It’s finally here! After months of anticipation, the Federation of Genealogical Society’s conference (shortened to FGS 2019) finally began today!
This being my first genealogy conference, I didn’t really know what to expect. I woke up early, in order to get there in time for the 8:00 a.m. opening ceremonies (though my secret motivation was to avoid the metro during 9:00 a.m. rush hour because I didn’t feel like standing the whole trip). I had walked by the Omni Shoreham hotel many times before, as it’s close to two of my favorite DC areas, Dupont and Adams Morgan, but had never been inside. It’s a gorgeous, massive hotel filled with marble everywhere, chandeliers, and mahogany and a distinct 1930s luxury vibe. My day gloves (I’m bringing them back!) and heels seemed 100% appropriate.
The place is massive, but I managed to find the registration desk and the ballroom for the opening ceremonies pretty easily. I cried only about 6 or 7 times during Joshua Taylor’s opening speech and enjoyed the historical cosplay of the Ancestor Parade. During the opening session, the exciting announcement was made that FGS and NGS will merge!
When that concluded, the attendees trooped over to the Exhibit Hall where I made a beeline for the Italian-American Genealogy Group’s booth. I was excited to hear they meet up quarterly, the next meet up being in October, and there are a handful of members with roots in Abruzzo. The folks I spoke to there were wonderful and I can’t wait to meet other genealogically inclined Italian-Americans!
The Living DNA booth was mostly bare and seemed unready so I’m going to attempt a visit tomorrow because I would like to learn a bit more about them.
I did pick up 2 interesting looking books, but forgot to use my $10 vendor bucks (doh!) so I guess I just have to buy something else tomorrow…
During the 2 hour lunch break, I walked to KramerBooks, an old haunt that I haven’t visited in years (description in my metrofabulous guide to DC). I really should have taken the metro because it ended up being a 30 minute walk in 85 degree weather, but I got some exercise (I did take the metro back). When I had been previously, it had almost always been late night for drinks and dessert so the paired down lunch menu (sans my beloved spiked coffee, not that I needed it because after the walk I had had enough of heat) was not what I was used to. I ordered a crab cake sandwich (decent) and a drink called the Lord of Pimms (pimms, cucumber aloe liqueur, ginger, mint, and lemon), which was unbelievably refreshing.
I attended 2 interesting sessions this first day. Cluster, Huddle or Flock: Strategies for Research Problems was hosted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell who spoke about identifying clusters that your ancestor belonged to (specific groups like occupation, religion, age group, neighborhood, etc.) and using those to learn more about them. Disease, Disaster, & Hard Times Altered Our Ancestors’ Lives hosted by Teri E. Flack taught about some of the major diseases that could have been the cause of death of our American ancestors as well as the reason for migration to different parts of the country.
I was hoping for a bit more networking and meeting folks than what ended up happening. I did meet a very nice woman from New York, who I spoke to briefly about how we each became interested in genealogy, but aside from that conversation I spent most of the conference by myself. It seemed like most folks either came with a buddy or knew each other already so it was a bit lonely. Tomorrow I think I’ll make a better effort in meeting people.
Ready for Day 2!