France, Genealogical Conferences
For many years French interest in genealogy has been strong. In most cities and départments (similar in size and structure to English counties), large genealogical societies work to index and or publish records of local interest. Membership statistics presented at the December 2002 Genealogia conference in Paris number official membership in the Fédération Française de Généalogie (similar to the FGS organization in the United States) as follows:
1968: 5 associations, 600 members
1978: 50 associations, 8,000 members
2000: 150 associations, 50,000 members
According to this presentation, surveys conducted in the year 2001 estimate that more than 5 million people in continental France consider themselves to be 'genealogists.'
1) Biennale de Généalogie This conference has been held in Paris (Espace Champerret) every second December. The conference was first held in 1998. Attendance has grown steadily - attendance in 2000 was approximately 10,000, attendance in 2002 was approximately 15,000, and attendance at the most recent meeting in December of 2004 was over 20,000 (according to official conference reports). This conference is targeted to the general genealogy enthusiast. The cost for this conference is minimal. The primary draw is the exhibit hall - more than 500 exhibitors were present in December of 2004. For more information on the most recent conference (2004) see http://www.mci-salons.fr/genealogia/
2) Congrés de la Fédération Française de Généalogie - This conference is hosted annually (since 1987) by a member society (similar to the annual FGS meetings in the United States). Attendance at this conference is much smaller - usually in the neighborhood of 3,000 to 5,000. The audience is somewhat different than the Biennale de Généalogie. The cost is much higher - about $130 for the basic conference inscription. This conference concentrates on technical instruction and on how to administer genealogical associations. The exhibit hall is also considerably smaller as attendees concentrate more on classroom instruction. Additional conference information is available at http://www.cgsl.asso.fr/congres/