Here's a great family history activity that won't require you to ponder a date, decipher impossible script or psychoanalyze Great-grandpa. It starts by writing a list of your genealogy questions and brick walls that have gone unresolved months, even years. It ends with your having a real plan to resolve them.

Focus on those questions that get in the way each time you try to make progress tracing a family line.

They're the ones that make you doubt the reliability of the "progress" you have made since you encountered them. They may even be ones that give you sleepless nights.

Here's the deal:

Those who attend the National Genealogical Society 2011 Family History Conference May 11-14 can start planning now to make the best of the opportunity. It would be easy to walk into the Charleston Area Convention Center and attend sessions just because they sound as if they might be interesting. And you shouldn't attend a session just because there are long lines of genealogists waiting to get in.

Pick most sessions based on your needs. Some may be related to brick walls you need to push through. Some should be ones that teach you to find certain documents. Others might tell you how to access records you have located. Or, maybe you want a session that demonstrates how to get more useful information from documents you already use.

Once you've decided what you need to know, take a look at the conference program and choose the sessions you will attend (visit Then click on conference program.)

The choices you make now don't all have to be carved in stone. You may not be quite sure whether a session will meet your needs. Genealogy buddies, ones you have and ones you'll meet the moment you arrive at the conference, can help you make a final decision.

Just be clear on the kinds of things you need to know. And do a bit more reading for background on your issues. There will be more than 180 separate opportunities for learning at the 2011 conference.

Surely, there are some for you.

Saving those stories

"Let's Reminisce and Write: Recording Family Histories and Anecdotes," a workshop, will be held April 11 by the Dorchester County Library.

Harriet Little, freelance writer, historic researcher and genealogist, will present.

The workshop will cover reminiscing and making notes and provide attendees with tools for writing their own family stories.

The event will be at 10:30 a.m. at Seago Library, 76 Old Trolley Road, Summerville. The workshop is free, but registration is required because space is limited. For more information, call the Seago Library at 871-5075 or visit