Saturday, January 24, 2015

SNGF: My 2015 Genealogy Education Plans

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver of the GeneaMusings blog is to write about our 2015 plans for genealogy education. Quite frankly, this is the kind of SNGF challenge I usually ignore. But at the risk of offending my readers, I'm going to take this one on.

I have to say that I don't have any concrete plans for genealogy education this year. I used to attend virtually every talk given at the Seattle Genealogical Society (SGS), especially while I was president. But between snowbirding all winter in Arizona and health issues last summer, I've really gotten away from that. If there are topics I'm interested in, I'll probably attend talks once we get back to Seattle, but SGS doesn't have a regular schedule of presentations, so it's easy to miss them. I hope to attend the quarterly DNA Special Interest Group meetings when I'm home, but somehow I seem to have conflicts with almost all of them.

I will probably attend both the spring and fall all-day workshops that the Seattle Genealogical Society will sponsor this year. The spring seminar features C. Lynn Anderson, a genealogist I've never heard of, and will focus on the mid-South states, which is where my mother's side of the family were from. The fall seminar will feature Dr. Thomas W. Jones, who I've heard before and always enjoyed. I don't really expect to learn anything new from either of these people, but I hope I will.

I have not intention of going on a genealogy cruise or attending any more national genealogy conferences. I've been to NGS, FGS, and RootsTech and, other than my first NGS conference (in Kansas City), I felt like I got very little return for my dollars. It cost me almost $2000 to attend FGS in Little Rock, AR, and I got absolutely nothing useful out of it. As an incoming society president, I had high hopes of meeting other, more experienced genealogy society board members and learning from them. Unfortunately, there was absolutely nobody presenting with any experience with an urban society. The people who should have been able to help answer my questions were too busy schmoozing with each other to talk to me. And other than Elizabeth Shown Mills and Tom Jones, the presentations I attended were very simplistic and often poorly presented.

IMHO, RootsTech 2013 was a complete and utter failure. The meeting logistics were very poorly conceived. Any presentation designated as "intermediate" filled up as soon as the doors opened. Anyone coming from another talk was closed out. I attended 5 or 6 talks and two "workshops" (supposedly hands-on computer workshops, but only had 50 minutes, so barely got started when they had to end) and learned absolutely nothing new. The focus of storytelling bugged the heck out of me, since there were not specifics about "how to" tell our own family stories. Needless to say, it was a frustrating experience.

When I get back to civilization I will start listening to webinars again, but our internet service here is limited to 500 MB per day, which won't make it through an hour-long webinar. I will selectively listen/watch webinars sponsored by Legacy Family Tree, Southern California Genealogical Society, and Minnesota Genealogy Society (for whom I'll be presenting in May).

Maybe I'm just jaundiced from being overeducated and very, very experienced as both an academic researcher and a genealogist. I expect to learn new things and explore new ideas when I go to a conference, not just hear the same old recycled presentations from the same presenters. I really loathe presenters peddling their wares during their presentations and have run into that at every national conference I've attended. I'm clearly not a genealogy groupie, nor do I have any status whatsoever in the genealogy community, so I don't get the same treatment Randy (and others) do at conferences. If my husband is with me (often the case these days), I really can't participate fully in social functions. For my travel dollars, I'd rather be researching in the areas where my ancestors lived or in national/regional repositories.

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