Genealogy Institutes – Part One

IMG_3920_1024This summer I attended two outstanding genealogy institutes, IGHR and GRIP. I attended my first last summer and I am hooked. If I had unlimited resources, I’d attend them as much as possible! Genealogical institutes are great because you get to delve into one topic, in-depth for a full week. Also, being in the same class with the same people all week allows for networking and relationship building that one might not get at other educational events. Plus, there tends to be more time to ask questions from the instructors that might not be available at national conferences when they (or you) might need to rush off to another lecture.

Over the next several posts, I am going to share some of the information I have collected to help those of you who have never been to one know what to expect, what to pack, things to consider ahead of time and other tips to enjoy these great opportunities for genealogical education.

Before you go there are few things you’ll want to consider. First of all, you will want to consider your travel arrangements. Depending on where the institute you will be attending is located, you may want to fly. However, taking a car, train or bus are also viable alternatives. You will want to decide if you will stay in the dorms, a hotel or on a friend’s couch (or guest room). Will you want to take advantage of the cafeteria meal plan, eat out or pack your lunch. Also, when you are there, depending on where you stay you will want to determine if you will need daily transportation to and from the venue. I usually have to locate the nearest coffee shop when I travel. And don’t forget to plan some extra time for sight-seeing. Why go all that way if you can’t see some of the local attractions while you are there?

Here is my packing list (besides toothbrush and underwear):

  • banquet clothes (often there is a banquet and you might want to dress up a bit)
  • comfy clothes (for sitting in class all day, all week)
  • walking shoes
  • computer or iPad or other electronic devices
  • power cords (you don’t want to forget these, been there)
  • business cards (if you have them as there are plenty of networking opportunities)
  • highlighters, pens, pencils, notebook, sticky notes, etc.
  • backpack/bag to carry your stuff in all week
  • cash (my trip to Pittsburgh this year included a day of sightseeing that encountered many “cash only” establishments)
  • camera (if you don’t use your phone)
  • extra reading materials (plane rides are excellent times to catch up on NGSQ reading)
  • an umbrella (if you think you’ll melt, I personally don’t own one as I have never needed it here in Colorado, some might want one though)

While I’m sure there are other things to bring. If you have been to an institute and would recommend something else, please feel free to add it to the comments below. Over the next several posts I will be looking at the 5 major institutes and give some of the unique details about each.

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