FGS 2011 in the Land of Lincoln

Inside Lincoln's Tomb, Springfield, Illinois

Last week I was in Springfield, Illinois, for the 2011 Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) annual conference. It had been four years since I attended a national conference and it sure was fun to attend one again. Over 2000 people from 48 states and five countries attended the conference.

It was the 35th Anniversary of FGS and we celebrated that milestone at Friday evening’s banquet. The conference planners and volunteers did a great job to make this conference a success. Thanks to all of them!

Miriam and I had a very busy schedule during the week. We attended luncheons, banquets, receptions and learning sessions. We shopped in the Exhibit Hall, visited with old friends and made new ones.

We went sight-seeing in Springfield on Wednesday, visiting as many Lincoln attractions as we could fit in that day. We visited Lincoln’s tomb, the Abraham Lincoln Museum, the Lincoln Presidential Library, the Lincoln home, the Old State Capitol and the Lincoln pew in the First Presbyterian Church. It is very easy to get around Springfield and the attractions are worth a trip there. We especially enjoyed the Lincoln Museum. It is about five years old and is a state-of-the-art museum. Their movies, Ghosts of the Library and Lincoln’s Eyes, are simply wonderful.

Abraham Lincoln Museum, Springfield, Illinois

The conference officially began on Thursday. Some sessions I enjoyed and some things I learned:

  • Curt Witcher, manager of the Genealogical Center of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, identified many places to research in Indiana.
  • Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers shared tips on blogging and starting a blog.
  • I got some ideas for Civil War and WWII research.
  • Look for the 1940 census to be available April 2012. The 1940 census will show where individuals were living in April 1940 as well as their location in April 1935. Great information!
  • Censuses are on-line at several websites but the spelling of names in the indexes may vary. Search several on-line indexes for a name you cannot find.
  • I learned some tips for using some of my favorite tools—GenSmarts, Evernote, and Dropbox.

Roots Magic in Exhibit Hall. FGS 2011.

There were many things to look at and learn about in the Exhibit Hall:

  • AncestorSync, the program that promises to synchronize your genealogy information between devices and on-line, plans to be up and running by RootsTech in February 2012.
  • I made contact with someone who will translate German documents. (Maybe I can get some of those old German letters translated.)
  • And of course I purchased a few books. I just had to purchase Shaking the Family Tree by Buzzy Jackson. At one luncheon I sat by Pat Richards, who helped and encouraged the author to write this book. Pat is mentioned in the second sentence of the book.

FamilySearch in Exhibit Hall. FGS 2011.

FamilySearch was a Platinum Sponsor for the conference. They are doing so much for the world of on-line genealogy. They have microfilmed billions of records throughout the world and are now digitizing them and putting them on-line. Their website is free. Their on-line records have been indexed in the past, but in an effort to get more records on-line quickly, they are now putting un-indexed records on-line, too. They call this “Field Express”. This is a great idea. Searching these records would not be any different than looking through a roll of microfilm, the way we used to search records. The FamilySearch people are always looking for people willing to index records from their home computers. They also have an informative Wiki and Civil War records on their website.

FGS has a new project, “Preserve the Pensions”. This is a project to digitize the War of 1812 pension application files. They have digitized over 71,000 pension documents but are less than 1% complete. You can learn more about this project and make a contribution at FGS Preserve the Pensions. A $25 donation will digitize 50 images. The digitized images are on-line at Fold3 (formerly Footnote.com).

FGS Preserve the Pensions project. FGS 2011.

At the conclusion of the conference we met with the Dick Eastman group on Saturday evening for a nice dinner on the 29th floor of our hotel. The view was beautiful from up there and we had a very enjoyable evening.

Everyone has a great time at Maia's Books. FGS 2011.

It was a fun but tiring week. I loved it! Now I have to switch hats. I’ll be attending the Ohio Dental Association Annual Session this weekend in Columbus. (Just between you and me, the genealogical conferences are a lot more fun!)

The next national genealogical conference will be the National Genealogical Society Conference, The Ohio River-Gateway to the Western Frontier. It will be held in Cincinnati, 9-12  May 2012. See you there!





  1. Great wrap-up article and nice photos, Karen! I agree, the conference was wonderful and there was so much to see and do in Springfield. It was great seeing you there!

    1. Thanks, Shelley! It was great seeing you again, too. I’ll probably see you next year in Cinci.

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