Tips for First Time Conference Attendees

Program highlights

  • The conference has a number of tracks or lecture themes. After you register and receive your confirmation e-mail, we ask you to return to the website to indicate the lectures you plan to attend. You are not obligated to attend the lectures you select, and your selection does not guarantee a seat. We ask your intended lectures so we can anticipate the audience size for each lecture.
  • If you are new to genealogy, we recommend attending lectures marked “Beginner” or “All,” in which experienced speakers cover basic records and techniques that will help you guide your research.
  • If you have been researching for a while, you will enjoy methodology and theme lectures, which will help you hone your research and problem-solving skills.
  • If you have been researching for some time and want to improve your analytical skills, then the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Skillbuilding Track may be your preference.
  • You are free to move from track to track throughout the day and conference. However, as a courtesy to the speaker, we ask that you remain in a room once a lecture has begun.
  • If you plan to attend a particular lecture, we recommend you take your seat at least twenty minutes before the lecture is scheduled to begin. Alternatively, you could volunteer to be a room monitor for the lecture of your choice.
  • Most lectures are recorded on CD ROM by JAMB Tapes, Inc. JAMB offers CDs for purchase for $12 each at the conference (and afterwards through a link on the NGS website). We mark lectures that will not be recorded with a pen to indicate that the audience will want to take notes. If you are torn between two or more lectures that are offered at the same time, you may wish to attend the one that will not be recorded and buy CDs of the others.
  • We assign each lecture a session number: Wednesday lectures begin with a W, Thursday with a T, Friday with an F, and Saturday with an S. Lectures on Wednesday begin with 101, on Thursday with 201, on Friday with 301, and on Saturday with 401. Understanding the numbering system will help you find lectures in the Syllabus and at the JAMB booth to purchase recorded lectures.


Exhibit hall

  • As you enter the exhibit hall you will see the National Genealogical Society booth. Please stop by and introduce yourself. We will show you our publications, including the Research in the States series. Ask our staff about education courses. Also, ask to see the 2015 conference pins. Many conference attendees collect our annual conference pins.
  • You will find vendors with a variety of products in the exhibit hall. Some vendors have large booths with computers and staff available to help you search for your ancestors. Some dealers sell books, maps, and ephemera, while others offer family history software. The exhibit hall offers an excellent opportunity to compare the features and benefits of the different genealogy programs.
  • The exhibit hall also features local and national genealogical, lineage, and heritage societies and professional and educational organizations. Officers and staff of these organizations will gladly welcome you, show you their publications, and answer your questions.
  • Bring a supply of business cards to distribute to new colleagues and acquaintances. Also bring some return-address labels preprinted with your name, e-mail address, and telephone number for drawings in the exhibit hall and at social events.
  • Major genealogical societies or organizations sponsor daily luncheons, and each features a speaker. You will find menus, speakers, lecture titles, and sponsors in the registration brochure, which will be available as a PDF online in December 2014.
  • Daily luncheons, the NGS Banquet, and the StLGS BBQ Dinner provide networking opportunities to meet other genealogists. Advance purchase for these meals closes 29 April 2015. Check the registration brochure for details. À la carte food items will be available daily at the    St. Charles Conference Center.


Conference syllabus

We ask each speaker to submit a two or four page summary of the highlights of their lecture, which we publish in a syllabus. All conference attendees will receive the conference syllabus on flash drive with their registration. Early bird registrants may order a print syllabus for delivery at the conference for $25. We recommend that first time conference attendees consider ordering the printed syllabus, as it is easier to browse and to become familiar with the speakers and their topics.

About two weeks before the conference, we will make the syllabus available for your review on the conference website. You will receive an e-mail announcing when it is available. This early release provides the opportunity to print the handouts for the lectures you plan to attend if you did not order the printed syllabus. Please take advantage of this opportunity. We will not provide syllabus print stations at the conference. The syllabus on flash drive (and print version if ordered) will be distributed with registration material.


Networking at the Conference

Bring business cards or a small pad of paper so you may exchange contact information with people you meet at the conference. You may also want to bring your family history database on a flash drive (with recent backup) so you can share your gedcom file with any cousins you meet.

When you arrive at the conference

  • If you pre-registered for the conference, you will pick up the conference materials at a booth in the conference center labeled “Attendee Check-In.” The booth will be open from noon until 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, 12 May 2015, and will open at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning. You will need to show personal identification to receive your conference materials. Before you leave the booth area, check to make sure you have all the tickets for events you purchased when you registered.
  • Your name tag provides access to all the lectures and the general sessions. Be sure to wear your name tag at all times. You will need a ticket to the paid social events and workshops. The last day to purchase tickets for social events and workshops is 29 April 2015. However, we recommend you purchase tickets as soon as possible, as space is limited and events fill quickly.
  • You will receive a tote bag with your program, syllabus flash drive, and other conference materials. Put your name on your program in case you lose it. We print only enough copies for each attendee. The tote bag will help you carry your program materials as well as purchases you make in the exhibit hall.


What to pack

  • Business casual clothes are proper attire for most of the conference. If you registered for the NGS Banquet, business attire or a cocktail dress is appropriate. You will notice the speakers wear business attire.
  • Conference centers can be cold, so be sure to bring a sweater or jacket to wear during the day.
  • Comfortable shoes are a must.


Where to research

Please see Getting There and Things to Do


Airport and parking

The St. Louis International Airport (STL) is conveniently located just nine miles from the St. Charles Conference Center and hotels. The airport is serviced by major airlines including American, Delta, Southwest, US Airways, and United.

The conference center and all hotels offer free parking.


Questions? Contact NGS Registrar Courtney Holmes at or refer to FAQs.


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