FGS and RootsTech 2015 Genealogy Conference

Written by: Darryn Lickliter, Director of RG and Head Genealogist
March 18, 2015

For the past few years, NSDAR has exhibited at both the FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) and NGS (National Genealogical Society) conferences.  These conferences are a great way to promote membership and interest in the DAR as well as to illustrate to the genealogical community the value of DAR’s tremendous resources. Although the FGS conference is usually held in the heat of August, this year, FGS decided to partner with RootsTech, which hosts the largest genealogical conference in the United States annually in Salt Lake City in the cold of February. In spite of the season, I opted to take a few days personal leave and arrive early in Salt Lake to work on some of my own personal research, which is not something I get to do very often. 

I arrived on Friday evening and after a quick stop at the hotel, I walked about a mile to the Family History Library. With just over two hours before closing I was able to resolve two of my own brick walls and locate documentation for friends. For one of my lines, a published family genealogy gave one of my ancestors’ complete marriage date and a maiden name for the wife, which I had never been able to document independently. After searching the original marriage bonds for the county, I was able to locate the couple’s marriage record. Not only were they married 4 years before the published genealogy said they were, the maiden name was completely different and was verified by her father’s consent for her to marry. Suffice it say, it pays to use original records and not rely on published abstracts!  After a few days of problem solving and a conference call with DAR staff, it was time to start focusing on the conference.

Upon arriving at the exhibit hall on Wednesday, I was amazed to see the number of exhibitors setting up.  I knew this was going to be a great opportunity to highlight DAR.  After checking at the exhibitor check in, I made my way to our DAR booth.  While I was working to get our booth set up I connected with Stacie Newton, Assistant Director, Supplementals, who was scheduled to give a talk on creating a dynamic genealogical education program.  Since I was still waiting for materials for the booth, I headed over to Stacie’s talk. 

In spite of a sore throat, Stacie gave an excellent presentation on the steps necessary to create an educational program. Stacie’s experience as an educator and her PowerPoint wizardry has made her a valuable asset in developing our Genealogical Education Program. Her talk was well attended and was recorded. If you are interested you can go to this website to purchase Stacie’s presentation. There were several DAR members in attendance, including Brenda Reeder, Utah State Vice Regent.  After the talk we all chatted a few minutes then Stacie and I headed back to the booth.  We then were able to set up the booth with the brochures, magazine samples, samples of our research guides for New York, Georgia and Rhode Island and Forgotten Patriots which I had shipped from DC. We were pleased to have to booth prepared before the hall opened for the first time the next day.

I arrived back at the exhibit hall on Thursday morning and shortly after I was joined by Stacie as well as some of the Utah Daughters who had volunteered to help. The doors opened at 10am and in spite of being in the back of the exhibit hall, there was a steady stream of visitors to our booth all day.  Many Daughters attending the conference stopped by to say hello and were happy to receive a “DAR Member” badge ribbon.  Conference attendees attach them to their conference badges and it is not uncommon to see people with so many badge ribbons, that they hang down to their knees! Interest in DAR was very high. It is especially helpful that we can show attendees our GRS database. When they see their ancestor in our records and we are able to show them how much of their lineage has already been proven, it makes the application process seem a lot less daunting.  A number of them did not have their genealogy with them so we told them to come back by when they did.  We also had visits from a number of women who were already working with chapters and had questions about documenting their lineage.  We were able to give them some pointers and suggested they go to the Family History Library and see what they could find. 

As this was my first time attending RootsTech, I really did not know what to expect as far as traffic at the booth. Typically the first day of any conference is extremely busy and then things slow down a bit.  This was not to be the case on Friday and Saturday. There were over 22,000 registered for the conference!   During the few slow times, Stacie and I were able to speak with the Utah Daughters and give some pointers.  It would not be possible for NSDAR to exhibit at these conferences if it weren’t for the wonderful support of the local state societies. I would like to personally thank the Utah Daughters who volunteered their time to share their DAR experiences with the conference attendees at the booth, especially State Regent Judith Barking, State Vice Regent Brenda Reeder and Utah Volunteer Genealogist Chair Diane Tarbox.

This was a wonderful conference and as always it was a joy to talk to people about the DAR and show them our vast array of genealogical resources.

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