NYSFHC: Looking back at 2016, and what's ahead for 2017 and beyond

This past weekend, we were thrilled to host a very successful conference with our partners at the Central New York Genealogical Society. The 2016 New York State Family History Conference featured two and a half days of lectures, fascinating exhibits and access to top industry experts. Let's take a look at some of the highlights and see what we have in store for researchers in 2017 and beyond.

The activities kicked off Thursday morning with two sold-out pre-conference workshops. These intensive, hands-on sessions focused on Civil War research and online New York records, taught by Bruce Frail and Sue Miller respectively.

The conference officially opened Thursday afternoon with several lectures and a reception for NYG&B members in the evening.

The day wrapped up with a webinar (which received rave reviews) from FamilySearch's Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer Robert Raymond. Hidden Treasure from FamilySearch.org was broadcast live from the conference and highlighted how to make use of the billion+ records on FamilySearch that the search button misses.

The webinar will show you some handy tips
to get the most out of these non-indexed

NYG&B members have access to a recording of the webinar (and all other NYG&B webinars) on our website.

Over the next two days, some of the industry's top experts shared their New York State research expertise with attendees, as well as topics that all genealogists will find useful.

Overall, there were 32 lectures over the two and a half day conference. Here are some of the speakers and their talks

David E. Rencher, AG, CG

David is the Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch, Secretary of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and Vice President of the International Society British Genealogy and Family History. His lectures included:

  • Strategy for a Sound Beginning
  • Ethics in Genealogy
  • Out of the Ashes: Irish Genealogical Collections

Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL

Dr. Jones is co-editor of the NGS Quarterly, a former APG board member, BCG trustee and teaches at BU, IGHR, and SLIG. He has over forty years of teaching and research experience, and frequently lectures, teaches, and writes. His lectures included:

  • Elements Essential for a Polished Family History
  • The Jones Jinx: Tracing Common Surnames
  • Using Autosomal DNA to Solve a Family Mystery: A NY Case Study

Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D.

One of the industry's foremost experts on DNA and genealogy, Blaine is the author of the long-running blog The Genetic Genealogist and has published numerous books on the subject. His lectures included:

  • Genetic Genealogy Year in Review
  • Third Party Tools for DNA
  • Genealogy as Science

D. Joshua Taylor

Our very own President (also the host of the Genealogy Roadshow) presented What's New at the NYG&B and gave a talk on Migration: New England to New York. 

Lectures from the many other experts invited to speak included:

  • Canal Fever: Life, Work and Travel on the New York State Canals, 1818-1918
  • New York City & State Governmental Vital Records and Alternates
  • Church and Religious records in New York State: 17th-20th Centuries
  • Genealogy Research at the New York Public Library
  • Land Records in New York State
  • NYC Municipal Archives: Vital Records and Undiscovered Collections

To see all of our fantastic lecturers and their programs, view the full program here (for a larger version you can zoom in on, click here)

Top photos and Tweets

All participants enjoyed the exhibit hall, where they were able to talk with experts, get to know New York's many genealogy societies and pick up some excellent books and other genealogy tools.

The NYSFHC exhibit hall

Our attendees were active under the conference hashtag, #NYSFHC all weekend long. Here are some of our favorites:

#wearenextgen #NYSFHC pic.twitter.com/LeUYcwEM7z

— NextGen Network (@NextGenNetwrk) September 17, 2016

The NextGen Genealogy Network empowers young genealogists from around the world. An amazing organization well-worth checking out!

Busy post-conference swarm of genealogists. #nysfhc pic.twitter.com/54SVpnhdqz

— LHG at OCPL (@LHG_OCPL) September 19, 2016

Our attendees put their new (and existing) skills to use right away and got busy at the Onondaga County Public Library.

Bought two books and two society memberships within a couple of hours of conference starting #genealogyaddiction #NYSFHC #genealogy

— Melanie McComb (@ShamrockGen) September 15, 2016

Nothing like conference specials!

Historians join in

APHNYS President Gerry Smith welcomes
conference attendees. Photo credit: Barbara Russell
via the APHNYS Facebook page


This year's conference was an extra special one - we were pleased to run in conjunction with the Associations of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS) annual conference.

Guests of both conferences were able to attend all lecture, and both groups benefited tremendously from the joint presence. Next year's APHNYS conference will be held in Poughkeepsie and is October 31st - November 2nd.

Looking ahead to 2017 and beyond

The NYSFHC will take a one-year hiatus, returning in 2018 to Westchester, NY.

2018 #nysfhc to be in Westchester, NY Sep 13-15. Mark your calendars now!!! #genealogy

— Jen Baldwin (@ancestryjourney) September 16, 2016

But we'll be back next year for a special one-day seminar in Buffalo, NY. We're proud to be partnering with the Western New York Genealogical Society - more details coming soon!

Thanks to all attendees, lecturers, sponsors and hosts - it was a fantastic conference and we couldn't have done it without you!