Monday, February 22, 2010

Ancestry - NEHGS "Family History Day" a Smashing Success

I was 2,500 miles away from the genealogy event of the weekend - the "Family History Day" held in Boston on Saturday, 20 February, hosted by the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and Tom Champoux, the NEHGS Marketing Director, passed along some notes and photos from the event:

"New England Historic Genealogical Society and are extremely pleased and thrilled to announce that Boston’s first “Family History Day,” held Saturday, Feb 20th at the Westin Copley Place hotel brought in more than 700 people from all across New England and New York.

"Registrants had opportunities to listen to talks by both and NEHGS." Here is a picture of Rhonda McClure's talk on "Organize, Organize, Organize:"

"Registrants also had an opportunity to sign up for 15-minute, 1-on-1 consultations with expert genealogists from NEHGS and APG-New England Chapter. In the end, more than 500 consultations were given by more than 30 professional genealogists."

The book sales tables were a big hit:

"They were also invited to bring in family papers, documents, and photographs for free scanning into electronic format. Ancestry tells us that they scanned more than 2,000 documents and photos for about 125 people – breaking Ancestry’s all-time record for one day of scanning."

Tom's overview:

"It was a remarkable day, in that we organized the entire event in mid-December, giving us about 2 months of planning time to pick a venue and create the day’s events. Ancestry was incredibly pleased that we were able to help bring 700+ people to the hotel for the day. It should be worth noting that we had another 300 people on a wait-list, and the hotel received more than 150 additional phone calls from people wanting to register."

My thanks to Tom Champoux for forwarding his comments and the pictures.

It may well be that one-day events like this - held in a population center with a nominal registration fee ($30 in this case) - are the future of big-city genealogy conferences. Whether two speaker sessions or 60, it makes a lot of sense to me. There are no airfare, hotel, banquet, and other costs for the attendees - and it seems like the attendees got their money's worth with the speakers, book sales, scanning sessions and consultations. You do need a host society to organize it, a venue large enough to accommodate everybody, and corporate sponsors to offer events like the scanning services and consultations. has held several similar events over the past year, including this past January in San Diego which was a major success. Many local and regional societies sponsor one-day seminars and conferences to "feed the hunger" of their local researchers and members.

I think that genealogy researchers are "hungry" for opportunities like this, even in a "genea-resource-rich" place like Boston.


Breeze said...

I was one of the lucky attendees and can say it was a wonderful event.

Polly F. Kimmitt said...

Randy, it was a great time, both for attendees and those presenting. Don't forget to mention the New England Chapter of APG who offered their services for expert consultations. In all, Josh Taylor reported that 500 individual consultations took place! It was a great event and could represent a new paradigm for spreading the word about genealogy!

Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

Two other GeneaBloggers attended and wrote about this. See Kathy's post at
and my post at for two other opinions of the day. It was a great event,and it should be duplicated in other cities!