Great NGS Conference – 2018 Was A Success

NGS TY reading

With 2,341 participants at the National Genealogical Society’s 2018 Family History Conference, the event was a HUGE success!  What a great event!

Those of us that attended enjoyed interesting speakers, a rousing and engaged Society Night, entertaining keynote speakers, and a vendor hall that was busy and very full most of the time.  The Michigan Genealogical Council’s booth had many visitors, obtaining information about the many societies throughout the state, and some of our societies had booths throughout the event – an opportunity to talk with potential members, sell publications and hear stories from enthusiastic family historians!

Congratulations to the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, the HUGE force of volunteers who helped everyone get around the DeVos Convention Center and Amway Grand Hotel, Jan Alpert and the great team of leaders who stepped up and worked hard to support the conference.  A good time was had by all!!!

Listening for Promotion Opportunities

The National Genealogical Society’s 2018 Family History Conference in Grand Rapids continues today with more great speakers, networking opportunities and opportunities to support membership in our societies!  Opportunities for networking with other states, other genealogical institutions and national speakers, give us unique chances for some very productive outcomes.

Visits to our booth have been full of the great stories that attendees have, and gives us the chance to promote a genealogical society in our state that focuses on their research needs.  Here’s our booth, full of great brochures and handouts – including a promotional card for the Abrams Seminar:  20180504_083809

During the conference, at the presentation of President Rorey Cathcart of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, there were MANY tips for societies to consider in their outreach work.  Rory has moved A LOT in the course of her life – maybe 24 times! – and she talked about how her sense of family (or lack thereof) had created her interest in finding out more about her family.  As she talked about her discovery of genealogical societies, she offered some thoughts about how we could do better in promoting the benefits of membership.  Talking about her frequent moves, she reflected on the ways that societies compile the records that help people like her to find the community records and connections that are so important in a newcomer’s adjustment.  Speaking about the average number of moves of each generation, the topic of Millennials and their unique perspective came up.  They don’t move at the same rate that previous generations have and there is an opportunity for societies to think about ways to engage and support their discovery of genealogy and family stories.  How might your society encourage their involvement?  What projects might they assist with?  As members in our societies age, we need to be continuously recruiting GenXers and Millennials to continue the good work of saving records, documenting our communities and building connections, especially to Rorey’s point, finding a way to reach out to new arrivals in our community to help them discover their connections.

Thank you to the National Genealogical Society for the great learning, networking and discoveries we are all making!  Jan Alpert and her great committee, especially the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, for all of their hard work.  It’s almost “a wrap”, everyone!  Here are Jan and Rorey:20180504_085421

Having fun!

NGS 2018 Family History Conference Underway!


The National Genealogical Society’s 2018 Family History Conference is now happening!  The area around the check in/registration area has been busy since noon, and genealogists are taking over Grand Rapids … well, maybe not “taking over”, but we are flowing in for the first national genealogical conference in Michigan!

The benefit to genealogical societies – and especially all of us in Michigan – is the powerful networking opportunities with other societies across the state, those attending from societies around the United States and Canada (there ARE people here from across the Atlantic, but not representing any society), and the chance to find out how others are working to program the best presentations and information for their membership.

Talking with a number of society leaders (a secretary, a vice president and a treasurer) today over lunch, the conversation about how to encourage membership was the big topic.  Two of these societies create value by having a “members only” section on their website and have generated special benefits from membership – a reduced price for purchases from a genealogical book seller, special copying rates at local FedEx locations.  Posting research materials, presentation handouts and Power Point slides on the Member area provided value to members that aren’t able to attend meetings.  One of these societies has gone to a digital-only copy of its quarterly, to save on costs, and this too is on the “member-only” portion of the website.

Networking with genealogists with such diverse research interests here at the NGS Conference also means that societies can research, hear and talk with presenters offering high-quality lectures and research strategies, and obtain information about the possibility of inviting them to their society meetings or “lock ins” – it takes the guesswork out of finding good speakers for monthly meetings!  If noone from your society is here in Grand Rapids, livestreaming is possible – the NGS website has information here: 

There is also the opportunity to obtain copies of the audio/video content of the conference, if that would help with screening potential speakers.  The NGS has special pricing during the conference:  NGS 2018 Conference Playback

While it is just beginning, the opportunities are already appearing!  How could your society take advantage of this national event?