August 31, 2013

Thanks for the great conference, FGS

It’s been a week since I returned from the 2013 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I’m still buoyed by the energy of the conference and trying to absorb what I learned. Although I didn’t have time to write daily capsules, I want to say thank you to the FGS planners, presenters, and exhibitors for a very successful conference. Here are some of the highlights of the week (in no particular order) for me:

Methodology lectures—the FGS schedule was loaded with lectures on intermediate and advanced genealogical methodology, and I tried to take full advantage of the offerings. I attended all of the presentations by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, and Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS. They were fantastic, as expected, and gave me much to think about. Now that I’m home, I want to refine my hastily-taken notes, burn the information into my brain, and apply the concepts to my own research.

Resource lectures—I learned about researching orphaned, surrendered, and adopted children from Jeanne L. Bloom, CG; finding and using records in upstate New York from Karen Mauer Green, CG, FGBS; and interpreting English parish registers from Paul Milner. These, too, were excellent, and I can see immediate applications with the families I’m working on. There were a number of other presentations I wanted to attend but couldn’t due to schedule overlaps—a quandary at any good conference. Hopefully, I’ll be receiving the recordings I ordered soon.

Exhibit Hall treasures—the spacious exhibit hall was filled with booksellers, vendors, and representatives from societies, companies, and organizations aimed at the family history market. The Bureau of Land Management printed out land patent certificates from their website on parchment paper, with official seals. I now have heirloom quality certificates for three of my ancestors who bought land from the federal government. How cool is that? I enjoyed talking with FamilyTreeMagazine, the New England Historical and GenealogicalSociety, and Gary Clark of I scored color historic maps from Michiana History Publications, bargain used books from the Ohio Genealogical Society, and new ones from Maia’s Books and Family Roots Publishing. The tote bag FGS gave registrants came in pretty handy for getting everything out to the car at the end of the week.

exhibit hall FGS2013 conference

Association of Professional Genealogists luncheon—my bet is that no one in the sold-out APG luncheon audience will ever forget the clever presentation by John Philip Colletta, PhD. His phantom Power Point slides will be legendary for years to come. We’re talking laugh-so-hard-you-cry, standing ovation here. Who said genealogists don’t have a sense of humor?

Late night research party at ACPL—with the help of some tasty vegan cookies and pastries, entertainment from a Civil War-era dance group, and dozens of hardy (or crazy?) researchers, the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library rocked on Friday night. I didn’t quite make it to the midnight hour, but almost. ACPL put out the red carpet for conference attendees all week, adding a dynamic dimension to the overall experience. 

Denise Levenick (aka The Family Curator) and yours truly, late night at ACPL

Diane Loosie
FamilySearch blogger dinner—I enjoyed hearing about all the up-and-coming developments at FamilySearch, including their prototype Family Discovery Centers with oral recording studios. I met the new director of the Family History Library, Diane Loosie, who has plans for collaborative work stations and more. Paul Nauta demonstrated enhancements to their online Family Tree and told us that the 2014 Roots Tech conference will be broadcast in 600 satellite locations around the world. Wow!

Talking and visiting with friends, old and new—a genealogy conference offers a chance to “talk shop” with others who share a passion for family history. From each other, we pick up stories, ideas, and strategies. I’ve met a number of people at conferences that I now consider good friends. We talk, laugh, offer support, and have a good time. Since genealogy is usually a solitary pursuit, it’s nice to have a chance to get together.

On Saturday afternoon, D. Joshua Taylor announced that donors to the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions fund, together with matching pledges from FGS and, had raised over $92,000 at the conference. This money will go toward digitizing War of 1812 pension files at the National Archives. The images will be made available free of charge on indefinitely. Now that’s a win-win situation.

Congratulations to the team of hard-working volunteers who made this year’s FGS Conference such an enjoyable and productive one. Fort Wayne was a delight to visit. Well done!


August 23, 2013

Researching 'Til You Drop in Fort Wayne

Allen County Public Library

It seems like there’s never too much of a good thing in the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library. Even with hoards of eager genealogists descending on it all at once—like they have this week for the FGS 2013 Conference—library workers and volunteers have kept a busy but cheerful profile.

It’s not as though we haven’t put them to the test. Swarms of visitors mean answering countless questions, giving lots of impromptu tours, patiently explaining how to use the copier/scanners, finding obscure reels of microfilm, and above all, re-shelving endless piles of books. The library was so busy on Wednesday that the volunteers actually ushered people around to help them find an available seat. But in spite of the crowds, the mood inside the Genealogy Center remained upbeat and friendly, as people poured through books and periodicals in search of information that might bring them closer to understanding their ancestors.

ACPL books
The library is offering extended hours this week—until midnight, for the truly hardy—for conference attendees. Hats off to the Allen County Public Library for anticipating and accommodating the needs of their visitors!

August 13, 2013

Enjoying the Ride of Summer

You might have noticed things have been a little quiet here at A Sense of Family lately. That’s because in real life, things have been going full-tilt: up, down, around, sideways, you name it. And the roller coaster doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon. Here’s what I’ve done in the past three weeks:

Took part in an amazing week of learning and fun at GRIP (the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh), as a student in Joshua Taylor’s class, Bridging the 1780-1840 Gap: From New England to the Midwest. Not only did I learn a lot about this fascinating but challenging time period, I enjoyed good talks with friends and got to know new people. Between the knowledgable and approachable instructors, high quality course content, great company, and the relaxed summer camp atmosphere, GRIP is a winner all around.

Classmates Harold Henderson and Kimberly Powell puzzle things out at GRIP

Got lost trying to find an old cemetery in Bainbridge, Ohio where my husband’s 4th-great-grandparents are buried. If anyone needs to know how not to get to McFarland Cemetery, just give me a shout. (I did eventually find it and got some nice pictures—it’s a pastoral spot.)

McFarland Cemetery Bainbridge Ohio

Spent a week at my husband’s family’s lake house in northeastern Ohio with my kids, father- and mother-in-law, sisters- and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews. Every year, we rent trailers, walk to a roadside diner for breakfast, hang out in the boats, read novels, and take turns fixing happy hour and dinner. Despite the cloudy and cool weather, we had a good time (as the bottles in the recycling bin can attest) and are ready to do it again next year.

Visited the Portage County Historical Society to do some research in their files, shelves, and scrapbooks full of mostly original materials on the people and history of the area. They have the county’s old probate packets, and while I didn’t find the one I was hoping for, I looked through Fitch Bishop's again, just because it’s so cool. Even though I came away with only small nuggets of information—no big breakthroughs—it was an afternoon well spent.

Attended the 85th annual Roush (Rausch) & Allied Families Association Reunion with my mom and aunt. I met a new-to-me cousin with a neat family heirloom (more on that in a later post), posed in the annual family picture, and learned to sing “Homelands of the Roushes” (well, don’t hold me to that last bit).

Volunteered in the Genealogy Tent at the Dublin Irish Festival, answering people’s questions about how to find their family history. I love doing this. You never know what the next person in line might ask. Of course, I had to stay after my shifts and listen to some soul-stirring and rabble-rousing Irish music, too. Over three days, my son and I made the rounds between The High Kings, Red Hot Chili Pipers, FullSet, Carlos Nunez, and We Banjo 3, watched the dancers from the Richens/Timms Academy, and joined the late night fun fest outside the Gaelic Storm tent. Awesome.

We Banjo 3 at the 2013 Dublin Irish Festival

Responded to a new cousin and fellow researcher who spotted a connection with my 3rd-great-grandmother on one of my family trees. Seriously, you’ve got to love those shaking leaves.

Ok, I’m just going to stop there. You get the picture. Now I’m helping two kids get ready to go back to college, going to Athens for a wedding on Saturday, and trying to make a research plan for the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne. Because the next big thing on the agenda is the 2013 FGS Conference, which starts in just one week. At the rate I’m going, it will be here in the blink of an eye. If you haven’t signed up yet, you still have one more day, through Wednesday, August 14, to register and get access to the syllabus in advance. Or just show up at the door of the Ft. Wayne Conference Center and join in. I’d post a list about what I’m packing, except I haven’t even started yet (what, that doesn’t surprise you?). If you’d like to see what other, more organized people are packing, here’s a post from the FGS Conference Blog that might help.

It’s a wild ride, this thing called Summer. I’m hanging on tight and loving every minute of it. Hope you’re having a good one, too.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...