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CSG News: 02.28.2017

NERGC? WHAT’S A “NERGC?” or WHY ATTEND GENEALOGY SEMINARS AND CONFERENCES

NERGC? WHAT’S A “NERGC?”

or

WHY ATTEND GENEALOGY SEMINARS AND CONFERENCES

Why should you attend genealogy seminars and conferences? I just happen to have a few reasons for you to ponder! So, let’s get started.

·      YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW - It would appear to some that there must be an end to genealogical education. You’ve learned good search habits to use on Ancestry.com. You may use any of the many library editions available to you or perhaps you have your own subscription.  You know the difference between various types of records. And you’ve had some success at piecing together you family’s story. But there’s that inevitable “brick-wall.” Frustration ensues and you’ve come to the end of the line. Should you pack it in or should you look for answers somewhere else? Just reading the titles of the presentations and the speakers at various conferences could be a tremendous help. Are you researching Irish ancestors? Polish? Caribbean? Chinese? You are sure to find these subjects covered somewhere. Of course, the conference you want may be out of reach for many people. Many conferences, such as RootsTech, leave videos of their presentations on line to view for a limited time. You won’t be able to access everything as the “premier” programs would be restricted either by conference management or the nature of the contract with the speaker. All, and I mean all, subjects can be found at most of these gatherings. From pedigree charts to DNA triangulation; whatever is your need.

·      NETWORKING -  There are hundreds or even thousands of like-minded people who attend these conferences. And 99.9% are required to wear name badges. Glance over and see someone who is from Minnesota or Canada and just strike up a conversation. I’d say that genealogists relish the opportunity to speak to a living person after spending so much time seeking out the dead! Who can you find? Well, if it’s a RootsTech affair, there are usually over 30,000 people from all over the world in attendance! You should be able to find a new friend in a group that size. But 30,000, at least to me, is a mind-boggling number of people to deal with. Local or regional conferences are usually much smaller, easy to navigate, and your next best friend might be attending as well. You just haven’t met them yet.

·      SPECIALTIES – What are you looking for? DNA? I can vouch for the fact that DNA is probably the single most sought out subject. From the basics to genome matching, it’s out there. Or how about 17th century Scottish records? Finding the women in your family? For the most part, women change their names with every generation. Sometimes, as in early 20th century and earlier, when the husband died, the obituary simply reads “…survived by his wife, Mrs. J. T. Smith…” The obit then goes on to name the children. But what was her name? There are ways to flesh them out of the paperwork. How about land records, deeds, property transfers, marriage intentions and marriage certificates, adoption, guardianship petitions, immigration, naturalization, court records, genealogy and the law, writing up your research, applying for certification or perhaps, a lineage society. It’s one thing to find the records and quite another thing to learn how to glean all the data out and make sense of it all.  Just about any subject you can think of can probably be found at one conference or another.

·      SYLLABUS – Every conference you attend will provide syllabi of every presentation. They will contain a synopsis of the material from every speaker and their presentation. Printed copies or electronic copies are generally available for a fee. More often than not, a syllabus can be downloaded from the internet either a few days before the event or certainly when you get home. I strongly advise springing for a printed copy. I like to carry them around for note-taking. It’s hard to take notes on a thumb drive that can’t be edited. The thumb-drive or CD syllabus has its uses. For example, there will probably be hundreds of websites listed and it’s easier to click on a link in an electronic version rather than having to copy the URL out of the printed book.

·      WORKSHOPS – Workshops are a more intense version of a presentation and allow for easier interaction with the speaker. Again, there are a wide variety of subject matter available depending on the conference. And seating will be limited. If there’s a workshop you’re interested in attending, register early! True, they may be a little more intense than sitting, listening and taking notes, but what you take away from a workshop will be vastly more detailed and will “stick” with you longer.

·      GET YOU OUT OF THAT RUT – Here’s what happens to every genealogist at every level: They get bored because they’re always doing the same type of research day in and day out. Conferences can shake you out of your habits, get you to look at things in a new and different way. Talking with like-minded people, you’ll be exchanging your stories and glories. Much of that will help you broaden your thinking so that when you get home, you can take another look at all you’ve done and, perhaps, get you off on a more productive path.

·      EXHIBIT HALL – At first you might say, “That’s something I don’t want to bother with.” But I’m here to advise you that you should spend some time with the venders of a wide variety of products or be introduced to genealogical societies that may spark your interest. Let’s say you have family who migrated to New York State (or should I say the “Black Hole” of research) in the mid-19th century. You might already know that you have to be some kind of magician to turn up anything useful. There’s a pretty good chance, especially on the east coast, that there will be either a New York specialist or a genealogical society from New York who can empathize with your predicament and advise you in what direction you should go. There are also books and various gazetteers of many states including New York that can provide you with very useful information.

Conferences can get expensive. I get it! But everyone who is researching at any level will benefit from attending at least one at least once in a while!

Speaking of that one conference you should experience, the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium’s conference (NERGC) is coming to Springfield this year. There’s still plenty of time to register for the conference itself, various luncheons and banquets with keynote speakers, sign up for a history tour of some of the more interesting places in the Pioneer Valley, perhaps win a door prize! I know of one vendor who is offering a few cash prizes ranging up to $4,000! It’s easy to sign up. See www.nergc.org which has the “Register Now” link right on the front page. Interested in volunteering? Email Mary Choppa at mchoppa@myfairpoint.net.  See you there!

 

Dave Robison

CSG Board of Governors




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