[APG Public List] National Genealogical Meetings

Suzanne Johnston suemj at verizon.net
Fri Oct 2 09:06:59 MDT 2009


Although many of the instructional lectures use problem-solving within 
the presentation, it would certainly be interesting to have a track at 
national conferences that is totally devoted to interesting and unusual 
case studies and/or the use of unusual resources to solve a particular 
problem.

Another way that genealogy conferences differ from other professional 
conferences is in audience participation. At many professional 
conferences (I can cite some history conferences and at Audiology and 
Speech conferences) a lecture is presented followed by audience 
questions. But not just polite questions designed to better understand 
what the speaker has said. These questions cover the research techniques 
used and the conclusions drawn by the speaker and require the speaker to 
defend all of his/her techniques and conclusions. The questioner often 
suggests other conclusions that could or should have been considered and 
the speaker must answer to both the questioner and the audience. The 
debates I have heard were usually civil, but occasionally became quite 
heated. The listeners often learned more about the topic by this 
give-and-take after the lecture. Unfortunately, this type of rigorous 
questioning rarely occurs at genealogy conferences, at least the ones I 
have attended.

The majority of lectures given at our conferences don't need this type 
of questioning because of the nature of the presentations. But the 
lectures using case studies or problem-solving techniques could benefit 
from audience questioning, critiques, etc. Again, the track suggested in 
the first paragraph above might encourage this type of interaction. IMO!

Suzie Johnston


jfonkert at aol.com wrote:
> I've only been to a handful of national conferences, but I've perused 
> the program of several others over the past 4-5 years.  From what I 
> see on the programs, it would appear to me the conferences are of a 
> quite different nature than academic or professional conferences it 
> other fields.  The national genealogy conference programs do seem 
> geared toward reporting research or new developments.  Rather, the 
> programs seem to have the same core cluster of topics year after year 
> (not a terrible thing, necessarily, as the conferences move around to 
> different regional audiences).  The programs are heavy on 
> instructional topics (record types, methodology, technology -- again 
> not inappropriate), but do not seem geared toward talks that report 
> research or developments.  Personally, I would like to see more 
> research-based talks that demonstrate problem-solving techniques.  I 
> can read about census records or passenger records on my own, but I'd 
> like to hear about how people solve interesting problems.
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: DonnDevine at aol.com
> To: apgpubliclist at apgen.org
> Sent: Thu, Oct 1, 2009 10:19 pm
> Subject: [APG Public List] National Genealogical Meetings
>
> I just received an invitation from a large professional organization 
> in another discipline to submit an abstract for a possible 
> presentation at its March 2010 national meeting. The lead time is four 
> to five months, depending on the subject matter, with the applicable 
> cutoff dates set by the committees responsible for different portions 
> of the program.
>  
> Our national genealogical organizations have submission deadlines up 
> to 14 months in advance of the meetings, with the result that there is 
> little or no opportunity for recent developments and discoveries to be 
> considered for the program.
>  
> In most professions where research plays an important role, national 
> conferences are the means by which practitioners stay on the cutting 
> edge. Conference presentation usually precedes publication in 
> peer-reviewed journals. However, in genealogy the very 
> early conference proposal deadlines give print journals a clear edge 
> on timely reporting of new findings.
>  
> Can anyone explain why genealogy is so different from other scholarly 
> disciplines? Are presenters unable to propose recent 
> discoveries because of the early deadlines? Or do conference 
> planners even look for previously unpublished research findings 
> and breakthroughs, like more effective methodologies, discovery of old 
> errors, or use of novel sources?
>  
> Donn Devine, CG, CGL
> Wilmington DE
>
> CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer 
> are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used 
> under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation, and the 
> board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.
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