Thursday, May 9, 2013

NGS Day 1 Wednesday May 8

Las Vegas is an improbable (and noisy) part of the universe. The day started with one of those serendipitous encounters that make conferences such fun -- a friend and I got on the elevator simultaneously around 6 am and we made a run for affordable edibles to help us last out the week.

Marian Smith told a great story of her quest for the origins of the 1931 Morton Allan steamship arrival directory. "Some projects take years," she said, "Be prepared to be surprised." We were. "When you see a piece that might fit but are not sure, you've got to pick it up."

Tom Jones was stellar in the 11 am slot on "Debunking Misleading Records." He described alphabetizing records (that were originally chronological) as a form of error, because it strips out contextual information that might be used to correct an error. And he advised us that using genealogy programs can cause us to miss a "huge piece of genealogical reasoning," the piece that takes place when you're writing out your proof. He even finished two minutes before time.

I'll let others comment on my APG luncheon talk on advocacy and how to think about it. (Shortest possile version: Don't overlook the regulation-writing process that inevitably follows legislation.) A version of it will be available for the new APG Quarterly editor, Christy Fillerup, to use as needed.

Melinde Lutz Byrne spoke on advocacy for record access. By accumulation of well-known facts, she showed that birth, marriage, and death records are not in fact private -- directly undercutting some lawmakers' arguments to try to make them otherwise. Meanwhile I hear that Kimberly Powell encouraged a lot of folks to use and learn Scrivener.

Lots of interesting conversation at the exhibit hall BCG table late in the day about how many certificants "overachieve," as in producing kinship determination projects 70 or more pages long. Don't be intimidated. Length is not a genealogical standard.

Harold Henderson, "NGS Day 1 Wednesday May 8," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 9 May 2013 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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