National Genealogical Society

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Well it was a hard choice for that 8 am lecture on Saturday May 10th but I finally chose “Your Computer: Back It Up or Lose It, Data Backup from A to Z.” I have been trying to decide which way to go with cloud back up services and am going to try Back Blaze. I still have to sign up and start the back-up process, just hoping it won’t take too long.

Then I attended “Tools to Help You Share Family Stories” and the last lecture of the morning was “Organizing Your Research without Losing Your Mind.” I am still not sure this is possible but got lots of tools to help make it easier.

This was the one day I didn’t attend a luncheon lecture. The first afternoon lecture was “I Can’t See My Audience: Web-Based Presentations” and the last one was “Keep the Message Consistent Sell/Document/Deliver from Proposal to Syllabus to Presentation.”

On the last day the crowds start to lessen particularly after the Exhibit Hall closes.

This conference had just over 2,500 attendees which included the wonderful volunteers, the people in the exhibit hall and those that just popped in for a day.

I will admit I am a conference junkie. I love them. The networking, learning, chatting and catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. The organization of this conference was very good and the volunteers and those who worked on putting it all together should be very proud of their efforts.

I did have some trouble with the Wi-Fi. It was hard to connect and since I was from Canada I didn’t have my cell phone on because of roaming charges, so doing things like Twitter had to wait until I was within Wi-Fi and hope it would not be too busy.

My friend and I are already making plans for St. Charles Missouri next year from May 13th to 19th. We discovered that Fort Wayne is the midpoint for the journey. It would mean having to stop and do research at the Allen County Public Library. Oh the hardship.

Here are some pictures that I took at the conference. If you ever get the chance to attend a national conference in the US or a Provincial or local one in Canada please do so, you won’t regret it.


©2014 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved


Exhibit Hall #1

Exhibit Hall #1
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2013-05-10 11.41.20

Exhibit Hall #2
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2013-05-10 11.41.35

Exhibit Hall #3
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2013-05-07 05.54.42

Find My Past Breakfast #1
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2013-05-07 06.26.12

Find My Past Breakfast #2
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2013-05-07 07.02.42

Opening Session
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2013-05-11 06.44.37

Richmond Virginia #1
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2013-05-11 06.44.50

Richmond Virginia #2
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2013-05-11 06.53.35

Richmond Virginia #3
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Well, we are now in the home stretch of the NGS conference in Richmond. Tomorrow is our last day.

Today my day started with “How to Progress from Notes to a Draft Article” with Henry B. Hoff, CG, FASG. His presentation was very informative and he encouraged us to write our family history stories and submit them to publications.

I did not attend a lecture in the next slot, instead I went to the marketplace and did a little shopping. I have now visited all the vendors I had marked off in the app before the conference. I found most of what I was looking for which is good. My bag was full so it was time to attend another lecture.

This lecture was “Writing for Your Audience” by Linda Coffin her lecture gave us a different point of view to writing your family history. It needs to be more than names or dates if our families are going to read our work.

Today’s luncheon was hosted by the Genealogical Speakers Guild/International Society of Family History Writers and Editors and the speaker was the incomparable John Philip Colletta, PhD and his lecture was “The Keepers and I: Tales of Accessing Historical Sources.” His PowerPoint presentation was unbelievable and he had the room roaring with laughter.

I hadn’t chosen a lecture in the slot after lunch and a friend suggested I go to see Judy Russell’s “The Seanachie: Linking Life and the Law Through Storytelling.” Judy is always entertaining and her lecture was quite enlightening. Everyone remembers our parents saying “don’t take candy from strangers.” Judy found out why that is and it related to a kidnapping in the mid 1800s.

The last lecture of the day was D. Joshua Taylor’s “Criminals, Soldiers, and Apprentices: Unique UK Records for Your Research.” He started by showing the wonderful things that can be found in the British Newspaper Collection on Findmypast and went on to show what can be found in the other record groups on Findmypast.

Tonight we went to dinner at the Tobacco Company and it was fantastic. I had been there in 2007, the last time the NGS conference was in Richmond.

Now it is time to get ready for tomorrow and decide what lecture I will be attending at 8 am. It is one of those slots where I have more than one choice!


©2014 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved




It was another busy but fun day. I started by attending Lisa Alzo’s lecture “Family History Writing Made Easier: Cloud-Based Tools Every Genealogist Can Use” and as usual she was terrific. Lisa provided so many new tools to help with writing your family history it may take a while to try them all out. It was a full class for eight in the morning.

After a short break it was a lecture by Nathan W. Murphy, AG of FamilySearch. His lecture was “FamilySearch Wiki Guide to English Research” and it was very informative. A little good luck for me is the fact that there are a lot of parish records for Lancashire where my ancestors can be found. You will also find a link to the England Jurisdictions 1851 map through the county pages and it is a very useful tool.

The last lecture of the morning was Stephani Evans, CG who presented “Oh, the Things you Can Map: Mapping Data, Memory, and Historical Content.” She provided many different kinds of maps to help with your research and warned us to make sure we knew the reason the map was created. This reason can skew a map in many different directions.

Next it was time for lunch. I attended the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Luncheon. The speaker was Naomi Joshi and her topic was “How to Assemble a Weighty Tome and Survive the Experience.” Naomi had the audience in stitches with her presentation. She was so funny with all the things that happened while creating the new New York State research book and gazetteer. It is due out some time this year and will be a weighty 600 pages long. Sounds like it will be a must add to your genealogical library if you do research in New York State.

After lunch there was a little time to wander the marketplace. I still have a few more exhibitors to visit that I noted in the NGS app.

The first afternoon lecture was “The Memory Ninja: Using Pinterest to Engage Your Family in Memory Collection” by Cheri J. Daniels, MSLS. I have wondered about Pinterest for a while and now I think I may give it a try.

The last lecture of the day for me was Paul Milner’s “Scottish Maps and Tools for Finding the Right Place.” This was a very useful lecture about where to find and how to read Scottish maps. Paul had a little technical difficulty at the beginning but he got things going again quickly and never missed a beat.

Tomorrow is another busy day and I have another full day of lectures. There is one problem – I have a couple of times that I have more than one lecture I want to attend. I guess I will have to choose and get recordings of the others. Thank goodness there is that option.


©2014 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved




Well the first day of the National Genealogical Conference in Richmond Virginia is drawing to a close. It has been a very busy day. It actually started on Tuesday night with a Bloggers Dinner hosted by FamilySearch. I will write about that in another blog post. After dinner was the Dessert Social with the Association of Professional Genealogists. Both events were a time to meet up with old friends and meet some new ones.  I have noticed there are a lot of first timers at this conference which is great news.

This morning was a very early start as I had to catch the 6:30 shuttle to the convention centre for the Findmypast Breakfast. I will write about this in another post. After that it was the Opening Session where NGS presented several awards and the speaker was Sandra Gioia Treadway who is the Librarian of Virginia and State Archivist. Her topic was “The Evolving Library: Planning and Adapting to Meet the Needs of Twenty-first Century Researchers.” She talked about how the library and archives building was new in 1997 but now it does not fit the needs of present day researchers because technology has changed so quickly. They are planning to renovate and have a new library and archives in 2021.

The Exhibit Hall opened after the Opening Session and it was jam packed with people, and continued to be throughout most of the day. I did manage to visit a fair number of the Exhibitors I had highlighted in my NGS app. Still have a few more to visit and a few to revisit to find out more about their products.

The luncheon I chose to attend today was the Virginia Genealogical Society Luncheon. The speaker was Conley L. Edwards who retired as Librarian of Virginia and State Archivist in 2009. He shared stories of the many genealogists and researchers he saw come through the doors of the library and archives.

My first lecture after lunch was “Why Can’t I Find It in the ILS (Library Catalog)? Techniques Used by Librarians” presented by Patricia Moseley Van Skaik. It was very interesting and I learned a few more tricks to using the library catalogs.

The last lecture of the day was “Mining the Destination Data” by David E. Rencher and as per usual he did not disappoint. It was informative and humorous. How to take the exhaustive search and use it to help get your ancestors back to the old country.

My first lecture is 8 am tomorrow morning and it is another full day.


©2014 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved


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



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



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


National Genealogical Society Announces Release of Mobile Conference App 2014 Family History Conference
Richmond, Virginia 7 May 2014

ARLINGTON, VA, 20 February 2014: The National Genealogical Society (NGS) announces the release of the Mobile Conference App for the NGS 2014 Family History Conference, which will be held 7-10 May 2014, in Richmond, Virginia. Download the free NGS Conference App.

The NGS Conference App is available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and web-enabled devices. Search your app store for NGS 2014.

New this year is a five-minute video that reviews highlights of the app and explains how to use the key features. The video can be found on the NGS conference website, then click on the App Video Tutorial.

Some of the convenient features on the app:
• The Dashboard keeps you organized with up-to-the-minute information.
• About This Show keeps all conference information in one place.
• Alerts allow attendees to receive important real-time communications from NGS.
• The built-in Twitter feed allows you to follow and join in on the conference chatter. The Twitter hashtag is #NGS2014GEN.
• Sync your schedule across multiple devices.
• Attendees can locate exhibitors they plan to visit.
• Connect, message, and share schedules with your colleagues through the Friends feature.
• Link to syllabus material for each lecture, which will be available about 22 April 2014.

We encourage you to begin using the app now so you can improve your conference experience in Richmond.

Founded in 1903, the National Genealogical Society is dedicated to genealogy education, high research standards, and the preservation of genealogical records. The Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit is the premier national society for everyone, from the beginner to the most advanced family historian seeking excellence in publications, educational offerings, research guidance, and opportunities to interact with other genealogists.

The last day of conference is always a busy one as you are trying to attend the lectures you want to see, going to the Marketplace to get your final purchases, ordering the audio recordings for the lectures you were not able to attend and saying a final good bye to your genealogy pals until the next conference.

My day started early with a breakfast meeting with MyHertiage. The Official Bloggers were invited to learn more about the new offerings on their website. We were greeted by “The Record Detective” complete with spy glass. They escorted us to the conference room where we caught up with the other bloggers and learned more about the changes to MyHertiage. I will write more about this in another post.

Then it was off to the first lecture of the day at 8 am. I decided to attend “Research Tools in RootsMagic” which provided me with some good information but he spent so much time on some items he missed some of the ones that I really wanted to learn more about.

The lecture I was really interested in attending today was “Landlords and Tenants: Land and Estate Records for Irish Family History” presented by Brian Donovan of Eneclann. He provided so much wonderful information and also told us about some new releases for Irish research coming later this year.

The next lecture was “The Elements of Genealogical Analysis” and it examined a different way to look at the Genealogical Proof Standard.

The last lecture of the conference and the day that I attended was “Visual Aids: Enhancements to the Presentation, NOT Show & Tell.” This lecture provided some good suggestions on creating presentations.

I had lunch in the area outside the Marketplace and met up with some ladies who were attending the Ancestry Day stream. There was a Youth Camp being held as well and they had room for 40 children but 77 attended so that is a good sign. There were 1981 attendees at the 2013 National Genealogical Society Conference and a good time was had by all.

The water show at the Bellagio
©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

On Saturday evening my friend and I went to the Las Vegas Strip and saw the sights. We had dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in the MGM Grand and had a lovely meal. When you go to conferences it is important to get out and see the sights of the city where the conference is being held. It is fun to get out and you never know you might learn and/or see something new.

The conservatory at the Bellagio
©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

This post is a little late because after the conference we traveled to Salt Lake City to do a little research. We got home a couple of days ago and it is a long weekend in Canada so I am catching up.

Now we look forward to the 2014 NGS Conference which will be held in Richmond Virginia 7-10 May 2014. See you all there!

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

ARLINGTON, VA, 10 May 2013: The National Genealogical Society presented the Shirley Langdon Wilcox Award to Julie Potter Miller, cg, at its annual banquet on Friday evening, 10 May, at the NGS 2013 Family History Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Established in 2011, the Shirley Langdon Wilcox Award for Exemplary Volunteerism recognizes long-term volunteer service to NGS and the genealogical community at large. Julie has served on the NGS Board of Directors since October 2006 and has been vice president since October 2010. She served as conference chair for the NGS 2010 Family History Conference in Salt Lake City and for the NGS 2012 Family History Conference in Cincinnati. This year she continued to serve on the conference committee overseeing the conference blog and social media publicity and provided knowledgeable guidance whenever asked.

“Julie is consistently out in front, leading the charge,” said NGS President Jordan Jones. “She is knowledgeable, fair, and thinks about the long term, consistently pushing the board to explore new and innovative ways to use technology to better serve NGS members.” Stefani Evans, 2013 NGS conference chair added, “Julie has freely shared her experience and project management skills while serving on the conference committee again this year. In every interaction, she has been kind, thoughtful, and patient.”

In addition to her service to NGS, Julie has served as president of the Colorado Genealogical Society, Colorado Chapter of APG, and the Bloomfield Genealogical Society. She served on the board of directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors and volunteers at the National Archives Rocky Mountain Regional Branch.

Founded in 1903, the National Genealogical Society is dedicated to genealogy education, high research standards, and the preservation of genealogical records. The Arlington, Virginia, based nonprofit is the premier national society for everyone, from the beginner to the most advanced family historian, seeking excellence in publications, educational offerings, research guidance, and opportunities to interact with other genealogists. Please visit the NGS Pressroom for further information.

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