Okay, so I’ve got an hour or so before the blogger reception across the street from the conference location, which should be enough time for today’s recap. I didn’t get any photos yet; there may be a few later tonight at the blogger reception, so watch tomorrow. I was able to talk to the FamilySearch rep about what I missed on Tuesday, so there’ll be some of that in here too….
The day started a little slow, but the first event of the day, for those of us who weren’t involved in setting up booths on the show floor, was the keynote presentation. We were supposed to be able to get in and pick a seat at 8, but it took another 20 minutes before the doors were finally unlocked.
Before the main speaker took the mic, there were a few other items of business to take care of. First, an FGS rep got up and mentioned that there were over 2,000 attendees registered for the conference. When she asked for all the first time attendees to stand, about half the room stood up, and I was one of those who stood then. The model railroad conventions that I attend have had much lower attendance than that in recent years; I’ll try to pass along some of the good things that were done here to help with those too. The next speaker was the Mayor --- slight pause here as the soda that I bought for while I type this up explodes on me --- okay, I may be a little sticky from the sugar, but I’ll trudge on…
As I was saying, the next speaker was Springfield’s Mayor. The strongest impression I got from his speech was that there are a lot of historical sites nearby commemorating events related to Abraham Lincoln. He claimed that after Jesus, Lincoln is the most researched man in history. I’d like to see a few primary sources to substantiate that claim before I believe it. So after the Mayor, another FGS rep took the mic. This one mentioned that there’s a live Twitter feed showing on a large screen in the registration area showing all activity with the #FGS2011 tag. I’ll look for it tomorrow. The next statement was that there were registrants from 48 of the United States, but those 48 include Alaska and Hawaii, so I’m left to wonder which two states aren’t represented; it was never mentioned. But, they also said there were registrants from 5 other countries: Canada, England, Sweden, Israel and India.
Okay, if you haven’t heard about the FGS Preserve the Pensions project yet, where have you been? The Indiana Genealogical Society presented the FGS with a check for $24,234 to continue this effort. The War of 1812 pension images will be online and available for free on Fold3 forever (or at least that was what they announced this morning). Many images are already online there, and as more funds are donated to support the project, more images will be made available. The last FGS announcements were for distinguished service awards. I didn’t make a note of all the honorees; watch the FGS awards page for the details.
Finally, the main keynote address began. David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States was this year’s keynote speaker. After telling a couple of stories of his own genealogy research, he touted the work for the genealogy portal on the NARA website. I know that I’ll be checking out this site in more detail when I have more time. He mentioned that all of the images for the complete 1940 census population schedule, which we’re all waiting for, will be online at the NARA site as of April 2, 2012.
Once the keynote address was completed, we all marched across the street for the opening of the conference show floor. There was a mad rush at a few booths that were giving away swag and other items to the first XXX number of attendees, so like everyone else, I made my way right to those booths to get my own swag. I hung around the show floor for a couple hours looking through the various displays and spending money on yet more books, and missed the next class session that I had originally planned to attend.
After lunch, I attended three more class sessions. First, I went to “Citing Your Sources” presented by Russell Lynch. He was a very nervous speaker and his was probably the most difficult presentation to listen to for me. He did mention a few things that I thought were interesting. A few guidelines to follow in writing your source citations include: avoid abbreviations; cite sources that are missing information that you would expect to find; include a note in your citations if more research is needed; cite your sources and not your sources’ sources (cite the item that you actually see); and use “personal knowledge” as a source only for events where the owner of the personal knowledge actually witnessed the event. He also mentioned reading about a few bloggers who were upset over the Footnote to Fold3 renaming where the bloggers said they would have to go back and update all their references to use the new name. This struck me as wrong because the source citation in your references also includes the date that you accessed the site. Since Fold3 didn’t exist as Fold3 until just recently, those old references should still say Footnote, because that’s what the site was called when you accessed it.
The second session I attended was “Discovering old world origins with U.S. records” by David Ouimette. This presentation was much more lively but I’ll have to go through the conference syllabus again to read up on the topic some more. Important points mentioned in this session were: pay attention to the push and pull influences for migration; follow the people that your immigrant ancestors knew (the friends, associates and neighbors, also called the FAN Club) as well as your ancestor; check for the death records of the children of immigrants to see if they list parents’ birthplaces; join the immigrant ethnic genealogy organization for the places where your immigrant moved to.
Okay, my laptop battery is running low now, so I’ll have to wrap this up with the last session that I attended. There’s more from FamilySearch that I have to tell, but that will wait until later (maybe after dinner)…
So, the last session I attended today was “Researching your World War I ancestor” by Craig R. Scott. This was the most interesting and engaging presentation that I attended so far. A few of the important points were: check at NARA for articles that appeared in the quarterly Prologue that cover subjects related to your WWI ancestor; you will need the unit number and service number to get a lot of information; check the local courthouse where the WWI ancestor lived to see if he filed a copy of his discharge papers there; two sites to examine further include Online Military Indexes & Records and the American Battle Monuments Commission; check with the state Adjutant General’s Office for most of the U.S. states to see if there are lists of servicemen there.
More to come later…