[APG Public List] National Genealogical Meetings

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG Elissa at PowellGenealogy.com
Fri Oct 2 09:45:52 MDT 2009

> -----Original Message-----
> From: On Behalf Of Suzanne Johnston
> Sent: Friday, October 02, 2009 11:07 AM
> 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.
> 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. 

This brings to mind the article discussion groups sponsored by the Great
Lakes Chapter of APG that meet every month in Akron, Ohio or the virtual
ones sponsored by the TGF list. The Great Lakes Chapter also usually does a
session at the annual Ohio Genealogical Society conference each April. The
format is to study a certain article (NGSQ or other peer-reviewed journal)
and then discuss it in depth in the group at the conference as a
pre-conference event. Did the author make his point? Was there enough
evidence? Is there another conclusion that could be made? Perhaps the
national conferences could invite these types of workshops. However the key
is study ahead of time for the participants and a certain cap on number of
attendees for benefit of discussion.

Playing devil's advocate I will also venture to say that national
conferences attract all levels of skills and experience. The reason the
paper presenting/debate style works in other professions is that (I would
assume) the attendees all have a basic level of training and understand the
terms being bandied about. What we are discussing is definitely for the
advanced practitioner and professionals. From my observations at the most
recent FGS conference, I would say a great amount of the attendees were
beginner to intermediate, still looking for great-grandpa to appear on the
lecturer's screen and don't care how he got there. (Don't laugh -- it
happened to me early on -- there he was up as an example on the screen --
not just one but two ancestors in different lectures.)

So what is the purpose of our nationally held conferences? To bring the
curious into the ranks of the beginners? To educate the beginners in data
collection and management? To help the intermediates write the family story
and document their analysis? To present challenging topics to the advanced
and professionals? I'm for it all, but it seems it has to be a bell-curve
with the intro and the advanced on the smaller ends.

It occurs to me that this type of format, track, debate, newest techniques,
etc. would be well-suited for the APG to sponsor. Whether it is a whole
track inside the conference (1-day or more) or a single day at say, the NGS
conference (keeping the Professional Management with the FGS conference)
would be up to the APG board if they want to spend the volunteer time and

Clearly, members are looking for more interaction.

-- Elissa

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG
CG and Certified Genealogist are Service Marks of the Board for
Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board certificants
after periodic evaluations by the Board. 

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