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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

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

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

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

It had to be an early start on day three of the conference because at 8 am Elizabeth Shown Mills was presenting “Okay, I ‘Got the Neighbours’: Now What Do I Do with Them.” I knew this was going to be a crowded lecture so I got there extra early.

This was a good thing because it gave me the opportunity to chat with the people around me. Right next to me was Tonya Hull and what a pleasant surprise to learn that she reads my blog. Thank you for the support Tonya I appreciate it. It was nice to meet you at the conference. Behind me was my friend Lisa Alzo.

Elizabeth’s lecture was fantastic. I always learn something new from her lectures.

The next lecture was “Cloud Storage and Backup,” still trying to learn as much as I can on the subject.

The last lecture of the day was sponsored by the Association of Professional Genealogists called “When Do I Link in, Tweet, Facebook, or Flickr? Social Media for the Professional Genealogist.” This is a balance I am working on. If one more new social media program comes out I will have no time for anything else.

The day ended with a dinner for those of us connected to the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Louise St. Denis hosted the meal at the Rockbottom Micro Brewery Pub in Fountain Square. Lisa Alzo and Gena Philibert-Ortega were among those in attendance.

The Cincinnati Reds were playing a home game so we were lucky to get a table so quickly for a large group. The meal was wonderful. I had a mango ice tea which was just mango and ice tea nothing else added. It was delicious. My main meal was a hazelnut crusted chicken breast with a dried cherry sauce and white cheddar mash potatoes. The whole meal was fantastic.

After dinner we wandered to the other side of the square and went to Graeter’s Ice Cream. I had a black raspberry chip ice cream – Yum!

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Day two was another early start. There is no such thing as sleeping in at a conference.

The only lecture I attended on this day was the first one at 8 am. It was “Storing Your Tree in the Cloud: Online Management of your Data.” This is a topic that is still very new to me so the lecture was a good learning tool.

I spent the rest of the day wandering around the marketplace.

Findmypast.com had a booth there and I spoke with Brian Speckart who also shared a table with me at the FamilySearch blogger/media dinner. Brian told me that in the summer of 2012 there will be a subscription available that will include the findmypast websites from Ireland, the UK, Australia and the main .com website. The subscription will also include the British Newspaper Archive.

Brightsolid own findmypast and Scotlandspeople. I have used Scotlandspeople from the time it started and it is a wonderful website.

Ancestry and FamilySearch were very prominent in the marketplace. There were a lot of companies to help write, present and publish your family story. The usual associations and societies were in attendance.

The one thing that I miss from the modern marketplace is books. I love to use books and have a large reference library. I did get the fourth edition of John Grenham’s “Tracing Your Irish Ancestors.”

One down point was the absence of the Certificate of Irish Heritage booth. I was really looking forward to finding out more about them. I was not the only one because many people walked past our booth looking for them.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

We arrived at the marketplace early on Wednesday to make sure that we had everything ready for the opening. This was the only day I was able to connect to the internet at the conference centre. The connection was busy for the rest of the conference.

The first lecture I was going to attend was “The Family Tapestry: Integrating Proof Arguments Into the Genealogical Narrative.” I left the booth 10 minutes before the lecture started and was unable to get a seat when I arrived. Thank goodness they recorded this one so I bought the recording.

The only other lecture I attended on this day was called “Snagit for Genealogists” which was very interesting. I have been thinking about getting this program and the lecture helped me make a decision. We were also given a free trial CD of Snagit.

I interviewed Lisa Louise Cooke who was in the booth next to ours. Look for the interview on this blog in the future.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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