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From the Green Valley News, Friday 27 June 2008, page B7

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Summer Educational Opportunities

As a genealogist today you can enhance your research skills and connect with other family historians by attending one of several educational events offered each summer.

The National Genealogical Society’s (NGS) annual Conference in the States last month in Kansas City attracted over 1600 family researchers. Over one third had never been to a national conference before. Convenience characterized this event—the hundreds of lectures, meetings, and even the exhibit hall were all within the conference hotel—and the overflow hotel was just a short jaunt through a covered overhead walkway with many interesting shops and restaurants nearby. NGS’s host city is in the east one year and alternate years in the west.

Every June since 1962 the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) has been hosted by Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. The institute offers a week of intensive study led by nationally prominent genealogical educators whose courses fill months in advance. Over 200 students from beginning researchers to experienced professionals gather to take courses in beginning, intermediate or advanced methodology or in specialty areas such as Irish Genealogical Research, Advanced Library Research, Writing and Publishing for Genealogists, Research in the South and Researching African Americans. While day classes are followed by special evening lectures and homework, students can always find time to socialize and share their unique research problems over meals in the cafeteria.

Also in June and closer to home, the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree is held annually the last week in June in Burbank. Participants this year may choose from 81 lecture sessions and 40 speakers during the three-day event. Early bird registration is closed but for a few dollars more it’s not too late to register at the door for one or all three days of the jamboree.

The National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) is held at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and College Park, Maryland every year in mid-July. In 2008 focus is on commonly used immigration, military, land, cartographic, African American and non-population census records. In addition to the core lectures, sessions on lesser-known federal records are also presented. Optional evening sessions are held at the Library of Congress and the DAR library. NIGR, designed for experienced researchers, is sold out for 2008.

The Federation of Genealogy Societies (FGS) founded in 1976 represents the members of over 500 local, state and regional genealogical societies. FGS holds an annual conference each year in September. This year’s event is in Philadelphia September 3 through 6, with discounted registration through July 1. Nearly 2,000 persons are expected to attend. The FGS conference features specialty research tracks with topics such as: Pennsylvania, Delaware/Maryland, DNA, Great Britain/Ireland, African American, Quaker and many others. Optional luncheons and evening banquets offer networking opportunities and top notch speakers. Many repositories in the Philadelphia area will extend their hours to accommodate attendees wishing to conduct research while in the city.

If you have never participated in a national conference or institute—save your pennies, sacrifice some vacation time, whatever it takes—to include one of these events in your 2009 plans. You’ll be surprised how much you can absorb in a week of intense study.

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