My Adventures at a Genealogy Conference

by Memoir Mentor on June 16, 2011

Last week I gave a presentation at Jamboree, the nation’s third largest genealogy conference, held annually at the Convention Center next to the Marriott Hotel in Burbank, CA, and sponsored by the Southern California Genealogy Society. I’m always amazed at how many people (somewhere around 2000 this year), travel from all over the country to attend this two-day conference.

This year a family history writer’s conference was held the day before the conference, and it was at that event that I spoke, addressing one of my favorite topics: “The Family History Writer’s Conundrum: How to Write about Family Skeletons and Other Prickly People,” a subject I’m often asked about in my classes. We all have family skeletons of one variety or another. The question is, do we write about them? If so, how much truth should we tell? What are the risks, etc., etc.? I had a great time teaching the folks who showed up to hear me. That over, I enjoyed attending the rest of the conference, soaking up as much information as I could and wishing I had more time when I got home to apply some of what I learned to unearth and untangle some of my troublesome family roots.

I ran into a number of people I knew as I rushed between classes. I found two of my students, Dotty and Marcia, dressed in Mayflower attire to attract people to their Mayflower Society table in the Exhibit Hall. Dotty and Marcia (I wish I’d asked the third woman’s name!), are real troopers. They also own Civil War-era dresses they don when they travel around the country to participate in Civil War enactments. We genealogists really like to get close to our ancestors! If you’d come to the conference, you could have talked to all kinds of zealous genealogy hobbyists with ties to the DAR and SAR, Sons of Norway, Cousins of Canadians, and other proud kin of Germans, Irish, Scottish, Dutch, you name it. I just wish they’d stop digging for names and dates and start writing their stories.

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