24 October 2014

Looking Forward to #FGS2015; an energetic experience

It's been a while. Yes, I know. It was a very long summer pulling me in numerous directions, and while most of it was absolutely incredible, some if it was quite stressful. But now? I'm back, and I'm happy to be blogging for myself again. 

The last six months have been a bit of a whirlwind for me, and one of the reasons for that is the upcoming Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2015 conference. I was absolutely thrilled - and admittedly, more than a little surprised - to be invited to speak four times at this event. Not only is this an amazing conference to attend, it is also being held in conjunction with RootsTech this year, for a truly "once in a lifetime" event. 

FGS provided us with this nifty graphics to help spread the word! 

The conference itself is going to be quite an experience for all of us who are lucky enough to attend. Between the two events, the educational offerings will be quite extensive. 

The exhibit hall and society showcase should be quite something to see, both in size and scope; and of course, let's not overlook the fact that the whole thing takes place just down the road from the Family History Library. Whew. That's a lot to do in one week. 

I'm planning on arriving a day or two in advance this year. I'll have much to do in preparation for the conference, as a speaker, FGS Ambassador, and as part of the Findmypast team. I also plan on staying on a couple days afterwards, to visit with family and spend some time doing research at the library. 

I think sometimes it is hard to write down what you experience at a conference. If you have never attended an event like this, understand that through the crowds, the rush to see a favorite speaker, the nearly frantic pace to "get as much as I can" into your schedule for a week; the energy consumes you. There is no other feeling like it, the "conference high," when you arrive home and just cannot wait to dig into your research once again. Even those who have been working on a frustrating project for decades can find renewed energy and passion for a mystery still to be solved. 

As an FGS Ambassador, I will likely put most of my time into my social media channels, sharing the news, and getting the word out from the conference committee. You can easily find updates by following the hashtag, #FGS2015, or directly from the website

The event takes place February 11 - 14, 2015, and I certainly hope to see you there! 

05 July 2014

Making a Plan: #FGS2014

#FGS2014 will be upon us before we know it! I'm starting to prep by creating my conference plan. 

As a conference attendee, planning your days at an event like the Federation of Genealogical Societies Annual Conference can be quite rewarding. It's quite helpful to know in advance which sessions are on your "must-see" list and which special events and luncheons to look forward to. As a conference vendor, volunteer, speaker, ambassador, and attendee, the planning becomes a bit more... complicated. 

Of course, I also want some time for networking, visiting with friends, and toss in the live #genchat that will be done from the venue. All of this pretty much means it's going to be a long week, I'm going to be exhausted when it's done, but I'm going to have a grand time. 

My planning actually started a while ago when I settled on my dates. I'll be in San Antonio the Monday before the conference, and I'll stay through the week, leaving the Monday after. Yes, it's an entire week of heat-filled fun in Texas for me, but I'm going to need it. I'm going to need the time to settle in a bit, get myself organized, and ensure that I have everything I need. That's what Monday is all about. Travel - set up - change of mindset from regular life to conference life. 

The Paid Gigs

As my role with Findmypast will keep me quite busy, I'll use the time on Tuesday to preset some Tweets and other social media from my personal accounts, and to get all those "on site" tasks started as I wait for my team members to arrive. There is always just one more thing to do, and that includes making sure our area in the Expo Hall looks amazing, grabbing some early pictures to tweet out during the show, and confirming hotel reservations for late arrivals.

I'll take some time to go over my session, "Embracing Technology: Tools You Can Use Today to Move Your Society Into Virtual Space," one last time. This is a panel, which I'm co-presenting with D. Joshua Taylor, on behalf of the NextGen Genealogy Network. I'm excited for it, and I hope that the attendees will walk away with new, practical tools to assist their organizations, that they can implement immediately. That's the goal. 

Volunteer - Ambassador - Attendee

This conference is certainly not going to be boring! As a volunteer for the Preserve the Pensions War of 1812 effort, I'm planning on spending some time with that team, working to spread the message of our goals to digitize the pension files from the War of 1812. I'm planning on working my social media network as an FGS Ambassador. And I even get to attend a session or two! I'm looking forward to attending the FGS Society Luncheon on Wednesday, "The State of Our Societies," and "Volunteering From A Distance" with Paula Stewart-Warren. 

I'll be honest, the rest of the sessions on my list are questionable. I'll likely get to one or two, but the paid gig comes first, so it all depends on how busy we are over in the Expo Hall. One thing I do enjoy about these events is working with my fellow team members at Findmypast, and how we all try to look out for each other. Yes, we are there to represent the company and our product, but we also encourage each other to get to sessions and continue our own education. 

How is it possible? 

In discussion with a colleague the other day, I listed out all of my roles during #FGS2014. The question that came was, "how do you do it?" How do I keep it all straight, organized, and be where I'm supposed to be? 

The answer is focused preparation in advance of the event and the use of Excel. I started using Excel a lot more about 12 months ago in all facets of genealogy, and the trend has only continued - in fact - exploded! I now have spreadsheets for everything (I've written about this before), and that includes conferences. I have one for Findmypast and Preserve the Pensions, and each includes daily schedules, people I want to connect with, blogging ideas and social media prompts for myself, and more. 

I also get a lot of material from the FGS Conference website and the conference blog. Both are loaded with great material, that you can access in advance. Of course, that all transitions to the FGS app when I'm on site, so I can stay current on what is happening and have it all at my fingertips. 

Let's go to Texas! 

I've only been to Texas once before, spending a few days in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I got to meet Troy Aikman on that trip (his hands are huge - woah!) but I am absolutely positive that San Antonio in August will top that! 

I'll be there - with my boots on! Will you? 

01 July 2014

BillionGraves and FGS Partner in War of 1812 Cemetery Project AND $1812 Daily in Donations in July to Preserve the Pensions!

I received this press release this morning from the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS).

BillionGraves and The Federation of Genealogical Societies partner to image all cemetery markers for War of 1812 Participants

The Federation of Genealogical Societies also launches a major fundraising campaign for the Preserve the Pensions Project to honor the memory of these veterans in the month of July

·        Effort will include national War of 1812 cemeteries
·        Includes persons with individual markers in local and private cemeteries
·        July is a great month to remember the participants of the
“Second Revolution” as well as the American Revolution
·        The Federation seeks to raise an average of $1,812 each day of July!

AUSTIN, TX – 1 JULY 2014 The Federation of Genealogical Societies and cemetery website BillionGraves announced today a joint project to image all of the gravestone markers for participants of the War of 1812. “The images from these markers, coupled with the Federation’s current project to raise the funds to digitize the 7.2 million images of the pensions for those who participated in the War of 1812 are a natural fit,” said D. Joshua Taylor, President of FGS.

Hudson Gunn, President of BillionGraves said, “This July our focus is to see that the nation’s military headstones are documented and preserved for future generations. Headstones from early American history are quickly deteriorating, making it only a matter of time before they are lost forever. We are very pleased to have the Federation lend its help to spread this message for the War of 1812 veterans.” It is estimated that as many as 350,000 men may have served in the war. Although it is impossible to know how many may have cemetery markers, there could be as many as 50,000-80,000 markers for these veterans.

BillionGraves and The Federation of Genealogical Societies are asking anyone with knowledge of a cemetery marker for a War of 1812 veteran to upload the image of the marker to the BillionGraves website (www.billiongraves.com) using their free mobile application during the month of July to honor and remember the service of those who served in the “Second Revolution.”

If you upload an image for a War of 1812 veteran during the month of July or anytime thereafter, please let us know on Facebook or Twitter by using the hashtag #1812today and/or #warof1812 and/or #billiongraves. The Federation will also be posting the progress toward the fundraising goal of $1,812 per day on Facebook and Twitter, so check often and pass the word!

The efforts from these two organizations will provide a very valuable asset for researchers and historians researching 1812 veterans. With the Federation raising awareness of the project to digitize the War of 1812 pension records during the month of July and BillionGraves making the cemetery markers of War of 1812 veterans immediately searchable, it should be an exciting month for all genealogists and historians – everyone wins!

Those interested in preserving this valuable piece of America’s documented history can make a single contribution or become a monthly contributor of the Preserve the Pensions project. For more information, go to http://www.preservethepensions.org/ .


BillionGraves Inquiries
Hudson Gunn, President                                     
Phone: 801-885-4659

Preserve the Pensions Inquiries              
David E. Rencher, Preserve the Pensions Project Coordinator
Phone: 801-240-3997

FGS Media Inquiries
FGS Marketing & Publicity

Phone: (888) 347-1500