What I Learned at the FGS Conference in Denver in 1984

FGS Conference 2013 Fort Wayne, Indiana
I attended my first conference sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies in 1984. It was held in Denver, Colorado, and in some ways changed my life. I had just graduated with an AA degree in humanities from Green River Community College, and had been accepted at the University of Washington for the Fall quarter. My brother, Steve, and I and been publishing local history and Washington State history and genealogy books and magazines for two years. We were publishing, but not really making a living. However, I squeaked out enough funds to make the trip to the FGS Conference in Colorado, looking for inspiration, as well as my Colorado roots.

Upon arrival at my first FGS conference, I immediately fell in love with the exhibit hall. I found that nearly every exhibitor had something to teach me about advancing my family history. What I quickly learned was that during the class periods, the hall emptied out, and the exhibitors were more than happy to have someone to talk to. I’ll be the first to admit that I probably spent more than I should have, but the genealogy education I received was invaluable! Looking back on that conference, I don’t remember any of the classes I attended (I must have attended some, as I was fully registered), but I do remember the hours of instruction I got in that Exhibit Hall.

During the week, I just happened to go to lunch one day with William Dollarhide, and Bill Anundson. They were representing Dollarhide Systems, and Anundson Printing. Over lunch, I go to complaining about not making at living publishing Washington State history and genealogy materials. Their answer to my dilemma was that I needed to broaden my horizens, and publish items with broader appeal. So… to make a long story short, I went home, and convinced Steve that the two Bill’s had a good idea. Four months later, we started a company called Heritage Quest, and you might say that the rest is history.

So… Don’t overlook the education to be received in the FGS exhibit hall. It might not change your life, but it can’t hurt either. Click on the illustration for more information about the FGS Conference in Fort Wayne this summer – August 21-24, 2013.

Oh, yes… Just to be clear… I never did get to the U. You might say that life got in the way, and I had a company to run.

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (www.FamilyRootsPublishing.com), writes daily at GenealogyBlog.com, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

3 thoughts on “What I Learned at the FGS Conference in Denver in 1984”

  1. My life was changed by Bill Dollarhide, too. My husband and I were members of the Brazosport Generalogical Society and attended a special program about 1987 with Bill Dollarhide as the guest speaker. He introduced us to his computer genealogy software and I was hooked from then on. There was a guy with him by the name of Leland Meitzler as I recall, selling something — maybe it was Heritage Quest. Both Bill and Leland have since then given seminars for the Kingsland, TX, Genealogical Society of which I am now a member. Thanks for the memories, Leland.

  2. Colleen: Thanks for reminding me of Brazosport and Kingsland, those were some of the best times of my genealogy life. You and Tom put me up once, and the Judge was a great influence on my genealogy talks about the legal ramifications of the “Preponderance of Evidence.” Back then, I was always giving Leland a bad time about unloading the van and forgetting to tuck his shirt-tail in before starting his lectures — things have reversed, because he now makes me get a haircut before he’ll take me along to his seminars. -bill$ide

  3. Hey you guys be careful, almost starting to sound like an obituary.
    Looking forward to seeing Leland in the Exhibit hall again this year. Unfortunately for the exhibitors the last time it was in Fort Wayne the hall was empty because everyone was fighting over chairs at the library.

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