If you have always wanted to attend a genealogy conference but have never gotten the chance, you are in luck this year. The National Genealogical Society (NGS) will be holding their annual conference Show Me the Nation’s Records in Kansas City, Missouri from May 14th to the 17th. Kansas City is close, only an eight hour drive or a ninety minute airplane ride from Denver.
The conference will be held downtown at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center and the adjoining exhibit hall. There are shops and restaurants which are only a short walk through a glass enclosed walkway. Everything will be under one roof.
I attended my first genealogy conference in 1998 when the NGS conference was held in Denver. It was a great learning experience. I spent four days attending lectures, browsing in the vendor area, and visiting with fellow family historians. I still remember a lecture I attended about understanding our ancestors. It was the first time I thought of my ancestors as real people and not a name with some dates attached. I couldn’t wait to go home and start learning about the times and places in which they had lived.
Conferences are one of the best ways to advance your genealogy knowledge. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced researcher, there will be something for everyone at the Kansas City conference. Some of the topics that will be featured are adoption, technical, DNA, German, Native American, military records, land records, migration, and writing. There will be a Board for Certification of Genealogists skill-building track, a beginner’s workshop and some hands on workshops on a variety of computer subjects.
Several Colorado people will be speaking at the conference. Kathleen Hinckley, author of Locating Lost Family and Friends and Your Guide to the Federal Census will be speaking on “Researching Colorful Colorado Ancestors.” Roberta “Bobbi” King, Homestead Records expert, will be sharing her knowledge with four lectures, “History of the Rectangular Survey System,” “Homestead Records: A Day in the Life of our Ancestors,” “Researching in Nebraska,” and “Homestead Laws and Slavery Questions.” I will be speaking about Civil War Pension Files, Alien Registration Records, and “Building Your Own Reference Library.”
The program contains nine tracks with 166 lectures. You won’t be able to attend all the lectures but you will receive, with conference registration, the syllabus which contains the handouts for all of the lectures. The syllabus will be available is either book or CD form. For the lectures that you can’t attend, there will also be an opportunity to buy CD’s of the lectures.
If you would like to do some research while in Kansas City, there are several places close to the Conference: Mid-Continent Public Library. They have a large genealogy collection and will have expanded hours during the conference. There will be a free bus shuttle service from the conference hotel. For specific items check their catalogue at http://www.mcpl.lib.mo.us/genlh/. National Archives-Central Plains Branch. This repository has the federal records from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota. A brochure is located at http://www.archives.gov/central-plains/kansas-city/kansas-city.pdf. Kansas City Public Library. Located downtown, they have a large genealogy collection. Check the Web site for more details on the collection at http://www.kclibrary.org/index.cfm.
If you decide to come early or stay after the conference, there are many wonderful things to do and see in Kansas City. A few suggestions are the Truman Presidential Museum and Library, World War I Museum, Arabia Steamboat Museum, Hallmark Cards, and the Harley Davidson Factory Tour. Personally, I plan to go a day early and visit the Arabia Steamboat Museum. The museum displays the recovered items from the steamboat Arabia, which sunk in the Missouri River in 1856. The items are mostly goods for the small town stores along the river, which were preserved for 132 years on the river bottom. I’m really looking forward to seeing this time capsule of frontier life.
For more information and to register for the conference, go to the NGS Web site at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/index.cfm. To take advantage of the early bird discount, you will need to register by March 31. For the latest information about the conference and related activities visit the conference blog at http://ngs2008conferenceblog.blogspot.com/.