NERGC is held every two years in various locations around New England. This time the location was Manchester, New Hampshire.
I arrived early Thursday morning to have breakfast with some Facebook friends. That was really nice and I met a woman from Concord Mass and someone from Nova Scotia, as well as Facebook friend Jennifer Zinck. They had some French Canadian roots. I don’t have that but I do have lots of Nova Scotia connections.
NERGC relies on volunteer help so I did my bit at the reg desk for a while on Thursday. Then I attended a session sponsored by the Massachusetts Genealogical Council, “Access to Records for Genealogists: An Open Forum”. Recent confusion about SSDI (Social Security Death Index) access was presented as an improv skit, and panelists answered many questions after that. The point was stressed that methods of identity theft are constantly shifting and changing, and in fact the biggest danger recently has been theft through details copied illegally from medical records. Branches of the federal government should be responsible to check the SSDI (and not be fooled) and ultimately, identity theft of living people is far more common and damaging. Massachusetts remains one of only a few completely open vital-records states, and this group works to keep things that way. From time to time, supportive genealogists may be called upon to contact their legislators on certain issues. After the session, I asked some questions I had about access to family medical records, and it was the most helpful discussion I’ve had on the subject, and I was given a contact in Rhode Island which I will follow up.
The exhibits opened at 6 p.m., and I enjoyed some special pricing on used books. I found several books I have wanted for a while, plus two old books on Fitchburg, Massachusetts I’ve never seen before.
On Friday morning I attended a session by Craig R Scott on “Researching Your French and Indian War Ancestors in New England”. Craig is an entertaining speaker. I don’t know of any ancestors of mine who participated in that war, but I now have a better idea of the chronology and geography of this complicated war, as well as an overview of the literature available. I have heard Craig speak before, and he likes to help the audience understand the issues behind the conflicts, for instance, in this case, by showing us contemporaneous maps of eastern North America, one by the French, one by the colonial British settlers. It was pretty obvious from the maps that the two sides had very different views of the territory. The books I plan to find next time I’m in a genealogy library are the set “In Search of the “Forlorn Hope”: a Comprehensive Guide to Locating British Regiments and Their Records (1640-WWI)” by John M. Kitzmiller II. Apparently the book contains some FHL microfilm numbers to help you find the original records you need. I will also look at the compiled red Massachusetts Officers and Soldiers books.
I was able to have lunch with fellow Rhode Islander Barbara, and Jennifer Zinck. Jennifer was generous enough to answer a lot of questions I had about DNA testing. One piece of advice, which I hadn’t really considered before, was to use testing on the earliest DNA possible, for instance, my mom and dad. If I ever get started on that, I now have some specific recommendations to explore. Thanks, Jennifer!
Next, Jolene Mullen presented “Town Meeting Records of Connecticut and Rhode Island during the American Revolution”. Jolene has made a study of these local records for the period of the Revolutionary War and had a lot of insight to offer on how to find the records and what information they may reveal. It was a reminder of the wealth of information held in early town records, which I have heard before, and I think any difficult problem from these early New England towns could benefit from a reading of several years of town council records.
“Digging Up the Dirt on Your Farmer” by Lori Thornton came next, in which she reviewed a wide range of record sources for agricultural settings. One resource that Lori mentioned, available in some libraries, is the Evans Early American Imprints. Other sources mentioned included special census schedules, tax lists, patents, and sources for newspapers, particularly newspapers aimed at the farming community like “The Farmer’s Wife”.
Meanwhile, back in the exhibits, I purchased the first 11 volumes of the periodical “The Mayflower Descendant” for $11. I visited the findmy past.com booth where I was able to search for records (in my case, from Surrey, England) on the laptop they had set up. I also got a coupon for 40 credits which I can use at home to do some further searching, and decide about subscribing.
I loved this booth in the exhibits:
The day ended with dinner with two genealogists followed by a bloggers’ Special Interest Group meeting. Many bloggers attended – some of whom I met for the first time. Heather Rojo was very involved in planning the event, assisted by several long-time bloggers including Midge Frazel. Some people new to blogging also showed up, with questions. It was a very interesting session.
On Saturday I was interested in the session “Immigration Records at the National Archives” presented by Jean Nudd. This was an area I am not very familiar with and since there are few records for Canadian immigration, I really only have one person I will be hunting for. I took many notes about resources to pursue.
I checked the Queries board one more time before leaving. I would like to have attended the Saturday lunch, sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Association for Professional Genealogists which features tables on focused genealogical topics, for discussion, but I hadn’t been aware of it in advance, and didn’t purchase a ticket.
I think some of my discussions in between sessions and events were just as enlightening as the events themselves. It was great to meet so many genealogists for the first time, and to catch up many genealogists I already know.
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