Opening Session – “Coming Along the Towpath”

December 13th, 2017 by National Genealogical Society Blog Editor

Planning to attend the NGS 2018 Family History Conference? Make your travel plans to arrive on Tuesday, so you don’t miss the Opening Session at 8:00 a.m. in DeVos Place, featuring John Philip Colletta, PhD, FUGA, delivering the keynote address, “Coming Along the Towpath: The Erie Canal and the Peopling of the Great Lake States.” Learn about the building of this “impossible” engineering feat, 1817‒1825, and the myriad ways our ancestors may have worked for, on, or along the “Artificial River.” The canal delivered Yankee ancestors from New England, New York, and emigrants arriving from overseas to populate the Midwest and forever alter the economy of the United States. John Colletta is an entertaining speaker and story teller whom you don’t want to miss. (Editor: YES, oh yes he is!)

The Opening Session will also include remarks from NGS President, Ben Spratling, JD, as well as recognition and awards.

Following the Opening Session, conference attendees will have an opportunity to view more than eighty exhibitors in the Family History Expo.

1840 Erie Canal Map by Unknown – New York State, Public Domain,

For more information about the Erie Canal, nicknamed “Clinton’s Big Ditch,” visit where you’ll find maps, images, and great historical background.