Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Friday, May 13, 2016

Looking Back at NGS 2016 in Fort Lauderdale

By now most of you have read numerous accounts of this year's National Genealogical Society Family History Conference in Fort Lauderdale. I want to share a little from my perspective.

I arrived in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday afternoon and was excited to discover I had a room with a view. The room overlooked the cruise port.

Cruise Ships in Fort Lauderdale
We also had quite the view of the bridge across the Intercoastal Waterway on 17th Street.

Drawbridge over Intercoastal Waterway at 17th Street
I enjoyed visiting with friends after arriving on Tuesday. I roomed with Yolanda Campbell Lifter. She's a great roommate although we mostly saw each other only in the evenings.

The Convention Center as seen from the Hotel Parking Lot

On Wednesday and Thursday I mostly attended the Caribbean track of lectures. If you want to learn something new, going to lectures about areas in which you have not researched is one way to do so. I believe we are going to see an upsurge in persons seeking their Cuban roots with the lifting of sanctions against the country. Unfortunately record preservation has not been the highest priority of the Cuban government and a lot of barriers exist to accessing what does exist. Fortunately church records can often be very helpful to those seeking their Cuban roots. My favorite lectures in the track were the two by Jeff Haines (Bahamas/Florida and Barbados) and the one by Michael Hait (San Domingue).

I attended several lectures on African-American research during the week that were also quite useful. Deborah Abbott presented a wealth of information on manuscript collections useful in African-American research on Thursday morning. Friday morning she demonstrated the difficulty of researching enslaved ancestors but presented wonderful examples of finding them by using their "FAN Club." Mark Lowe followed her with another presentation showing all sorts of places to locate marriage records for freedmen.

Intercoastal Waterway
I spent most of Saturday in the State Research track as the emphasis was on Southern States. Diane Richard gave a great presentation on records for poor ancestors in North Carolina. Jeff Haines' presentation on South Carolina Land Records introduced me to a few resources I have not yet explored for some of those "lost in South Carolina" ancestors. Mark Lowe gave a pitch for next year's conference as he gave a lecture on North Carolina research.

Across the bridge
No convention would be complete without socializing with friends. The exhibit hall offered fewer vendors this year than some years. It's always fun to see who you "run into" while visiting the various booths. I attended a breakfast one morning where I had the opportunity to sit and visit with several genealogists including Judy Russell, D. Joshua Taylor, Beth Stahr, and others. We had some very interesting conversations that morning. Many genealogists enjoyed the luncheons and/or NGS Banquet also. One evening I had a message from Donna Pointkouski asking if I could meet her and Lisa Alzo outside by the pool so we could visit. As soon as I wrapped up the visit with the person I was visiting at the time, I headed out there and enjoyed a nice hour long visit with them. The weather was quite pleasant that evening also!

Lori and Jeff

If you've never attended an NGS conference, you really need to prioritize attending next year's conference in Raleigh. Of course, those of you who have attended previous conferences need to prioritize it too. (No -- Mark Lowe, next year's national chair, is not paying me to say that!)

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