[APG Public List] National Genealogical Meetings

Barbara Mathews bmathews at gis.net
Mon Oct 5 08:11:48 MDT 2009

In an off-list email dialogue with a genealogist in Texas, it dawned on me
that, as program co-chair of NERGC, I had a huge handicap. Fortunately I
recognized that handicap at the time. It was that it had been so long --
perhaps two decades -- since I had attended conferences as a newbie, that I
barely remembered how good those initial lectures had felt to me. From where
I am now, what I want out of a conference has changed dramatically. I no
longer identify with the majority of conference attendees. From the recent
emails on this list, it sounds like this might be true for a lot of
professional genealogists. But, because we are the people who volunteer at
local societies, many of the planning decisions are ours to make.

At the Massachusetts Genealogical Council, we use feedback forms in a very
aggressive way. This is also true in program planning for the BCG Education
Fund workshop each year. Each of these groups actively pushes attendees to
submit feedback forms, evaulates those forms, and really does make next
year's program decisions based on them. I am grateful that my colleagues in
both of those groups solicit this feedback. 

NERGC does, too. The feedback from NERGC as a whole was 90-100% happiness
for almost everything except the opening session. Oh, and the exhibit hall
opening only scored 80% whereas the Exhibit Hall itself scored 91%, so it
sounds like the crush wasn't a plus.

In the NERGC 2009 conference, there was a secret track. I called it the
Keep-Barbara-Interested track. It didn't appear on the program schedule, but
it secretly wove its way through Saturday. It was a series of talks that I
wanted to hear. There was one on how the census instructions and the way it
was carried out dealt with race. There was one on gender loyalty within
families, one on water-powered mills, one on the settlement of the Oblong
[it's a very hairy CT-NY thing --- I'd heard it once but the topic needs
several exposures], and one on financial booms and busts. 

My co-chair (thank you Christine!) indulged me. Some had good attendence,
some not so much. For example, the mill one was quite popular but the census
one attracted only a few very academic types. I had thought it might be the
other way around as so many people get confused by "race" on the nineteenth
century censuses. So, I gave myself a small candy shop, as it were. 

Yours, Barbara

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