Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Those Places Thursday - NGS Conference Day 1

Editor's note: Today's post was written by Sandra Gardner Benward

WOW!! 5:00am came around much too quickly. We started setting up the registration booth at
6:30am and opened up at 7am with a massive amount of anxious conference goers. Right now they are saying there are approximately 1500 participants. I worked till  9:30am and then off to sessions
I did miss the Opening Ceremonies because I was working the registration booth but I heard nothing but good things. "People, Policy, and Records: The Importance of  Historical Background" topic given by Marian Smith, Chief Historical Research Branch for US Citizenship and Immigration Services.  Using immigration and migration to show importance of national policy changes to ancestors, to their records and to our research.

Exhibit Hall opened this morning....... and it looks great, a good variety of vendors.  I did a quick walk thru but didn't want to get locked out of the first session so went over to claim a seat. Exhibit Hall will wait  till tomorrow.

First session today was" Forensic Genealogy - CSI Meets Roots: The Digital Detective" with Colleen Mary Fitzpatrick. Very interesting and very basic ideas to help (I thought about you Marilyn)  through a series of pictures and we analyzed them. What did I learn? 1. Look for things that are ‘not quite right.’  It sounds really easy and it is and isn't. You just need to take your time.  2. Sometimes the obvious clues are not the best. You know how we first look at an older photo and check the clothing, sometimes you need to ignore that and look for other clues in the photo. 3. Always always look at the back of the photo. It is a very basic idea but surprisingly overlooked. I like Colleen as a speaker, very well composed, and she sure know her topic: Forensic Genealogy. She does not do a lot of conferences because she is really busy with her many projects. Check out her website: Forensic Genealogy Look down the left column and you will see where you can view photos and try your hand at analyzing. Easy?? 
I bought a ticket for FGS luncheon with Curt B Witcher:" Re-think, Re-boot, Re-connect It's a New World" .Preserve the Pension War of 1812 was discussed. I tooted our horn and they were very impressed  our with progress and commitment to the project. I was very proud for all of us. Curt spoke about organizations keeping up with the times, If you want a younger crowd you need to find out what they want, what motivates them and make the changes.  His Mission Statement would read - "Fun, Success and Do Good Things"- just keeping it simple, Re-Think your Journey, Your Mission, and make changes. Re-Boot- make sure you are going in the right direction, how do your members see the organization. Re-Connect: Dream New Dreams, Have New Visions, Make New Connections. Have the Courage to Change.

After lunch I attended Elizabeth Shown Mills "The Genealogical Proof Standard in Action: Case Building When No Record States an Answer" .... Yes a mouthful. The Action Plan: Assess what you have - Complete the Research - Trust Nobody - Integrate and Correlate details - Outline a theory - then try to disprove it and if it survives - Now, write a convincing argument.  Make the assessment: Identify the problem, analyze the data and weigh the evidence, reappraise prior conclusions. The whole process is a lot of work and I know sounds really complex but it actually isn't that complex but will take a little effort to get to the truth especially when you have people you are not sure belong on your tree or are related, then it is worth going through the process

Last session of the day was "Understanding What They Wrote: Tricks and Tips for Deciphering the Unintelligible in Documents" by Barbara Vines Little (I got excited at first because my mothers main line are LITTLE but hers are Virginia Little's and mine are New York Little's - I tried) . Legalese, archaic terms, and letter forms, and illegible handwriting contribute to misinterpretations and consequent errors in compiling family information. So besides the illegible handwriting you need to make sure you understand the meanings of terms in different time frames. Check these websites out: Palaeography, "The National Archives - Online course at no cost.  AND An Introduction to Paleography  online tutorial with sample documents. No cost. Covers English court hand, AND The Legal Genealogist Blog - Judy Russell, Legal Definitions.

It has been a long day. Time for dinner, maybe a ride on the monorail and finish up with a  dip in the pool. Nite!


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