Program Schedule

View by: Day | Speaker | Track
Sessions at the FGS 2017 conference include a wide array of offerings from many of the nation’s leading family history experts and genealogical organizations. Tip: Click the ⋁ to view the sessions.  Once the sessions are in view, click the + for the description. Click the speaker's name to see the bio. 
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday


8:00-8:15 AM


8:15-9:15 AM

Focus on Societies Day Plenary Session: Creating, Packaging, and Sharing Your Society to Non-Genealogists
by D. Joshua Taylor MA, MLS
Local communities have a variety of organizations and groups, many that have little or no expressed interest in genealogy. That doesn’t mean they aren’t great potential partners for your genealogical society. In this plenary session, D. Joshua Taylor focuses on ways to package genealogical societies for non-genealogical partners, including local media, donors, charitable organizations, and politicians.
Society Management

9:30-10:30 AM

How to Find Volunteers and Keep Them!
Volunteers are the lifeblood of any society. This lecture gives societies tips and ideas for ways to locate volunteers, motivate them, and keep them engaged. (B/I/A)
Members & Volunteers
Your Society Can’t Afford to Do a Seminar? Here’s How!
by Paula Stuart-Warren CG, FMGS, FUGA
A seminar could bring new members, volunteers, and funding for projects. This session addresses ways to be successful financially without much effort, once guidelines are established. Most groups can truly afford to bring in a well-known and knowledgeable speaker and plan a great seminar. (B/I/A)
Programs & Events
Eating an Elephant: Managing Large Projects
Facing a large project is not so intimidating with good planning, the right tools, thoughtful analysis, and organization. (B/I/A)
Your Society Is on Social Media. Now What?
by Amy Johnson Crow MLIS, CG, OGSF
Do you feel like your society isn’t getting all it can from social media? Is your Facebook page lonely? Learn what one society did to increase their performance and reach more people. (B/I/A)
Reaching Out
Shared Spaces for Society Management
Learn the pitfalls, positive aspects, and possibilities of taking your society management meetings into the virtual spheres. (I)
Society Boards
Creating Your Society’s Website Using WordPress
A WordPress site can start small and grow to meet the wants and needs of your society. (B/I)
Delegate 101
Sponsored by Federation of Genealogical Society
Join FGS leadership to discuss your role as a society delegate and how to get the most out of your society’s FGS membership. (B/I/A)
Discussion Groups

11:00 AM-12:00 PM

Your Genealogical Society is NOT Alone
Today, more than ever, genealogical societies need to talk to each other, share ideas, and share problems and solutions. Society leaders coming together in a roundtable and brainstorming is a great way to begin the dialog. (B/I/A)
Members & Volunteers
Hosting a Society Heirloom Roadshow or Preservation Workshop
Engage and energize your members by leveraging local experts to join genealogy speakers for interactive programs on preserving family heirlooms and keepsakes. (B/I/A)
Programs & Events
The Mad Hatter: Managing Your Many Duties Through Project Management Software
As societies change and take on additional roles to meet community needs, duties naturally increase. See how project management software was a game changer and the key to one society’s success. (B)
10 HOT Tips to Create Publications Every Member Will Read
Just named publications director but wonder how to improve legibility and readability? Learn ten tips for better graphical presentation of your society’s publications. (B)
Reaching Out
Plain Spoken: Updating and Simplifying Your Society Bylaws
Do the bylaws of your organization guide or hamper its actions? Are they hard to interpret or perhaps ignored altogether? Let’s tackle how to clean up ambiguous language, make use of other guiding documents, and get our bylaws working for us. (B/I/A)
Society Boards
Creating Quality Databases for Your Society Website
Discover ideas for online databases for your society’s members and tips and tricks for creating them. (B/I/A)
Social Media & Marketing
Do you have questions about best practices for social media? Discuss social media and marketing issues facing today’s society. (B/I/A)
Discussion Groups

12:00-1:45 PM

Federation of Genealogical Societies Focus on Societies Luncheon
Join FGS leadership and lend your voice to a discussion of the various ways the Federation serves its member community, along with a look at new benefits on the horizon and those your society would most like to see. Time will also be reserved for “Society Shout-Out,” offering you the opportunity to share successes from your society from the past year. This session also includes the FGS Annual Business Meeting and other important activities for society leaders and FGS delegates. Tickets $32 (advance purchase required)

2:00-3:00 PM

Build Membership and Participation with Small Groups and SIGs
Creating benefits that attract and keep members will strengthen any genealogical society. Small study groups or Special Interest Groups (SIGs) reach members on a more personal level and focus on topics of interest to them. Learn how to build strong small study groups and SIGs. (B/I/A)
Members & Volunteers
Dynamic Programming for Societies
by Teri E. Flack MBA, MA, FTxSGS
Educational programs are central to the mission of genealogical societies. Learn innovative and creative ways to develop dynamic education programs that can revitalize your society. (B/I/A)
Programs & Events
Digitizing on a Dime: Digitization Basics for Individuals and Small Genealogical Societies
This presentation demonstrates the basics of digitization for your collection of historic photographs and documents. Learn best practices for creating and keeping digital files with limited resources. (B)
Mining Your Content for Marketing Gold
by Amy Johnson Crow MLIS, CG, OGSF
Running low on ideas for your blog and social media? Turn to the content you’ve already created. Learn how to find marketing content in your books, databases, and special projects. (B/I/A)
Reaching Out
Grant Writing Success for Societies
Grant writing can be a daunting task for small societies and museums. Learn how to find grant opportunities online, define various types of grants, and decode a typical application process. Tina will share strategies on raising your application to the top of the pile and winning that grant! (B)
Society Boards
Building Your Society’s Digital Library
Sponsored by Findmypast
Societies are increasingly creating and maintaining digital collections. Learn about best practices, overcoming financial obstacles, choosing your nonprofit or for-profit partners, and the necessary technology to achieving digital success. (B/I/A)
Do you have problems finding content for newsletters or journals? Are you considering moving from print to digital? Discuss issues your society has with publications. (B/I/A)
Discussion Groups

3:30-4:30 PM

Putting the Customer Back in Customer Service—Strategies for 21st Century Organizations
by Curt B. Witcher MLS, FUGA, IGSF
This presentation will explore how a focus on good customer service will bring organizations in the genealogy space more members and move them from surviving to thriving. (B/I)
Members & Volunteers
Expanding Your Horizons: Taking Your Society on the Road
Local field trips and excursions to distant repositories play an important role in a society’s educational offerings. Learn to plan and execute these important teaching opportunities. (B/I/A)
Programs & Events
Creating a County Record Guide
Put your society’s knowledge into a printed or online guide to help members and nonmembers find records in your area. (B/I/A)
Outdated Outreach: Breathing New Life into Our Outreach Approach
The challenge of attracting and engaging an ever-changing audience and/or member base has increased over the years and our previous methods can miss the mark. Learn new approaches that engage various groups and connect them through content-based programming. (B)
Reaching Out
Oh, Those Pesky Minutes and Motions
The minutes are taken, approved, and filed. Do we ever go back and look at them? Should we? Absolutely! They are the history of the society. Board members move on and we forget what was decided and voted on. We must review, and by law, we must follow what those before us decided. (B/I/A)
Society Boards
Calling All Members: Your Society’s Website Needs Help
A society’s website should be as diverse as its offerings and its membership. Is it time for you to give it a critical look and help overhaul your site? What can you do to help? (B/I)
Conflict Resolution
Differing opinions among board members can cause conflict that becomes detrimental to the society. Discuss ways to handle those situations. (B/I/A)
Discussion Groups

5:00-6:00 PM

How to Ask for Money: Fundraising for Genealogical Societies
by D. Joshua Taylor MA, MLS
Fundraising does not often come easily for everyone, yet it is an essential component to running a successful nonprofit organization. Learn how to elevate your comfort level in asking for funds, identify grants, and develop donor-friendly initiatives for your society. (B/I/A)
Members & Volunteers
DNA and Your Genealogical Society
by Blaine Bettinger PhD, JD
DNA is here to stay, and your members are asking about it. It is a unique opportunity to attract new members with much-needed educational programming, yet many genealogical societies are ignoring the valuable opportunity. Let’s review what other genealogical societies are doing to educate members and explore ways you can engage your members. (B)
Programs & Events
Preserving Genealogical Society Records
Preservation of genealogical society records is an important aspect of society management. Learn how to preserve this valuable information for succeeding officers and members, and as a record of your organization for future researchers. (B)
Being the [Online] Regional Experts
Sponsored by Findmypast
Cultivating the online reputation of your society can lead to increased exposure and membership. With the implementation of selected best practices, you can learn to control the online historical arena for your community. (B/I/A)
Reaching Out
Conduct Meetings Every Board Member Wants to Attend!
Meetings! Meetings! Meetings! Learn how to plan and manage an efficient and effective society meeting and how to keep any meeting on track. (I)
Society Boards
Nobody Can Find My Website! Intro to Search Engine Optimization and Analysis Tools
Search engines are the number one source of traffic to most websites. This lecture covers the methods that search engines use to determine which sites to refer searchers to, and what can be done to maximize your website’s exposure to this massive audience. (B/I)
Open Floor
Open floor discussion on any topic related to society management. (B/I/A)
Discussion Groups

6:00-9:30 PM

Gateway Clipper Dinner Cruise
Sponsored by Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society
Board the Gateway Clipper Princess at the convention center for a dinner cruise along Pittsburgh’s three rivers. For convenience, the Gateway Clipper Princess will pick us up at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Boarding will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will depart the dock at 6:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday