Federation of Genealogical Societies

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This year’s FGS Conference was very successful. I heard there were about 1500 people attending and sometimes in the library it seemed like a lot more.

My friend Nancy and I traveled down to Fort Wayne on August 15th. We had research we wanted to do in the ACPL. My research plan was over 40 pages long. We spent all day Friday and Saturday in the library. We went to O’Donnell’s Irish Pub for dinner on Thursday and Saturday night and found a lovely pizza place on Friday night. The first two mornings we got a free breakfast buffet at the hotel.

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Sunday was a bit of a down day as the library was closed. Still we made good use of it. It was a late start to the day and we had breakfast at Cindy’s Diner. This is a tiny place with only about 15 stools. We started the day with “Garbage Eggs” which had eggs, ham, cheese, onion and potato. This big breakfast meant we didn’t really need to stop for lunch. The people at Cindy’s were so friendly and the food was great.

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Then it was off to the shops. We visited a couple of malls and Walmart where we picked up some things to use for breakfast in the hotel not to mention a few other items. We went back to the room to work on our research plans for the next day and had a quiet evening.

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Monday was spent in the library doing research. Tuesday was the FGS Librarian’s Day conference and it was held in the Allen County Public Library. We took a little time off on Tuesday to go and do a tour of DeBrand Chocolates. They are a local business and provide tours of their chocolate factory. It was delicious and I left with a purchase or two.

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Tuesday night I attended the FamilySearch bloggers dinner. I love this event as I get to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Wednesday is Society day and I attended two lectures. I spent a little more time in the library but it was starting to get very busy. At the end of the day I had finished my research plan so I was pleased.

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Starting Wednesday night the library was open until midnight for three days. It was very full and they had started adding extra tables and chairs on Tuesday. The librarians and volunteers were fantastic with the patrons and how they kept up with reshelving all those books I don’t know. Wednesday finished with the Opening Social.

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There were long lines and it felt a little slow at times but we chatted to everyone in line and that made the time go quickly. The band at the social were “The Jug Huffers.” They were very entertaining.

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The Opening Social was held in the botanical conservatory and you could wander around the outdoor gardens.

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Thursday was the official start of the conference with the Opening Plenary. I will never listen to early rock and roll in the same way again. Marketplace opened at 9:30 and was open until 7:30 pm.

“The War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Files in the National Archives are being digitized and placed online for free.” This is a project being done by FGS in conjunction with Fold3, Ancestry.com and the National Archives. They had a goal to raise $20,000 in donations from the conference registrations and selling raffle tickets. The FGS would double what was raised and then Ancestry.com would double that number. After all the counting was done they had raised $23,000 by the end of the conference. FGS doubled that to $46,000 and Ancestry.com doubled that to $92,000.

In the Conference Guide they say that to digitize two images costs one dollar. So if my math is right that means they should be able to digitize about 184,000 images. I hope the pension file you are looking for is part of that group. These images can be viewed for free on Fold3.

The FGS Ambassadors got together to have a picture taken. It was taken by Tina Lyons who worked tirelessly and I hope got a good rest on Sunday. Linda McCauley was the official photographer and she has shared this photograph with the FGS Ambassadors.

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I really enjoy genealogy conferences. I would attend all of them if my time and budget allowed. It is great to meet new people and catch up with friends. At every conference I learn something new. This year I attended the NGS and FGS conferences in the United States and this allowed me to do research in the top two genealogy libraries in North America. I also attended the Ontario Genealogical Society conference this year. OGS is my local conference and fun to attend. This year I presented three lectures at the conference.

Next year the FGS Conference is being held in San Antonio Texas. I would love to go as I’ve never been to Texas and have heard San Antonio is a lovely city.

See you all there.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

It was another early start as I attended the 8 am lecture with Harold Henderson, CG presenting “Three Ways to Improve Your Speaking Ideas.” This was a very informative lecture and I will be implementing some of these ideas.

Next was “Creating Family Histories for Future Generations” with Thomas W. Jones, PhD., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS. If you ever get the chance to hear Tom Jones speak you must take advantage of it. His first piece of advice was not to go looking for ancestors but to focus on the people you have around you now and collect as much information from them as possible while you can.

“Finding the Inner Light: Researching Our Quaker Ancestors” by Diana VanSkiver Gagel, MA, OGSF was great. I have Quaker ancestors and while a lot of this lecture was focused on the United States I still learned a lot about how the Quakers worshiped and collected records.

I didn’t attend a luncheon lecture today so I went out for a walk and found something nearby.

The afternoon lecture series started with “Speak, Write, and Publish Safely: Staying Out of Copyright Trouble” with Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL. Some aspects of copyright law are different between Canada and the US but the majority of it is the same. This lecture provided a lot of food for thought.

“Researching Irish Ancestors Online” with Marie E. Daly was interesting. I knew most of it already but you never know when you may find out something new.

The conference ended with Paul Milner and his lecture “English Parish Registers: How to Access, Use and Interpret.” This was a good lecture and as usual Paul started off the lecture a little early so that people could ask some questions. Paul is a lively speaker which is great during the last session on the last day as we are all a little blurry eyed and tired.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

It was another early start this morning. The whole experience of conference is lectures, early and late nights, and catching up with old friends and making new.

My first lecture of the day was “Effective Use of ScotlandsPeople Website” with Paul Milner. As usual, Paul did not disappoint. It was a very informative lecture.

The next lecture was “Mapping the Past: Navigating Your Family History with Maps” with Donald Hubbard, PhD. This was a very interesting lecture and it presented different ways to use maps in your family history.

Then it was on to “Image Organization Made Easy” with Eric Curtis M. Basir. This lecture was full and I was interested in learning more because organizing my digital files is on my “to do list” and I want to do it right the first time.

Now it is time for lunch. I attended the Association of Professional Genealogists Luncheon with John Philip Colletta, PhD. John presented “The Keepers and I: Tales of Accessing Historical Sources.” John always does a great job. His presentation was entertaining and distinctive not to mention his slide show was exceptional. His new version of PowerPoint did the job. You had to be there.

In the afternoon I attended three lectures. The first was “Using Your Word Processor to Create a Publication” with Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL.

The one I really wanted to see was “Evernote for Every Genealogist” with Cyndi Ingle Howells. I am just getting started with Evernote and this helped a great deal. This lecture had an unusual start because just before it was to begin the fire alarm went off in the convention centre and we all filed into the street. Even with that interruption Cyndi did a great job. I really need to start using Evernote more.

The last was “Tips and Tools for Planning and Tracking Research” with Debbie Parker Wayne, CG.

Tonight was the ACPL/ACGSI Evening at the Library and the presentation was “Journey Through the Generations with our Veterans.” This event was sponsored by FamilySearch.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

It was an early start this morning. The Plenary Session started at 8 am. It opened with the Old Fort Color Guard trooping in the colours. They also escorted us to the Marketplace after the Plenary. The session started with awards and news from FGS. FGS and Rootstech will be presented concurrently in March 2015 in Salt Lake City. FGS will also have a smaller conference in the Fall.

We got a four minute sneak peak of the new PBS production Genealogy Roadshow. It looks great and I can’t wait until it starts on September 23rd.

After the announcements it was time for the lecture called “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixty: The Roots of Rock & Roll and 1950s America” and the speaker was Richard Aquilla, PhD. He looked at the messages that were found in Rock & Roll music in the first ten years. Rock & Roll was born sixty years ago this year. He showed a record label for Neil Sedaka’s “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen” and it got a cheer from the audience. It was interesting because some of the topics he pointed out in early Rock & Roll, such as, objectifying women, is a criticism heard about today’s rap songs. I will never listen to the music in the same way again.

FGS is raising money for the War of 1812 Pension Records Project. They are raising money to digitize the documents and make them free online at Fold3. Between now and the end of the conference they hope to raise $20,000 and $9,000 had already be raised by donations at the time of registration. Ancestry will match dollar for dollar any money raised between now and FGS 2014 in San Antonio Texas.

Over 800,000 images are available online and that represents 10% of the documents. They have raised 30% of the fund raising goal to date.

On Thursday I attended two lectures. The first was “DNA Testing for Genealogy: The Basics” presented by Robert D. McLaren and “Going Nuclear: DNA Discoveries to Trace All Lines of Descent” presented by Debbie Parker Wayne, CG. I now feel I know a little bit more about DNA.

At lunch time I attended a lunch sponsored by the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History (ISBGFH). Audrey Collins from the National Archives in England presented “There and Back Again: Your British Ancestors on the Move.” Audrey is a great speaker and if you get a chance to attend one of her lectures you won’t be disappointed.

The rest of the day I spent in the Marketplace going around to all the different vendors and seeing what they had on offer. I checked out some societies and asked a question at the Indiana Historical Society. They were extremely helpful and I am hopeful they will help me solve a mystery with a Scottish ancestor.

It was late opening at the Marketplace and there were many draws held during 6:30 and 7:30. Congratulations to all the lucky winners.

Now it is time to get my things together for tomorrow.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Wednesday at the FGS Conference is focused on Societies and all the lectures are concentrated on helping societies to tweak and improve their services. I find the Society Day lectures to be helpful to anyone running a genealogy business. As a result I attended two lectures on Wednesday. The first was “Creating Master Databases from Local Genealogical Resources” by Dana Ann Palmer, CG. It was very informative and I will be using some of her tips in my local history projects.

The other lecture was “Avoiding the Pitfalls of a Society-Sponsored Research Trip” presented by Billie Stone Fogarty, MEd. This lecture provided societies with tips on whether or not to sponsor a research trip.

In the evening we attended the FGS Opening Social at Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory that was sponsored by Findmypast.com. It took a long time to get in but everyone in line was chatting and getting to know each other. There were jazz and country performers in a couple of areas around the conservatory. They served some light nibbles which were very tasty.

Then it was back to our room to get ready for the early start the next day.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

The four of the last five days I have spent doing research at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center and last night was the FamilySearch Blogger Dinner.

Congratulations go to Diane Loosle on being appointed Director of the Family History Library. She is going to be studying the “role of the Family History Library and 4,700 satellite branches worldwide called, Family History Centers, and how to make them discovery centers for people of all ages, not just a research facility.”

“In 2013-14, Diane says she has some very specific goals as the new director of the Family History Library:

1. Become more family and youth-oriented through providing interactive, discovery experiences.
2. Enhance the services of the Library through new collaborative research areas and better access to research staff.
3. Continue to bring the Library resources and staff knowledge to online patrons.
4. Engage more patrons from the geographic community surrounding the library.”

There are going to be youth and family oriented changes happening at the Family History Library. They are creating research collaboration spaces and staff is coming out from behind the desk and into these spaces. You will find computers, microfilm readers and staff in one space who are researching common interests.

There are 1.7 million names from historical records added to the website every day. The FamilySearch camera teams number 237 right now and their goal is to have 1000 in five years.

Family History Discovery Centers are going to be created in metropolitan areas in high tourist and high traffic neighbourhoods. They will be engaging for all age groups and knowledge bases. Three to five will be launched in the next twelve months.

Three Oral History Studios are being tested right now. You can bring a family member to the studio and interview them to capture their story. There is an HD video camera and you will be given a pre-programed flash drive to save the video. You are allotted an hour and fifteen minutes and the cost is $8 which is the cost of the flash drive. They need to pre-program the flash drive so you can’t bring your own.

FamilySearch Family Tree now has 950 million names, 41,686 are added every day and 27% are non LDS contributors. You will be able to upload documents by the end of the year.

Soon you will be able to scan your family photos at your local Family History Center. They will crop and upload your photos to your FamilySearch online account or you can bring them home and tag them.

Some of the FamilySearch third party apps are: FamilyMap, RootsMagic, Mobile Family Tree for iOS, Leaf, and Legacy mobile.

Rootstech are expecting 110,000 remote attendees in 2014. The BIG NEWS is that registration begins on Thursday 22 August 2013.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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If you haven’t registered for the FGS 2013 Conference yet, you still have time to register online, by mail or at the door. Mailed registrations must be postmarked by Friday, August 9. Online registration ends on Wednesday, August 14th. Pre-registering for the conference gives you access to some great benefits.

And don’t forget, if you have already registered for the conference, you still have time to get your tickets to the conference “extras.”

Only attendees who preregister for the conference can:
• Access the conference syllabus online prior to the conference.
• Guarantee a spot in the “extra” conference events (on-site tickets may be available to events if they have not sold out):
o 10 luncheons over the 4 conference days.
o 5 workshops over 3 days. There is still room in the Researching African Americans in University Libraries workshop. We have also added   extra spaces and still have a few seats left Researching Midwestern American Indians and Using Griffith’s Valuation to Identify Your Ancestors’ Origins. The other workshops are sold out.
o FGS Opening Social on Wednesday, August 21
o Friday Night at ACPL on August 23 with all proceeds going to the Preserve the Pensions Fund!
o Sunday Farewell Brunch with lots of door prizes.
• Register for a FREE genealogy consultation on Tuesday, August 20. You must sign up for a consultation in advance. See Conference Activities on the website for details.

You can also purchase extra tickets (except for workshops) for your non-genealogy spouses or friends who traveled with you to the conference.

Visit the website to register or add “extras” today. We hope to see you in Fort Wayne, August 21-24.

This is the last prompt for the FGS Ambassadors and it is a hard one. It is about packing for the FGS conference. The hard part is you never know exactly what to bring and you always think of something you should have brought once you get there.

It also depends on whether you are driving or flying. Obviously if you are flying you can’t bring as much as if you are packing your car. Personally I like to travel light.

The first thing that anyone who has ever attended a conference will tell you to pack is a comfortable pair of shoes and a wrap or sweater because the lecture rooms can sometimes be cold. I will add to that a refillable water bottle because you will need to stay hydrated and they usually provide water stations in the hall or lecture room where you can fill up your bottle.

A lot of people bring their IPads and computers to take notes but I have a hard time balancing them on my knee and typing at the same time, not as coordinated as some people. So I bring my notebook and pencil. They also come in handy when I’m researching. I can stand in the stacks and take notes using these tools.

The syllabus material will usually be put online before we leave for the conference so I go in and print off the handouts for the lectures I’m going to attend. I print on a single page and then use the back of it for notes for that particular lecture. This way I have both of them together.

I bring my little netbook as I find it easier to type on than my IPod. Yes, I said IPod as I don’t have an IPad. Facebook, Hotmail and Old Reader can be accessed on both devices but if I need to type up notes or a blog post the keyboard on the netbook easier to use. RootsMagic To-Go is my genealogy program of choice when travelling. The memory stick can be put into the netbook and my family tree is at my fingertips.

Business cards are always a must. I keep a small pile in behind my name tag so that they are easy to pull out when I meet someone new. Exchanging business cards is a good way to share contact information. Even if you don’t have a genealogy business you should get some cards made up with your contact information.

A list of exhibitors that are of interest is also made up. Usually I print out the map of the exhibit hall ahead of time and go in and circle where they are located so that it is easier to find them.

It can be a good idea to print off some small labels with your name and email address on them. These can be useful when you are entering draws. You can just peel one off and put it on the ballot. This is also great if there is a large crowd because it can be done quickly.

My research to-do-list is something that will be included in my suitcase. I have been working on it for several months. Will I be able to get it all done? Well that depends on my allocated research time. The list has been prioritized so that the things that are most important to my research will be done first. PERSI is available on Ancestry and when an article of interest is located I cut and paste the source information into my research plan. Easy and less chance of transcription errors.

Don’t forget to include the cables and chargers for your electrical devices when you pack. You don’t want something to run out of power just when you need it most.

Good luck with your packing and see you in a month!

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

This is a special genealogy conference you won’t want to miss!

It’s getting closer! The 2013 FGS conference takes place in Fort Wayne, Indiana on August 21-24 with pre-conference activities on August 20th and a Farewell Brunch on August 25th. Fort Wayne is the home of the renowned Genealogy Center which is giving us generous extended research hours during the conference.

• Of course, you may still register online or by regular mail for the FGS 2013 Conference in Fort Wayne!

• Register soon so that in early August you gain access to the online conference syllabus with an expanded subject index.

• We tweaked room arrangements and have ample room for more people to sign up for the luncheons that take place each day.

• Rooms are available at the two added hotels. They will run periodic shuttles to the Grand Wayne Convention Center. Fort Wayne has thousands of hotel rooms so there is space for all of us.

• Ample parking is available near the convention center.

• Don’t forget about the wonderful quilt that will be awarded during the Friday evening festivities at the Allen County Public Library. That’s an evening to benefit the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions Project with lots of fun activities. A dessert buffet will be sponsored by FamilySearch. If you have registered for that evening, you get access to the Genealogy Center from 6:00 p.m. till Midnight!

Want more details on these points and to keep up with breaking news? Follow us on:

The conference website
FGS Conference News Blog
Facebook
• Twitter: @FGSconference, #FGS2013

We hope you join us for this great educational and fun week.

As an FGS Ambassador we are provided with blogging prompts each month. Here are the responses to the questions we have been asked for June/July.

Deciding on the conference schedule depends very much on my selection of lectures which changes several times over the months prior to the conference. When the program first comes out I go through it and mark all the lectures that appeal to me. A few months later I will go through it again in a little more detail and narrow some streams down. Then a week or so before I leave I go through it for a final time and try to narrow it down to one lecture per stream.

Once I have narrowed the lectures down to hopefully one per stream, if not I hope that at least one of them is being recorded, then I decide on what exhibitors I want to visit during the conference. This can depend on what is of interest to me at the moment, new programs that have come out that I want to learn more about, new databases being released by the larger companies and sometimes it has to do with where the conference is being held and if I have any family connections to the area.

How I keep track of when and where I need to be usually starts with the small brochure that is included in our registration bag. I circle things and review the next day’s happenings the night before. In 2012 the FGS had an app that was very useful. I had it on my IPod Touch and could check at an instant where I needed to be. It made things very easy. I haven’t heard anything about this year’s app yet.

My schedule can change during the day at the conference because sometimes you are presented with an opportunity you can’t say no to or you meet up with some new friends and decide to try something different. Don’t schedule the whole conference before you go, be open to anything that may come up during conference. You never know what you might learn or who you may meet.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved 

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