Conferences

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Just because it is summer doesn’t mean you can’t get your genealogy conference fix. In August there is the One World – One Family Conference in Brampton Ontario. It is being held on August 22nd and is a full day conference. The Ontario Genealogical Society SIG for Scotland is holding a pre-conference on August 21st.

From September 18-20 the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa or BIFHSGO is holding their annual conference. This year the theme is Scottish family history, photographs in genealogy and technology for genealogists. They will be having experts from the UK and US.

So if you are suffering from a little withdrawal then start making your plans and sign up for one or both of these upcoming family history conferences.

 

©2015 – Blair Archival Research

 

 

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The last weekend of May was the OGS Conference held at Georgian College in Barrie Ontario. I went with my friend Elise who happens to be the Local Collections Librarian at the Oakville Public Library. It was the first OGS Conference I have attended in a while where I was an attendee and not a speaker. It was nice to have the time to meet new people and have acquaintances become friends. This was a fun conference.

One job I did have during this conference was handing out “Blogger Beads.” This is a ritual started by Thomas MacEntee at the US conferences. If you are a blogger then you get to wear beads and everyone knows you write a blog. This was the first time it was done at the OGS conference and I sponsored the beads. There were about a dozen sets of beads handed out and a lot of people were asking what the beads were all about. I gave the first set to Thomas MacEntee just before the start of his workshop on Friday. I am hoping to do it again at OGS Conference 2016 in Toronto.

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We had signed up for the deluxe conference package. We had all the meals, attended two workshops and then the two day conference. We stayed at the Georgian College residence which was comfortable and fairly close to everything. There was a long walk from the lecture halls to the marketplace but they very cleverly divided the space and served the meals there on Saturday and Sunday so it brought everyone to the marketplace.

The marketplace included a demo section and I attended a few of them. There were a few technical difficulties but they are to be expected and were soon fixed. Some demos were very informative. The ones I attended were: What to do after having DNA done; The Ontario Name Index (TONI): An Introduction; The Surname Society; Conference 2016 and Other Happenings and Society for One Place Studies.

What I noticed missing from the marketplace was Findmypast and a more obvious FamilySearch presence. There was a small table for FamilySearch but it was a local Stake and not what I am used to seeing at the US conferences. I realize that the OGS conference isn’t as large as the ones in the US but I feel the companies are missing the opportunity to connect with Canadian customers. We don’t have large conferences so this is their chance.

There was a research room where you could access numerous subscription databases for free and get some research advice.

The meals were catered by the college and some of the students were involved in the event planning and catering programs at the college. The food was very nice.

On the Friday I started by attending the workshop by Kirsty Gray called “What is a Surname Society and Why Do One?” It was very interesting and Kirsty was a great speaker. I got to know her much better during the conference. I had also joined the Surname Society by the end of her presentation!

In the afternoon I attended “Maps and Mapping for the 21st Century Genealogist” with James F.S. Thomson. He did a great job with a lecture that had so much information to share in a short time period.

We had dinner with some friends and then attended the Opening Session with Keynote Speaker Kirsty Gray. Her topic was “If I Could Turn Back Time” and she was fantastic. She had the audience laughing and that is always a good thing.

First thing Saturday morning we attended the Panel Discussion “Tracks through Time” with Thomas MacEntee moderating and the panel were: Richard M. Doherty, Dr. Maurice Gleeson, Kirsty Gray and Dave Obee. There were some technical difficulties but Steve Fulton and his trusty team soon had them sorted. They worked very hard during conference.

My first session of the day was Dave Obee’s “A Sense of Place and Time.” This was “understanding the local geography and history of the areas where your ancestors lived.”

The last session of the day was Kirsty Gray’s “Searching of Surnames: Challenges, Pitfalls and the Downright Ridiculous” and again she didn’t disappoint.

 

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Saturday ended as it always does with the Banquet. Elise and I shared a table with Thomas MacEntee, Dick Doherty, a group of ladies from Toronto Branch and other new friends. The chat was full on and interesting. Dr. Maurice Gleeson was the Keynote Speaker and he talked about “Genealogy 2020 – All Aboard.” He was a very entertaining speaker and is so knowledgeable on the topic of DNA.

 

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Sunday felt like a very early start. The last day always does at a conference. Time to pack up and check out. The first lecture of the day was “Putting Your Ancestors in their Place: an introduction to one-place studies” by Dr. Janet Few. Dr. Few was in England and her lecture was streamed in. It was so informative. I wish we could get some of the books she recommended here.

“They Came From Scotland: Tracking Your Immigrant Ancestors” by Christine Woodcock was next. I was a room monitor for this one and introduced her.

In the afternoon I got to attend “The Route of DNA from Flanders to Barrie, via London and Limerick” by Dr. Maurice Gleeson. A brilliant lecture that included some cousins of Dr. Gleeson’s in the audience.

The last lecture of the conference for me was “World War I British Army Research” with James F.S. Thomson. Again he provided a wealth of information and tips for researching from Ontario.

Kirsty Gray opened the conference and so it seemed fitting that she closed it. Her topic was “Back to the Future” which she tied in with the opening session very well.

The organizers of this conference have much to be proud of as it went very well. They did a lot of hard work and the volunteers should be commended. There were many young people helping out which was nice to see.

Now we look forward to Conference 2016 “Genealogy on the Cutting Edge” to be held in Toronto from June 3rd to June 5th. Two speakers already announced are Judy G. Russell and CeCe Moore.

©2015 – Blair Archival Research

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It has been a long time since I did any real blogging. There has been a lot going on but things are finally getting back to normal. Not blogging does not mean I haven’t been doing all things genealogy! So I’m going to start with my first genealogy adventure this year and then blog about the rest later.

This year I got to tick something off my genealogy bucket list by going to RootsTech for the first time. This was very exciting and was done last minute although my very clever friend had booked a hotel room a year in advance just in case. I had attended through live streaming and reading blog posts but this year I was there in person.

 

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Travelling in February can be iffy but thankfully the weather gods gave us good travelling weather. Salt Lake City is beautiful and they were having a warmer and dryer winter than usual so this meant that I was in my spring clothes even though it was -25C at home. It could be sacrilege to say this as a Canadian but it was better than Florida in February!

 

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This was a joint conference with RootsTech and FGS and we had signed up for both conferences. We went to register and the line ups were not bad. There were a few glitches with our registration but that was soon sorted out. As we were wandering the halls of the Salt Palace Convention Center to familiarize ourselves with the layout we ran into some friends and did a little catching up.

 

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Tuesday night we had a Commonwealth Bloggers dinner that was set up by Jill Ball from Australia. She is a regular at RootsTech and an Official Blogger. We had people there from Australia, England, Wales, Scotland, New Zealand and Canada. We even had a honourary Commonwealth attendee from the States. It was so much fun to meet all the people behind the blogs I have been reading for so long. The chat and company was great fun. There was about 18 of us and we managed to chat with almost everyone.

 

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Wednesday was the first full day of the FGS conference. I went to the opening session and then to the Family History Library for a few hours before meeting up with Nancy for lunch. One of the unfortunate things about signing up late was that we couldn’t get into any of the sponsored lunches. Still there are some great restaurants in the area and we tried them out. Then we went to the afternoon sessions.

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There was an evening social entitled “Behind the Scenes: Family History & Television.” It was a panel discussion and was very interesting. The panelists had worked on: Who Do You Think You Are? (US), Finding Your Roots and Genealogy Roadshow (US).

 

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Thursday was the first day of RootsTech. It started with a Blogger breakfast event hosted by Findmypast. Josh Taylor and Annelies van den Belt provided information on what was new at Findmypast. I got to meet up with a lot of bloggers that I had met at previous conferences as well as meet new ones. Thanks to DearMyrtle I also got my blogger beads!

 

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The opening session for RootsTech was next and it featured FamilySearch, My Heritage and the featured speaker was Tan Le. Tan Le was a wonderful speaker and had the audience in tears. She spoke of her family’s escape from Vietnam to Australia and their life in Australia.

Then it was time for the lectures and touring the Expo Hall. I attended: Organization for the Genealogist; Basic Genetic Genealogy; Reopen Your Genealogy Cold Case; Dirty Family Photos and Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy. The last one was live streamed. I am fairly new to genetic genealogy and the Getting Started lecture was very easy to understand.

 

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In between the lectures and wandering the Expo Hall I would stop by the Demo Theatre where demos were presented every 20 minutes. There were big comfy leather couches and they gave out draw tickets and chocolate before each presentation. It was a great place to go if your feet were giving out. I learned a lot from the Demo Theatre and when I attended Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Google Toolbox Update I won her recently updated book of the same name! Wonderful addition to my genealogy library!

Other Demos and Expo Hall presentations I attended were: Heirloom Roadshow; Your Perfect Photo Organizing Practices; Ten Steps to Complete a Life Story; Preserve Family Photos; Preserve Family Photos on a Budget and Basic Genetic Genealogy. These were the ones I marked in the RootsTech app to watch but I ended up watching many more.

I loved the RootsTech app. It was on my iPad and had my schedule and handouts on it so I could check things very quickly. I had connected with friends so we could arrange times to meet and if one lecture was full I could quickly see if there was another I was interested in attending. There were maps in case I got lost. The map of the Expo Hall was great because I could find the vendors I wanted to visit. The internet wasn’t needed to view the app which was good since it was hard to get on the internet at the convention centre.

On Friday the opening session keynotes were Josh Taylor and  Laura and Jenna Bush. Their stories were fun and interesting. The mother daughter dynamic worked very well on stage. It was easy and relaxed. Although I have never seen so much security at a genealogy conference.

The lectures on this day included Lost Cousins Down Under which I attended because I wanted to hear Jill Ball speak plus I have Aussie connections. She did not disappoint. Other lectures included Using Online Radio as a Platform to Encourage Interest and Participation in Genealogy and Lesser Known Sources for Birth, Marriage and Death in the British Isles.

 

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The day ended with Culture Night in the Expo Hall. It was called: Culture Night: Celebrate Your Heritage. They had performers from many different countries and people in period and cultural dress walking around the Expo Hall. The Pipe and Drum band spoke to me because my Dad used to play the pipes when I was little and belonged to a Pipe and Drum band. I will admit it I love the bagpipes!

 

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Saturday was the last day of the conference and it felt like a very early start for the opening session but I wasn’t going to miss this one because the featured speaker was Donny Osmond. Donny shared his family stories and his family history journey. A.J. Jacobs was speaking about the Global Family Reunion that took place the first weekend of June in New York.

 

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There were thousands of people there on Saturday. RootsTech broke a record for the largest conference attendance around 20,000. It made it difficult to get around and I couldn’t get into two lectures despite being there half an hour before they started. Unfortunately neither of them were being lived streamed or audio recorded. I wanted to attend: Using Microsoft Word for Writing Family History and Microsoft Excel A Little Known Genealogy Tool but was not able to get in. The ones I did attend were Treasures in the Attic: Digitize & Preserve and The War Memorial Reconstructing a Community.

I am glad I went to RootsTech. I have always wanted to go. Conferences are a great way to learn new things, meet new people and network. You never know you might even meet a cousin!

©2015 – Blair Archival Research

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It is so exciting, in a week we will all be in Richmond Virginia at the National Genealogical Society Conference.

If you have ancestors from the area you may already have your research plans in place. I hope so as there are a lot of repositories in the area to help you with your research. You can find a list of the repositories and information you will need to know here.

The conference hotels booked up very quickly and others were added on. The good news is that NGS have set up a bus shuttle service to get us from our hotels to the convention center. This is a great service and will make things easier for many of us who didn’t get into the Marriott. You can find out about the schedule here.

If you wake up late and don’t have a chance to get breakfast or you didn’t get a chance to sign up for one of the wonderful luncheons then you will have to find something to eat during the conference. The organizers have thought of everything by providing a list of food services in the Greater Richmond Convention Center and the Marriott. They have provided locations and hours. You can find out where they are here.

See you in Richmond!

©2014 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Since the NGS conference is only a week away I have started getting everything organized for the trip. It is sometimes hard to know what to bring and you want to travel fairly light. Getting organized for a trip can be a little stressful.

An advanced look at the weather suggests temperatures in the mid-70s range. Now this is advanced weather forecasting and things can change. So the Girl Guide motto “Be Prepared” comes into play here. An umbrella is always a must just in case it decides to rain. Since we will be inside a lot of the time the main thing we need to remember is convention center air conditioning. Bring a sweater, wrap or something in case the lecture rooms are chilly or you get the seat by the draft.

It is now time to focus on the technology you are going to bring. Is your technology suitcase going to be bigger than your regular suitcase or smaller? Don’t forget power cords, chargers and any other cables you may require for your devices. Also, don’t forget passwords you will need for the websites/apps you use.

If you are using Wi-Fi then make sure your virus protection software is up to date. At the same time make sure your operating software is up to date.

Do you have apps on your devices for note taking or do you still like to do it with pencil and paper? Be prepared for either choice.

A water bottle to fill up at the water stations is a great thing to have with you. This way you don’t have to keep buying water in bottles and it is always with you. At the same time what about snacks? A little something to help with the energy drain around 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon. A bag of pretzels in the room and a small baggie to put a few in every day.

The main item you need to bring with you is a comfortable pair of shoes. In fact bringing a couple of pairs might be better so you don’t wear the same pair every day.

Start writing your lists now so that you don’t forget anything.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for things to bring with you to conference?

©2014 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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The National Genealogical Society have made it very easy for us to be organized during this conference. They have the NGS Mobile App. Have you downloaded it yet? If not, why not?

The app is a brilliant tool to help with everything. First download the app to your device. I have it on my iPad and my iPod. Sometimes it is easier to check my smaller iPod than dig out the iPad. You can sync the app over several devices.

One of the most important things to do is to create your own schedule for the lectures you want to attend. I will admit I have more than one in a few slots. I just couldn’t make up my mind but I will do that closer to the lecture. Add everything into your schedule including your lunches, society events and if you have arranged to meet up with friends.

As of April 22nd you can even link the syllabus material for each lecture. How wonderful is that! No more digging to find copies or scrolling through the PDF to find the right lecture.

Do you have friends going to the conference? Did you know the app has a section that lists all the attendees and then you can do a friend request and add them to your friends list? Did you know you could also share your schedule with them? If you are looking for someone this will be an easier way to find them.

There is a section that lists the exhibitors. You can mark each one you want to go and see. You may decide to add that to your schedule. Do you want to purchase the latest BCG manual? Add that to your schedule.

Do you follow Twitter? You can easily do that with the built-in Twitter feed in the app. You can see what everyone is saying about the conference in real time.

I love the NGS app and every few days have been going in to add new things and see what else I can find. It makes it much easier to navigate the conference. If you have a mobile device you need to get the app.

You can find out more about here and there is a short video tutorial.

©2014 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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It has been a very busy spring for speaking engagements. It started in April with a full day workshop at Heritage Mississauga where I presented “Irish Research from a Far” and “Taking Your Irish Ancestors Back over the Pond.” Before I finished the day they had booked me again for October when the subject will be Scottish research.

The next week I was at the Ontario Genealogical Society Region III Annual Meeting in Cambridge. My topic there was “Why Can’t I find it Online? Other resources to help you with your research.”

A couple of days later I presented “A Brick Wall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project” at the monthly meeting for the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

Then it was a little time for me, well sort of, because I attended the National Genealogical Society Conference in Las Vegas. I was an official blogger and we had a great time. Since we were so close to Salt Lake City we took the opportunity to go and do some research in the Family History Library for a few days. A few days wasn’t long enough.

The week after I got home I presented “I Want to Research my Family History – Where do I Start?” at the Milton Senior Activity Centre.

Jane Watt representing Halton Peel Branch Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2013

The following week I was off to the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference where I presented “Scottish Research from a Far,” “Maiden Aunts of the Twentieth Century: A forgotten generation of women” and “A Brick Wall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project.”

Brooke Skelton representing Waterloo Region Branch Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2013

Last week was my last lecture of the spring speaking tour. I presented “Why Can’t I find it Online? Other resources to help you with your research” at the Quinte Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society in Trenton Ontario.

Quinte Branch OGS Trenton Ontario at the Quinte West Public Library

Now that summer is here I am already booking for the fall speaking tour. I will be presenting a full day Scottish workshop at Heritage Mississauga in October and in November I will be at the Hamilton Branch OGS General Meeting and the topic will be “The Genealogy GPS: How the Genealogical Proof Standard can help your research.”

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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On the last day of the NGS Conference in Las Vegas I had breakfast with Daneil Horowitz and the people of MyHeritage.

©2013 Dick Eastman http://blog.eogn.com/

MyHeritage invited the Official Bloggers at the NGS Conference in Las Vegas to attend a breakfast meeting to present their latest release called “Record Detective.”

©2013 Dick Eastman http://blog.eogn.com/

MyHeritage focuses on technology and how it relates to family history. They want to help you discover more about your family history in a shorter time. You can upload your family tree to their “Family Tree Builder” and it will help you find and match records related to the people in your family tree. There is 97% accuracy in the matches. You can decide to confirm or reject the matches.

If you search a person “The Record Detective” will help you find related records and family trees where you can contact people to share information. You can’t harvest data from other trees.

The program extracts data from a record that you have found and you can click a button to transfer it into your family tree. MyHeritage have a blog post called “New Feature: Extract Info from Records” which describes the process.

The “Family Tree Builder” is now on version 7 and there is a mobile app. The program is available in about 40 languages. You can match names of families in different languages.

You will need to manually add the new people found. I find this is a good idea because it helps you become more familiar with the information you are adding to your family tree.

Ruth Blair, The Passionate Genealogist; Sandra Gardner Benward of the Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society Blog and “The Research Detective.”
©2013 Dick Eastman http://blog.eogn.com/

New content has been added to their database. You can now get the US Federal census from 1790 to 1940. The only Canadian records they have at the moment are related to headstones. They are hoping to expand their Canadian collection.

The website is a pay per view website and you can chose to use credits or purchase a subscription.

MyHeritage officially announced the “Record Detective” on Monday. They have a video on YouTube that describes the “Record Detective.”

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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The FGS conference was held from August 29th to September 1st in Birmingham Alabama. I arrived in Birmingham on Tuesday August 28th just in time for the FamilySearch Bloggers Dinner. I always have a good time at this dinner and enjoy meeting old and new friends.

FamilySearch announced some new projects such as free research assistance, U.S. Immigration & Naturalization community project which takes over from the now completed 1940 U.S. Census community project and the Italian Civil Registration indexing project.

They are looking for volunteers to help index the Italian and Immigration and Naturalization records as quickly as they did the 1940 U.S. Census records.

FamilySearch are looking to make the online records easier to use, and to have alternate spelling and other user index correction capabilities. They have captured 3.1 billion images and have been collecting since 1938 in 202 different countries. This being said only 23% of the images have been digitized. This is a huge project and will take time.

There are 201 camera crews, one third of who are senior volunteers, in 48 different countries who are digitizing images. They go from the click of the digital camera to being able to browse them online in 2 to 4 weeks. FamilySearch are adding 80-100 million images per year.

FamilySearch presented a map that showed the record coverage priority which is about 90% of the demand.

On the 29th we did a little sightseeing. Birmingham is a government town and there weren’t many shops or restaurants around. There is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and it is a must see exhibit. The volunteers are friendly and are there to share a story or provide more information on an exhibit. It made the exhibit come alive for me. It is across the street from the historic 16th Street Baptist Church.

16th St. Baptist Church

We then went to the Jazz museum and the art gallery. The Jazz museum had a family tree called “Highlights of the Jazz Story in USA”

I did double duty at the conference. I was able to attend the lectures but also helped out in the marketplace at the booth for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Helping out at the booth allows me to meet so many new people and hear their stories. A genealogy conference is a place where everyone can share a story and no one gets that glazed over look on their eyes.

The market place was not very busy. We did have a late night opening but they had a lot of door prizes being drawn that night and the people followed the organizers as they went from booth to booth announcing the winners so we didn’t have many customers.

The lectures were great. I had a lot to choose from and as is usually the case sometimes had two at the same time. This is where you check to see if one or the other are being recorded and then you can purchase the recording of one and attend the other. I purchased ten recordings and this time ordered the mp3 versions. Now I just have to figure out how to get them on my IPod.

There were a lot of lectures on many different kinds of publishing for the genealogist and I found this particularly interesting. Lisa Alzo and I attended all of these lectures together. She was particularly excited to get back home and start working on her new Apple computer after examples of using the Apple publishing programs.

I love a genealogy conference. It is more than just lectures. There is the market place where you can find all sorts of new items and technology related to genealogy. I will say I am sad to see that there aren’t as many books in a market place because I still love to use them in my research and sometimes find them faster to use. There is the networking and meeting new people. Seeing new places and learning something new.

The next conference is NGS in Las Vegas and I am already saving up for that one. The Ontario Genealogical Society conference is at the end of May and I am speaking at that conference which provides a different conference experience.

Check out the conferences that will be happening next year and start saving your pennies so that you can attend at least one. They are something not to be missed.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Well this was the last day of the conference. It is always a mixed blessing. You are tired and want to go home but you have had such a good time you don’t want it to end.

The main lecture I wanted to attend today was Elizabeth Shown Mill’s “Information Overload? Effective Project Planning, Research, Data Management & Analysis.” We were in the lecture room half an hour before it started and we could only get seats up near the front. It was the largest room and it was packed.

It was worth it though. Elizabeth never disappoints. I walked out of that lecture having learned something new. Every time I attend a conference my main goal is to learn something new every day.

The marketplace closed at 2 pm and we were packed up and on the road by 3:30 pm. We spent the night in Windsor Ontario and then drove the rest of the way home on Sunday.

Whenever I get home from a conference I am exhausted, on information overload and have a long list of things that I want to learn more about or implement. The last few weeks have been very busy for me so that list is still waiting. It will have to wait a little more as I am attending the Ontario Genealogical Society conference in Kingston this weekend.

If you ever get the chance to attend a genealogical conference, be it a regional conference or a national one, please take the chance. You won’t regret it. Just remember the comfortable shoes!

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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