The whirlwind that swept through Cincinnati last week—otherwise known as the 2012 NGS Family History Conference—is officially a wrap. I spent a wonderful week going to classes, exploring exhibits, and just hanging out with people who are as passionate about genealogy as I am. Even with strategic planning, it was impossible to hear all the great speakers whose lectures I wanted to attend or get to every booth in the exhibit hall. And I didn’t even get a chance to talk to all of the other bloggers in attendance. I came home exhausted from the non-stop action, and am still processing everything.
|The Belle of Cincinnati, seen during the ProGen dinner gathering|
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS, started off bright and early Friday morning with the enticingly titled, Okay, I ‘Got the Neighbors’: Now What Do I Do With Them? (F301)
Take away: By studying your family in the all-important context of their community, you can find friends, neighbors, and associates (FAN club members) that will lead you to previously unknown localities and families of origin.
Marianne S. Wokeck, PhD., spoke at the Palatines to America luncheon on Framing Genealogy: How Family Research Enriches the Ways in Which We See the World
Take away: Understanding your immigrant German ancestors, who uprooted their lives and transplanted themselves successfully in America, means considering the places, siblings, spouses, religion, and status that defined who they were and how they lived.
Patricia Moseley Van Skaik discussed When Do I Link in, Tweet, Facebook, or Flick? Social Media for the Professional Genealogist (F360)
Take away: Each type of social media has its strengths, weaknesses, and decision points, and using them wisely to convey who you are can build your credibility and help you engage successfully with other professionals, friends, and clients.
Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA, got the ball rolling Saturday morning with Research Reports for Ourselves: More Than a Research Log (S411)
Take away: Treat your personal research with the respect it deserves by writing research reports containing elements that will help you reach solid conclusions and resume the research later, and that will allow future family members to understand and continue your work.
Elizabeth Shown Mills (credentials above) drew a packed house to her session, Information Overload? Effective Project Planning, Research, Data Management, and Analysis (S422)
|It seems like we were all seeking help with Information Overload|
Take away: Building on her previous lecture, this one addressed what to do with all of the FAN club people you’re researching, who don’t fit neatly into traditional genealogy software programs. Two tools—research plans and individual research notes—provide the framework to gather and analyze that important data.
David Ouimette, CG, talked about Using Excel to Compare Name Lists of Family Associates and Neighbors (S449)
Take away: By creating Excel spreadsheets, you can compile, sort, correlate, and find patterns in information from a wide variety of sources, including passenger lists, census records, church parish registers, city directories, store account books, and more.
Rev. David McDonald, CG, provided a fitting end to the conference with his Ten Top Tips to Concluding Effective Research (S451)
Take away: A last-minute substitute for another speaker, and totally unfazed by a non-working projector, Rev. McDonald was a delight to listen to. His tips for recognizing when it’s time to wrap up a project and move on were insightful, witty, and helpful.
I highly recommend all of the above lectures, as well as the ones I wrote about earlier. If you’re interested in ordering CDs from the NGS Conference, keep an eye on the JAMB recordings website. They should be available soon.
|Maia's Books was a popular stop in the Exhibit Hall|
Kudos to the National Genealogical Society, the Ohio Genealogical Society, and Hamilton County Genealogical Society for hosting such a great conference. I heard there were over 2100 people in attendance. The free WiFi in the convention hall and hotel, the mobile conference app, and the plentiful volunteers were much appreciated.
On a personal note, I want to say how much I enjoyed seeing "old" friends and making new ones. My days and nights were so much richer and more fun because they were spent in the company of fellow bloggers and researchers Susan Clark, Linda McCauley, Becky Wiseman, Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana, Kathy Reed, Kim von Aspern-Parker, Margel Soderberg, Tina Lyons, Harold Henderson, Kelly Holderbaum, Michael Hait, Jennifer Alford, Stephanie Fishman, Jennifer Holik, Karen Bennett, Judy Russell, Lisa Alzo, Kimberly Powell, Deb Cyprych, and many others. To Susan in particular, my roommate extraordinaire, go my thanks as well as the hope she will never have to scrounge around for coffee (with cream) first thing in the morning again.
It was also a pleasure rubbing elbows with some of the country’s leading genealogical speakers and instructors, whose work I regard so highly. The field of genealogy has to have some of the nicest, most generous, and least pretentious professionals around. Even so, I'm still in awe of them. If you haven't already, you might want to check out Paula Stuart Warren’s blog and J. Mark Lowe’s blog. And if you have a challenging research question, you can try to Stump Craig Scott.
I left Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon, my head spinning from trying to absorb all I had done and heard. It was an unforgettable experience, and my only regret is that I couldn't stay one more night.