Saturday, May 11, 2013

NGS Day 3 Friday May 10

For logistical reasons only, Friday was my last real day at the conference. Please refer to other bloggers for Saturday!

My day began about 6 am in the nearly deserted free internet area (no problem with too many connections) and segued into the invitational FamilySearch breakfast (assigned tables and assigned places at each), where we learned that they add about 1.7 million new records per day, are desperately in search of Italian-speaking volunteer indexers, and are exploring ways to adapt facial-recognition software to word recognition as a way of indexing handwritten documents.

Dawne Slater-Putt's 8 am talk, "Fail! When the Record Is Wrong," was a boon to note-takers in that she spoke clearly and not too fast. Her bouquet of original records giving direct but erroneous evidence was striking. Takeaway: "Know your ancestor as a person so as not to be blinded by incorrect evidence."

I spent the rest of the morning in a New York intensive. NYGBR co-editor Karen Mauer Green emphasized the difficulties researchers from record-rich areas like New England and the Midwest will find in New York, where some record types are missing, and each of the 62 counties was to some extent a law unto itself. "Clerks essentially did what they want . . . plan to start over with each new county." A substantial aid in this process, the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, is forthcoming later this year.

NYGBR co-editor Laura DeGrazia gave a more upbeat perspective on the same situation, showing some of the records finds there to be made, such as town clerks' Civil War registers that can include time and place of birth and parents' names. I concluded that New York is the mother of innovative research techniques. And I have to say that if you must leave home for days to hang out in a desert filled with casinos in order to learn about genealogy, there is just no better place to be than in the front row of the hall, hearing DeGrazia and trading thoughts and wisecracks with Kimberly Powell and Michael Hait.

Melinda Henningfield and I chatted with visitors to the APG table in the exhibit area during the lunch hour, and then I retreated to become ready for my 4 pm talk on a Chicago-to-Ohio case study. The evening saw a meeting of mentors in preparation for the early June debut of small discussion groups on Tom Jones's popular new book Mastering Genealogical Proof, being organized by Angela McGhie.

And I know just from syllabus browsing that I had to miss great talks by Debbie Parker Wayne on DNA and Elizabeth Shown Mills on discoveries in the details.

It's now five years since my first NGS conference and I haven't even come close to regretting attending one yet. Don't miss it when it comes within your travel area.

Harold Henderson, "NGS Day 3 Friday May 10," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 11 May 2013 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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