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Contact(s):Barbara Wagner

Monday, May 18, 2009

Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference to be Held in Little Rock

An Important Opportunity for Family Historians and the General Public

Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference
“Passages Through Time,” Little Rock, Arkansas, September 2-5

For anyone interested in family history as well as the culture of the mid-South region, Little Rock will be offering a special treat in early September. From September 2-5, the national Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) will hold its annual conference at Little Rock Convention Center in the historic riverfront area of the city.

This year’s conference theme “Passages Through Time” commemorates the noteworthy crossroads—Native American pathways, military roads, and major rivers—that crisscross the mid-South region, along which numerous settlers migrated to new homes in the old Southwest. With more than 500 constituent societies around the United States, FGS will bring to the “Passages Through Time” conference nationally distinguished genealogists and experts in local history who will offer more than 160 workshops and lectures. Topics range from African-American family history to frontier religion, research in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region, and the land records of Oklahoma territory.

Arkansas-specific themes will include workshops on Ozark life and culture, settlement patterns in Arkansas, and Civil War battles in the state. Noted Arkansas genealogists who will be presenting lectures at the conference include Tom Dillard, Desmond Walls Allen, Linda Childers Suffridge, and Russell P. Baker. The keynote address by Tim Sullivan of Generations Network will focus on digitalization and preservation of historic records for future generations.

For anyone (including members of the public) interested in digitalization of documents, is offering free document scanning at specified times during the conference. The “Passages Through Time” conference will also make available to the public a number of other events, including Story Corps, an oral-history project that will interview local citizens to archive their memories, and both a heritage film festival and a home movie day program, in which conference attendants and members of the public can share home movies and learn about preserving these valuable family documents.

To introduce conference members to local culture, the conference will also offer Arkansas Night at Dickey-Stephens Park. This evening event is open to the public, and will include down-home Arkansas music, food, and an Arkansas Travelers’ baseball game in the beautiful new stadium beside the Arkansas River.

The “Passages Through Time” conference expects to bring 1200-1500 participants to Little Rock. FGS chose Little Rock as the site of its 2009 national conference because of the city’s fascinating history and rich attractions for family historians.

These include the brand-new Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, a major repository for mid-South archival records, which has just opened down the street from the conference location; the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and Central High Museum, both of which document the important African-American history of the area; and the Arkansas History Commission and Archives, the state’s main facility for study of Arkansas history and families. With historic buildings dating to the antebellum period of the state, and a museum, Historic Arkansas Museum, documenting and preserving Arkansas’s pre-statehood history, the city of Little Rock is in and of itself an educational experience for genealogists.

For those seeking information about this important upcoming event, resources are available on the FGS website at These include a conference program, registration forms, travel and lodging information, and guides to resources and tourist information for Little Rock and surrounding regions. As “Passages Through Time” National Conference Chair Jan Hearn Davenport notes, “No doubt about it: if you want education, entertainment, fellowship, experiences of Southern hospitality (not to mention good food, music, and so forth), ‘Passages in Time’ will be worth your while. And more!”


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