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Round 2 of summer camp for genealogists

We call them summer camps for genealogists — those week-long institutes held in the summer that give us all a chance to immerse ourselves for a whole week in genealogical education with lots of like-minded folks.

Earlier this week, registration opened for Round 1 of summer camp for genealogists — the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) — and its two week-long sessions. Registration will open on March 2 for Round 3: the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) in Athens, Georgia.

And when it comes to educational opportunities at summer camp for genealogists, there is one more big-time stand out: the week-long Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed), where round 2 registration is about to begin.

Every summer, no more than 42 lucky folks from around the country and, sometimes, from around the world converge on the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C., learning the ins and outs of federal records research at both Archives I in downtown Washington and Archives II in College Park, Maryland.

And your chance to be among those lucky folks in 2019 comes tomorrow, Saturday, February 23, starting at 3 p.m. Eastern time — and this is definitely a you-snooze-you-lose situation: if past years are any indication, every available seat in the class will be taken within minutes.

Gen-Fed 2019

The program this year runs from Monday, July 29, through Friday, August 2, and begins with a required evening orientation on Sunday, July 28. If you’re one of the lucky ones who makes it into this summer camp for genealogists, you’ll have the chance to learn from NARA staff members (current and retired), and expert genealogists, researchers, and historians from a variety of backgrounds, to research hands on at NARA, to research hands on at the Library of Congress — and even to have a special full day on Saturday, August 3, exploring one of the top genealogical libraries in the country: the Daughters of the America Revolution (DAR) Library.

Tuition is $550.00 and includes the one-week course, day and optional evening sessions, and a printed syllabus. Hotel costs and meals are over and above, and a block of rooms has been reserved at the Holiday Inn Capitol at 550 C Street SW at a cost of $179 (plus tax) per night. (Room sharing is the way to go to keep costs down and Gen-Fed helps with sharing arrangements.)

So… why Gen-Fed? Because it’s the one time you will ever have a chance to learn about researching at the National Archives from real experts — including NARA archivists — and then immediately put what you’re learning into action, pulling records and holding your own family’s archival treasures in your hands. Topics include military, land, and immigration records, traditional staples of the institute, and go well beyond to records from all three branches of governments — legislative, executive, and judicial.

You’ll learn about Finding Your Way in Federal Records (Malissa Ruffner, JD, CG), Unique Map Holdings of NARA (Rick Sayre, CG, CGL), Overcoming African American Research Challenges with Federal Records (LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL), and so much more.

The Legal Genealogist will be there — I’ve been teaching my Court Records: Making a Federal Case Out of It class the past few years and this year I get to introduce a new topic building on the first: Busted, Bankrupt, Banged Up: The Stories in Federal Court Records.

Bottom line here: Gen-Fed is one of the very best offerings in genealogical education that can be found. With a history extending back to 1950, with its singular focus on federal records, with its hands-on opportunities to touch and feel and handle real records for our own families, with its stellar leadership team (director Malissa Ruffner, JD, CG, and assistant director Deborah Hoffman) and a stellar line-up of instructors, this is an institute every genealogist needs to attend — and more than a few attend more than once.

So head over to the Gen-Fed website, and read the registration info on the registration page thoroughly and carefully, before 3 p.m. on Saturday. There are some things you can do in advance to be ready to move ahead in the registration process, and you definitely want to be able to move ahead: (a) space is always very limited; (b) demand is always very high; and (c) demand is likely to be even higher this year because of the rave reviews from 2018 attendees.

In other words, you-snooze-you-lose.

So… mark your calendar. Saturday. February 23, 2019. 3 p.m. Eastern standard time.

Be there, and I’ll see you at summer camp for genealogists at the National Archives this summer.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Gen-Fed 2019 registration tomorrow,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 22 Feb 2019).

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