Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Report on #FGS2014 in San Antonio

This past Saturday, August 30, I attended the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2014 (#FGS2014) conference in San Antonio.  I would have liked to have attended the entire conference, but the fact that it fell during the first week of classes at my university (AND during the year we'd just completed a major library renovation creating a new learning commons) meant that getting work time off to go was not possible.

Fortunately, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)  and co-hosts, the Texas State Genealogical Society (TSGS) and the San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society, offered a special Saturday-only half-price rate of $49.99 to attend that day.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to hear five nationally-known speakers AND get the syllabus (464 pages!) with information from all the other myriad of sessions I could not attend, both Saturday and Wednesday through Friday.

I drove down to Austin after work on Friday and spent the night at my parents' home.  I got up before the sun on Saturday and made the 90-minute drive to the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, arriving in time for the first (8:30 AM) session.

Here are the sessions I attended:

1. Elizabeth Shown Mills of Evidence Explained fame on Okay I "Got the Neighbors" - Now What Do I Do With Them? on the importance of searching with context

2. The Accidental Genealogist Lisa Alzo on Ten Ways to Jumpstart Your Eastern European Research (which provided some useful tips for tracking down my elusive Lithuanian ancestors)

3. Diving into Archives:  Uncovering ArchiveFinder and ArchiveGrid with FGS President and librarian D. Joshua Taylor (hopefully some of my workplace collections will be listed on ArchiveGrid soon!)

4. Beyond X & Y: Using Autosomal DNA for Genealogy with The Legal Genealogist Judy Russellan entertaining and easy-to-understand explanation of the potential and limits to those DNA tests I did on Mom and Dad

5.  Tips for Finding Ethnic Origins at Ancestry with Julianna Szucs Smith of - I'm hoping this will help me find some other elusive ancestors on passenger lists or in naturalization records.

Most of the gaps between the earlier sessions were 45 minutes long, allowing time to visit the exhibit hall.  In the first one, I got most of the ribbons to add to my FamilySearch-lanyarded name badge, as well as my cool blogger beads (with cowboy boots and cacti; badge, ribbons & beads pictured above), sponsored by (which, I learned from Lisa Alzo's session, might be a good site for me to join as they have a huge number of members from Lithuania).  I also ran into Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers, who I'd always wanted to meet.

I also got to meet Erin Roudabush with Family Chartmasters who had been working on a bowtie-with-descendants chart for my parents' upcoming 60th wedding anniversary (more on that in a future post).  I won a gift certificate from them at last year's TSGS conference, and had finally gotten around to using it.  

At the RootsMagic booth, I took advantage of a conference special and purchased three of their software products for less than the price of two (with the RootsMagic user manual thrown in for free) - since I need something to replace the now-unsupported PAF (free Personal Ancestral File) software and start a well-documented family tree offline.

I had lunch with my librarian friend Amy Coffin of the We Tree Genealogy Blog, Lisa Alzo, and Kathryn Doyle of the California Genealogical Society & Library at a great River Walk restaurant called Maria Mia Mexican Bistro, where I had an awesome mango salad with jicama, avocado, chicken, and cilantro lime dressing.  I enjoyed listening to these FGS conference pros talk.

This was my first national genealogy conference - hopefully it won't be my last.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. So happy to read your wrap-up of the conference, Amanda! Hope to meet up with you at an another upcoming genealogy event!