September 10, 2011

Learning a lot at FGS 2011

The weather in Springfield was a bit rainy Friday, but that didn’t put a damper on the FGS 2011 conference. With full lecture rooms, a buzzing exhibit hall, and over 2000 enthusiastic genealogists in attendance, it was another busy day. I attended four sessions:

1.    “From Land Records to Google Earth: Mapping Your Family’s Place”—Jane Halderman showed how to plot an ancestor’s land using township, range, and section notations from a deed. Using a site called Earth Point, she found the property’s longitude and latitude readings, and then “flew” to Google Earth to get a bird’s eye view of the land today. I can’t wait to try this with some of the deeds I’ve found!

2.    “Finding the World with WorldCat”—Curt Witcher gave some great tips for using this online resource, which he likened to a “searchable silo” of 10,000 library catalogs. He advocated using a five-part strategy to get the best results, searching by: family name, geographic location, ethnicity, religion, and occupation. He also recommended using the Advanced Search box and personal account features. This is one resource I definitely want to spend more time with.

3.    “Using Correlation to Reveal Facts that No Record States”—Thomas Jones defined correlation as the process of comparing and contrasting evidence items to identify patterns, connections, agreements, and disagreements to form and support a conclusion. This is often a complex, source dense process that may be formatted as a narrative, list, timeline, table, map, or a combination of the above. Dr. Jones offered numerous case studies to illustrate his points. As always, he gave me plenty to think about and aspire to.

4.    “Avoiding Pitfalls in New England Research”—Rhonda McClure discussed how vital records, probate records, and land records are organized for Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, and some of the quirks involved in finding and using those records. She also covered state censuses, published resources, and repositories. I expect this information to come in handy as I expand my search for my husband’s New England ancestors.

All four of these sessions, along with most others during the conference, are being recorded. If you’re interested, they will be available on CD and as MP3 downloads from Fleetwood Onsite, probably a couple of weeks after the conference.

At the end of the day, I went to a “GenSpiration” session on better blogging practices, organized by Amy Coffin of We Tree Genealogy Blog. It was nice to have the chance to talk about blogging and get some new ideas from others with more experience. Truly a great group of people!

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  1. Thanks, Caroline! It was great to meet you at FGS.

  2. I just discovered your blog by way of Genea-Musings. I love your blog title & thank you for keeping me updated on FGS. My new son has got me off the conference circuit for awhile, so I am depending on bloggers to get my fill until I can purchase the audio. Thanks for this post-I LOVE Thomas Jones! I am one of his groupies;)

  3. Thanks for the conference updates. I wish I could have been there.

  4. Msualumni, welcome and congratulations on your new son! I think you're in good company with your admiration of Tom Jones. I ordered tapes of several of his lectures so I can go over them again, to fully absorb the material. Thanks for reading!

  5. Michelle, glad you enjoyed the updates. Hope to meet you at a future conference--perhaps NGS 2012 in Cincinnati?


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