Paul Milner receives David S. Vogels Jr. Award from FGS

Federation of Genealogical Societies Logo

Federation of Genealogical Societies Announces 2020 Awards
9/2/2020 – Austin, TX.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies announced the recipients of its 2020 Awards at its Virtual Family History Conference on September 2, 2020. These award recipients have exhibited outstanding service, excellence, and achievement in genealogical pursuits.
Repository of the Year Award: Mid-Continent Public Library and Midwest Genealogy Center
This award recognizes a library, archive, historical society, museum, academic institution, or other repository for its exceptional impact and contribution to the genealogy community, preservation of records, access to records, technology advances, or other services to family history. The Mid-Continent Public Library and the Midwest Genealogy Center were recognized for their exceptional impact and contributions to the genealogy community. Cheryl Lang, Manager of the Midwest Genealogy Center, and Steve Potter, Director of the Mid-Continent Public Library, provided significant support to prepare for the 2020 FGS Conference originally planned for in Kansas City on September 2. Although the conference transitioned to virtual, MCPL continued to support librarians and genealogists by providing a learning experience entitled “Why Genealogy Matters to Public Libraries,” by Steve Potter, which is available for free with a registration to the 2020 Family History Conference.
George E. Williams Award: Rick and JoAnn Shields
This award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions within a single year to either FGS, a member organization, or both. Rick and JoAnn Shields were recognized for their above and beyond efforts to organize and implement the FGS 2020 Conference and transition it to a virtual event. Without their efforts, the last FGS conference would not have been possible.
Rabbi Malcom H. Stern Humanitarian Award: Miriam Weiner
The Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern Humanitarian Award recognizes the lifetime contributions of a rare individual whose positive personal influence and example have fostered unity in the genealogical community, provided leadership to its individual members, and helped make family history a vital force in the community at large. This year we honor Miriam Weiner for her leadership and contributions to the genealogical community. Miriam has been described as the genealogist who lifted the “Archival Iron Curtain.” For years, she has actively worked to make previously unaccessible records available to those interested in researching the history of their ancestors. Her career represents the highest standard that embodies both the purpose and spirit of this award.
Loretto Dennis Szucs Award: Gary Mokotoff
This award recognizes the contributions of an individual whose positive personal influence and extraordinary service to FGS and the genealogy industry have gone above and beyond the norm, impacting the overall benefit to the genealogical community at large and spreading the awareness of family history to the general public. This year Gary Mokotoff is recognized for his many years of dedicated service and for helping to revolutionize the way we do research. Gary became involved in genealogy in 1979 and has spent many years serving the genealogical community in many leadership positions. He used his computer background to develop some of the earliest databases for Jewish genealogy including the Jewish Genealogical Family Finder (now called JewishGen Family Finder), a database used by more than 100,000 Jewish genealogists. Gary was also instrumental in founding the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.
David S. Vogels Jr. Award: Paul Milner and Frederick E. Moss
This award is given to two individual this year in recognition of outstanding career contributions to FGS. FGS recognizes Paul Milner for his years of service to FGS and his contributions to the FORUM magazine with over 1,000 book reviews contributed during the last 25 years.
FGS also recognizes Frederick E. Moss for his years of guidance and tireless service to FGS and the Records Preservation and Access Committee. Fred has worked tirelessly to help the organization and to protect access to documents of importance to family historians.
Director’s Award: FamilySearch and Pat Rand
The Director’s Award is presented in recognition of both exceptional contributions to the field of genealogy and family history, and extra-mile efforts to promote good will and improve services. This year, FGS recognizes both an organization and individual for their exceptional contributions. FGS first recognizes FamilySearch for the efforts of its volunteers who contributed to the US- Mexican War Soldiers and Sailors database project.
FGS also recognizes Pat Rand for her extraordinary efforts and contribution to the US- Mexican War Soldiers and Sailors database project to preserve the history and commemorate the veterans who sacrificed in this war. Pat endured for years to make sure that this project was accomplished and it is now available on the Palo Alto Battlefield National Park Service website. Pat was also recognized by the National Park Service with the Regional Hartzog Enduring Service Award. The Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service was created by former NPS director George Hartzog, Jr. and his wife Helen to honor the efforts of volunteers who go beyond the normal call of duty. The Hartzog Enduring Service Award recognizes an individual who made a
significant difference through specific volunteer work that has a sustained, positive impact and advances the NPS mission
Genealogical Tourism Award: Jacqueline Bidanec, HPN Global Meeting Services
This award recognizes and encourages a phenomenon garnering greater public attention: tourism and travel related to family history. This year FGS recognizes Jacqueline Bidanec and HPN Global Meeting Services for proving superb event planning and management support, including during the difficult times resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
FORUM Writer’s Award: Jane Neff Rollins
The FORUM Writer’s Award recognizes an outstanding contribution to the FGS magazine, FORUM. This year’s recipient is Jane Neff Rollins, for her article “Labor Union Documents: Genealogically Relevant Sources,” which appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of FORUM. Rollins’s contribution provided a wealth of information on the types of records available, how to find them, and how they can be used for genealogy.
Award of Merit
For contributions to the US-Mexican War database project, the following individuals are recognized with the Award of Merit:
• Karen Weaver, NPS
• Barbara Brown, Texas
• David Davenport, California
• David A. Lambert, Massachusetts
• Linda Sparks, Arizona
• Curt Witcher, Indiana
• Craig Scott, North Carolina
• John Peterson, NPS (retired)
• Patricia Adams, Florida
• Joshua Taylor, New York
The Federation of Genealogical Societies congratulates all of the 2020 award recipients A special thank you also goes out to Awards Chair, Juliana Szucs, for her efforts in this endeavor.
About the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)
The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) was founded in 1976 and empowers the genealogical and family history community, especially its societies and organizations, by advocating for the preservation and access of records and providing resources that enable genealogical organizations to succeed in pursuing their missions. FGS helps genealogical societies and family history enthusiasts alike to strengthen and grow through online resources, FGS FORUM magazine, and through its annual national conference. FGS launched the Preserve the Pensions project in 2010 to raise more than $3 million to digitize and make freely available the pension files from the War of 1812. Fundraising was completed for that project in 2016 and the digitization continues. FGS was also the driving force behind the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors project alongside the National Parks Service. To learn more visit

Contact: Federation of Genealogical Societies PO Box 200940 Austin, TX 78720-0940 phone: +1 (888) 347-1500 fax: +1 (866) 347-1350

Paul Milner Announced as one of First Two Keynote Speakers for Family History Down Under (FHDU) Conference – March 2021

Adelaide, South Australia, 3 December 2019

Unlock the Past is delighted to announce Family History Down Under (FHDU) to be held 22-26 March 2021 in one of Australia’s most exciting holiday destinations. This follows on from the highly successful DNA Down Under (August 2019), which attracted 1400 people in six cities across Australia, including 400 at the final three-day conference in Sydney.
The main conference will be over four days – Tuesday – Friday 23-26 March 2021. There will be three main tracks – DNA, British Isles and General/Methodology, plus a fourth track for sponsors and others. Other optional sessions will be offered, including workshops. There will also be a supporting exhibition. A pre-conference day on Monday 22 March 2021 is planned, including, amongst other things, tours to places of interest in the region.



The Sunshine CoastConvention Centre and Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort Hotel, Twin Waters, Queensland, is our conference venue. This is a superb facility at one of Australia’s premier holiday destinations.

  • A large state-of-the art conference centre (opened May 2019)
  •   at the 361 room, 4 star, Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort Hotel — or other nearby hotels
  • 7 minutes from the Sunshine Coast airport and 75 minutes from Brisbane Airport
  • Close to numerous tourist attractions, including the world famous Australia Zoo and much more.
    Plenty to do before/after or, for your non-genie spouse/partner, during the conference.

We are delighted to announce two of seven FHDU headline speakers. The other five will be announced soon!

Bettinger 2.jpg

Blaine Bettinger — professional genealogist specialising in DNA evidence Blaine, the best known and most sought after genetic genealogy speaker will be a prominent contributor to the DNA track. He is the author of “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy” and a number of other books. He launched DNA Central in 2018, a major membership resource site helping genealogy DNA test takers understand their DNA test results.


Paul Milner — British Isles expert
Paul is an internationally recognised speaker and author on British Isles research. He is the author of a number of books on English and Scottish genealogy with Unlock the Past and other publishers. Paul has often spoken at events in Australia and on Unlock the Past genealogy cruises. He will be a key contributor to the British Isles track.

Mark the Date    |    22-26 March 2021
Visit and join the mailing list to be first to learn of key developments. 
We invite expressions of interest in speakingexhibiting and sponsoring the event.

Unlock the Past
Unlock the Past is the event and publishing division of Gould Genealogy & History (established 1976). It is a collaborative venture involving an international team of expert speakers, writers, organisations and commercial partners to promote history and genealogy through innovative major events, genealogy cruises and publications.

Further information  
Alan Phillips (Unlock the Past) P: (08) 8263 2055.  . . . . .  .  international+61 8 8263 2055E: W:

Boring Speakers Talk For Longer

As I prepare for my talk – “Tips for Improving Your Genealogical Lecturing Skills” to be given at the Professional Management Conference of the Association of Professional Genealogists held over the next three days in Kansas City, a letter caught my attention. The piece of correspondence is in the 27 September 2018 issue of Nature (Volume 561. Page 464) and was brought to my attention in John Reid’s excellent blog Anglo-Celtic Connections (citing my sources 😊)

The correspondent, Robert M. Ewers, of Imperial College, London wanted to address an observation that at conferences boring talks often feel interminable but are they actually longer. I am going to quote from his letter, used with the author’s permission.

“I investigated this idea at a meeting where speakers were given 12-minute slots. I sat in on 50 talks for which I recorded the start and end time. I decided whether the talk was boring after 4 minutes, long before it became apparent whether the speaker would run overtime. The 34 interesting talks lasted, on average, a punctual 11 minutes and 42 seconds. The 16 boring ones dragged on for 13 minutes and 12 seconds (thereby wasting a statistically significant 1.5 min; …) For every 70 seconds that a speaker droned on, the odds that their talk had been boring doubled. For the audience this is exciting news. Boring talks that seem interminable actually do go on for longer.”

I will be encouraging all my fellow speakers to not be boring and will be providing tips on how to improve their speaking skills. Heaven forbid that we would fall into this category, of being boring. But only the audience will be able to answer that question.

English Research Course and Upcoming Institutes

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research logo sponsored by Samford University, Birmingham Alabama.

English Research Course

20 Students gathered during the week of June 13-17 for the English research course, one of ten courses, at Samford University in Birmingham Alabama for the 51st gathering of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. There was 25 hours of learning both in the classroom and computer labs. What a great group of adult learners with a very wide range of experience both in genealogy and in English research specifically. All were challenged with their knowledge base expanding during the week; with the majority leaving feeling they could do this research for their family lines. Some made progress on their research during the week itself.

Next year’s Institute moves date and location. The Institute moves to the week of July 23-28, 2017 to be held at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. I will be teaching a track on Scottish research, which will be one of at least 10 intense learning opportunities. You will in the near future be able to find more information at though the site is currently under construction.

For those who regret missing the English research track you have the opportunity to attend a modified version of the course entitled English Research: The Fundamentals and Beyond at the British Institute October 10-14, 2016 hosted by the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History (ISBGFH), meeting in Salt Lake City. Early registration for this event ends 14 September 2016. More information can be found at the ISBGFH website.

Come join us at one of these events and improve your English or Scottish research skills.

Upcoming speaking events around the country

For the genealogists around the country who like to know where I am speaking here is my Upcoming schedule (outside the Chicago area – that list was posted a couple of weeks ago). Come and join me, a lot is changing in the world of British Isles genealogy.

5 Mar 2016 – Midwest Genealogy Center’s Spring 2016 Seminar at Stoney Creek Conference and Hotel Center, 18011 Bass Pro Drive, Independence MO. For more Info –

  • Irish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Famine
  • Irish Maps and Tools for Finding the Right Place
  • Finding Your Ancestors in Ireland
  • Irish Land Records

12 Mar 2016 – Dallas Genealogy Society Spring Seminar – “From Whence They Came” – 1st Floor Auditorium, J. Eric Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young St., Dallas TX. For more Info Dallas 2016 Spring Seminar

  • Effective Use of England’s National Archives Website
  • Irish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Famine
  • Scottish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Rebellions
  • Overlooked Sources for 17th and 18th Century English Research

2 Apr 2016 – St. Louis Genealogical Society 45th Annual Family History Conference – A Whole New World for Genealogists – Maryland Heights Centre, 2344 McKelvey Road, St. Louis, MO. For more Info St Louis Genealogical Society Conference

  • Effective Use of England’s National Archives Website
  • Internet Tools and Sites for British Isles Research
  • Are You Lost: Using Maps, Gazetteers and Directories for British Isles Research
  • Irish Emigrants to North America: Before, During and After the Famine

4-7 May 2016 – National Genealogical Society 2016  thirty-eight Family History Conference, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd,  Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For more Info NGS Conference

  • Are You Lost: Maps and Gazetteers for English and Welsh Research
  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest

12-17 June 2016 – Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, Samford University, Birmingham, AL. Course 6: English Genealogical Research. Online Registration now open and filling IGHR Registration

  • English Context – History, Sources, Repositories & Processes
  • Find the Correct Place: Maps & Gazetteers
  • Civil Registration
  • English Internet – National Archives (lab)
  • English Internet – Free Sites (lab)
  • English Internet – Commercial Sites (lab)
  • Making Sense of the English Census
  • Church & Diocesan Records for Birth/Marriage/Death
  • Tips & Tools for Navigating the English Probate System
  • Parish Chest/Poor Law/Quarter Session Records I +II
  • Nonconformists & Recusants
  • Occupation, Guild, & Freeman Records
  • British Military I + II
  • England Land & Landscape Records
  • Sources for Landed & Titled People
  • Overlooked Sources: 17th & 18th Centuries
  • Overlooked Sources: 19th & 20th Centuries
  • Planning Your English Trip

31 Aug – 3 Sept 2016 – Federation of Genealogical Societies 2016 Conference, Springfield IL

  • English Parish Registers: How to Access, Use and Interpret
  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest
  • Tracing Your Pre-WWI British Soldier
  • 1914: Finding Your British WWI – – Dead or Alive

Upcoming Speaking Events in the Chicago area

Upcoming Events for my followers in the Chicago area. Come and join me starting this coming weekend in Arlington Heights, IL

6 Feb 2016 – Northwest Suburban Genealogical Society, Arlington Heights IL. Meeting at Arlington Heights Senior Center, 1801 Central Road, Arlington Heights IL at 10:00 am. For more Northwest Suburban Genealogical Society Meeting Page.

  • Irish Emigration to North America: Before, During and After the Famine

9 Feb 2016 – Schaumburg Public Library, 130 S. Roselle Rd. Schaumburg IL at 7:30 pm. For more Schaumburg Public Library 2016 Program listing

  • Finding Your Ancestors in Ireland

11 Feb 2016 – Tinley Morraine Genealogists, meeting at Tinley Park Public Library, 7851 Timber Drive, Tinley Park IL. For more Info Tinley Morraine Genealogists meetings

  • Effective Use of England’s National Archives Website

21 May 2016 – Ottawa Genealogy Forum, Otttawa IL

  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest

15 Aug 2016 – Zion Genealogical Society, IL

  • New Resources for British Isles Research

31 Aug – 3 Sept 2016 – Federation of Genealogical Societies 2016 Conference, Springfield IL

  • English Parish Registers: How to Access, Use and Interpret
  • Buried Treasures: What’s in the English Parish Chest
  • Tracing Your Pre-WWI British Soldier
  • 1914: Finding Your British WWI – – Dead or Alive

I will add another post soon for my followers who are not in the Chicago area but still like to attend events where I am speaking.

IGHR Registration opens Tuesday January 19. Attend my English research track.

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research logo sponsored by Samford University, Birmingham Alabama.

Be Prepared! Registration opens January 19 for Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University.

Registration opens Tuesday January 19 at 11 am for the 2016 Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, to be held June 12-17, 2016, at Samford University in Birmingham Alabama. After nearly 50 years this is the last year the institute will be at this location so come experience the depth of intense genealogical learning and be a part of history. Courses can and do fill quickly so fast in fact that registration for specific courses is staggered, to prevent overloading of the system, and begins at 11 am Eastern time zone. The registration page is at

I will be teaching Course 6: Tracing Your English Ancestors with the following proposed schedule, so hopefully this will spark interest among readers. The schedule is subject to change depending upon lab availability but all the topics will be covered. There are other courses definitely worth investigating if you have already attended this course.

· 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.: Class Orientation/Introductions
· 8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.: English Context – History, Sources, Repositories & Processes
· 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.: Find the Correct Place: Maps & Gazetteers
· 12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Civil Registration
· 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: English Internet – National Archives & Free Sites (Lab)
· 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.: English Internet – Free Sites (lab)
· 8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.: English Internet – Commercial Sites (lab)
· 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.: Making Sense of the English Census
· 12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Church & Diocesan Records for Birth/Marriage/Death
· 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Tips & Tools for Navigating the English Probate System
· 8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.: Parish Chest/Poor Law/Quarter Session Records I
· 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.: Parish Chest/Poor Law/Quarter Session Records II
· 12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Nonconformists & Recusants
· 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Occupation, Guild, & Freeman Records
· 8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.: British Military I
· 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.: British Military II
· 12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: England Land & Landscape Records
· 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Sources for Landed & Titled People
· 8:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.: Overlooked Sources: 17th & 18th Centuries
· 9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.: Overlooked Sources: 19th & 20th Centuries
· 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.: Planning Your English Trip

Come join us for an exciting week of learning. This comes with a reminder though that all classes can fill quickly, but waiting lists are also an option if you come to registration late. This is an exciting week so be prepared to register on Tuesday January 19.

News: UPCOMING Virtual Institute – An In-Depth Look at the ‘Big Four’ Records of English Research

UPCOMING Virtual Institute: “An In-Depth Look at the ‘Big Four’ Records of English Research”
By Paul Milner

30 May and 6 June 2015

Standard $69.99
Plus $99.99
Click here to register for this course
When doing English and Welsh research there are four major record groups that most researchers will or should utilize – civil registration, census, church records and probate potentially covering the time period from the 1380s to the present. With the ever increasing numbers of these records being put online through free or subscription based services it is becoming easier to find individuals. Speed though often increases the risk of finding a person with the right name in the right place, but who is not the correct individual and thus the researcher goes off climbing a tangential or incorrect family line.

These institute presentations will take an in-depth look at the four major record groups – civil registration, census, church records and probate as they relate to research in England and Wales. You will get a good grounding in how and why the records were created, how they are organized, their content, how to find them online and offline, and how to effectively use them to construct a solid family tree. Case studies are used throughout highlighting search techniques, problems to watch for, and how to use the records as a starting point to put ancestors into context. The fundamentals are provided for those new to English and Welsh research, but the case studies and tips will be of value to more experienced researchers.

Paul Milner, a native of northern England is a professional genealogist and international lecturer, having presented extensively on British Isles research in the USA, Australia, Canada and England. He is the author of Discover English Census Records (forthcoming, UnlockThePast 2015); Buried Treasures: what’s in the English parish chest (UnlockThePast, 2015); Discover English Parish Records (UnlockThePast, 2014); Genealogy at a Glance: England Research (Genealogical Publishing Co, 2011); plus co-author with Linda Jonas of A Genealogists Guide to Discovering Your English Ancestors: How to find and record your unique heritage (Betterway Books, 2000); and A Genealogists Guide to Discovering Your Scottish Ancestors: How to find and record your unique heritage (Betterway Books, 2002). He holds an advanced degree in Theology and is particularly knowledgeable about the church and its role in record keeping.
Paul is the course coordinator for the English and Scottish research tracks at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He has also taught the Scottish track at the British Institute in Salt Lake City organized by the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History. Paul is currently the book review editor for the BIGWILL newsletter and recently retired review editor of the FGS FORUM. He is the past-president of the British Interest Group of Wisconsin and Illinois (BIGWILL), and a past board member of the Association to Professional Genealogists, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the Genealogical Speakers Guild. Paul focuses on British Isles resources and methodology on his blog at

Course Schedule (all times U. S. Eastern) – each session is 90 minutes with Q&A
30 May 2015
• 11:00am “English Civil Registrations: Tips for use and problem solving”
• 1:00pm “Making Sense of the English Census”

6 June 2015
• 11:00am “English Parish Registers: How to Access, Use and Interpret”
• 1:00pm “Tips and Tools for Navigating the English Probate System”

England Times – 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm
Perth Australia Times – Saturday 30 May 11:00 pm and Sunday 1 June 1:00 am
Sydney, Australia Times – Sunday 1 June 1:00 am and 3:00 am
Wellington, New Zealand Times – Sunday 3:00 am and 5:00 am
The webinar will be recorded and made available at a later date for purchase.

2016 FGS National Conference Call for Presentations

2016 FGS National Conference Call for Presentations.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) announces that presentation proposals are now being received for its 2016 Conference, “Time Travel: Centuries of Memories,” to be held in Springfield, Illinois, Aug 31 – Sept 3, 2016. The conference will be held in cooperation with the Illinois State Genealogical Society as local host. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum are within walking distance of the Prairie Capital Convention Center, the conference venue. The deadline for submission of presentation proposals is Friday, 10 April 2015.

“Time Travel: Centuries of Memories,” recognizes the vast array of people and resources whose paths into the United States brought them to, and through, the Midwest. Topics related to methodology and research skills are always welcomed, in addition to content-specific areas, such as:

  • Military: War of 1812, American Civil War, Indian Wars, World War I, World War II, European and Napoleonic Wars.
  • Migration: Europe to North America; naturalization records; passenger lists; ports of entry; to and through the Midwest; the Great Migration (northward from the sharecropping South); migration trails and routes (Mormon, Oregon, Santa Fe); refugee resettlement; modern economic migrants.
  • Ethnic Origins: The Baltic Basin (including Poland, Scandinavia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Denmark, Germany); Central Europe (including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic/Bohemia, Hungary); Romance Europe (including France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Papal States); the Mediterranean/Adriatic Basin (including Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Cypress, Armenia); Latin American research.
  • Great Britain and the former British Empire (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India); the British diaspora; records (civil and ecclesiastical); churches (Anglican, Quaker, Catholic, dissenter, non-conformist, Presbyterians); military records; city directories; trade directories; guilds; poll books; valuations and tax records.
  • Occupations & Work: Farmers, carpenters, brewers/distillers, boatmen, firefighters/police, railroaders, canal builders, laborers and factory hands; women in the workforce; unions, guilds and apprenticeships; coal miners; slaughterhouse workers; doctors, midwives and pharmacists; clerks and lawyers; pressmen and printers; trade directories; smugglers, bootleggers and other illicit trades.
  • Religions, Adherents and Records: Jewish, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant traditions and records; religious colonization’s and refugee movements; Pogrom and Holocaust survivors and research; the Underground Railroad; Mormon/LDS; utopian communities; peace churches, pacifists and conscientious objectors; convents, monasteries and cloistered communities.
  • Regional research: Research repositories in the Midwest; research in Illinois and nearby states—Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio; archival collections; college and university research collections; migration destinations from Illinois: the Great Plains, Texas, Oklahoma, and California; migration to Illinois from feeder states of the east and south.
  • Genetics & DNA: the basics of DNA research; autosomal studies and advanced analysis; testing procedures; ethical considerations; adoptions; forensic and expert work; case studies.
  • Skills, Abilities & General Knowledge: Beginning research techniques; evidence analysis; online resources and tools; wikis; collaboration techniques and etiquette; terminology; comparative analysis; units of measure, trade and currency; time, calendars and dates; writing a family history; publishing – print vs eBook; creating websites, blogs and vlogs; earning genealogical credentials.
  • Society Management: Use of technology by and for societies; adaption to change; internal and external communication; meeting changing member needs and member engagement; education projects and events; society leadership; team building, implementing large projects.

The program committee specifically seeks new and dynamic proposals that will provide exceptional learning experiences for conference attendees. Proposals for workshops and sponsored talks are encouraged.

Multiple proposals (more than four) are welcome and encouraged, as most chosen to speak will be engaged for more than one presentation. There is no limit on the number of proposals a speaker may submit.

Submission Requirements

Speaker submissions and deadlines for the FGS 2016 Conference reflect the implementation of an online submission system. Interested parties must submit all presentation proposals using the online portal. The Call for Presentations is now open and will close on Friday, 10 April 2015. This deadline is for all proposal submissions, including sponsored presentations.


Selected speakers receive an honorarium, travel compensation, and conference registration as well as per diem and hotel nights based on the number of presentations given. (Sponsored speakers only receive conference registration and syllabus materials. See more about sponsorships below.) Non-sponsored speakers receive compensation according to the FGS Conference Speaker Policy at

Sponsored Presentations

Societies and businesses are encouraged to submit proposals for sponsored talks by the stated deadline for proposal submission. The sponsoring organization will cover its speaker’s costs to present the presentation. Sponsored speakers are expected to abide by all speaker deadlines and syllabus requirements. Sponsored speakers will receive complimentary FGS conference registration and electronic syllabus materials.

Additional Information

Invitations will be issued in October 2015. Syllabus format guidelines will be sent to speakers at that time. The deadline for acceptance and submission of signed speaker contracts is 1 November 2015. Camera-ready handouts are required for each presentation or workshop presentation and will be compiled in a syllabus distributed to conference participants. The deadline for submissions of syllabus materials is Wednesday, 13 April 2016.

Buried Treasure: what’s in the English Parish Chest – new publication by Paul Milner

Buried Treasure – What’s in the English Parish Chest is fresh off the presses and is being released at the Rootstech / Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference this week in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is available for purchase at Maia’s Books and can also be viewed at the UnlockthePast Booth.

Buried Treasure – What’s in the English Parish Chest examines all the records created by parish officials for the civil and religious administration of the English parish, except the baptism, marriage and burials records described so well in the companion volume – Discover English parish registers.

Records surviving in the parish chest will often solve your brick wall problems, including: “Where did my ancestor come from before here?” or “Who is the father of that illegitimate child?” In this detailed guide, family historian Paul Milner explains how and why the records were created, how changing laws affected who was and was not included, what the records look like and what information they contain. After showing examples of numerous records, the guide explains how and where to access the records, (online, microfilm, originals or in print).

Here is a practical guide that will help family researchers solve their problems, and put them into historical context. This small volume is full of material for both the beginner and the experienced researcher. It is a well-illustrated guide to the contents of the English parish chest that allows any researcher to go way beyond the baptism, marriage and burial registers commonly used for parish research.

The book will be available soon in Australia from UnlockthePast, in Canada from Global Genealogy, in the US from Maia’s Books and in the UK from My History.