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Help, Which Genealogy Conference Should I Choose?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my next genealogy conference. Which one do I want to attend in 2012? I usually only choose one large conference each year. Let’s face it they can be expensive, and I live in Canada, so pretty much any conference I attend involves an airline ticket, hotel room and a block time away from my family.

Most conferences require you to register in advance, especially if you want the early bird prices, or a hotel room to lay your tired body at the end of a hectic day. You can’t procrastinate or your choices will dwindle. Therefore, I started thinking about which conference I wish to attend next year. It’s hard to decide because some conferences are earlier then others and therefore it becomes difficult to compare them when you don’t have all the information in front of you. Past experiences, and what others are saying about their conferences influence my decisions. You can find a list of current genealogy conferences here at the Armchair Genealogist, and it is being updated as more 2012 dates are released. 

I wrote a post this past year Genealogy Conferences - Who Deserves Your Money? I took my own advice and considered time, location, timing and lectures. I  narrowed it down to two choices. 

From those four components time, location, timing and lectures I created a list of pros and cons of my top two choices for 2012. 

My first choice is:
RootsTech– Feb 2-4th – Salt Lake City Utah
            -          Salt Lake City Utah- never been
-          I could do some research at the family history library
-          My husband would be interested in joining me because he could ski
-          It’s in February, and really what else is there to do in February
-          Conference price is currently $129.00 and rooms are $89.00 both great prices
-          The premise of this conference, really excites me, not your average genealogy conference
-          Lectures presently available, and there are many I would be excited to sit in on.
-          This conference is innovative, as a blogger I feel it’s the place to be.
 - It’s in Salt Lake City and requires an approximately a $500.00 airline ticket
 - It’s February, the weather is sketchy, hate to be snowed in at an airport.
 -  Not your traditional conference, may still feel the bug to attend a more traditional conference
 - I have to decide very soon if I want to get the best possible prices.
 -  Total price would exceed $1000.00 –yikes!
(Looks like the only cons holding me back are all price tag related)

My second option is the:
National Genealogy Conference – May 9th-12th Cincinnati, Ohio

-          Been before and know this is a great conference, and value for the money
               I could drive to this conference would take me 5-6 hours 
-         Assuming the registration cost is comparable to Rootstech, hotel rooms slightly more expensive but no flight is required, this choice would be slightly more economical.
-         Wide range of topics, a more traditional conference
-          I’ve only passed through Cincinnati on my way to Florida, great opportunity to see the city.
-          Ohio in May should be beautiful

            -      No registration cost is available at this time, 
            -      Hotel rooms are $120.00, $30.00 higher at night than SLC.
            -      It is during May, which is always a busy time for me
            -      My 25th Wedding Anniversary is May 8th, may be not the best timing.
-          The Ontario Genealogical Conference is 3 weeks later, much smaller conference, however very specific to my research needs.
-          I have been to NGS conference before should spend my money on something new?
-          No list of lectures presently available, to excite and sway me.

Have I missed an important point in my decision-making? If you could only pick just one genealogy conference, which one would it be? 
What’s your opinion?  Help me decide? Have you decided?  Let me know in Comments.

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MNFamilyHistorian said...

I haven't been to NGS, so I can't help you there, but RootsTech 2011 was great. However, your lists don't seem to include the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conferences. I just attended the 2011 FGS conference in Springfield, Illinois. I wrote one post about it, another is forthcoming, and lots of other bloggers posted about it. Next year, the FGS conference is in Birmingham, Alabama, Aug 29 - Sep 1. Other than that, your comparison is thorough, so whichever way you choose will be an informed decision, and I'm sure you'd have a good time at either one.

Kathy Reed said...

I, too, would love to come up with the money to go to RootsTech. However, as a Cincinnatian, and host of the NGS conference here, I'd love to have you (and everyone else) come to Cincy in May. It usually is beautful here in May and no one should ever think that Cincinnati is what you see from I-75. Let me know if you have any questions.

Lynn Palermo said...

@MNFamilyHistorian, I initially did take the FGS Conference under consideration, but after looking at this past year's list of lectures, I felt it was highly geared to those in Genealogical Societies, which I am not. I also felt timing was not right for me, being the last weekend before school goes back. I'm glad to hear RootsTech was great, what was the one highlight or take away for you?

Lynn Palermo said...

@Kathy, well Thank You for the invitation, and yes the I-75 does few favours for most cities and towns we pass through. LOL. Kathy do you know when more details of the NGS 2012 will be posted?

Marian Pierre-Louis said...


I would love to go to RootsTech but the two biggest strikes against it are the dates and the flights. I live in Boston so I can totally relate to your worry about being snowed in especially after the last winter we had. The weather can really turn a potentially great trip into a disaster.

I personally would rather save the $500 each on the airfare and spend the $30 extra a night. Ohio in springtime sounds much more pleasant.

Though I can't disagree that RootsTech is "the" conference these days, I think I'm still in the traditional mode. Honestly, I won't likely be going to either but NGS would be a better shot for me.

Thanks for putting that list together of future conferences. I didn't know that IAJGS was coming to Boston in 2013. I will definitely be attending that one!


Lynn Palermo said...

Thanks Marian, then you can certainly appreciate my dilemma. I feel the scales tipping again.

Kerry Scott said...

I've been to RootsTech, and I went to NGS in 2002 and 2003. For me, they're all about the same price (I could conceivably drive to Cincinnati, but the cost of a day's driving in gas and a day off of work each way is not necessarily cheaper than airfare).

If I had only one, I would choose RootsTech. I think this is such an individual thing, though, because for me conferences are far more about networking than sitting and learning in session; I am REALLY not someone who learns from sitting an listening to a lecture. I felt like the vibe of RootsTech encouraged more of the types of discussions I was interested in--about technology, the direction of genealogy, and other forward-thinking stuff. My experience with NGS and the discussions it generated was more focused on methodology and how things have been done in the past (although that may have changed since I last attended).

I'm actually hoping to attend both this year, but if I had to choose one, I would go with RootsTech.

I've never done FGS (it's at a perpetually bad time of year), so I can't comment on that one.

Lynn Palermo said...

Thanks Kerry for weighing in, I agree, I feel like they both offer something different, but that leaves I feel like I will be missing out if I choose one over the other, but honestly can see me doing both.

MNFamilyHistorian said...

Only the first day of FGS had society-focused sessions. The other three days were more general. I'm like you, so instead of attending sessions the first day, I volunteered.

RootsTech had an energy about it I haven't seen at other genealogy events. Plus, I'm a huge computer geek, so the intersection of genealogy and technology is right up my alley.

Kathy Reed said...

Check out or bookmark this site for info re: the NGS Conference.

Lynn Palermo said...

Thanks Kathy, but I already have it bookmark, in fact I have a page on this blog of all upcoming conferences and links to them.