Excitement! That word comes to mind as genealogists from across the country arrive for the National Genealogical Society's 2011 Family History Conference.

About 2,000 registrants will attend the annual gathering in Charleston this year.

From the moment participants start checking in at the hotels and conference registration booths Tuesday to the close of the annual meeting Saturday, there will be much excitement. Tales of great finds, brick walls and persistence that paid off will be constants in attendees' conversations.

This 33rd NGS gathering, the largest such meeting in the country, will take place Wednesday through Saturday at the Charleston Area Convention Center.

More than 180 lectures, plus luncheon speeches and other presentations will be heard. The South Carolina Genealogical Society is the local host for the event.

"Where the Past is Still Present" will draw those seeking the latest methodology and technology for advancing family history research. It also is expected to draw many who are new to genealogy.

The addition of a searchable database of last names being researched by those at the conference practically guarantees some attendees will meet cousins they didn't know existed.

There's also a strong possibility the conference will attract some whose Lowcountry roots run deep to the area for the first time.

A number of conference presentations will be made by local speakers.

Nicholas Butler, Charleston Archive manager, will speak about information on rich, poor, slave, free and transient people in the city's surviving 18th-, 19th- and early 20th-century records.

Patricia Kruger, independent genealogist, introduces those interested in Charleston research to the records of the Charleston Library Society and the South Carolina Historical Society.

Harriott Cheves Leland and Dianne Ressinger will present case studies on tracing French Huguenots in America, the West Indies and British Isles with the Huguenot Society's records.

And my own presentation is a case study showing how to gather information from a wide range of records to reconstruct the lives of ancestors freed by the Civil War.

State Sen. Glenn McConnell will speak on the historical and scientific research surrounding the raising of the H.L. Hunley.

And Alphonso Brown will provide a glimpse of Gullah life.

For more information on the conference, visit www.ngsgenealogy.org. Also visit www.postandcourier.com/blogs/lowcountryroots/.

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705 or wminis@postandcourier.com.