Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Sociality of Family History part 2 of 3


What can I say about conferences? You've heard me many times on this blog talk about the great fun we have at conferences. We are heading to the Mesa Family History Expo this week and I just can't wait. We have the St. George Family History Expo, the South Davis Family History Fair and the RootsTech conference coming up right away too. Add to that the teaching at family history centers, and Salt Lake Community College and you would think I'm conferenced out. But I'm not. I love getting to know genealogists. It's a party with people who are as crazy as I am.

This last week I got to see the most amazing conference, from the most amazing perspective. The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy is an icon in genealogy conferences for a reason. It isn't a conference--where you will take a class on this and a class on that, but it is an institute--a place where you can go and take 20 course hours in a specific topic from the rock stars of genealogists. Literal rock stars. These people are incredible. And then you go over to the library and work with the instructors and the other students in your classes on finding and analyzing the information on your lines.

Being the new Utah Genealogical Association president, I was thrown into administrating SLIG with a new director--the wonderful Adele Marcum--and many members of the new committee who had never worked at Institute (thanks so much Jill Woodbury, Sherry Stevens, Kerry Farnsworth, you guys are not only brave but incredibly competent). And thanks be to Luana Darby, the infallible past UGA president who has kept the ship afloat through some hard years and was there for us with every question we had. I'm so glad she hasn't abandoned ship yet. I so appreciate her companionship. I just wish I'd gotten a picture of everyone together. Something to put on the list for next year. I think if anything, we hopefully proved that we learn quickly from past mistakes.

As is typical with genealogists, the attendees at SLIG were sincere, sweet people. I can't count how many times we heard, "no problem." We had people pitch in and help with handing out lunches, stapling and handing out syllabus materials, taking tickets and etc. And that doesn't even begin to talk about how they helped each other and the great companionship that goes on at Institute. That is why Kim and I choose to run Generation Maps. I love the people in this industry. Genealogists as a whole are good, kind people.

And the coordinators and instructors were patient and generous with a new untested team. These instructors are incredibly knowledgeable--the rock stars of genealogy in the US. I loved the level of conversation all week, and thoroughly enjoyed the classes I got to sit in on. But they are knowledgeable AND generous. I didn't know until this week how truly amazing they are all the way around. They take a personal interest in each of their students and do one on one consultations all week in small and large blocks of time. I was so honored to be able to work with them this week. They all worked diligently with me to put together a 3 year plan for SLIG that will put the conference on a stronger footing. And one of the highlights of the week for me was to be able to present Tom Jones with the UGA Silver Tray award for publishing, to present Paula Stuart Warren as a Fellow of UGA and to present Wilma Adkins with the 2010 Award of Merit. They are, each of them, both scholarly and magnanimous. They are rock stars who are somehow able to make you feel important too.

It was so fun to be so immersed in the sociability of Family History last week. I know many of us came away with life long friends. The level of conversation was so invigorating and energizing. It was great to be able to talk to people who speak my language. Coming back to my regular life, where everyone thinks I'm mildly crazy, it was nice to know there are people out there like me. And it was so great to party with them for a week. Can't wait until next year.

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