I am at the Federation of Genealogy Societies 2012 conference. Yesterday was Day Two. I attended sessions and visited the exhibits.
The first session was with Thomas Jones, Finding “Unfindable” Ancestors. The room was huge, so I sat way up front where I would be able to see the speaker. As it turns out, I was sitting right behind him as he was waiting to begin, and we had a nice chat. I found his talk very interesting; he stressed the point that you need to go on the assumption your mystery will be solved, and in most cases, probably not by finding one record that proves everything. He pointed out many areas along the way where you may have made a false assumption, missed something because you felt it was unimportant, been misled by records, books or stories, neglected to assemble partial clues. Often, in-depth perusals of surrounding folks will be needed to solve a mystery.
The Exhibits opened at 9:45 and I looked through them a couple of times. There were organizations I’m very familiar with:
And some booths for organizations I’m not familiar with:
I found vendors for a couple of new products that I’d like to try out and see if I can make a good report on.
My lunch featured a talk by Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Walkabouts and Chicken Men: Tales of the U.S. Census Taker.” She has previously worked as a census taker, and her talk featured highlights of her experiences and focused on the difficult work of the census taker over the centuries, and the challenges of that role, in a humorous way. I really enjoyed it, and met a nice genealogist at my table.
The next session was with Laura Prescott, on “Treasures Within The Ivory Tower, Finding Ancestors in Academic Archives.” Laura has had some good fortune finding details about her ancestors in academic archives, and gave an interesting overview of how to find the online catalogs and finding aids, how to approach the archives staff, and pointed out that there are many, many reasons why material might exist there even if your ancestors had no connection to the college. It is an interesting idea that I will definitely be pursuing. For those who would like to “try this from home”, go to a college site near where your ancestors were, or where later generations may have been, and look for library special collections or archives. It’s not as unusual as you might think to actually find a “genealogy” link within special collections, giving you an overview of the collection from a genealogist’s perspective.
The last session was by Amy Crow on “Taking Great Tombstone Photos Without Breaking the Bank.“ She stressed the proper use of any camera – larger resolution sizes, control of the flash, a spare memory card, proper distance from the object being photographed, and zooming. She also had practical tips on the composition of the photographs themselves, including lighting. One audience member offered a tip that foil car windshield reflectors can make a handy light reflector in a cemetery.
The evening was spent at the Find My Past party; karaoke was involved, and hopefully details and film are not making the rounds of Facebook and YouTube.
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