FGS 2017 Conference Program

Keynote Address

Take the Unexpected Bridge

Rick Sebak

When searching for information of any sort, from historic and genealogical to gastronomic and adventurous, often the best route is along unfamiliar roads and across unexpected bridges. Here in the City of Bridges, exploring and learning frequently mean that you find yourself crossing a span that you’ve never seen before. But that’s often what makes for good stories and surprise discoveries.

FGS is excited to have popular Pittsburgh public TV producer Rick Sebak sharing some of his tales of uncovering local secrets as well as details about his own family’s history. No matter what the topic, or where he goes to do research, Rick also likes to celebrate good food he finds along the way.

About the speaker: Rick Sebak makes unusual television programs. His slightly wacky documentaries now celebrate various aspects of modern American life and the unexpected charms of Pittsburgh. Audiences have learned to recognize his friendly narrative style and the unusual topics that he obviously loves.

Since 1987 when he returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh to work at WQED, he has produced more than 30 documentaries about the history, the neighborhoods, the buildings, the people and the food of western Pennsylvania. His programs include Kennywood Memories, Things That Aren’t There Anymore, and Pennsylvania Diners, among others.

Rick has also put together more than a dozen national programs for PBS that celebrate various aspects of modern American culture from sandwiches to cemeteries. Rick was nominated for two prime-time Emmy® Awards for his work on Fred Rogers:  America’s Favorite Neighbor.  He has received numerous local awards and recognitions, including ten regional Emmy® Awards and an honorary doctorate from Seton Hill University.

Focus on Societies

FGS strives to provide excellent services and support to its member societies. Wednesday’s Focus on Societies program, offering a full day of topics related to society management, is one way we accomplish that mission. But you don’t have to be a society officer to attend or benefit from these great sessions.

D. Joshua Taylor, MLS, starts the day off with the Plenary Session “Bridges to the Community: Creating, Packaging, and Sharing Your Society to Non-Genealogists.” Thirty-five sessions designated into seven tracks, including Members & Volunteers, Projects, Websites, and Programs & Events fill the rest of the day.

A special Discussion Group track offers society leaders an opportunity to discuss issues, problems, and resolutions for topics such as Social Media & Marketing, Publications, and Conflict Resolution. These discussions will be facilitated by FGS Board Members but are designed to be interactive opportunities for sharing ideas, experiences, and solutions for ongoing challenges facing societies.  

Join the FGS Board and fellow society members for the FGS Luncheon. This luncheon is an opportunity to network with peers and participate in the ever-popular “Society Shout-Out” when folks share the exciting projects and activities their societies have in the works.

Program Overview

“Building Bridges to the Past” references not only the many bridges in Pittsburgh but also the bridges between the old world and new, as well as our journeys to discover our past. This year’s conference program brings you a wide variety of topics presented by many of the nation’s top family history experts. Sessions are aimed at strengthening your research skills no matter what your level or area of expertise might be.

A variety of tracks fill the program. Immigrant/Ethnic, Records, and Regional tracks appear each day, Thursday through Saturday, along with a variety of others including DNA, Methodology, Analysis, Skills, African American, Land and Taxes, Religion, Occupations, and more.

Six workshops are on the schedule. Four traditional two-hour workshops cover caring for keepsakes, researching planning, storytelling, and transcribing & analyzing along with two special four-hour DNA workshops. “Connecting the DNA Dots” is beginner-to-intermediate level while “Using Genetics and Genealogy to Smash Through Brick Walls” is intermediate to advanced level and requires prerequisites be met to participate.

Nine luncheons provide a great opportunity to network with fellow genealogists and hear lighter presentations from entertaining speakers provided by the sponsoring organizations. Everyone is welcome to purchase tickets to any sponsored luncheon but space is limited so be sure to register early to get the luncheons you want to attend.

Whether you are a novice, an expert, or anywhere in between, the FGS 2017 Conference has something for you!

Daily Schedule

Look at the full conference brochure (PDF)