Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Starting Today in Fort Wayne
If you are an obsessed genealogy fanatic, you may think of Fort Wayne as home of the largest public library collection of genealogical material on the North American continent. That, in fact, is true: the genealogy center at the Allen County Public Library takes that accolade, topped only by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, the largest private holding of such reference material—in the world, in fact.
But for now, the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library is across the street from where I'm headed today: the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. I'm here in Fort Wayne to attend the 2018 conference, "On the Three Rivers—Past, Present and Future."
Today, the opening day, is dedicated to those involved in the operation of local genealogical societies. I've wanted to attend an FGS conference ever since volunteering for a board position for our local genealogical society, but given that I'm from California and most FGS conferences are far removed from possible day-trip destinations, I had to await a good opportunity. Now that I've been elected president of our local society, I thought this would be the occasion to merit such a dream trip—and one with a double-header, given the proximity to such a respected research library.
The keynote topic this morning held a particular significance to me, given my penchant for searching out the stories embedded in our families' histories. Scott Fisher, of genealogy radio talk show Extreme Genes podcasts, presents the keynote "The Importance of Story: Tangible Tales of Impact." That won't be the last time that note will be hit in this four day conference.
The day includes sessions by David Rencher and Ed Donakey of FamilySearch, D. Joshua Taylor of PBS' Genealogy Roadshow and currently president of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Rorey Cathcart, Amy Johnson Crow, and Judy Russell. In addition to sessions on society management, group leadership, the FGS vision for the future, and societies' critical role in records preservation, the evening will wrap up with a networking reception.
While I've looked over the list of conference attendees—and, to my dismay, realized I saw no familiar names except those of "famous" genies among the speakers and exhibitors (hi, Peg Ivanyo of SLIG!)—I'm in the right place to not only bump into new friends with the same love of family history, but also to ply fellow attendees with questions about how other local societies accomplish their mission in their communities. That, in itself, will be an excellent learning opportunity.