First Timers FAQ

I’ve never been to an IAJGS Conference before. What do I need to know?

We’re so glad you’re joining us this year. We want to help make your experience at the conference stress-free and productive, so we’ve created this FAQ  just for you. If you’re not a first-timer, this may help as a conference refresher!

What does registration include?

Conference registration includes access to almost all sessions of the conference. Sessions include lectures, the film festival, evening entertainment sessions, and the keynote speech and reception. It also includes access to the Resource Room and Exhibitor Room. When you check in at the registration area, you will receive a conference tote bag containing a printed conference planner, the conference syllabus on a USB flash drive, your badge and badge holder, and other materials. Your conference badge will be your ticket for admission to the conference areas. On-site conference registration begins the night before the conference begins.

What sessions are not included in the registration?

Computer workshops may incur an additional expense. SIG Luncheons, Breakfast with the Experts, and the Gala Banquet also carry additional charges. These items can be added to your registration.

Is the hotel included in the conference fee?

You must register and pay for the hotel separately. We have negotiated special room rates that are available through June 23 provided space remains available.  We encourage you to book your rooms early to insure availability and the best rates. Our discounted  conference rate is available from Monday, July 17 to Wednesday August  2, 2017.  Use those extra days to enjoy the many Orlando area attractions with your family!

Is there Internet access?

All conference areas have free wi-fi available to all attendees. All hotel rooms in the conference block also have free wi-fi for guests.

What is a SIG?

SIGs are Special Interest Groups. JewishGen sponsors a variety of SIGs, which cover many areas where Jews lived, as well as some non-geographic topics. A few SIGs are independently run, including the Litvak SIG (covering modern Lithuania), JRI-Poland, and Gesher Galicia (covering the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia). There are no fees to join the JewishGen-sponsored SIGs. These groups offer a Discussion Group Mailing List for members to ask questions and learn about resources for research, help in finding your roots, and a variety of databases reflecting vital records, tax records, business directories, etc. All SIGs are run by volunteers, and they always need volunteers to help with a wide variety of tasks.

What is a BOF?

Birds of a Feather groups are organized by individuals for much smaller areas than the SIGs. Typically, they are researching a town or a small region. Many of the BOFs have informal meetings during the conference. Some BOF meetings might be scheduled in advance and listed in the conference programs. Others may be announced at the last minute. There will be a message board outside the hospitality area where information on BOF meetings can be posted.

During the conference, how will I know when sessions are added or cancelled or special events are happening?

The conference features a free app, downloadable to Apple and Android devices, which includes a calendar of events that makes it convenient to check your schedule on your phone or tablet during the day. Every time something changes, you will be notified. The app is also a convenient way to store your own personal conference schedule. The app is also accessible from any computer using your browser and Internet access. Most schedule changes are also posted at the rooms where the changes are happening and at the hospitality area.

I’m still not sure what to expect. Can you tell me more?

Before the conference, you should review the schedule, which is available on the web site and the conference app (which will be available a few weeks before the conference). You will also receive a printed copy of the Daily Planner when you register. Know which lectures and meetings you want to attend. Pay for any meals or computer workshops in advance; some sell out. If you can't decide which sessions to attend, look at what's being recorded. If you want to attend something that's not being recorded, go to that and you can buy the recording of the other later.

People dress from casual to business, but there is no rule. Some like to go dressier for the Gala Banquet. Be prepared for various temperatures in the rooms. Have a sweater, especially if you get cold easily.

Some people like to bring snacks, but make sure that they're silent snacks if you eat during the sessions. Otherwise, snack in the hallways between sessions.

When you first arrive, you'll need to register before you can attend any sessions. Registration opens Saturday evening and then has daily hours throughout the conference. Get a feel for the conference area and where all the rooms are so you won't feel too lost on the first days. There will be a map, and you can wander around.

There is an early Sunday session for New Attendees. You should consider attending that one.

Check out the Genealogy EXPO, a new conference event, featuring lectures from the exhibitors, and the Share Fair, to learn more about IAJGS-related non-profit groups, both events on Sunday only.

Be sure to visit the Exhibit Hall to learn about products and technologies available. Visit the Resource Room for access to subscription web sites, some that individuals can't subscribe to and this may be your only chance to use them. (Check the list of databases that will be available and prepare any research in advance.)

Socialize and network as much as you can. Talk to people in the SIG and BOF meetings. That's where you'll meet the people researching the same locations as you. Start up conversations with anyone hanging around in the hallway, or join some conversations already going. Everyone wants to talk about genealogy at our conference. No worries of relatives rolling their eyes at another story about the ancestors or the research.

Any other questions? Join the Discussion list and ask there, or try asking on social media. There are several Jewish genealogy Facebook groups that are very active with our attendees, as well as our official Facebook page.