My First SLIG Experience

This January I attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was amazing.

I started my journey to SLIG by writing an education plan.   This was an assignment for my ProGen class.  In my education plan I made a number of goals.  Two of these goals were to attend an institute in advanced methodology and to visit the Family History Library.  SLIG covered both goals with the Advanced Genealogical Methods course.

This course at SLIG is very popular.  Registration fills almost immediately after it opens.  I was on summer vacation in Minnesota when SLIG 2018 registration opened the morning of Saturday, July 8th.  I clicked to register from my husband’s laptop in my parents-in-law’s lake house as fast as I could after registration opened.  I was able to choose course 10.  I was in!  Not every class fills this fast.  A few of the courses were not filled even during the conference; various sponsors donated to these classes so they could be held.

Oh, the sweet anticipation.  I had been a Facebook holdout until registering for SLIG.  I signed up for Facebook to join the SLIG 2018 Facebook group.  The Facebook group is a place for attendees to ask questions, connect to roommates for the conference, and learn about all the details surrounding SLIG.  These include how to get to the hotel from the airport and restaurant suggestions near the hotel.  The group includes current-year attendees as well as conference attendees from previous years.

It can be helpful to plan a trip longer than the actual conference.  The conference runs from a Sunday afternoon to Friday evening.  This year there was a new technology day on Saturday.  I had already made flight reservations by the time the classes were announced.  I ran into a few people who had taken the technology classes.  They generally had good things to say about them.  I flew in on Saturday night to make sure I had acclimated to the altitude and settled in before the programs started.  The Family History Library (FHL) is not open on Sunday, but there is a wonderful program Sunday morning at the Tabernacle by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  The public is invited to watch the practice and then the broadcast, all for free.  It was a wonderful experience, a highlight of my trip.  After the conference, many people stayed to research at the Family History Library on Saturday.  Some people even stayed a full week after the conference to research.  Some people flew in early before the conference to research.  You can never have too much time at the FHL.

During the conference you may be able to research at the FHL, but maybe not.  The different courses have different demands in the evenings, when the FHL is open.  My course had nightly homework, so I did not research during the week.  A friend in the writing class was free to research every night.  So it really depends.  Every night there were planned activities.  Monday night was an hour-long speaker in the hotel.  Tuesday night Ancestry ProGenealogists hosted us with appetizers at their office close to the conference hotel.  Wednesday night there were optional lectures at the Family History Library.  Thursday was a trip to the state archives.  Friday was the closing dinner, another of the trip highlights.

I went back and forth deciding whether to look for a roommate for SLIG.  Having a roommate saves cash (for more DNA kits, organization memberships, etc.) and gives you someone to do activities with.  I chose not to have a roommate, and it ended up being the best choice for me.  My class was demanding, so I appreciated not worrying about keeping a roommate up late at night, and being able to take over the one hotel room desk.  I met enough people during the week that I didn’t need the companionship of a roommate.  Next time, though, I would consider it.

The class experience itself was amazing.  I felt a rush seeing my instructor, Dr. Thomas Jones, editor of the NGSQ, in person the first time.  I had seen him so many times on webinars, I felt a little star-struck seeing him in person.  We also had wonderful guest instructors Judy Russell, Rick Sayre, and Pam Sayre for various topics in their specialties.  Since the class is a full week, Tom can go into more detail and add tips that he isn’t able to put into his books.  He incorporates great sample exercises throughout, reinforcing the lessons.  I will warn you though, that I believe he aims for a 50% success rate on the homework, to allow for student growth.  Some of my classmates were very proficient researchers, and he had to try to challenge them as well.  By the end of the week I was pretty tired, but it was well worth it.

Forming connections with other researchers is one of the best features of institutes.  I met researchers from all over the country.  I met people from my own town who are serious researchers.  In the last month I have already seen two of my new researcher friends, and I look forward to connecting with even more at a seminar this weekend.  At SLIG I had dinner conversations with groups where we discussed genealogy the entire meal.  Priceless.

The course list for next year’s SLIG in January 2019 is now available.  I would seriously consider attending this or any of the major conferences (IGHR in Georgia this June, GRIP in New York or Pennsylvania this summer) for a priceless genealogy learning experience.

All the best!

Liane

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