Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Last Look at My First Family History Expo

Now that I'm all caught up at home from my long weekend in Mesa, I can gather my thoughts and share observations about my experience at the Arizona Family History Expo, which is part of the Family History Expos series. Here's what I liked about this event:

1. It's affordable.
Compared to other national genealogy conferences, a Family History Expos event is a deal. On top of that, their locations are usually in smaller cities (like Mesa instead of Phoenix) meaning hotel costs are less as well.

2. It's fun.
I've never been to a bad genealogy conference, but some are funner than others. It was nice to attend a banquet where we were encouraged to let our hair down. I also felt like the Expo staff were genuinely happy to have me as an attendee, and they thanked me again and again for being part of their event.

3. The speakers are accessible.
At one major conference I attended last year, the large rooms and overall design of the conference didn't make for easy (or any) interaction with speakers. They had a role, they spoke, and then they went to dinner with other speakers. At the Arizona Family History Expo, the speakers were fellow attendees, they were vendors, they were bloggers, and they were easy to approach. I had dinner with some speakers. They were my friends. We extended the discussion of genealogy topics outside the sessions, and that's my favorite way to exchange information.

4. You'll get your tech fix.
The Family History Expos staff encourage the integration of technology and genealogy. That's the reason I was able to blog, use Twitter, and bring the conference to those who could not attend. The Expos event also held classes to help genealogists learn how to use online tools. You should have seen the attendees at Thomas MacEntee's Twitter and blogging sessions. They really wanted to understand these tools. The demand for tech classes is there and the Expos staff are making sure the need is met. I can't say that for all of the large genealogy conferences I've attended in the past year.

5. You'll always learn something new.
The Family History Expos staff are very generous in that they are always interested in giving new speakers a chance. This allows for many varied topics and subjects you may not find at other conferences. The field of genealogy is evolving, and the Expos staff seem to be responding to the change faster than planners of other conferences.

Though the Family History Expo staff provided me with a little swag, the opinions above are my own; simply observations of a serial genealogy conference attendee. In the past year, I went to the conferences of the National Genealogy Society, the Southern California Genealogy Society (Jamboree), the Association of Professional Genealogists (day conference), the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference and this Arizona Family History Expo. My opinions of the Expo are based on my experiences at these events.

The Family History Expos are all over the country now. Check out their schedule and see if there is one near you.

Now I just need to build up some babysitting credits so I can attend another Expo.


  1. Sounds like you had a great time and you were able to increase your knowledge! A winning combination!

  2. Seems you had a lot of fun, what was the ome thing you took out of the conference

  3. Good question. I liked the sessions on German research. I also like chatting with others outside the sessions because I learn a lot about the business of genealogy that way.

  4. well said! I wish I had been able to attend. Hopefully next time.

  5. You did a great job of summarizing the pluses, Amy! My hsuband and I are goign to the Expo in Loveland, CO in June! I'm so anxious. I wish Thomas would be there! And YOU, of course. It would be so much fun to visit!

  6. Great job of summing up the conference! I was there too and couldn't have said it better myself. We spoke at Thomas' Blogging session. I really felt like I left this weekend with a lot of really good nuts and bolts types of "tools" to further my efforts. In fact, I am plotting a way to try and attend another FHE BEFORE they come back to Mesa!

  7. Becky, our paths will cross at some point. I am determined to hit all the Expos. :)

  8. Michelle, thanks for the comment. I want to try to go to another FHE, too, but at least get back to Mesa. Childcare is tricky for me and I have to plan WAY ahead.

  9. Amy, I agree. I learned a lot of information going to the expo that I really didn't think I would...Aside from what you and I had previously discussed at the Expo, I really enjoyed the last class that I attended with Gena Ortega. I am still processing the experience.

  10. Amy Dahling,

    The Expo is coming to Northern California in October. Actually it is in Pleasanton about 1/2 from where I live. You can bring the kid with you and stay with me.

  11. Sheri, you're so sweet to offer! The rugrat is in school, though, that's part of the problem.

  12. My parents live right outside Mesa, so I sent them over for the free Expo part of it. Yesterday I got a box from them with all kinds of stuff they found and bought for me, too! I hope I can go to the next one.

  13. I also attend the Mesa, AZ Expo. I was really impressed with how it was run & the fun was everywhere. I attended so many various classes & was never disappointed. I agree with you, the speakers were very accessable to us. I have been going to the So Calif. Jamboree for years & the Mesa Expo really measured up!