Friday, May 10, 2013

NGS Day 2 Thursday May 9

Sometimes you can't both attend a conference and blog about it! Yesterday was that sort of day. For me it started with an internet session in the foyer area where sponsors have provided free wi-fi (when not too crowded), followed by the ProGen Study Group breakfast, which shared members and the buffet table with the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy breakfast. ProGen groups (18 months of study per each) are well up in double digits now, far enough so that even our mega-organizer Angela McGhie can't always recall who is from which group any more!

At 8 am, Greg Hise, UNLV history professor with a seemingly endless knowledge of Los Angeles, spoke on the ways in which it was "born global" and multicultural. If you had a question, he had a book title -- several book titles -- and author. At 9:30 Mara Fein spoke about LA area records. When seeking vital records there, "Avoid the state level." Such requests can take 18 months to turn around, and sometimes never. Go to the counties, and make sure you know when they were created, and in which years the city and county of Los Angeles created separate records.

At 11 am, I introduced friend and colleague Kimberly Powell, who provided a wealth of information -- not to tell us which genealogy program to buy, but how most efficiently to find out for ourselves which one(s) would best suit our styles. I like that approach and I think the audience did; anyway she was besieged with questions afterward. One takeaway: when dealing with on-line reviews, "Ignore the groupies and the haters" -- those who publish brief one-star or five-star reviews -- and concentrate on the longer ones that explain in some detail what they loved or hated.

(By the way, introducing speakers is one low-stress way of starting to find out whether you would like to get into actual speaking at conferences. No creativity or long-lasting vocal cords are required. Join the Genealogy Speakers Guild and get in on the action. Often there are more speakers than there are available introducers.)

Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, entertained the big crowd at the BCG luncheon with improbable tales of ancestral idiocies as they have appeared in court records from colonial times to the 20th century. Sorry, I was too busy laughing to take notes.

I took lots of notes during Elizabeth Shown Mills's 2:30 talk: "Information Overload? Effective Project Planning, Research, Data Management & Analysis." If you have ever collected a difficult ancestor's 20 census neighbors on each side and then wondered what to do with them, this is a talk you must hear. The audio should be a reasonable substitute if you just can't be there.

Finally, at 4 pm I introduced friend and colleague Jane Wilcox, who gave an unusually fast-paced and visual talk about what she found out about many of her female forebears -- a deft presentation that kept introduction and conclusion to an absolute minimum, and eschewed words on screen. Maybe I could learn something there!

The rest of the day was full of good discussion that went on into the night, and which I was not the last to leave. I know people who attend conferences simply for the purpose of joining in these meetings, formal and informal, and I can see why. These folks are worth spending time with, even if I have to come to a casino to do so.

Harold Henderson, "NGS Day 2 Thursday May 9," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 10 May 2013 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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