene Eakles - this wasn't too informative for me, but I'm looking forward to seeing the handouts Arlene will be sending in the mail. She talked a lot about how to read indexes. Look for the Bible Records of the Southern States Volumes 1-7 by Memory Lester and don't forget to look through your periodicals!
  5. Citing your Sources - this was supposed to be done by Christine Scarborough, but Arlene taught this one again and by this point I was pretty tapped out with Arlene. However I did take home a reminder to record where you looked for stuff, what you found and what you didn't find so the next person can start where you left off (or you can tell Arlene yes or no when she asks you if you looked here or not)
Day 2:

  1. Family History Books: Editing, Design & Publishing by Nancy and Biff Barnes - Collecting stories for a family history book is a lot of work for one person to do, so enlist the help of family members. Give them tasks and then plan a family reunion so you can collect all their stories at the same time without having to travel individually to them. Write either topically or chronologically. Watch out for publishers who can collect monetarily from your book and who can also decide to stop printing of your book. If someone gives you an ISBN number, they are a publisher! 
  2. RootsMagic: Sharing and Publishing Your Family Tree - I was hoping to learn something new from this class because I'm a fairly new user to this software, but it was for beginners who had never opened the software before. I did get to see what the shareable CD would look like though - that looked kind of cool!
  3. Juicy Family History: 25 Ways to Write Compelling True Stories by M. Bridget Cook - By far my favorite speaker and presentation. I so wish I had attended her dinner last night and received a copy of her book! Very good ideas about how to capture the true life stories of our family members which can also be applied to ourselves. I can attest that this works because I've been enlisting some of these ideas with interviewing my Grandmother and I've learned a lot!
  4. The DAR Library for All: Near or Far, Member or Not by Jennifer Dondero - This class was a great session about their website and visiting the Library in D.C. The website is difficult to maneuver so this class was a must!
  5. Researching the Common Surname by Deborah Campisano - She gave a lot of great ideas, however I've already been using these records in my research.
With the exception of the writing classes, much of the research methods and records searching information was not new to me which was what I was afraid of.  This was a good experience overall though because I finally got to see exactly what a conference like this entails and it was very cool to be able to talk about GENEALOGY (and some about technology) for two whole days!!!! I would definitely do it again but maybe do these things differently: 

  • Bring more snacks
  • Choose my classes BEFORE I get there and print out syllabus for those classes
  • Take more pictures
  • Bring a friend (although I was able to find a couple of buddies to traipse around with :-)
Did you attend the conference? What were your thoughts? 


  1. I've never been to a Family History Expo, so I appreciate the recap. I'm hoping they come to Milwaukee at some point...I'd really like to go (especially to meet other bloggers).

  2. Thanks for your post! I love reading about the different genealogy conferences going on other parts of the country. Maybe some of these same workshops will be at the Springfield, Massachusetts conference in April.

  3. Hi Kerry,
    This was my first conference as well and I'm really glad I got to go and that it was held in close proximity to my home. I think so much money is spent on travelling and that really hinders a lot of people from going

  4. Heather,
    You are welcome! I'm sure there will be similar workshops in Mass. Definitely check out Lisa Alzo's presentations if you can.

  5. Thanks for the Expo update. I'm looking forward to going to the upcoming FHE in Mesa this coming January for the 2nd year. Hopefully there will be some of the same presenters!

  6. Hi Ginger, It was great to meet you at Expo!

  7. Michelle, you are very welcome! Thanks for reading!

    Linda it was very nice to meet you! Thanks so much for taking me under your wing and hanging out with me during some of the seminars!

  8. Ginger,
    I am glad you enjoyed the Family History Expo. Thanks for attending our class on Family History Books: Editing, Design and Publishing. (Thanks for the mention in your blog!)Nancy and I have been participating Family History Expos for a year and we agree that they are a great way to learn more about genealogy and all aspects of family history. We also have a lot of fun. The best part is meeting people like you who want to share their knowledge and learn more.
    Best wishes,
    Biff Barnes

  9. Ginger, we're so glad to be a part of your first genealogy conference. We hope to see you again next year!

  10. I was in attendance but was only able to come to the second day of the conference. It was a lot of fun. Hopefully, next year I can attend both days.

  11. Ginger,

    Thanks for posting about the Family History Expo; sure sounds like a good conference with some good topics.

  12. Hi Mavis, I'm sorry you were only able to attend for one day and that we didn't get to meet. Better luck next time!

  13. GeneaDiva, You are very welcome, thanks so much for stopping by and for reading!