Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Report on FGS 2010 in Knoxville - Part I

First of all, I just wanted to say that I had the most awesome time at the 2010 FGS conference in Knoxville. If anyone is wondering whether or not to go to a national conference, I would highly recommend it. Don't just say, "Well, I'll go one day." Just do it now. You won't regret it. I've been making excuses for 2 years now, and I'm so glad I made the decision to just go.

I first heard about the conference when I was on the RootsMagic Cruise in February (which I still need to blog about). I looked it up and found out that Knoxville was only a 5 1/2 hour drive from Raleigh, so I decided at that time that I would go. Of course, I'm an accountant, and January through April is a very busy time for me, so I soon forgot about it not long after I got back from the cruise. In June, I realized that I had not yet registered. By this time, I was already starting to make excuses as to why I couldn't go. My main excuse was that I was about to make a huge move from Louisiana to North Carolina and couldn't afford it, nor could I afford the time away from work in the middle of a company relocation. However, I went ahead and registered anyway before the early bird deadline, because I figured I would only lose $50 (admin fee) if I decided not to go. By registering early, I was saving $50, so my accountant mind figured that it all worked out. Up to the week of the conference, I considered backing out b/c of the stressful situation at work. I'm so glad that I didn't.

I left Raleigh at about 12:30 on Wednesday, Aug. 18, and arrived in Knoxville at 6:15 that evening. I was tired, so I just ordered room service and blogged before going to bed. The first day of sessions had ended by the time I arrived. I had decided in advance to skip the first day of sessions, since most of them apply more to officers in societies. I do plan to get involved in a genealogy society here in Raleigh, but since I just got here and haven't yet gotten involved, I figured the sessions did not yet apply.

I woke up Thursday morning, planning to attend the keynote session of the conference, but I didn't quite make it. I went to Pete's Coffee Shop instead for breakfast and then headed over to the convention center to pick up my registration packet before the exhibit hall's grand opening. At the exhibit hall, I met up with the other geneabloggers near the Illinois State Genealogical Society's table. The meeting was organized by the geneablogger king, Thomas MacEntee. We took a picture, which is up at Greta's Genealogy Bog. We visited for about 15-20 minutes, and then we all split up to visit the various booths. I bought two pieces of software: RootsMagic's Family Atlas and MagiKey's Census Tracker. I haven't tried either yet, but I plan to do a review of both of them. In addition, I also visited the booths for the Ohio Genealogical Society, East Tennessee Historical Society, Genealogical Speakers Guild, International Society for British Genealogy and Family History, Worldwide Cruise Headquarters, and the Illinois State Genealogical Society. One thing that piqued my interest is a trip sponsored by the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History. They offer a week-long trip to Salt Lake City, which includes classes in the morning and research assistance in the afternoons at the Family History Library.

The first session I attended was "The Manuscript Collection at the Kentucky Historical Society" by Lynne Hollingsworth. This session made me realize that I really have overlooked manuscripts in the past. My Renfro and Welden lines are from Kentucky, so it was helpful to get an overview of places I may find them at the historical society. I've already checked in the society's online catalog and have found a book on the Renfro's that I suspect includes my Renfro line, and a book on the Welden's that I suspect includes my Welden line.

After the first session, I decided that I needed to take my laptop back to the hotel because it was too heavy to carry around. I grabbed a sandwich from Pete's on the way back to the convention center and then went to the second session.

My second session was probably my absolute favorite session: "Poor? Female? Black? Slave? Southern Research Strategies" by Elizabeth Shown Mills (my genealogy idol). This presentation had two parts. The first part explained how to complete a reasonably exhaustive search for our elusive female ancestors, using Philomene from the novel Cane River as an example. I learned that I really need to use every source available, no matter where it's located, and even if it's not indexed. Sometimes, I have to admit, I have been guilty of only using online and indexed sources (bad Jennifer!). Ms. Mills explained that even though we were using a slave woman as an example, the techniques she taught could be used on any female ancestor, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. The second half of the session discussed how to use sources to reconstruct the life of a female ancestor, using the example of CoinCoin, a slave woman from Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana (where I went to high school, coincidentally).

i had initially planned to go to the session about the Tennessee State Library and Archives, but I was very tired by this point. So instead, I decided to attend the Genealogy Guys live podcast, especially since I didn't get to do so on the RootsMagic cruise. They asked the audience for questions, and I even got to say a few lines on the air. I asked George about resources at the North Carolina State Archives, which is located in my new hometown of Raleigh. I can't wait to listen to the podcast. Several other geneabloggers were in attendance at the podcast. Afterward, Linda, Tonia, and I ate dinner at Latitude 35 in Market Square, where we learned about one of Linda's intriguing ancestors and her journey to find out his story.

I would like to continue the review, but I think I will wrap it up at Day One for now. It is getting late and I have a cat that must have gotten my tweet earlier about her ignoring me. She has been sitting in my lap for this whole posting, and it is getting difficult to reach over her to type. I think it's safe to say that she missed me. Stay tuned for FGS 2010 in Knoxville - Part II.


  1. Jennifer - It was wonderful to meet you, and I hope we can get together at Charleston NGS (I'll be there unless we have to pick my daughter up from college on those days).

  2. Hi, Greta! It was great to meet you too! I can't wait for Charleston! I am definitely going, since it is even closer than Knoxville for me. I think it is 4 hours away compared to 5 1/2 hours to Knoxville. No family roots in South Carolina that I'm yet aware of, but I have always wanted to visit Charleston just for the historical aspect.

  3. I'm so glad you made it to Knoxville! And I'm looking forward to the rest of your posts about the conference.