Wednesday I attended the virtual National Genealogical Society Conference and it was as informative as always! It was a long day, however, beginning at 11 AM Eastern time and ending at 7 PM. A few 15 minute breaks were included throughout.
The best part is that each speaker’s topic was so different yet all packed full with useful information. Some of the knowledge was new – I loved Elizabeth Shown Mill’s “crowd sourcing” analysis which is slightly different from her FAN Club. Both Mills and Tom Jones reminded us of the importance of analysis. I absolutely loved how Jones used online unsourced tree data as a stepping stone to find the facts. Judy Russell’s talk was poignant and reminded me of how fortunate my immigrant grandmother was in not having to be a child worker. I had no idea that a child of one month old could become indentured! Blaine Bettinger was awesome as always with his DNA explanations. I absolutely loved that he used closed captioning for those who might need it. Some folks were critical of it because it overlapped the bottom of the shown slides but IMHO, the presentation was readable anyway. That was such a thoughtful gesture to end the day I was deeply touched by his attempt at inclusion.
There were also wonderful presentations by FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com and FamilyTreeDNA. Lots of changes coming – some good, some not so good if you loved a feature that will be disappearing (Ancestry is dumping the shoebox in the trash and the folders you may have set up in messaging while FamilyTreeDNA has eliminated offering one of its test kits). Change is what it is – we’ll adapt and move on. Some of the moaning and groaning in the chat box made me laugh – get a grip, folks, it’s not the end of your genealogy practice.
The “lunch” speaker was an actor who took the character of a unknown (to many) suffragette from Utah. It was a moving presentation and a great remind of the short time period all women have been allowed the right to vote in this country.
Kudos to the the NGS staff who was able to put on this virtual conference on such short notice. Most of the remainder of the what was to have been an on site conference in Salt Lake City will be available for view beginning July 1. I’m not sure if you can still purchase viewing or not as I bought a package in early May when it had just become available. So glad, I did! Although it’s definitely not the same feel as person-to-person, it was a wonderful and well done alternative during these difficult times. I highly recommend checking the availability out at the site – NGS – the syllabus provided is worth the price.
Happy Mother’s Day Weekend! Tomorrow is the big day and if you are short of time or your favorite store is short on everything then here’s two ideas that might help:
1. Genealogical.com has a 3 month special offering all of their 750 books for purchase to be viewed online. It’s a nice idea while libraries were closed and it allows you to see if it is a book you’d like to purchase in the future. I know many in person sites will be opening soon but if you’re like me – have read everything you have at home AND are not wild about the idea of going out yet, this might be the ideal gift.
I’ve been using it for the past 2 weeks and I have found some interesting info as I’ve been researching Barbados which is not a well represented topic in my local libraries. Have I found anything earth shattering? Not yet but I’ve obtained some clues to go forward with.
There are some glitches with the site so I want to share that info to avoid frustration. First, the log in is quirky. I’ve tried Chrome, Firefox and good ole Internet Explorer thinking that might be the issue but it isn’t. It never can recognize my password unless I sign in through my Google account. I’m telling you this because I’ve been locked out and when you’re paying for something for a limited time that’s frustrating.
I know I’m not alone as someone else had commented that once you’re in, you often get sent to a page to purchase books. Here’s how to get around that – Click Home and Click on Book Bonanza at the top. You’ll be in the right area to read at that point.
Next issue is it always takes you back to page 1 of the books listed. What would have been nice would have been a long page listing all the book titles/authors (I don’t care what the cover looks like!) with a link directly to the book. After a few days of use I decided I would approach this as I do when I’m just surfing a shelf in a brick and mortar library – I looked at all the offerings on the site page by page and wrote down the titles of interest. Now, when I’m back on page 1 (you get logged off if you step away for a bit so when you log back on you automatically return to page 1) I just type the title I’m interested in the search button.
Here’s another hint – the list of books I created I checked WorldCat and Ancestry and 18 were there so I will be using those sites for those books. That way, I don’t have to feel pressure to get through all the other ones that I can’t access anywhere else.
You can’t download the books – just read them – so remember where you left off. It’s not like Kindle so you have to make a number of clicks to go back where you were. The other issue is that the page numbers don’t appear so using the Index is difficult. For example, in Barbados Records in Marriages 1643-1800 Vol. 1, I checked out the index for my Alexanders and derivations of Hollingshead and I find a few I didn’t know existed. There’s no page number or book section listed so the only way to find them is to scan every page in the book (which is a list of marriage records, duh, so it’s all names) arranged in chronological order by parish to find them. That is time intensive and yes, I have 3 months, but there are other books I also want to check out. I used a back door to get more info on the possible relatives listed – looked them up on genealogy sites online to get a better understanding of relationships, years they were in that country (my peeps were gone by 1720 so if the others were there in 1800 I don’t need to check further), and where they originated from in England.
Going back from a page to another part of the book is also a pain. You can use the back arrow but if, for example, you’re looking at H’s in the index, you’ve clicked numerous times to get through the A’s-G’s so it’s a lengthy process to return. It also loads pages slowly, maybe that’s just on my end, but it makes me crazy so now I just click the top arrow to go back to good ole page 1 of all the offerings, retype in the name of the book and then use the index to go where I want.
So now you’re thinking – why in the world, Lori, would you recommend this as a Mother’s Day gift?! Well, there’s not a lot out there to purchase and your dear mom isn’t gonna get the ‘rona using this. Just show her this blog and she can hit the ground running. I’m not making any money off this – just trying to be helpful.
2. Next option is to sign up for a National Genealogical Society conference package. This is what my family got me for my birthday and I’m really excited. I’ve attended past in-person conferences and loved them! I was unable to go out to Salt Lake this year due to my other job’s schedule so this gift is really making me happy. On May 20th, the “live” online offerings are available from 11 AM to 7 PM. In July, based on the package purchased, you can view up to 85 other lectures that would have been available if the conference was held in person and those are available through May 2021! That’s more genealogical courses then you could have ever attended in person so I think this is an awesome opportunity. Sure – you don’t get the camaraderie of being around other genealogists, the immediate answer to your question or the excitement of travel but in these times, I’m good with what is being offered.
Every conference is a learning experience and today was no exception. My local genealogy society sponsored four presentations by Dr. Thomas Jones, PhD, CG, FASG, FUGA and one break out session by a local genealogist.
I’ve lost count of how many in person and online presentations I’ve attended given by Tom. In every one, he always makes the most difficult scenarios seem easy to resolve. I enjoying following his logic in drawing a conclusion based on the records he has or has not found.
The program today started with the beginner level, progressed quickly and then ended with an upbeat – you can (and should) do this approach. Here’s my four biggest take aways that can help your research:
Tom lamented that he wasted nearly 20 years at the beginning of his family history career by not reading genealogical journals. I made the exact same mistake. If you’re a newbie, you will benefit from reading articles published by the National Genealogical Society, The American Genealogist, New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, New England Historic and Genealogical Society, your state societies and more. No, the articles probably aren’t going to help you name your brick wall ancestor but they will provide the tools that others used to discover what you’re having difficulty locating. No excuse if being a member of all of these societies aren’t in your budget; your local public library probably has a subscription. If not, ask for a year’s membership as a birthday gift. Find a friend interested in genealogy and each of you become a member of one and share the journals. Post on Craig’s List or go on eBay and search if someone is selling their collection. I’m trying to be a good environmental steward so I’ve stopped getting hard copies in the mail and read the articles online. When I did get the paper version, I always donated to my local library when I was done. Pass yours on, too!
Tom reminded us to “consider everything and trust nothing.” Personally, I think that’s good advice not just for genealogy. He was referring to online family trees and in print family genealogies. It’s not too difficult to tell which are well researched. It is a must to check out the citations to confirm the accuracy.
“Inconvenience is not a reason for drawing a conclusion; get as close as you can to original records.” I’m blending Tom’s quote with the breakout session I attended on England and Wales records. I do some, but not a whole lot, of English and Welsh research. I wasn’t aware that the British equivalent to the U.S. National Archives has only 5% of their records online. I don’t know what the latest percentage estimates are for U.S. records but whatever the amount, not everything is available from the comfort of your home computer. True, it’s not always convenient to have to do boots on the ground but it is necessary.
“Gather the stories you’ve been told, write them down and share them.” Definite words of wisdom! For my long time readers, you know that was one of the reasons why I started blogging. I wanted a place to connect with my far flung relatives by sharing the stories passed down to me by my maternal grandmother. Every family has heartwarming tales and whispered lore. Write it down, check it out and pass it on before it’s been forgotten. Your descendants will be so thankful you did!
Last, as promised, here’s a shout out to one of my New Port Richey followers that happened to be in line in front of me today. It was awesome meeting you in person. Happy Hunting!
I’m off to North Carolina to attend the National Genealogical Society Conference. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. If you’re planning on attending friend me on the conference ap. Traveling with a co-worker is making the trip even more fun. I’m planning on purchasing Tom Jones’ new book that will be released there – buying that as my own Mother’s Day present. No blog until I return. In the meantime, Happy Hunting!