Program Highlights

  • A track organizes lecture sessions by topic. The tracks for Richmond include: African American, BCG Skillbuilding, DNA, Heritage, Immigration/Naturalization, Land and Maps, Methodology, Migration, Military, Research Foundations, Organizing Your Research, Records and Repositories, Reference Services, Religion, States, Tech Tips, Virginia, Women, and Writing. For each conference, a track reflective of the geographic region and/or specific interests of the research community in the host area is usually added.
  • Sponsored lectures are noted with the company name on the left side of the session box in the program schedule. These sessions may include information about the company’s products.
  • Most attendees will enjoy lecture sessions that will help improve research and problem-solving skills. Look for sessions on methodology, techniques, types of records, and resources.
  • The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Skillbuilding Track  is designed for those who have been researching for some time and want to improve their analytical skills.
  • You are free to move from track to track and choose any lectures 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.
  • The most popular lectures fill quickly. 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.
  • Most lectures are audio recorded and sold at the conference. They will also be available for purchase on-site and afterwards. We mark lectures that will not be recorded with a pen illustration 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 an audio recording of the others.
  • Understanding the numbering system will help you find lectures in the syllabus. 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.
  • Major genealogical societies or organizations sponsor daily luncheons, and each features a speaker. You will find menus, speakers, lecture titles, and sponsors in the program brochure, which will be available as a PDF online in mid-December 2020.
  • Daily luncheons and the NGS Banquet provide networking opportunities to meet other genealogists. Advance purchase for these meals closes 30 April 2021. Check the program brochure for details.
  • The sixteen-page Program Brochure will be available online before conference registration opens on 6 January 2021. The brochure includes the recommended experience level for each lecture from Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and All. These levels will not be noted in the syllabus or program.
  • Attendees are encouraged to bring a smart phone or tablet to the conference so they have access to the NGS Conference app, which will be available about a month before the conference. NGS occasionally has a speaker or two cancel shortly before the conference because of illness or family situation. All speaker substitutions, syllabus for the new speaker, and room changes are made in the app. Tap on each session to see the exact time each session starts because some begin on the half hour.
  • To receive updates about the conference, sign-up for the conference blog ( The blog will provide detailed information beyond what can be included in the printed program brochure. During December and January, it will offer information about Virginia and things to do in the surrounding area. Beginning in February, it will feature more information about conference speakers and exhibitors.

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 NGS education courses. Also, ask to see the 2021 conference pins which many of our attendees collect. We will also have past conference pins available.
  • 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 databases, software programs, and DNA testing options.
  • 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.
  • Also bring some return-address labels preprinted with your name, email address, and telephone number for drawings in the exhibit hall.

Conference Syllabus

All speakers are asked to submit a two- or four-page summary of the highlights of their lectures, which we publish in a syllabus.

All conference registrants will receive the full conference syllabus by email about one week prior to the conference. The email will include instructions to access the syllabus in a PDF format, and you can save this digital file to your computer or handheld device. This early release of the syllabus provides the opportunity to print summaries for the lectures you plan to attend if you did not order the printed syllabus. If you pre-ordered the print version of the syllabus during Early Bird registration, it will be distributed with your registration materials at attendee check-in. The cost for a printed syllabus is $40 and must be ordered by 30 March 2021.

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. The syllabus handout for each lecture is also available on the NGS Conference app and can be found by clicking on the speaker, lecture, and handouts under Resources.

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 Monday afternoon from 5:00 p.m.−7:00 p.m., Tuesday from 7:00 a.m.−7:00 p.m., and Wednesday morning beginning at 7:00 a.m. You will need to show personal identification to receive your conference materials. Before you leave the booth area, check the backside of your name tag to ensure all of your purchased meals and/or workshops are there.
  • Your name tag provides access to all the lectures and the general sessions. Be sure to wear your name tag at all times. The backside of your name tag will list any social events, meals, or workshops you purchased prior to the 30 April 2021 deadline.
  • You will receive a tote bag with your program 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.
  • 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.

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.

Tours and Research Facilities

Information on Tours and Research Facilities will be added to the conference website in fall, 2020.


Questions? Contact NGS Registrar Courtney Holmes at [email protected].