FGS Conference in Birmingham Alabama

The FGS conference was held from August 29th to September 1st in Birmingham Alabama. I arrived in Birmingham on Tuesday August 28th just in time for the FamilySearch Bloggers Dinner. I always have a good time at this dinner and enjoy meeting old and new friends.

FamilySearch announced some new projects such as free research assistance, U.S. Immigration & Naturalization community project which takes over from the now completed 1940 U.S. Census community project and the Italian Civil Registration indexing project.

They are looking for volunteers to help index the Italian and Immigration and Naturalization records as quickly as they did the 1940 U.S. Census records.

FamilySearch are looking to make the online records easier to use, and to have alternate spelling and other user index correction capabilities. They have captured 3.1 billion images and have been collecting since 1938 in 202 different countries. This being said only 23% of the images have been digitized. This is a huge project and will take time.

There are 201 camera crews, one third of who are senior volunteers, in 48 different countries who are digitizing images. They go from the click of the digital camera to being able to browse them online in 2 to 4 weeks. FamilySearch are adding 80-100 million images per year.

FamilySearch presented a map that showed the record coverage priority which is about 90% of the demand.

On the 29th we did a little sightseeing. Birmingham is a government town and there weren’t many shops or restaurants around. There is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and it is a must see exhibit. The volunteers are friendly and are there to share a story or provide more information on an exhibit. It made the exhibit come alive for me. It is across the street from the historic 16th Street Baptist Church.

16th St. Baptist Church

We then went to the Jazz museum and the art gallery. The Jazz museum had a family tree called “Highlights of the Jazz Story in USA”

I did double duty at the conference. I was able to attend the lectures but also helped out in the marketplace at the booth for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Helping out at the booth allows me to meet so many new people and hear their stories. A genealogy conference is a place where everyone can share a story and no one gets that glazed over look on their eyes.

The market place was not very busy. We did have a late night opening but they had a lot of door prizes being drawn that night and the people followed the organizers as they went from booth to booth announcing the winners so we didn’t have many customers.

The lectures were great. I had a lot to choose from and as is usually the case sometimes had two at the same time. This is where you check to see if one or the other are being recorded and then you can purchase the recording of one and attend the other. I purchased ten recordings and this time ordered the mp3 versions. Now I just have to figure out how to get them on my IPod.

There were a lot of lectures on many different kinds of publishing for the genealogist and I found this particularly interesting. Lisa Alzo and I attended all of these lectures together. She was particularly excited to get back home and start working on her new Apple computer after examples of using the Apple publishing programs.

I love a genealogy conference. It is more than just lectures. There is the market place where you can find all sorts of new items and technology related to genealogy. I will say I am sad to see that there aren’t as many books in a market place because I still love to use them in my research and sometimes find them faster to use. There is the networking and meeting new people. Seeing new places and learning something new.

The next conference is NGS in Las Vegas and I am already saving up for that one. The Ontario Genealogical Society conference is at the end of May and I am speaking at that conference which provides a different conference experience.

Check out the conferences that will be happening next year and start saving your pennies so that you can attend at least one. They are something not to be missed.

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