Saturday, March 30, 2019

Springtime, Early Birds,
and Genealogical Conferences

With the bloom of Spring comes a multitude of things to look forward to. A splash of color shyly peeking out in the sunlight—finally!—couples with the anticipation of warmer temperatures, fun outdoor events, and eager thoughts of travel.

For the genealogist, those thoughts might also include conferences. After all, it looks like the conference season is upon us. I just returned from a DNA conference, only to catch the buzz about May's NGS conference in Missouri, and then to spot an announcement in social media that registration is now open for the FGS Conference in Washington, D.C.

That conference, by the way, doesn't start until the third week of August, but that doesn't stop the eager early birds from registering early. After all, the early bird gets the worm, er, best pricing. And we all know how pricey conference attendance can get.

That's why I pay close attention to those early bird registration deadlines: they can save you bucks. And for a must-see conference in my area (hint: a much shorter trip than from here to the nation's capital, as enticing as that might seem), I needed to make sure my registration was in order, well before the April 21 deadline for the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree.

Some may question the importance of attending a genealogy conference. After all, with so many resources online, why go through the effort of traveling, putting up with restaurant food (when we are obviously much better cooks, ourselves), or the discomfort of staying in an unfamiliar hotel?

I tend to flip that question on its head. After all, there are all sorts of people who jump at the chance to travel—for such adventurers, the minor inconveniences of lumpy pillows or slow restaurant service pale in comparison to the joys of what is in store along the journey's way. That's pretty much how I feel about the SCGS Jamboree.

But there's one more detail which I find necessary: you can't find as many true-believer genealogy fanatics, if you went to, say, the grocery store (or even the coffee shop) for conversation. Those bright-eyed moments when we found that elusive third great-grandmother's maiden name are best shared with someone who already knows the challenge of our elusive conquests. And, besides local genealogical society meetings, the best place to revel in our genealogical glories is at a genealogy conference.

Of course, the educational value is an added bonus. And SCGS Jamboree assembles an impressive lineup of nationally-recognized speakers in our field. For those with more advanced experience, the Jamboree planners devised ways for registrants to sign up for special workshop sessions. Longer than the customary one-hour conference sessions, these half-day workshops address a variety of topics, from DNA to cemetery or photograph preservation to family history writing or videography to deciphering Old English handwriting.

It's wonderful to sit and contemplate—especially in the sunny proximity of those spring blossoms—all the variety of genealogical learning that can all be had for the choice of attending the SCGS Jamboree, but don't daydream about that for too long. When early bird pricing hits that April 21 brick wall, the price for Jamboree registration goes up another forty bucks for the full double-header event—DNA Day on May 30 and Jamboree from May 31 through June 2. And finding hotel accommodations becomes even more of a headache at that point.

Word on the street is: do it now! (And then be sure to stop and say hi if you see me there!)


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