When I think about attending a national conference the obvious benefits are the classes featuring speakers who are experts in their genealogy niche. I often forget about the benefits of relaxing and talking with other genealogists during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes we talk about where we’re from and where our ancestors came from. Other times we talk about our current research research frustrations. The great thing about these meals is that we are talking with people who are interested in our passion. You’d be surprised by the number of times I have encountered someone who had helpful hints for the areas I was working in. Then, there are the serendipitous encounters like the one I had the morning after Roots Tech had finished. We were eating breakfast with Sunny Morton. Her home town is Cleveland, which is where my mother’s family lived for over 100 years. The discussion weaved and wandered around topics like driving in snow storms and being trapped somewhere, the possibility of walking home from school, and an old clothing manufacturing factory in Cleveland being transformed into a new school for gifted students. For most people at the table the conversation was fun and interesting. For me it was one of those moments when a light bulb lit up in my head. I told Sunny that the old clothing manufacturing factory piqued my interest because my great-great aunt worked for a large clothing manufacturer in Cleveland. Roger searched for the name of the company my great-great aunt worked for on his cell phone while Sunny searched her cell phone for the name of the company that was being transformed into a new school. Sure enough it was the same company, Joseph Feiss & Co. What are the odds?! We will be collaborating to create the start of a collection of stories and photographs of the people who worked at the factory. The next time you attend any conference, take the opportunity to meet new people, talk about your family and research and see where the conversation takes you.

Lisa Christensen