Archive for the ‘Genealogy Conferences’ Category

My experience at the Pennsylvania Family History Day

Yesterday in Exton, Pennsylvania, the Genealogical Society of Pennyslvania and Ancestry.com presented the Pennsylvania Family History Day. I mentioned this event last week in my post “Tips for a short genealogy road trip.” I was honored to be a part of this event, both as a lecturer and as a vendor. I presented the class “What is a ‘Reasonably Exhaustive Search’?,” one of my personal favorites.

My day started early, at 4:30am. I was out the door and on the road by 5:30am. It was still dark but there was no traffic until I reached Pennsylvania. I arrived at the conference hotel by 7:30am.

As I approached the hotel, the first person I saw, loading up her car in the parking lot, was Lisa Alzo, the popular genealogy author and lecturer. A fellow instructor at the now-defunct GenClass and at the National Institute of Genealogical Studies, I have known Lisa for years through online interaction. This was the first time that we have met in person.

At my vendor table, I set up several of my books for sale, including the Genealogy at a Glance: African American Research (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2011), and all three volumes of the Records of the Slave Claims Commissions, 1864-1867 (self-published, 2010-2011). I also printed out the Table of Contents and the Pennsylvania pages of the Online State Resources for Genealogy e-book (self-published, 2011). The final touch was a small sign that asked, “What’s Your Brickwall?” This sign actually brought the most visitors to my table, as attendees asked for advice with their research problems.

Lunch was great. I sat with Lisa Alzo and my friend Shamele Jordon as we listened to DearMYRTLE’s speech about “Genealogy Jam.” At several points throughout her talk, Ol’ Myrt was driven to tears while reminiscing about older family members, including her parents and grandparents. The entire audience was moved.

Unfortunately, because of my vendor table, I was unable to attend any of the other lectures. I would have loved to hear, for example, Lisa Alzo’s presentation on “Immigrant Cluster Communities,” or Shamele Jordon’s presentation on “Visualizing the Past: Maps and Genealogy,” or Curt Witcher’s presentation “Mining the Mother Lode: Using Periodical Literature for Genealogical Research.” Lou Szucs and Juliana Smith presented a track of four lectures focused on locating information on Ancestry.com, while John T. Humphrey and others presented a track of four lectures on researching in Pennsylvania. But from everything I heard from attendees, all of these presentations were fantastic.

After the conference ended, I had dinner in the hotel restaurant with Donn Devine, CG, CGL, and Curt Witcher, MLA, FUGA.

Curt Witcher, Michael Hait, Donn Devine

Mr. Devine is the Archivist for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, a long-standing member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, a Trustee of the Board for the Certification of Genealogists from 1992 through 2006, a member of the Board of the National Genealogical Society from 1994 through 2002 and current chairman of the NGS Standards Committee. He wrote the chapter on evidence analysis in the Elizabeth Shown Mills-edited Professional Genealogy (the object of the ProGen Study Groups). He also currently serves as the General Counsel for the BCG.

Mr. Witcher is the manager of the Allen County Public Library’s renowned Genealogy Center, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is on the Board of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and is a member of the Genealogy Committee of the American Library Association. He was coeditor of the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) from 1987 through 2000.

Needless to say, it was an absolutely wonderful meal. We didn’t of course limit our conversation to genealogy, but discussed a number of other topics as well.

Once dinner was finished, I started the long drive home. It was dark again. I arrived home a little after 10pm. It was a long day, but one that I will long treasure.

Tips for a short genealogy road trip

This Saturday, 5 November 2011, I will be speaking at the “Pennsylvania Family History Day” event sponsored by the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania and Ancestry.com. This is a very exciting program, including the following lectures:

  • “Getting Started with Ancestry.com” with Juliana Smith
  • “Immigrant Cluster Communities” with Lisa Alzo
  • “Researching Pennsylvania Ancestors” with John Humphrey
  • “Dead Men Do Tell Tales” with Lou Szucs
  • “What Is a ‘Reasonably Exhaustive Search’?” with Michael Hait, CG
  • “Formation of the Pennsylvania Counties” with Susan Koelble
  • “Finding Your US Military Heroes on Ancestry.com” with Juliana Smith
  • “Visualizing the Past: Maps and Genealogy” with Shamele Jordon
  • “Pennsylvania’s Land Records” with John Humphrey
  • “Hidden Treasures at Ancestry.com” with Lou Szucs
  • “Mining the Motherlode: Using Periodical Literature for Genealogical Research” with Curt Witcher
  • “Using the Pennsylvania State Archives and Library” with Kathleen Hale and Aaron McWilliams

This will be a great program, and I am proud to be a part of it. For more information, visit the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania’s Events Calendar.

The conference will be held in Exton, Pennsylvania. According to Google Maps, this will be 91.6 miles–a 1 hour, 48 minute drive–from my house. So I have to prepare for my trip.

Here are a few tips for others making a short trip like this:

Print your directions. I used to have a GPS device in my car, but it died. Rather than buying a new one, I just use the “old” (as in pre-2005 or so) way of not getting lost. I print out the directions from Google Maps, especially if I am going to an area where I have never been before. I learned my lesson on a few earlier trips, when I printed only one-way directions then got lost trying to get home. Now I print directions for both ways, not just how to get there.

Leave early. If you have to be somewhere at a certain time, leave early. You never know when you might hit traffic. Even if you are not on a fixed schedule, you should still consider making the most of your trip. If the courthouse or archives opens at 9am, do you want to get there as soon as it opens, so that you have a full day? Or do you want to time your trip to avoid the rush hour gridlock near a major metropolitan area? You will want to find out about traffic patterns if you can. Living just outside Washington, D. C., for most of my life, I would time my research trips into the city to avoid rush hour. Rush hour traffic in the area could turn a twenty-minute trip into an ninety-minute trip very easily. And it could be far worse if there was an accident.

Keep cash on hand. I know, for example, that I will hit at least one toll while driving from Harrington, Delaware, to Exton, Pennsylvania. Three weeks ago, driving to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, I had to pay at three tolls each way. You may also need cash for parking fees, public transportation (if you can’t or don’t want to drive all the way to the building), entry fees for some repositories, or pay lockers. Many repositories now allow you to pay with a credit card, but there are still many that use coin-operated photocopiers. You might need cash for these as well.

Turn driving time into learning time. I will be driving for nearly two hours each way. This is four hours of my day not doing anything. Why not take advantage of that time? I can’t read or research while driving, because of course I need to keep my eyes on the road. But I can still use the time to learn. Most of the lectures presented at the national conferences, and some local conferences, have been recorded over the last few years. You can purchase these lectures on CD from JAMB, Inc. Pop a CD into your car’s CD player, and learn from expert genealogists like Elizabeth Shown Mills, Helen F. M. Leary, Thomas Jones, Craig Scott, Barbara Vines Little, J. Mark Lowe, or any number of the other nationally-recognized speakers.

Go before you leave. You don’t want to have to stop halfway through a two-hour drive. ‘Nuff said.

Guest Post: Locating Clent manorial landholdings and SLIG, by Sue Adams

The following is a guest post written by Sue Adams, the winner of my SLIG Blogging Contest Contest! This post originally appeared at her blog, Family Folklore.

Having recently completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Genealogical Studies with the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, I have been looking around for further educational opportunities.

As my diploma dissertation was a study of manorial land records between 1712 and 1927, of Clent Manor, Worcestershire, England, the “Advanced Research Tools: Land Records” track presented by Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) 2012 peaked my interest. The course runs from 23-27 January 2012.

 

Although my study focused on land inheritance, I had originally intended presenting results by mapping land holdings belonging to individuals or families. However, faced with vague property descriptions, I realised this was more difficult than I had anticipated. Of the copyholdings bought, sold or inherited by the Waldron family of the Fieldhouse, I could locate less than half. Below is the map that I did not include in my dissertation because of these difficulties.

The Fieldhouse itself was easy (no 13), it is marked on current maps and the listed building records confirm that the house was built in the 1750s. Some fields that were enclosed and first granted by the Lord in 1788 were described well enough for me to work out their location relative to roads and adjoining property (nos 1-7). Descriptions referring to ancient field names that so not appear on any maps are more difficult, but I managed to find an archaeological report that gave approximate locations for a few names like Kitchen Meadow, Long Meadow and Wallfields. So I could approximate the locations of land (the rest of the nos on the map) with descriptions like the following example:

“three pieces of land called the Halfmoon Hills containing about sixteen acres two pieces of land adjoining called the Wallfields containing about eight acres and Meadow called the Kitchen Meadow containing about six acres and one Meadow called Long Meadow containing about four acres and one close adjoining called Ollerpiece containing about two acres in Upper Clent”

Winden Field is a place name that occurs frequently in the manorial court records, but I do not know where it was. It is thought to be the name of one of the open fields dating back to the medieval farming system.

Occasionally, land descriptions refer to the tithe map. In Clent this dates to 1838 and records the landowners who were liable to pay tithes, a tax collected by the church which supported the clergy. None of the land owned by my study family is directly linked to the tithe map in the court rolls, but it may be still possible to correlate the two.

So what does all this stuff about English land records have to do with and course on American land records? Well the problems are similar and the SLIG course offers some tools applicable to land records anywhere. The Strathclyde program is biased toward Scottish research and records (it is a Scottish university!), which some think a disadvantage for English based researchers. However, I benefited from seeing how English and Scottish records differ and the comparison has deepened my understanding making me a better researcher. American records will be different again, and that is interesting.

As I am based in England the main expense of attending SLIG is the airfare. However, as RootsTech (2-4 February 2012) and APG Professional Management Conference (1 February 2012), follow a few days later, I could attend all three. Now the airfare seems a little less extravagant!

About Sue Adams: My interest in family history was ignited by the death of Raymond Coulson, a cousin of my paternal grand-mother.  Tracking down the beneficiaries of his estate got me hooked and led me on to research the tales passed down the generations.  The story continues …

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Blogging Contest Contest

The 2012 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy will be held from 23-27 January 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Institute is one of the premiere educational programs for genealogists in the country, sponsored by the Utah Genealogical Association.

Earlier this week, UGA announced a contest for those wishing to attend the Institute. The prize will be a waiver of tuition fees for the winner. In conjunction with this contest, I would like to also offer my own contest. (Details below.)

The official rules of the UGA Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Blogging Contest are as follows:

Step 1: Write 500 words or more on the topic of why you want to attend SLIG. Include which course you would like to take, and whether you have attended before. Please include the link http://www.slig.ugagenealogy.org when referring to SLIG’s website.

Step 2: Post a link to your blog post on the UGA/SLIG Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/ugagenealogy) before midnight (Mountain Time) on Saturday, October 15, 2011. If you are not on Facebook please send an email to susanbankhead@msn.com and we will post the link on Facebook for you.

Step 3: The winner will be randomly chosen using http://www.randomizer.org, and announced via our Facebook page on Sunday, October 16, 2011.

In conjunction with this contest, I would like to offer the following contest:

  1. For those who might be interested in entering this contest, write your contest entry (see the above instructions), and email it to me at michael.hait@hotmail.com by 8pm Eastern on Friday, 14 October 2011.
  2. I will be the sole judge and will choose the entry that I think is the best.
  3. The winning post will be posted as a guest post on this blog (and therefore also read by many new readers) shortly after this contest ends. I will post the link to Facebook for you.
For more information on the SLIG Blogging Contest, see their blog post at http://ugagenealogy.blogspot.com/2011/10/slig-blogging-contest.html.
Good luck!
 
UPDATE: Just to clarify, if you already have a blog of your own, you can enter the SLIG Blogging Contest yourself. I will consider bloggers who have submitted their entries to my contest, but I intended my contest to allow non-bloggers a venue by which they could also enter.

Birdie Monk Holsclaw Scholarship for IGHR

The Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR), hosted by Samford University every summer in Birmingham, Alabama, is one of the most valuable educational opportunities available to genealogists. Each year, the Institute provides several courses–including several perennial favorites like the “Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis” course coordinated by Elizabeth Shown Mills and the “Writing and Publishing for Genealogists” course coordinated by National Genealogical Society Quarterly co-editor Thomas W. Jones. For more information about the 2012 offerings, visit Samford University’s official IGHR website.

In the summer of 2010, the Birdie Monk Holsclaw Memorial Fund Committee announced the establishment of an annual scholarship for attendance at the Institute. The deadline for scholarship applications is 1 October of each year.

To apply for this scholarship, applicants are asked to submit to the Committee:

  • The length of time you have been conducting genealogy research;
  • The name of the IGHR course you plan to attend;
  • In 500 words or less, a description of how participation in this course will benefit you;
  • In 250 words or less, tell us about yourself;
  • A letter of recommendation from another genealogist.

For full details, see http://www.cocouncil.org/documents/BirdieIGHR.pdf.

Remember – the deadline for this year’s scholarship is only about a week away!

APG Events at the FGS Conference

The 2011 national conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies will be held in Springfield, Illinois, next week, from 7 September through 11 September 2011. For more information, visit http://www.fgs.org/2011conference/.

The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) has scheduled several events to take place at the FGS Conference:

  • Tuesday, September 6, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Annual Meeting & Roundtable. Rendezvous Room, Hilton Hotel. J. Mark Lowe, moderator of group discussion, “Those Difficult Situations…how do I come out smelling like a rose?”
  • Friday, September 9, 8:15-noon, APG Board meeting. Plaza 3, Hilton Hotel. APG members are welcome. Please let Kathleen Hinckley know if you plan to attend so seating can be arranged.
  • Friday, September 9, 12:15–2:00 p.m., APG Luncheon and Awards Presentations. Luncheon presentation by Kenyatta D. Berry, “Discovering a Genealogical Treasure Trove with A.B. Caldwell.”
  • Friday, September 9, 2:00-3:00 p.m., APG PMC. “The Small Business Administration and the Transitional Genealogist” by Mary Clement Douglass.
  • Friday, September 9, 3:30-4:30 p.m., APG PMC. “Developing Genealogical Skills: Mentoring from Novice to Expert” by Melinde Lutz Sanborn.
  • Saturday, September 10, 8:00–10:30 a.m., PMC Workshop, “Think Like a Targeted Marketer: One Marketing Plan Does NOT Fit All” by Natasha Crain.

Updated on 9/5/2011:

When the initial message was sent, one event was inadvertently omitted from the schedule of events:

  • Friday, September 9, 5:00 p.m., PMC presentation, “Apps Galore for the Professional Genealogist” by Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG.

IGHR 2011 Registration, Orientation, and ProGen Study Group meetup

Several hundred genealogists have once again descended upon Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, for the annual Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research.

Sunday, 12 June 2011, was registration and orientation day. It was also, for many of us, a day to meet up with friends that we only know online, or that we have not seen since last summer. This includes those of us who are either currently members or alumni of the 18-month ProGen Study Groups. I myself am a recent alumnus, completing the ProGen 5 course several months ago.

After the orientation, the ProGen members, alumni, coordinators, and mentors gathered in Beeson Hall, the building just next to the Cafeteria. There were about 46 of us here this year, spread over thirteen ProGen groups!

Class begin tomorrow.

ProGen Study Groups, IGHR 2011

photo courtesy of Angela McGhie

Events at IGHR – 12 through 17 June 2011

The Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR), held annually at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, will begin this Sunday, 12 June. While the courses available at this Institute are definitely top-notch, there are other events being held throughout the week. The other events include at least two “meetups” for genealogy groups and lectures Monday through Wednesday evenings after dinner.

Take a look at the following calendar to immerse yourself even deeper into the world of genealogical learning and networking that only a week-long Institute can provide!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

ProGen Study Group Meetup, immediately following orientation (approx. 7:00pm), Brock Forum, Dwight Beeson Hall

Monday, 13 June 2011

GeneaBloggers Meetup, during dinner, 4:00-6:00 p.m., Cafeteria, University Center

“Google for Genealogists: Put the Power of Google Earth to Work for You,” presented by Pam Sayre and Rick Sayre, 6:00-7:45 p.m., Brock Forum, Dwight Beeson Hall

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

“Certification: Procedures, Questions, and Answers,” presented by Thomas Jones and Elissa Powell, 6:00 – 7:15 p.m., Brock Forum, Dwight Beeson Hall

“Writing a Narrative Family History: Essential Considerations and Sample Works,” presented by John Colletta, 6:00 – 7:15 p.m., Auditorium, Brooks Hall

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

“What Do I Do With All this Stuff? Mission: Organization,” presented by Ann Staley, 6:00 – 7:15 p.m., Brock Forum, Dwight Beeson Hall

“Genealogical Wikis: A Personal and Customizable Research Tool,” presented by Paul Milner, 6:00 – 7:15 p.m., Auditorium, Brooks Hall

Thursday, 16 June 2011 — Banquet

“What? It’s Not in Salt Lake City?” presented by David E. Rencher, 6:30 p.m., Cafeteria, University Center

Throughout the week, Heritage Books will be selling many of the best genealogy books from both its own catalog and other publishers, in the University Center. Be sure to visit their bookstore and see what you can find!

How do people learn, and how should we teach?

As genealogical lecturers, we should be aware of two factors: what our audience wants, and what our audience needs.

In order to understand what our audience wants, all we have to do is ask them, and listen to what they tell us.

However, to understand what our audience needs, it is important to understand a little bit about how people learn. This is a relatively new field of research, employing both brain biologists and psychologists. There are numerous theories about how the brain works, and researchers still openly admit how little is actually known. Yet strides are being made.

Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant affiliate with the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University, published the New York Times bestseller, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School in 2008. This book outlines 12 “Brain Rules” that discuss various aspects of the brain that are currently known, and how these can be applied to our daily lives.

These twelve rules are summarized on the Brain Rules website:

  • EXERCISE – Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.
  • SURVIVAL – Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too.
  • WIRING – Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently.
  • ATTENTION – Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
  • SHORT-TERM MEMORY – Rule #5: Repeat to remember.
  • LONG-TERM MEMORY – Rule #6: Remember to repeat.
  • SLEEP – Rule #7: Sleep well, think well.
  • STRESS – Rule #8: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
  • SENSORY INTEGRATION – Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses.
  • VISION – Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.
  • GENDER – Rule #11: Male and female brains are different.
  • EXPLORATION – Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers.

The Brain Rules website contains quite a bit of information, including the Introduction to the book, Chapter Summaries, References, a blog, and several supplemental videos and SlideShare presentations. All of the information can help to inform us both on how we ourselves learn, and how we can teach others effectively.

There is even one presentation included on the site that is specifically designed for this purpose: “Brain Rules for PowerPoint presenters.” The presentation carries the additional credibility of being designed by presentation expert Garr Reynolds, author of the absolutely essential book, Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery. Garr’s philosophies on presentation use much of what Dr. Medina espouses, and the presentations are highly effective.

In other words,

Understanding how the brain works –> understanding how our audiences (and ourselves!) learn –> providing what our audiences need –> effective presentations

“Rocking” as a genealogy lecturer

Genealogy blogger Dee wrote an interesting post in her “Ancestrally Challenged” blog on Tuesday, 17 May 2011, entitled, “How to Rock as a Genealogy Lecturer.” This post is written from the perspective of a member of the audience of genealogy lectures, and tells exactly what she wants and expects from lecturers.

I would recommend that all genealogy lecturers read this post fully several times, take it to heart, and adjust your presentations. Dee’s post is typical of comments I have heard from other audience members at genealogy meetings and conferences, as well as meetings and conferences in other industries. I worked in the audio-visual field in Washington, D. C., for ten years, specifically in the field of conferences, and have had opportunity to participate behind the scenes in many conferences at the Convention Center, large conference hotels, and the National Press Club. No matter the industry or subject matter, how presenters present is crucial to the success of their mission, whether sales, persuasion, or education.

Dee’s suggestions can be summed up by her headings:

  1. Know Your Stuff
  2. Give Me What I Came For
  3. Keep Your Promises
  4. Don’t Read from the Syllabus
  5. Strike a Balance
  6. Make Time for Questions

I would recommend that all lecturers, myself included, make the conscious effort to heed these suggestions. By doing so, we will provide our audiences with exactly what they want. This will benefit both the lecturer–a good reputation is crucial to being offered more and better-paying speaking jobs–and the audience–who will be better educated by having higher quality lecturers available.

After all, as professionals, it is not our job to tell the customers what they want, but to listen to them, understand what they want, and provide it.

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