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Genealogical Education: National Conferences and Institutes

by Kathleen W. Hinckley, CGRS
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Some of the best genealogical education opportunities are at national and regional conferences. They usually offer a wide variety of both introductory and advanced topics, and also provide a chance to meet and share tips with other genealogists. Kathleen Hinckley shares her list of the top conferences and institutes.

Genealogical Education Part I promoted education via online and home study courses. Part II of this series focuses on the national genealogical conferences and institutes.

National conferences are generally three- to four-day events with an average attendance of 800–1,500 genealogists. The two largest national conferences are hosted by the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS). The conferences are in different cities each year, with the NGS Conference in the Spring and FGS Conference in the fall. Local societies co-sponsor these conferences and make local arrangements. Details about their 2000 conferences are in the calendar below, followed by dates and places for 2001-2002.

Institutes differ from conferences or seminars, in that students commit to a specific week-long course of study. The class size ranges from 15-30 students, allowing more personalized instruction. The four major institutes in the United States are listed below, arranged chronologically by founding date.

  • National Institute on Genealogical Research
    The National Institute on Genealogical Research held in Washington, D.C., was founded in 1950 and incorporated in 1989. Its Board of Trustees consist of representatives of the American Society of Genealogists, the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Board for Certification of Genealogists, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, and the Institute's Alumni Association. The National Archives, a non-voting member of the corporation, provides strong support. The Institute's program takes an in-depth look at federal records of genealogical value located primarily in the Washington D.C. area.

  • Samford Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research
    The Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research was founded in 1964 at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama. The Board for Certification of Genealogists co-sponsors the Institute which offers seven courses ranging from beginning genealogy to more specialized topics. The British portion of the Institute offers a course on British family history each June, followed by a July Study Tour to the British Isles.

  • Genealogical Institute of Mid-America
    The Genealogical Institute of America began in 1993. GIMA is a four-day program of intensive study at the University of Illinois Springfield. Plans are underway for the 2000 curriculum.

  • Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy
    The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy was begun in 1996. The week-long seminar offers students hands-on learning experience at the Family History Library.

In addition to the national genealogical conferences and institutes, there are hundreds of regional and local seminars/workshops. Your local genealogical society or library will have a calendar of events for your area. Also check out the following calendars on the Internet:

Take every opportunity possible to attend a local, state, regional, or national conference and/or institute. Your research skills will improve and your family history will be rich with ancestral information. If you cannot attend the conferences, audio tapes can be purchased at Repeat Performance.

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How-To Article: Genealogical Eduction — Magazines and Journals
How-To Article: Preparing for a Genealogical Conference
Online Lessons: Sharpen Your Research Skills

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