Sunday, May 15, 2011

NGS Conference - In Review - Day 2

The Exhibit Hall - Oh the things you'll see!

Day 2 began with a pretty big challenge.  There was a 2 session long class on BCG Certification and while I really wanted to go there were other classes that I wanted to go to as well.  Since I was going to many of the other BCG Skill-Building classes I didn't choose this one.

8am - "A Professional Researcher's Tips and Tricks to the Family History Library Catalog" presented by Daniel S. Poffenberger, AG - The new search is about 1/3 to 1/2 complete, but the hope is that full implementation will happen in 3-4 months.  FamilySearch assures everyone that the old search will not be taken away until the new search is as good or better.  Bottom line with many of the tips and tricks:  don't just search under one of the search topics.  Try using as little information as possible and then add more to narrow the search down if you get too many hits.  Also the developers want your feedback!  They really are looking to get this right, so make sure you provide feedback if you see something you like or if there is something that doesn't seem to work right.  How often do you hear that!?!

9:30am - "Researching Eighteenth-Century Germans" presented by John T. Humphrey, CG - I was disappointed in this class.  It's not that John Humphrey wasn't a good speaker.  He was fine.  The title of his lecture was not.  The assumption I made was that I would be hearing about researching in Germany.  It wasn't.  I could have found something salvageable if maybe he spoke about 18th century Germans in the United States...not so much.  So what was the class about.  Pretty much researching your 18th German ancestors that either were in Pennsylvania or started out there.  There were the occasional references to Germans moving elsewhere, but that was it.  Not even an acknowledgement that they may have come to the country to go straight for another state, oh I don't know, maybe...WISCONSIN!  I don't know that the syllabus stated that the subject would be so narrow, but I will be checking once I finally get back home tomorrow and unpack it.  Bottom line...never assume...

11am - "German Territories and Maps:  You Can't Do Research Without Them" presented by F. Warren Bittner, CG - OH MY GOODNESS!!!!  He more than made up for the 9:30 class!  I could not believe the things he found!  A floor plan for an ancestor's house.  Some great dirt on an ancestor too that had to fight for 10 years before he was permitted to marry the woman he loved (and three kids illegitimate in the meantime).  There are more than just vital and church records to researching in Germany.  Remember that there were many and varied agencies/authorities that generated records and you need to check them!  Even more need to know where the city/village is located in Germany and where it was during the time you are researching.  If you remember even a little of your German history, you'll remember that it's borders were more fluid than the faucet in the bathroom. 

2:30pm - What Exactly is a 'Reasonably Exhaustive Search'?" presented by Laura Murphy DeGrazia, CG - a very good lecture that certainly showed me that I may need to dig deeper in some of my ancestors or risk linking wrong people to my tree.  You need to check all potentially relevant sources (and as close to the original source document as possible) and resolve any conflicts that arise in that search.  You need to use a wide variety of sources (not just vital records, census records, etc) and you also need to consider the reliability of each source.  Want to know more?  I did.  I grabbed the BCG's "Standards Manual" as soon as I could get to the exhibit hall!

4pm - "In the Wilderness and On the Battlefields With Your Civil War Ancestor" presented by Sharon Tate Moody, CG - I wasn't going to go to this lecture, but the others scheduled for this slot either seemed to basic or to regionally specific, so I tagged along with Jenn Woods to this class.  If nothing else, I'm a student of history.  Jenn finds it incredible that I don't have any direct line ancestors that served in the Civil War.  I agree with her on that, but I haven't found them yet.  I promised I would perform my "reasonably exhaustive search" on that when I got back home.  The class was excellent.  Sharon Tate Moody did an excellent job illustrating how attitudes and circumstances changed as the war progressed.  She urged that we look into the unit our ancestors were assigned to in order to put some "meat on the bones" and see what battles they fought in and what life was like for them in those units.  It certainly brings those ancestors to life.  Oh where, oh where are my Civil War ancestors! 

That's Day 2 minus any purchases I got in the exhibit hall.  I'll be arriving home Monday afternoon and hopefully the Cub Scout party won't prevent me from blogging tomorrow night, but no promises.  I will get Day 3 out to everyone as soon as possible!