National Genealogical Society May Conference Reflection

Circle Chart Example

I attended the National Genealogical Conference virtually this week, the second time the conference has been in that format.  Here’s my take on it…

This year there are 3 days in May for the general attendees compared to last year, where there was only one.  This makes sense since the organization had to pivot at the last minute to move the format while this year they had a longer time period to adjust. 

I enjoyed SLAM! on Tuesday.  SLAM is an acronym for Societies, Libraries, Archives and Museums and featured “posters” from submitting organizations regarding innovative programs they provided to members/patrons during the pandemic.  Monday was society today but since I registered as an individual I was not able to attend those sessions.  Friday was society wrap up which, although sessions showed on my dashboard, I was not able to enter.

I was greatly impressed by the SLAM! submissions.  Three Top Poster Winners and three runner ups were highlighted and representatives from the winning organizations answered questions from conference attendees.  My personal favorite was a circle Family Wheel Chart provided by Mary Kate Gliedt, Genealogy Manager at the St. Louis Public Library.  The beauty of this simple chart is to allow flexibility and inclusion with family dynamics.  If you have step-family, adoption, foster parents, nonparental event or same sex parents, the traditional family tree does not work.  With the Wheel Chart, lines can be made to include those important people that influenced a child.  I have altered the form by making the lines faint so they can be written over if not needed and drawn over when used. An example is above.

You would put your name in the ME circle.  Your birth mother could be written in space Mom 1 or Mom 2.  If you have an Adopted, Foster or Step Mother, she could be placed in the other Mom space.  If you had 3 “moms” then the top half of the second circle could be divided into 3 sections.  You can alter the form from there.  When finished, drawing over the lines with a pen can make the form easy to follow.

I’ll be including spaces around the 4 quadrants of the page to include children of those relationships.  Now you have one sheet displaying the family dynamics and including everyone. 

After the SLAM! winners, attendees could visit each submission site and chat with representatives.  I will be blogging next week about the Veteran’s Legacy Project. 

Overall, the first day went well with this new format.  There were only two minor glitches.  The first was that the kickoff event was purported to be a livestream from Ancestry but it wasn’t livestream, it was a replay from an older Youtube video from that organization.  Event personnel clarified in the chat that was the case after a number of participants mentioned the discrepancy.

The day ended with the second glitch, a livestream from Family Search.  Clicking the button to view did not work.  Eventually, a note was displayed to go to Youtube.  Several of us missed the first few minutes of the presentation because of the tech issue. Overall, it was a wonderful day!

One tech issue occurred on Wednesday when Dani Shapiro’s presentation froze.  NGS allowed viewing through Friday at 5:00 PM for those who missed it. 

Thursday’s line up included more than one option at the same time period.  If you wanted to view a missed presentation, viewing was made available through Friday at 5:00 PM.  In that way, I was able to view every option. 

For those who purchased a 20 or 40 session packet, beginning June 15th, all of the sessions except Dani Shapiro’s, is included in either packet.  The syllabus for all sessions was provided electronically and those that purchased a packet, more sessions not yet shown will be available to view through December 31, 2021.  Since I don’t have many lines in Virginia, I purchased the 20 session packet.  Looking forward to more interesting sessions to view over the summer.

Although I miss the camaraderie of attending conferences in person, there is a lot of positives to virtual – no wasted time or expense by travel and the ability to view at my leisure.  Next May the NGS conference will be held in Sacramento, California.  I’m hoping that a virtual option remains as I have no needed research to do in that area. 

Here are my personal favorite sessions:

Most Heartfelt – Family Secrets

Most Entertaining – Young General Lafayette

Most New Information – The Story of Virgina:  Arrival of the First Africans (I’m buying the book by Ric Murphy!)

Most Consistent Presenter Over Venues Demonstrating Excellence – Elizabeth Shown Mills.  How she makes everything look simple is just so special!

Most Knowledgeable about Virginia – Barbara Vines Little

DNA Technique – Tie between Angie Bush and Christa Cowan who both demonstrated how they use the colored dots on Ancestry.  I use mine like Angie but am willing to try Christa’s method. 

Special shout out to Erin Shifflett, NGS Staff.  I couldn’t find the syllabus as the link was buried in one of the many emails that they had sent to remind me of the conference.  I sent an email and in less than 5 minutes had a response with the document to download.  Now that’s service!

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