Getting the Most out of a Genealogy Seminar

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

With the bi-annual seminar of the Kelowna & District Genealogy Society coming up this Saturday, I thought I'd take this opportunity to provide some tips on how to make the most of a genealogical seminar. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Arrive early. This makes it easier for the organizers, yes, but you will also be able to browse the merchandise stands, figure out where the washrooms, lunchrooms are etc, and get a seat near the front of the room.
  2. Talk to other attendees and the lecturers. I have been to many seminars where people each their lunches in silence at tables with other genealogists. Instead, make the effort to get to know the people you are sitting with. Ask them where they are researching, what time period, what surnames, any particularly interesting problems they have overcome, useful resources in the community or online. In short, you could be sitting next to a long-lost relative or someone who knows the answer to the particular problem you are having. Make sure that you take the opportunity to find out.
  3. Listen. It is so easy to tell others about our family history but theirs never seems as interesting to us. Yet you don't learn anything by talking. Make sure that you are open to listening to the kind of information in point 2 above.
  4. Collect and keep the handouts provided to you by the lecturers. Lecturers are usually limited in the number of pages they are allowed to provide in handouts (due to the expense). This means that the handouts should have the "essential" information that you will need to know on their topic. I have been to many seminars over the years and have collected extensive resources. Make sure that you file these as soon as you get home so that you can find them later.
  5. Take money with you. It might seem like a no-brainer but with all that genealogical merchandise floating around make sure that you have cash to purchase anything that catches your eye. Most of these vendors probably won't take credit cards (except at large genealogical conferences). While you might need to watch you don't overspend, it is better than to miss out on that book you have been looking for.
Remember, in order to get the most out of these seminars you should be proactive. Talk to people. Ask questions. And don't forget to write down anything that is useful or interesting.

Enjoy your seminar!

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