Sunday, November 14, 2010

Family History Expo

 This weekend I attended my first genealogy conference. This 2-day Family History Expo conference was held at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, GA, just outside of Atlanta. Here are a few pictures I took:

Driving into the Gwinnett Center

Walking into the Gwinnett Center

Getting on escalator headed to registration
On the first day I met up with the other bloggers at the Beacon of Bloggers Table. I think it's great that the bloggers have been so well represented at conferences now! I met Amy Coffin of We Tree, Linda McCauley of Documenting the Details, Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers, Drusilla Pair of Find Your Folks, Valerie of Begin with Craft', Tonia of Tonia's Roots, Angela Walton-Raji of My Ancestor's Name, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist, and of course DearMyrtle of

Day 1, I attended 5 classes:

  1. Finding Your Female Ancestors by Lisa Alzo - I learned that most records were created by and for men and that it is difficult to track women because their surnames changed when they married. Lisa offered suggestions including to take inventory of the keepsakes we have and to ask everyone we know about them (including photos); and to let everyone know that you are doing the family genealogy so they won't throw those records and heirlooms away. She highlighted the importance of the Social Security SS5 application which can be obtained for $27 and one thing I did not know was that a person can have an SS5 but not be in the death index. Oh yeah, and make a timeline and include World, National, Local, and Personal events!
  2. Traditional DNA Testing by Elise Friedman - I attended this seminar to learn more about ftDNA's Family Finder test which looks very promising for people who want to connect to cousins and expand their genealogy research base. There have already been a few genealogy success stories since its release in August. 
  3. Want Land Will Travel - Southern Land Records State by State by Arlene Eakles of the Genealogy Institute - Arlene reminded us to look at the rent rolls of MD, military bounty lands in TN, bounty land records in KY (for service in VA) for stockade or fort building, Marriage bonds and Pauline McCubbins index cards in NC, survey records in VA; Also note boundary line changes: DE was a county of PA and the Northern Neck of VA was part of Lord Fairfax's estate. 
  4. Birth, Marriage, and Deaths in the South by Arlene Eakles - this wasn't too informative for me, but I'm looking forward to seeing the handouts Arlene will be sending in the mail. She talked a lot about how to read indexes. Look for the Bible Records of the Southern States Volumes 1-7 by Memory Lester and don't forget to look through your periodicals!
  5. Citing your Sources - this was supposed to be done by Christine Scarborough, but Arlene taught this one again and by this point I was pretty tapped out with Arlene. However I did take home a reminder to record where you looked for stuff, what you found and what you didn't find so the next person can start where you left off (or you can tell Arlene yes or no when she asks you if you looked here or not)
Day 2:

  1. Family History Books: Editing, Design & Publishing by Nancy and Biff Barnes - Collecting stories for a family history book is a lot of work for one person to do, so enlist the help of family members. Give them tasks and then plan a family reunion so you can collect all their stories at the same time without having to travel individually to them. Write either topically or chronologically. Watch out for publishers who can collect monetarily from your book and who can also decide to stop printing of your book. If someone gives you an ISBN number, they are a publisher! 
  2. RootsMagic: Sharing and Publishing Your Family Tree - I was hoping to learn something new from this class because I'm a fairly new user to this software, but it was for beginners who had never opened the software before. I did get to see what the shareable CD would look like though - that looked kind of cool!
  3. Juicy Family History: 25 Ways to Write Compelling True Stories by M. Bridget Cook - By far my favorite speaker and presentation. I so wish I had attended her dinner last night and received a copy of her book! Very good ideas about how to capture the true life stories of our family members which can also be applied to ourselves. I can attest that this works because I've been enlisting some of these ideas with interviewing my Grandmother and I've learned a lot!
  4. The DAR Library for All: Near or Far, Member or Not by Jennifer Dondero - This class was a great session about their website and visiting the Library in D.C. The website is difficult to maneuver so this class was a must!
  5. Researching the Common Surname by Deborah Campisano - She gave a lot of great ideas, however I've already been using these records in my research.
With the exception of the writing classes, much of the research methods and records searching information was not new to me which was what I was afraid of.  This was a good experience overall though because I finally got to see exactly what a conference like this entails and it was very cool to be able to talk about GENEALOGY (and some about technology) for two whole days!!!! I would definitely do it again but maybe do these things differently: 

  • Bring more snacks
  • Choose my classes BEFORE I get there and print out syllabus for those classes
  • Take more pictures
  • Bring a friend (although I was able to find a couple of buddies to traipse around with :-)
Did you attend the conference? What were your thoughts?