This year, the Swedish Genealogical Conference was hosted in the city of Gävle, Sweden. The event took place at the local university campus with more than 3,500 people attending.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsored the FamilySearch booth at this conference. Sister Synnöve Nilsson presented a talk titled Using FamilySearch.org to Search for Ancestors who Emigrated to the United States. This was one of the most popular topics of the conference. The room was filled to capacity. Our visiting speaker, Geoffrey Morris, was also invited by the Swedish Genealogical Federation for a special presentation.
Among the audience was Ted Rosvall, former chairman of the Swedish Genealogical Society and known Swedish TV personality. Also in attendance were journalist Gunilla Nordlund and Swedish radio host Elisabeth Renström, host of the genealogy talk show, Släktband. Per Clemensson, well known genealogist, Gothenburg County archivist and author of many genealogy books was there, as was Sture Bjelkåker, chairman of the Swedish genealogical society, DIS (Föreningen för datorhjälp i släktforskningen).
FamilySearch’s booth was in a large prominent central location in the middle of the room, which made it impossible to miss. The location and the new layout used this year proved to be a great success. Those running the booth estimated that more than 1,500 people visited and learned something about FamilySearch. It was certain that everybody who visited the building could not help but to see the FamilySearch booth.
Located in the middle of the booth provided was an “experts table”. This table provided a place where visitors could come and sat side by side with expert FamilySearch researchers. Visitors brought specific questions and received personal detailed help with their research. These expert consultants used the resources available online in FamilySearch.org to help answer questions. Visitors who took advantage of this opportunity included people right off the street as well as conference attendees. Staff members promoted the FamilySearch booth in local newspapers, which helped to attract many people to both the conference and to the booth. About 24 volunteers helped staff the booth, working in a rotating schedule. Twelve volunteers were there at all times serving the public.
At the expert’s table, six computers were used to introduce and showcase family history online resources to all who were attending the conference. A 50” plasma TV was placed on the back side of the booth to demonstrate the FamilySearch Indexing program. This was a great asset since many people were able to see how the indexing program works and could participate in it themselves.
Behind the expert’s table was another 50” plasma TV repeating an indexing video, showing the “Indexing Challenge”. Staff members challenged each visitor to create a new account on FamilySearch.org and start indexing at least 5 names at our booth. If they did this, they were given an official FamilySearch mug. By the end of the event we gave more than 25 mugs for individuals who signed up and indexed Stockholm records.
There were 3 main goals that the LDS group hoped to accomplish at the conference. They included the following:
- Promote the benefits of getting expert help and letting people know that they can get this kind of help by visiting their local Family History Center.
- Promote the indexing program and get folks to sign up and become new indexers
- Create anticipation and interest in the upcoming Family Tree.
From what was seen by all involved, this conference was a great success. Many local residents of Gävle will benefit from the things that the Church’s family history program has to offer them at no cost. Plus, it helped to create a lot of good will toward the Church.