In the past week I have listened to two podcasts that shared their experience at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. There have been blog posts, tweets and Facebook entries on this same subject. The unanimous consensus is the Jamboree was a huge hit!! There were great speakers, an exhibit hall packed with vendors and a conference full of strangers that left as friends. Attendees were energized and ready to attack their brick walls with newly learned research strategies.
I attended the NGS Annual Conference in 2008. I had a full schedule everyday trying to attend as many sessions as possible. It was a great experience, I met people from all over the country and found some great conference-only deals in the exhibit hall! The one-on-one interaction with other attendees and speakers was my favorite part. I gained valuable insight on how to approach some conflicting documents that had stopped me in my tracks on one family line.
Could I have achieved the same educational value on the Internet? Possibly. There are webinars, You Tube videos, Facebook groups and many online genealogy communities. I could have read an ebook or watched a video on tips for research in public libraries. My research challenges could have been posted on any number of online forums and I would have received many quality answers. What I couldn't get was the energy a traditional conference generates. When you are at a conference with several hundred other people who have the same passion for genealogy as you do there is a buzz and it energizes you. There is a high level of excitement that provides new fuel to your desire to find that elusive census record or ship’s passenger list. You can’t get that same level of excitement through the Internet. Once you have attended one conference you will want to attend more to maintain that energy level.
In August, I will attend the Missouri State Genealogical Society’s Annual Conference in Jefferson City. I can’t wait to get my conference buzz!