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Conferences, trips, courses to keep genealogists busy

Although most of us are spending summer vacations visiting courthouses to find records that no one has digitized and uploaded to the Internet, the folks at the Florida State Genealogical Society are putting the finishing touches on a November conference.

Although the society has not yet released precise lecture titles, the conference theme “The Best of Times: Genealogy + Technology” offers a clue to the general flavor of the sessions.

The state’s 36th annual conference will be Nov. 8 to 10 at the Hilton Deerfield/Boca Raton in Deerfield Beach. Keynote speakers will be Curt Witcher and Thomas MacEntee.

A bevy of area lecturers will handle breakout sessions. The society has not yet announced those speakers.

MacEntee created, where he has organized over 2,000 bloggers documenting their quests and journeys through the genealogy world.

Through his company, High-Definition Genealogy, he offers market research, education and technology to those in the family history industry.

Witcher is the senior manager for Special Collections at the Allen County, Ind., public library. He is a former president of both the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society. He is the founding president of the Indiana Genealogical Society.

In 1995, the prestigious Utah Genealogical Society named him a fellow. In 2007, the NGS honored him with the William Filby Award for outstanding lifetime contributions to genealogical libraryship.

Registration for the conference will open sometime this month. Those interested can keep an eye on and this column for costs and updated information.

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What family historian wouldn’t like a trip to Salt Lake City with seasoned experts to guide them through the research process?

The National Genealogical Society is offering two weeklong trips, Oct. 21 to 18 and Jan. 6 to 13, with expert assistance from board-certified genealogical guides.

The package includes a seven-night hotel stay at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel (steps away from the LDS Library) with airport van service, six days of guided research, an arrival evening orientation and social, evening events such as a group lecture and pizza party, and group meals. The cost for a shared room is $675 (for NGS members) for the October trip and $925 (for NGS members) for the January trip (with registration before Oct. 15).

Those interested can get more details at

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Is it tough for you to grasp how DNA works and what it can do for genealogists? The National Genealogical Society has opened a new course to help family historians to get a hold on this scientific research.

Dr. Thomas H. Shawker developed “Genetic Genealogy: The Basics,” six self-paced lessons that cover such angles as structure of the DNA molecule, how it is organized, how it replicates and how it functions. Also on the syllabus are lessons on how individuals inherit Y chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA, and the two types of DNA markers used in genetic genealogy.

The course is available on a PC- or MAC-compatible CD for $45 for members and $70 for nonmembers. A complete course syllabus and registration details are available online at

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