Roadtrips


I got out bright and early Saturday morning for Tim Pinnick’s packed and very informative presentation on newspapers which introduced me to Kenneth R. Mark’s The Ancestor Hunt. Which, of course, just made me want to go back to wandering newspaper archives.

I also enjoyed presentations by Wevonneda Minis on Asylum records and one by Janice Lovelace on Railroad records. And I closed out the conference by attending Diahan Southard’s “YDNA and atDNA” program which had a case study that mirrors a possible “non-paternal event” we may have identified in my family.

Again, I learned a lot at the conference, met new people and/or finally had time to talk to people I’d barely met before. I also felt reinvigorated with ideas to take back to my home societies that I’m hoping can be worked into our long-range plans.

If you get a chance, try a national genealogy conference like NGC 2018 in Grand Rapids or FGS 2018 in Fort Wayne. Hotels for both are already open!

Happy hunting,

Jess

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What do you do when your ancestors are pulling you in different directions?

Grandmothers

Sarah E. Morningstar Porter & Elnora York Trotter

On Friday, I found myself going back and forth between African American research topics and German (and German-American) research presentations attending presentations on African American Apprenticeships, Black Laws in the North, Freedmen’s Bureau Labor Contracts, German Church records and Germanic Origins of German-speaking immigrants.  And I, of course, now want to run off in five totally different directions in my research.

 

Some of the speakers were ones I’ve seen before and enjoyed (Thank you, Michael D. Lacopo, James M. Beidler and Judy G. Russell!) and the others were new to me but had fun and knowledgeable voices. Wevonneda Minis presented the James Dent Memorial Lecture: Freedmen’s Bureau Labor Contracts—which gave me a better background in the period and new ideas of record sets to look for. Ari Wilkins delivered two fascinating presentations—on Plantation records and Apprenticeships—that were very informative with great case studies.

It was a fun day capped with a dinner gathering of the Michigan researchers and friends.

Happy hunting,

Jess

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Morning view looking out over the Alleghany from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center before the Thursday Keynote.

On Thursday, I took advantage of a full set of sessions, attending presentations as varied as the anatomy of military pension, organizing your genetic genealogy, German Church records, and a class on slave research. The standout of the day was Tony Burroughs’ dynamic session “Anatomy of a Pension.” My pension research to this point has been fairly haphazard and this class offered an organized approach to obtaining and analyzing these records. I came out with a better understanding of the process of requesting them from NARA and some ideas for my next steps in researching them—including a gut feeling that I should look up the files that I already have, if I get the chance to do so in person, just to verify I’m not missing anything from the original file. Not a knock on NARA—just a feeling that there’s something odd about the file. So… bumping DC up on my someday road trip list.

I also, managed to fall rather spectacularly while on lunch outside the convention center. Many thanks to the couple who helped me retrieve my things and checked to see that I was ok! Wrenched my ankle and was fairly bruised but I finished out the day and after some care was up and around to start again Friday morning. Note to self… next time pick the attached hotel, you are that much of a klutz.

Happy hunting,

Jess

Wednesday was mostly a travel day for me but I did manage to make it to Pitt for FGS just in time to make the last two Focus on Societies Day sessions—both phenomenal! the society day programs are meant to help society members with ideas to build and revitalize our genealogical societies—sharing ideas for programming, advocacy, best practices, etc.

I went in with a couple of my societies in mind and found myself with pages of notes and a long list of ideas to share. The sessions I attended were on rethinking society outreach—which had fabulous programming ideas from the Kentucky Historical Society as well as encouraged groups to really embed in the community, getting out and involved—and one by Blaine Bettinger on considering DIGs (DNA interest groups) as both society education and outreach/marketing tools. DNA is so popular right now and so NOT intuitive. A DIG would offer a community educational opportunities and support as well as catch the eye of potential Society members. So… how about it Greater Lansing? Do we have a local DIG yet? Anyone interested?

Happy hunting,

Jess

I’ll be posting highlights from my expereiences from FGS this week but I’m going to start a little backwards with my thank yous today…

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The walkway to the dock under the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Yesterday I bid farewell to Pittsburgh after a four days chock-full of genealogy and it feels a little like I’m coming out of the light and being dumped back in the real world. I enjoy conferences as a chance to meet people, to learn new research techniques and records sources, and to just commiserate with and support people in our shared obsession. Many thanks to all the people I chatted with between classes—especially my Michigan and Indiana friends. You all were the reason this was such a fun week and I hope to see you in Fort Wayne next year.

Happy hunting!

Jess

You’ve got some time yet… It’s still Family History Month, which means there are tons of genealogy educational opportunities stretching right into November. And (yes, you’ve heard this from me before) I strongly encourage everyone to get out and attend as many of them as you can. I always, always, learn something new—whether I’m attending or presenting.

For example, I had a wonderful experience presenting in Fort Wayne as part of ACPL’s Genealogy Center’s 31 days of genealogy programming last week, but my evening session looking at my experiences and approach to researching my African American ancestry led to a total change in my research plans for the next day when one of the attendees pointed out a resource I hadn’t realized the Center held—Thank you Roberta, Melissa, and Cynthia each for pointing me in the right direction! I will be transcribing Bradley County slave related court documents for weeks.

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Then, on Saturday, I attended Western Michigan Genealogical Society’s annual Got Ancestors! program. This year’s featured speaker was Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi’s List and I got a great deal out of her programs “Striking Out on Their Own: Online Migration Tools and Resources” and “Building a Digital Research Plan.” The first offered a neat list of mapping resources I haven’t tried while the other offered a nice focused approach for laying out a research plan. But the day was also just a fun one for connecting with people and trading ideas.

I have no doubt that you can look around your community and find genealogy events, but if you’re in my neck of the woods here’s a sampling of some of the great family history related programming you can still catch:

On Saturday, October 23rd, CADL South Lansing Library will be hosting “Family History Hunt” a Genealogy Roadshow-inspired presentation with patrons tapping your friendly local librarian’s for suggestions on where to turn next in their research.

Consider the possibilities offered by a two hour drive down to the ACPL’s Genealogy Center… There are still 14 more days of programs including, “A  Day with Juliana Szucs” (from Ancestry.com) this Saturday, October 22nd, or their Midnight Madness extended research hours on October 28th including three 30 minute classes. For more information on programs, check out their calendar.

Western Wayne County Genealogical Society has a day seminar on November 5th with topics including organizing your records and planning a research trip.

The Michigan Genealogical Council’s annual fall seminar will feature DNA expert, Blaine Bettinger speaking on assorted genetic genealogy related topics, along with bunch of other great presenters.

Take advantage of these great programs! Step away from the computer and go learn something new!

Happy hunting!

Jess

LincolnTardisI finished my last session at FGS2016 and my head was spinning on overload. I want to run home and research in every direction… all at once—track down my elusive British soldiers, follow out my lone possible French line, better document my suspected slave ancestors, track that railroad employee, take a different angle on tracking a few of the elusive women in my tree. I have learned a ton, been reminded of a great deal I still need to do, laughed harder than I have in forever, and connected with a so many interesting and welcoming researchers. Thanks so much to the FGS board, sponsors, instructors, and attendees for a fun week!

Happy hunting,

Jess

P.s. J. Mark Lowe, Mary Tedesco and CeCe Moore taught us in the Keynote that time travel was possible in Springfield. So, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw this in a shop window there!

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