Tag Archives: Joshua Taylor

My FGS Conference Plans

View of the downtown Fort Wayne skyline, looki...I recently decided to attend the FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) annual conference this year which is being held in Fort Wayne, Indiana, home of the Allen County Public Library, August 21-24, 2013. When I made my genealogy plans for the year, I hadn’t included FGS. I just had so many trips I wanted to take and I had to limit myself. However, several things lined up that allowed me to go. First of all, I have a travel companion that will help cut down expenses (you know who you are). Second, I have never been to the Allen County Public Library. Third, I really have a hard time resisting the chance to listen to wonderful speakers such as D. Joshua Taylor, John Colletta, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Tom Jones, Mark Lowe, Curt Witcher, George Morgan, and that’s just the beginning; there are dozens of great speakers on the schedule. Forth, did I mention the Allen County Public Library?

In addition to attending lectures that are sure to increase my knowledge and skills, I am planning on doing a bit of research at the Allen County Public Library. From their 16-minute Orientation Video I learned that the Genealogy Center in the ACPL has over 340,000 printed volumes including published family histories, county histories, directories and local records from across the United States and Canada as well as holdings for the British Isles, Ireland and Western Europe. Also, they have over 550,000 pieces of microfilm and microfiche. This video also walks you through each of their five genealogy rooms. ACPL is also the creator of PERSI (the Periodical Source Index) which indexes surnames and topics from periodicals.

I had some collateral ancestors in one of my brick walls that lived in Allen County. Carrill Long married Harry Rudd in Michigan. She was born in Missouri abt. 1892 and died in Fort Wayne, 12 July 1967. She is buried in Wood County, where the rest of her family lived. However, I don’t know a thing about her husband, Harry. I will be looking into Harry Rudd and why they moved to Fort Wayne. The couple are not buried together, she died before he did and I speculate that he remarried and is buried with his second wife. But I need to find the proof!

I am also very interested in learning about what other great treasures can be found at ACPL. Much of my ancestry is based in Wood County, Ohio, which is in the northwestern part of the state. Being that close to Allen County, I hope I might find other resources I had not discovered before. Family histories, county histories, periodicals, maps, microfilms, and more!

With all of the time I will be spending at the conference and then at the library, with their extended hours for conference attendees, I wonder if I will get any sleep! But who needs sleep with all of the great genealogy happening?

RootsTech 2013

2013-04-15 12.10.40 pmIt has been about a month since I attended RootsTech. I wanted to let the dust settle a bit before I wrote about it. It was an enjoyable trip. As a mom of two kids, ages 10 and 12, it was a nice break from reality. Grandpa came and took care of the kids so my husband and I could attend. The best part was not having to worry if everyone had eaten or had their homework done.

The second best part was when we checked in at the conference hotel, we were told that the organizers of RootsTech had arranged for free self-parking and a free breakfast buffet every morning! That alone saved my husband and I around $200. What a deal! We also frequented a  restaurant that was new to us, the Blue Lemon. It had healthy food with gluten-free options that were reasonably priced and not at all far away from the conference center and library.

The conference itself was full of energy. If you’ve read anything about RootsTech (everyone else has already blogged about it by now) I’m sure you know that it was the biggest one yet with over 6,700 attendees! There were people I knew there that I never saw! It was very exciting and full of great ideas, forward thinkers and new products. I am going to highlight a few of my favorite programs or products beyond the big sponsors and obvious happenings of the conference, which have already been written about:

  • D. Joshua Taylor gave a very interesting program on “Gaming and Virtual Realities: Attracting the Next Generation of Genealogists” which highlighted some very intriguing comparisons between gamers and genealogists, probably most profound is that each group can sit at a screen and “waste” hours of time every day, yet neither feels like it is a waste of time. Also, each group, when they get really into it, keep amazing records. I know gamers who will keep detailed notes about how to solve the games or strategies that have worked, etc. Doesn’t that sound like a genealogist’s research log?
  • Evidentia was there showcasing their exciting new software that guides your research through the genealogical proof standard. You can download a free 30-day trial (for MAC or PC) at: http://ed4becky.com/products/evidentia/
  • Kin2 is still in Beta but it has some great potential to be a fun website. It uses Facebook connections and a large celebrity database to find out who you are related to and how. Currently there’s no gedcom upload possibilities yet, but when I spoke with the representative at the booth, he said that was one of the first things they would be implementing. Also, this site has some very cool pedigree charts, very modern looking and not at all like your basic pedigree chart.
  • Another new product that is “coming summer 2013” is HalfTale.com. It is sort of a collaborative blogging, family history, oral history tool. It is hard to describe, however the tour I was given had me very excited. Often I will email a relative and ask them a simple question “Do you know what happened to grandpa’s military uniform and medals?” to which I will get a several paragraph reply with all kinds of memories about that question and others. This site will be a way to collaboratively answer those questions and create “walls” or “pages” on various ancestors that many family members can contribute to. It’s not available yet, but you can sign up for a beta test account.

The worst part: the internet was either incredibly slow or at capacity and you couldn’t get on at all. For being a “tech” conference, you’d think they would plan on a lot of internet-ready gadgets. I like to look at the websites the speakers are showing, while they are talking, and was completely unable to. In addition, the hotel internet was very, very slow. So connectivity was limited for the week. Another aspect that was something of a let down for us, most of the sessions we attended seemed to be a bit basic for the level we are at. My husband, who is a developer, felt like many of the sessions he attended did not go into the depth he expected or would have liked to have attended. Personally, I attended several that were marked with “I” for intermediate in the program and felt that they were more like beginner level sessions. I struggled to find sessions that challenged me and brought me completely new ideas.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable experience. I enjoyed the exhibit hall the most, learning about new products, services, and learning opportunities as well as talking to other genealogists, developers, speakers and other collaborators. Next year, Rootstech will take place on February 6-8, 2014 again in the Salt Palace. I am looking forward to hopefully attending again with my hubby! We had a great time.

A GRIPping Review

There are far too many ways to make puns on this new Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh or GRIP or GRIPitt’s name. That’s not a complaint, a compliment really. Not much you can do with IGHR (pronounced “eye-ger”) or SLIG (pronounced, well, “slig”). Don’t take that as a criticism of those other institutes. I’ve never been to one. GRIP is the first week-long institute I’ve ever attended. I’ve had “attend an institute” on my genealogical to-do list for quite some time and I probably wouldn’t have attended this one if it weren’t for some awesome genea-buddies who enticed me with a free room and splitting other costs 3-ways.

As a result, I think I will forever be attending institutes when it comes to advancing my genealogical education. It was so awesome to be focused on one topic for the entire week rather than taking part in a smorgasbord of topics all day long for several days until your head is spinning. I’ll still attend conferences but I feel those would be more for the social aspects of networking and re-connecting with genealogical friends face-to-face rather than via email or Facebook.

I had the great honor of taking Joshua Taylor’s “Beneath the Homepage: Problem-Solving with Online Repositories.” Honestly, I went to hear Joshua speak more than the topic at hand. I had worried that the program would be a little too “beginner” for me (I mean, I have been using the Internet since Al Gore invented it and Google finds most of that stuff on the internet anyway, right?) but I have admired Joshua’s work since I first met him when he came to Denver several years ago and spoke at the Colorado Genealogical Society’s Annual Seminar. I was delighted to find another “young” person who is maybe even more in love with genealogy than I am. I mean no offense to those of you who are “older” because all I mean by this is that it seems many genealogists come by the occupation of genealogy around retirement age and not when you are 4 years old and having your grandmother teach you all about your family OR in high school when you are assigned a family tree project and you realize that your branch of the family stems from the “black sheep” as it were and you really know very little about that branch of the tree. Most of us don’t have those experiences and then stick with it as an actual profession. Most of my genealogical friends have been consistently at least 20 years older than me (with a few exceptions, you know who you are) and it has only been recently that genealogists close to my age group have begun to join the ranks.

Well, I learned that Google doesn’t find “everything” on the internet and sometimes you have to dig for it. So shovels in hand we spent a week digging through website after website after website. I only managed to “delicious” a fraction of them but the class was so enlightening on many levels. I have a new appreciation for phrases such as “digital collections,” “digital archives,” “virtual gallery,” and so forth. I learned far more than I wanted to know about Dublin Core, EAD, MARC and Library of Congress Authorities. Mainly we just dove right into those repositories’ sites. Think of a place. Most likely it has within driving distance (although on the internet this isn’t an issue) a local public library, a college or university, a state repository such as a state historical society, library or archive, and they all have governmental entities. I was surprised at how many of these entities have begun putting up digital collections of actual records on their websites. And if they didn’t have the actual records online, many many many had awesome finding aids that describe what they do have on location. Even then, if you know anything about an archival repository, you know that something like only 60% of their collection has been processed and cataloged. So while many, many records are going online everyday, STILL we need to visit these repositories. I think we would be really cutting ourselves and our research short if we rely solely on the Internet for our sources.

I could go on about this class, but really you should find a time to take it yourself. Joshua was an excellent teacher. Very patient with those of us with technology handicaps, very patient when we asked him to “go back” and show us again, very patient with those of us in the end stages of pneumonia so we coughed a little more than normal and were possibly disruptive. He was very pleasant to ask questions to; every question was met with “That is an excellent question…” It was great to be in a smaller classroom with 20 other people rather than in a huge conference room with 200 other people, for a change.

My traveling companions and I stayed off-campus since one of us had a free hotel stay (bargain!) and we bought “community” food and packed our lunches everyday. (I will be ok if I never eat a PB&J again.) We found the LaRoche College Student Community Room to be quite comfy with couches and tables where we congregated for breaks and lunch and to compare notes about our sessions. Probably by far my favorite pun from this institute’s name was the fact that my genea-buddies and I began to refer to ourselves as “GRIPpies” and we got quite silly about it. But only in private. NEVER in the public eye. Well, almost never. (Except that time we told Joshua Taylor at NGS in Cincinnati that we were his “GRIPpies” and couldn’t wait for July. Pish posh, I bet he doesn’t even remember that.)

Thank you GRIP organizers for a great institute experience, thank you Joshua Taylor for an awesome class and thank you genea-buds for bringing me along. Next year the room is “on me” … well, I found us a free room I mean.