Saturday, June 16, 2012

Unsolicited advice for national conference and institute recidivists

There is no sixth day of Samford but it's still making me think.

Many sets of advice exist for first-time attendees of national conferences or institutes, regularly and appropriately repeated. In the post-Samford recovery period, it occurs to me that there's not much advice for those who come back for seconds, and thirds, and -- well, you know. My list is short:

(1) Realize that you are likely to accumulate a whole new set of wonderful friends. I'm not sure that that's any serious/transitional/professional genealogist's goal. (We do tend to be less likely than average to be social butterflies, given the solitary nature of much of our work.) But it happens.

(2) Realize that you will become overcommitted.

What follows from these two is that we soon find ourselves in need of establishing our goals, planning accordingly, and keeping track of conversations had and promises made more or less casually in the course of a meal, or a day. (Samford is not heaven -- we still have to work, and besides, there are snakes.) Asking folks to remind us with an email is a good strategy too, but what if they forget?

I don't care if we keep track 20th-century style with notes or some later way. But if we get in the habit before we have to -- like learning to cite sources when we know perfectly well what and where they are -- then we'll have it when we really need it.

Feel free to add less obvious suggestions in the comments!

Harold Henderson, "Unsolicited advice for national conference and institute recidivists," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 16 June 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


Angela said...

I love the networking that takes place and the friendships made! It was at one of the institutes that I met Harold and we have been supporting each other ever since.

I would add to your post:
3) Make a list of the things you learned, resources you want to try, and techniques that you want to apply to your work all on one page. Then as you get busy with projects you can refer back to it and not forget the golden nuggets you gained from the institute even if it takes time to apply them all.

Harold said...

Thanks, Angela. That makes a lot of sense.

Michael Hait said...

I would add another piece of advice to all attendees:

Remember to figure out some way to get all the stuff you acquired that doesn't fit in your suitcase home. (In other words, find the nearest post office.)

Harold said...

Gee, Michael, is it possible that this advice arises from personal experience?!