[APG Public List] Conference Sessions, an example

Craig Kilby persisto at live.com
Tue Nov 10 10:34:53 MST 2009

I have stayed out of the recent discussion on APG conferences, and  
other conferences with too many letters for my alphabet. The  
discussion centered around the different levels of skill by a diverse  
group of participants attending any of dozens of conferences, and how  
to build the break-out sessions to accomodate such a diverse group.

Throughout this thread, I kept going back in my mind to the July  
annual reunion of the Germanna Foundation (Virginia). About 300 people  
come to this event every year, and all bring very different interests  
and skill levels. Yours truly gave a presentation on doing court house  
research. This was mainly a Q&A session which was well attended and  
very informative for the 50 or so people who attended. I personally  
like Q&A small group sessions like this one was. I did a similar  
presentation the Virginia Forum in April about the Lancaster County  
Estates 1835-1865 project for the Mary Ball Washington Museum &  
Library. I learned far more from the questions asked than I presented.

But back to the Germanna reunion, and what keeps going through my mind.

The stand-out speaker was our own Barbara Vines-Little. I can't recall  
ever hearing or seeing such a well-polished and informative  
presentation on a genealogical question. I have ordered the DVD of her  
talk because I don't think even after listening to it 15 times over I  
would catch all of the nuances she covered in her research into a  
really sticky problem.

What really struck me most is how she managed to present an enormous  
amount of research into very arcane records, and made it all so  
fascinating at the same time. It was something that everyone could  
enjoy whether they were beginners, only had a passing interest in  
history, or jaded professionals. I can't imagine how much time Barbara  
spent preparing this talk and the corresponding power-point  
presentation. And her delivery of the material was worthy of anything  
on television. It was THAT good. (Yes, I shamelessly suggest you buy  
the DVD.)

So, in conclusion, I think Barbara has proved that there is a way for  
plenary sessions to be a very workable idea for large groups of  

Craig Kilby

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