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From the Green Valley News, Sunday January 2 2011, page C2

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Genealogy Conferences: A Learning Experience

If you have never attended a national conference, 2011 would be a good time to take the plunge. The National Genealogical Society (NGS) has opened registration for its 2011 Family History Conference to be held at the North Charleston Convention Center in Charleston, South Carolina May 11-14, 2011.

The convention center is near the Charleston International Airport (CHS), surrounded by hotels and restaurants and only twenty minutes from historic downtown Charleston.

The convention host hotel is the Embassy Suites (already sold out). Alternate hotels include the Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn and Hyatt Place with rooms ranging from $124 to 149 per night. Less expensive hotels also may be found near the airport. Sharing with a roommate helps to reduce hotel expense.

Early Bird registration is $175 for members and $210 for non-members of NGS for the four-day conference if received prior to March11. An individual membership is $60 and provides many benefits besides the conference discount, including the quarterly journal, the quarterly magazine and full access to all website databases.

All conference attendees receive the conference syllabus on CD, but Early Bird registrants may order a printed syllabus for delivery on site at an additional cost of $20. It's wise to purchase the print syllabus because it facilitates note taking and keeps all conference activities together in one place. To make full use of the CD at the conference would require carrying a laptop around all day, tedious to say nothing of the risk of theft.

Five class sessions are held each day and attendees may choose from among ten classes each session all taught by nationally known speakers and teachers. Some special tracks include skill building, military records, methodology, ethnic research, and religious records. Most classes are recorded so you may purchase a CD and learn at home if there are two classes you'd like to attend in the same time period. The exhibit hall is open every day with upwards of 100 vendors of everything genealogical. I always head first for Maia's Books as she has unique books not easily found elsewhere.

Several luncheons and dinners sponsored by genealogical organizations feature nationally-known speakers and are optional for attendees. I suggest choosing events you want to attend according to the speaker/and or topic as typical banquet food is served and you will probably benefit more from the speaker than from the meal. All meals held at the same time on the same day share the same menu.

The Conference theme, "Where the Past is Still Present," fits Charleston perfectly. If you've never been there, consider arriving early for sightseeing prior to the conference. There are many museums, archives, restored plantations, the historic waterfront, walking tours and harbor tours for your enjoyment.

Budget about $1000 for the conference including hotel and airfare. Treat yourself this year, it's money well spent. For more information about the conference, download the Registration Brochure filled with all the details at Last year nearly 2500 attended the NGS conference in Salt Lake City, a record attributed in part to the success of Who Do You Think You Are?

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