I’ve begun to peruse the schedule to figure out what to attend and like many conferences it forces choices between sessions that are often equally appealing. An excellent film festival accompanies the conference so one could easily attend only films and be quite content.
A resource center offers many databases that are not normally available without fees and many of my breakthroughs have come at the conference through those resources. In Chicago an obituary I found gave me information that allowed me to trace a sibling of my great-great grandfather back to Belarus. At the LA conference the Jewish Chronicle gave me core information on my British and Scottish relatives that subsequently made sense when I gathered one more puzzle piece. This year I noted that there are several British newspaper archives as well as that very useful Jewish Chronicle to continue my UK search.
The conference also piques my interest in a variety of new areas, continually expanding my knowledge base and sending me off in new directions. At the last conference I learned how to create search engines that I incorporated into my Shtetlink websites. I first became interested in learning Russian from a conference workshop a few years ago and later became intrigued with social and political history from a historian’s lecture. At the last conference I attended a workshop on creating family histories through interviews and committed to doing one in the following year. With twelve completed between my Jewish Identity & Legacy project and my Radom project, I knocked that one out of the ballpark. The presenter from last year is now doing a seminar on using visual images as part of family stories, something I know a little about as an artist. He’s asked to include one of my paintings in his talk so I’ll have to attend that one.
The conference is also a good opportunity to meet with genealogy friends, both old and new. As I do two Shtetlinks, I frequently am contacted for information by others researching family from those towns. The conference will allow me to meet several of my correspondents.
For those of us who have had considerable success in our research the challenge is always where to go from here. The conference is a good way to break through those logjams through meeting with others and learning of new approaches. I’m not quite sure where this one will lead, but I’ve learned that if one comes to it eager to learn and curious about new information, the unexpected may just happen. For more information on the conference see 2011 IAJGS Conference.