Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why should I go to a genealogical conference?


Genealogy can be a very solitary activity. Although you may have contact with your family and with other researchers, most of the work you do is done by yourself. Even though you may read journals, magazine articles and online resources about the work of doing genealogy, there are few places you can go to get feedback from knowledgeable people. Genealogical conferences provide the motivation to re-energize and re-think methods, procedures and sources. The social atmosphere of the conference allows you to share questions and concerns with others of the same interest. It is also reassuring to know that there really are people out there who don't think working on your genealogy is a waste of time.

Genealogy is often cited as one of the most popular pastimes in the U.S. or sometimes the most favorite hobby. However, a Harris Poll on the most popular U.S. activities by share of time, does not even list genealogy as a category. The top ten include reading, TV watching, spending time with friends and family as the top three categories. The data covered the years from 1995 to 2007. Back in 1941 a Popular Science study found America's five favorite hobbies to be photography, stamps, music, model making and home workshop. A concerted search for more recent data shows a huge variety of activities claiming to be the favorites.

Earlier this year, Dick Eastman wrote a blog post about the question of whether or not genealogy was one of the most popular hobbies in America. His conclusion was that there was no support for the claim to popularity. Let's face it, I personally know very few people who are interested enough in genealogy to actually do some research and I work with and meet hundreds of people every week. At the same time I know literally hundreds of hunters, ATV enthusiasts and dedicated movie fans.

So if you are one of those lone researchers, out there struggling to find information about your family, what can you do? I suggest that once, twice or more times a year you go to a genealogy conference. Listen to the presenters, talk to the attendees and talk to the sales people in the exhibits. You will get a better appreciation of what you are trying to accomplish and may just get some help from someone unexpected.

This week we have an opportunity to attend a conference in beautiful Mesa, Arizona where the daytime temperatures have been in the 70s for the past week or so. OK, so for the past two days it has been raining, but rain in Mesa can't last forever. Maybe only through Friday. Anyway, the convention is indoors and you can always carry an umbrella. Check out the schedule and come to the Arizona Family History Expo.


1 comment:

  1. Here, here! I actually went to my first conference last year, and it immediately caused me to wonder why I waited so long. It is so energizing to be around people who are as passionate (or even more so)than you are. Go, go, go everyone!
    For you Ohio folks (or eastern Michigan), be sure to check out the info for the Ohio Genealogical Society's annual conference this April in Toledo, OH

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