Opinion

Virtual conferences

We all hope to see the end of COVID-19 sometime this year and, we hope, a return to something approaching normalcy. 

Genealogists are waiting to see when and if normal genealogical group meetings will resume and if workshops and conferences will be held again. We don’t have answers to these questions yet, but I do have news of two major genealogical conferences which will be held virtually and both deserve your attention.

The Roots Tech Conference sponsored by the Church of Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City will be held virtually. It will be a free event running from Feb. 22 through Feb. 27. You’ll be able to pick and choose what you watch, including the keynote speakers and sessions of all sorts. Roots Tech is one of the most respected conferences in the genealogical world. As I’m writing this I don’t know the keynote speakers or the lineup of the sessions, but you can sign up for updates by going to www.rootstech.org. Fill out the form and you’ll be notified of all events and you can decide what you want to tune into. 

There’s usually a fee for attending RootsTech virtually but this year it’s absolutely free so don’t miss this chance. And if you haven’t yet set up an account for researching the LDS genealogical website you can do that at FamilySearch.org. Very little is free these days so do take advantage of these opportunities. 

Another major conference going virtual is the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium Conference. They always have a great lineup of speakers and this year it will be televised over a period of time from April 1 to May 31, allowing you to watch as many sessions as interest you. All sessions will be recorded and available for 61 days. There will be a fee charged to “attend” this conference. I don’t have a list of the offerings, but they will offer 72 presentations by 56 speakers. 

There will be other offerings including add-on tracks for additional fees; a virtual banquet presentation on April 1 by English author Nathan Goodwin about “fact in fiction,” a virtual exhibit hall; and an Ancestors Road Show where you can sign up for a 20-minute consultation with a knowledgeable genealogist. Keynoters include Angie Bush, a genetic genealogist, Pat Richley-Erickson, better known as DearMYRTLE the genealogical blogger, and John Grenham, Irish genealogical expert. All three of these keynote speakers are experts in their fields and have been honored for their genealogical work.

The entire schedule hasn’t been released yet, but you can learn more about this conference at www.nergc.org, where you can read the conference e-zines, register at the appropriate time, and explore information on previous conferences to give you some idea of the quality and variety of the offerings.

I’m certain other conferences and workshops will be virtual for at least a good portion of this year. Genealogical groups may be offering Zoom presentations and meetings as well. As I learn more about virtual workshops or conferences, I’ll let you know.

Columnist Nancy Battick of Dover-Foxcroft has researched genealogy for over 30 years. She is past president of the Maine Genealogical Society, author of several genealogical articles and co-transcribed the Vital Records of Dover-Foxcroft.  Nancy holds an MA in History from UM and lives in DF with her husband, Jack, another avid genealogist. Reader emails are welcome at nbattick@roadrunner.com. 

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