13 September 2008

FGS' 50th Anniversary and Fall Seminar

We have had a WONDERFUL 50th anniversary celebration for the Florida Genealogical Society (Tampa) this past weekend! Our gala 50th anniversary dinner on 12 September was limited to the first 50 registrants, and we had an almost full complement at the lovely Valencia Garden Restaurant in Tampa. The food was absolutely top-notch, and we were greatly entertained by Paula Stuart-Warren's talk about "Murphy's Law and Genealogy Research Trips."

We then presented our annual Fall Seminar on Saturday, 13 September, in the technologically state-of the-art Student Services Building Auditorium at Hillsborough Community College Campus on Dale Mabry Boulevard (across from Raymond James Stadium where the Tampa Buccaneers play and the site of the next Super Bowl on 2 February 2009). Almost 100 attendees enjoyed four excellent talks by the stellar Paula Stuart-Warren: 20th and 21st Century Genealogical Research; Railroad Records and Railroad History: Methods for Tracking; Organizing Your Genealogical Materials: Methods to Keep it Current; and Untrod Ground: Sources You May Not Have Encountered.

A great group of vendors and other genealogical societies were present in the exhibit hall, as well as a vast collection of free books, historic genealogical magazines, and more. FGS presented a commemorative display of its first fifty years, including special proclamations from Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, and Generations Network CEO Tim Sullivan. These framed commemorative documents will be on permanent display in the Ceta Rodgers Armitage Room adjacent to the History and Genealogy Department of the John F. Germany Public Library in downtown Tampa.

In addition, FGS had more than $1,100.00 in door prizes of all types from Ancestry.com (The Generations Network), RootsMagic, Everton's, Family Tree Magazine, Family Roots Publications, the Florida Genealogical Society, the Estate of Melvin O. Brown, George G. Morgan, GenerationMaps.com, the Pasco Genealogical Society, and local society member Ann King! It was a rich treasure trove for our attendees!

Volunteers pins were awarded to a number of society members in recognition of their great service to the society. The annual Volunteer of the Year Award was bestowed upon Shirley Evans Besch. Shirley provides the society's "Ask a Genealogist" service at the John F. Germany Library in downtown Tampa on the first Saturday morning of each month. She has served on the FGS Board for the last year, providing inteligence, excellent ideas and suggestion for membership, great humor, and wonderful camaraderie. She produced (with husband Rick Besch) this year's elegant FGS Member Directory, and she unselfishly volunteers her time and energy to help other researchers and to promote the success of the society. Shirley is the embodiment of charm, grace, and volunteer spirit!

The Florida Genealogical Society declared our 50th Anniversary and Fall Seminar a great success. We sincerely thank Paula Stuart-Warren for her excellent presentations and her unselfish sharing of time to answer every question posed by every attendee. We are grateful to Paula for making this year's seminar another winner!