Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Springfield Illinois – Part One

I had the great pleasure to attend the FGS Conference in Springfield Illinois from September 6-10th. I have been playing catch up since I got home so this is a little late. I went down with Louise St. Denis and Susanna de Groot from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.

We drove down to Springfield on the Tuesday and arrived just as the blogger reception hosted by FamilySearch began. I had an invitation to this event and was warmly greeted by everyone.

They announced the opening of registration for the Rootstech Conference to be held in Salt Lake City from February 2-4, 2012. You can sign up for early registration here and it costs $129 until November 30th when the price goes up to $189. Rootstech 2012 sounds like it is going to be better than this year.

They have launched a new database for Civil War Era Records.

They also talked about Field Express where they take images from digital cameras and put them straight on the web. These images can be browsed but are not indexed. The turn around time for this is about four weeks but they are trying to streamline it to two weeks.

This type of operation has a lower cost and by putting images directly online means we do not have to wait to have the index created by volunteers before we can view the images.

If you have some spare time you might want to consider volunteering for the FamilySearch indexing project.

FamilySearch are increasing the number of images that are captured in the field. In 2011 they have published nearly ten million and they hope to double this number by the end of the year.

Family History Archives is going to replace the Brigham Young University’s database of genealogy and family history books. It is in beta at the moment and you can access it on the FamilySearch Labs site.

There is a new search engine that is easier to use and more powerful. The site will include all the previously scanned material and will be uploading new and previously unavailable material.

On Wednesday we toured Springfield and visited everything Lincoln. We visited his house, his tomb and the Presidential Museum. The Presidential Museum had a wonderful production highlighting aspects of his life and presidency. The bombs during the Civil War section really made your teeth rattle.

They also had a production that looked at the ghosts that can be found in material held by archives. Unless you go into the archives to search the material these ghosts and their stories will remain forever silent.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

The Scottish Family History Workshop with Chris Paton

I had the great pleasure of attending the Scottish Family History Workshop hosted by the Canadiana Department of the North York Central Library and the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

There were three speakers at the workshop: Chris Paton, Marian Press and James F.S. Thomson. Marian and James are excellent speakers and I had heard them speak on many occasions. Chris Paton had travelled from Scotland to present four lectures to the enthusiastic Toronto audience.

The audience members were not just from Toronto. I had travelled from Oakville and met others from Kingston and other parts of the province. Many of us knew Chris from his two blogs: Scottish GENES (Genealogy News and EventS) and Chris Paton: Walking in Eternity.

Chris did two plenary lectures “The Godly Commonwealth” and “Scottish House and Land History.” The first lecture provides a history of the many variations and types of churches to be found in Scotland.

The second lecture was the one I was particularly interested in hearing and I was not disappointed. Chris kindly went through an eleven page testament record of my four times Great Grandmother. It turns out she was a feuar of land that was part of the Blythswood Estate owned by Archibald Campbell. She got the rights to the land upon her husband’s death. Thanks to Chris I now understand the land system in Scotland a little better and have lots of research to do which may mean a trip to Scotland.

I had heard Chris talk about his “The Weavers of Perth” and “There’s Been a Murder” lectures on his blog so to actually get to hear them in person was a real treat.

Let’s hope this will be the first of many visits Chris makes to Canada to present lectures.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

The Ontario Genealogical Society’s 50th Anniversary Conference

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Ontario Genealogical Society’s 50th Anniversary Conference. The conference was a buzz of activity and for me it started on the Friday morning when I presented a session called “A Brickwall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project.” There was a good turn out and that left me free for the rest of the day to attend sessions and browse the marketplace.

The marketplace was always active. Patty McGregor of Lock, Stock and Barrel sells books and ephemera. I got a small cookbook called Christmas Cookies and Candies. I am rather well known for my Christmas baking so this is a good addition to my collection. Thank you Patty.

The Archives of Ontario was well represented by Tim Sanford and Charmaine Sommerfeldt. Tim has just written a book with Patrick Richard Carstens called “Searching the Forgotten War – 1812 Canada.

The first session I attended was “Townlands, Boundaries and Barriers” by Nuala Farrell-Griffin. Nuala provided wonderful advice on working with townlands and the different boundaries within Ireland. Knowing the different jurisdictions of the townland your family originally came from in Ireland is vital to Irish research.

After lunch it was time for a little research at the Hamilton Public Library. Their Local History Archives is a great resource. You can now find a promotional film called “Portrait of a City” online. It features Hamilton as it was in the 1940s.

Jane and Kathy are always found manning the table for the Halton Peel Branch of the OGS. Kathy had gone for a walk and I stopped to chat with Jane.

The last session of the day was by Marian Press who always gives very informative lectures. This session was entitled “Wikis: Developing Genealogical Information Tools.” She inspired me to go in and create a wiki page on the Family Search Wiki. Now if I can only find the time.

In the evening I attended the Houston Lecture. This year’s presenter was Brian Gilchrist and the title was “Looking Forward by Looking Back: the changing face of genealogy and family history: 1960-2060.” His lecture was entertaining and thought provoking.

Saturday started off early with the Opening Plenary with Stephen Young speaking on “Descendancy Research: Branching Out on Your Family Tree.” After the OGS AGM the sessions started.

My first session was “Using FindMyPast.co.uk for Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors” with Paul Blake. FindMyPast was one of the sponsors of the conference. After lunch I attended “The Scots-Irish: the who, the what, the where & when” with Maggie Loughran also of FindMyPast. The last lecture of the day was another entertaining one with Nuala Farrell-Griffin called “Shhh! It’s a Secret, it’s a Locality File.” Then it was time to put my feet up before going to the Banquet where the speaker was Dick Doherty and his topic was “Serendipity: A Lighthearted Look at Genealogy.”

The next morning I presented “Maiden Aunts of the Twentieth Century: the forgotten generation of women.” This session was on the large number of women who remained single after the First World War and how they affected society, the world and your family history. I also had one of the last sessions of the day and presented “The Whys and Wherefores of Scottish Emigration” which provided some background as to why the Scots emigrated and where they went.

Then it was time for the Closing Plenary with David Obee and “Blogs, Posts, Tweets and Apps.” At the closing plenary the OGS announced a partnership with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. The first announcement was that the branches would now have the ability to hold online meetings. More items will be announced throughout the year.

The conference was a success and I am still recovering. Next years conference is being held in Kingston Ontario from June 1st to 3rd and the theme is “Borders and Bridges: 1812-2012.” See you all there.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

Ontario Genealogical Society Conference

The Ontario Genealogical Society Conference is being held May 13-15 in Hamilton Ontario. There are three days full of lectures and a marketplace.

I will be presenting three lectures at this year’s conference. “A Brick Wall Chisel: the Cluster Research Project,” “Maiden Aunts of the 20th Century: the forgotten generation of women” and “The Whys and Wherefores of Scottish Emigration.”

If you are in the area please come by and say hello.

There is still time to register and more information can be found here.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

New England Regional Genealogical Conference

I had the opportunity to attend the New England Regional Genealogical Conference from April 7th to April 10th in Springfield, Massachusetts. This was the first time I had attended this conference. The people were great and the atmosphere very relaxed. There was a good selection of speakers, lecture topics and a large marketplace.

Most of my time was spent in the marketplace as I was helping Louise St. Denis at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies booths. Sharon Murphy and Lynn Martel were also assisting Louise. While working at the booth I met Henry Worthington a reader of this blog. It is was great to meet someone who follows “The Passionate Genealogist.”

While there I got the chance to visit the Museum Quadrangle in Springfield. I had heard there was a sculpture garden with characters from Dr. Seuss and then found the four museums. What a treasure hidden in Springfield.

If you have never been to NERGC then I would suggest you think about attending their next conference in 2013 to be held in Manchester, New Hampshire.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

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