The first day of the Ohio
Genealogical Society 2013 conference got off to a nice, relaxed 11:00 am
start—which was good, because from then on, it was one busy day. I attended
three class sessions and a banquet, and made a couple of quick laps around the
exhibit hall. The Millennium Hotel is in downtown Cincinnati, right across the
street from the Duke Energy Convention Center, site of the 2012 National
Genealogical Society conference. This gave me a little déjà vu feeling every
once in a while. The Hamilton County Genealogical Society certainly worked hard
as host for these two big conferences back-to-back.
While I won’t actually summarize
the lectures I attended, out of respect for the presenters’ material, I’ll try
to offer a couple of take-away points from them. This is partly to help people
who might be interested in ordering the recordings from JAMB, who taped the
presentations. The recordings should be available soon. You can see the full
schedule of presentations here.
Tom Jones opened the
conference with the keynote address, “Strategies for Finding ‘Unfindable’
Ancestors.” This was the kind of lecture you can listen to over and over again
and pick up something new each time. I think it’d be especially helpful to
listen to it again after studying the articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) that he referenced. Tom
noted that recognizing why your
ancestor seems “unfindable” may help you figure out how to find him or her. He
identified 38 research barriers in eight categories, illustrating his points
with samples of four case studies drawn from the NGSQ. Although he warned us
that there is no quick and easy way to solve these difficult cases, he offered
a number of strategies that may lead to success. This is an information-rich
lecture that gives intermediate and advanced researchers a lot to think about.
Some quick notes on other
sessions from Thursday, April 25:
“Proving Immigrant Identities:
Once in Europe, Then What?” (session T07) by Warren Bittner—After encouraging
us to think deeply about our documents, Warren offered a variety of tips for U.S.
and European research on immigrant families. He advised doing thorough U.S.
research before trying to jump the pond, using gazetteers and maps, and tracing
friends and associates. My take: Dates
and locations, rather than a name, might be the keys to an immigrant’s
identity. Given the complexities of German records, I have more work to do here
before I try to find my Herrel family there.
“Self Publishing for the
Genealogist: Tips, Tricks, and Tools” (T11) by Lisa Alzo—Lisa presented an informative
lecture on the rapidly growing and changing world of self publishing,
particularly digital publishing (ebooks). She outlined some questions you
should ask yourself, steps to follow in the family history writing process, challenges
you might face, and various platforms and distribution types. My take: With all the choices available
today, it’s tremendously helpful to get practical advice from someone who has
experience with these publishing platforms. Lisa shared her knowledge generously.
“Documents and Books on the
Web” (T22) by Barbara Vines Little—Barbara walked the audience through a
variety of websites that are publishing original documents and materials. I
knew about the Library of Congress/American Memory site before, but didn’t
realize how much it offered. I also discovered many university sites that are
making their unique collections available. My
take: These sites will make it easier to find social, topical, and historical
background for my family history, and should keep me busy exploring for a long
My day concluded with the
Century Families of Ohio banquet. Century Families is one of four OGS lineage societies. To join, you need to document that your ancestors resided in Ohio by
100 years ago—in this case, by 1912. I proved eight of my ancestors and nine of
my husband’s (I’ll list their names in a separate post).
J. Mark Lowe
The banquet speaker, J. Mark
Lowe, gave an engaging presentation on “Roads and Rails ‘Cross the Ohio River”
(T24). He talked about the factors that influenced migration from place to
place, characteristics of those who migrated earlier vs. later, and the
practical aspects of travel. He also talked about different tools and records
you can use to flesh out the story of a migrating ancestor, including diaries,
travelers’ guides, and maps. The talk was recorded, and I also noticed that Mark
will be giving a similarly titled lecture at the upcoming 2013 FGS Conference
in Ft. Wayne. Since I find migration to be a fascinating—and often
challenging—piece of my family’s puzzle, I really enjoyed his presentation.
Like I said, it was a full
day—and two more still lay ahead. It takes me awhile to process these things,
but I promise to continue the recap soon—though not until after I unpack and
Can it really be late April
already? It’s been a whirlwind month in my house. But an exciting one,
especially as I’m now in Cincinnati getting ready for the opening of the 2013 Ohio Genealogical Society Conference. The theme, "Expanding Your Ancestry through Technology," is a good one, and I noticed a lot of technology and social media presentations on the schedule. Tom Jones will kick off the conference at
11:00 am with the keynote address, “Strategies for Finding ‘Unfindable’
Ancestors.” That’s a topic I’m eager to hear more about, since I have an
abiding suspicion that a couple of my ancestors were dropped off by aliens.
After that, the doors to the Exhibit Hall open, and a in the afternoon a great
line-up of speakers will take to the podiums. The action continues pretty much
nonstop through Saturday afternoon.
OGS doesn’t have Official
Bloggers or any such thing, but I’ll try to fit in a few reports, time
permitting, during or shortly after the conference. In the meantime, if you’re
at the OGS conference and see me, please stop and say hello. I’d love to meet
I recently received—and
accepted—an invitation to become a Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)
2013 Conference Ambassador. Even though the FGS Conference isn’t until August
21-24, I’m already starting to get excited about it. For one thing, I can’t
wait to get back to Ft. Wayne and do some more research at the Allen County Public Library. The last time I was there, I found some really good stuff just
as I was leaving (isn’t that always the way?), and I want to follow up with it.
For another, the line-up of speakers and activities at the conference looks
But one of the biggest elements
that makes a genealogy conference fun is the people there. So I want all my
friends and readers to come (well, it makes sense to me!). If you haven’t taken a look
at the schedule yet, why not head over to the FGS Conference website and browse
As my first semi-official act
as an Ambassador, I’d like to make a recommendation: sign up to get posts from
the FGS Conference News Blog. You can subscribe to it either through email or an RSS
reader (if you’re not familiar with RSS, just choose the email option). The
blog provides a wealth of information on conference speakers, programs, and
events, and gives tips for researching in Ft. Wayne and other nearby areas. It
gives practical advice for visiting Ft. Wayne and getting the most out of your
conference experience. And it shows the level of excitement that’s already
building for the event. After you’ve read a few posts, I think you’ll see why I
think the FGS Conference is going to be the place for genealogists to be in
August. Will I see you there?
Photographs have a way of
bringing history to life, don’t they? I recently discovered a website with an
amazing collection of Civil War photographs: Mike Lynaugh’s Virtual Civil War. If you’re looking for images to help you understand
a battle or identify a Civil War soldier, or if you’re interested in Civil War
era history, it’s well worth a look.
Lynaugh’s Virtual Civil War website showcases five
of his collections. Two of these contain original historic photographs of
soldiers, places, and events. Honoring Those Who Served is a collection of
individual and group portraits of soldiers, some identified by name or company.
Original Photographs of the Civil War contains fascinating images of cities,
battlefields, troops, officers, houses, encampments, bridges and roads,
government buildings, and events, as well as poignant images of the wounded and
dead. Words don’t really do it justice; let’s just say there’s a lot to ponder
The other three sections of
the website consist of modern color images of Lynaugh’s own work: The Battlefields Today, Reenactments, and Remembrance Day Parades. I found his
photographs of the cities and battle sites as they appear today both lovely and
haunting, the peaceful beauty of the surroundings in sharp contrast with the
events they commemorate.
Mike Lynaugh is a
professional photographer/photojournalist based in Washington, D.C. You can
copyright, the modern images are protected. My suggestion is
that if you’d like to use one of Mike’s photos for anything other than your
personal research files, to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
and ask permission. I hope you enjoy browsing the site as much as I did.