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Genealogical conference coming in May

By Geoff Zochodne/The Oshawa Express

Hundreds of people interested in tracing the history of their families or other aspects of their personal heritage will pull into Oshawa from May 31 to June 2 for the Ontario Genealogical Society’s Conference 2013.

Dozens of workshops, meals, lectures and speakers will happen throughout the event, which takes place at Durham College. Whether it is “Political Migration after the War of 1812,” “Croatian Genealogy and the Earliest Croatian Immigration to Canada” or time spent at the conference’s “research room” there’s little history buffs won’t enjoy.

The entire weekend’s festivities will be run by volunteers, says Anne Delong, chair of this year’s conference committee. The genealogical society is a provincial organization with 30 branches, and this year it is Durham’s turn to host the conference.

“It’s a very popular hobby,” says Delong. “I think people are curious and they’re proud of their ancestors, they want to learn more about them.”

There are also genetic reasons, she adds, such as health issues.

With the onset of the Internet, interest in genealogy has increased. Before the web people turned to genealogical societies for help in their research. 

“A lot of people think that all the information is on the Internet and they don’t have to look anywhere else,” says Delong. “But really the amount of information that’s on the Internet is extremely small.”

The reason for this, points out Delong, is documents online have to be scanned by a willing party and with the abundance of old records out there not everything gets on the web or can be kept there.

Navigating through history can be tough. That’s why one of the conference’s features is the research room, as well as professional genealogists on hand to assist people in their research – with up to 15 minutes of free advice.

“It’s a little different from some of the business conferences that you see…it’s more like a big family,” says Delong.

Many of the people in attendance are from the society, she notes, but many others are avid genealogists in their own right, and have connections to the area where the conference is being held. By coming to the conference, they are closer to their roots, something they hope will help them locate more of their family history, explains Delong.

“They feel that if they come when it’s Durham there’s going to be more access to information about Durham, and they’re right,” she says. The conference will put on several tours so people can further explore the area.

A marketplace will be open for the duration of the conference and is free for anyone to peruse. Delong says the marketplace will likely fill most of Durham College’s gym with people selling genealogical products and experts on loan for the weekend.

For more information on how to register or attend the conference go to www.ogs.on.ca/conference, email conference2013@ogs.on.ca or call 1-416-489-0734.

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