The 17th biennial CGSI Conference was held in Lincoln, Nebraska last weekend. It was my first time presenting at a major genealogy conference, and I loved it.
I presented on four topics: The Civil Code of Austria and Why it Matters for Czech Researchers, How to Use Czech Land Records for Genealogical Research, Czech Wikipedia, and Handwritten Text Recognition Software for Czech Genealogy Research.
At some point, I will get around to uploading the actual slides to this website for your viewing pleasure. It might take a while – there’s a lot of stuff going on in my life. That’s why I had to take the time to sit down and write this post before tomorrow. I’m running a 5k and almost immediately flying to Virginia for my aunt’s funeral, and the conference “high” will have subsided.
Genealogy high. It’s a real thing.
The highlights for me included:
- Presenting (though after my first presentation, I felt majorly shaky and almost wanted to throw up. But the others weren’t so bad!)
- Meeting people in real life who I had only ever interacted with online, including: Marek Blahuš, Blanka Lednická, Leo Baca, TJ Slansky, Karen Grohol, Peter Mlynek, Miroslav Koudelka, and others.
- Hanging out with my CGSI friends! It is really fun for me to be part of this organization. I really loved seeing Kevin Hurbanis, Jerry Martinek, Paul Makousky, Suzette Steppe, Anna Cooková, Gene Aksmit, Judi Engels, Robin Selvig, and many, many others.
- Meeting Greg Nelson from FamilySearch and moving things forward for a BIG project in Czech Genealogy (which I’m sure I’ll talk about at a future date on this blog!)
- Being with others who share my same love of Czech genealogy!
- Spending a lot of time talking with Leo Baca, one of my Czech genealogy heroes. He has since filled my inbox and mailbox. I am incredibly lucky to know him.
- Spending a lot of time with my dear friend Marek Blahuš. What a brilliant, awesome guy!
- Learning about František Vavák!
- The expression on my one year old’s face when he saw me again after four days of being away: priceless!
At the end of the conference there was the annual CGSI meeting. I had to present what I’ve been doing for marketing. Another huge highlight for me was saying the Czech name of the organization (which Marek translated for me) in front of a large audience and hearing them all gasp in shock/awe and hearing a shout to say it again. I did, a bit slower: Mezinárodní československá genealogická společnost. It was really satisfying to me.
It was also hugely flattering that the natives all wanted to hang out with me afterward. Unfortunately, the stars were not aligned. We had to go back to Ankeny so Danny could take a test for his class. But there will be a next time.
Some huge outcomes of this conference for me include:
- feeling a renewed sense of motivation and enthusiasm for some very ambitious projects and goals
- feeling more connected to CGSI
- feeling like the work that I do is important
- feeling more motivated than ever to finish the book I’m writing with Lukáš about land records
- learning some concrete ways how I can improve as the CGSI Marketing Chair
- networking with some important people in Czech Genealogy who will help some of my most ambitious projects to come to fruition
- dreaming about the next CGSI conference in Milwaukee 2021 and, držím palce Brno 2023?!
It was a transformative experience for me. I’ve been to other genealogy cons, and this was for sure the most personal meaningful one to me. Just to overhear snippets of conversation in the hallway, “I went to that presentation about Czech Wikipedia with Kate and Marek, and it was just a hoot! And I learned so much!” Also, to come back to an email inbox bursting with messages!
Czech Genealogy is an endless well of fascination for me, and right now it is sparkling with a glistening, beckoning light. I am hoping to ride this motivation for the next few months at least.