FGS Day 2

Just back from an even fuller (more full?) day at the FGS conference. Started bright and early at the FamilySearch.org Blogger’s Breakfast where they debuted some upcoming features (new catalog search functionality and ancestor pages) and then asked me and about 14 other bloggers for opinions on various FamilySearch.org initiatives. The session was well worth the early start time — thanks to FamilySearch for the invite and the free swag (a NGS DVD, USB hub, brochures, and a lovely breakfast).

The official opening session of the conference was a riot. Mark Lowe and Kent Wentworth traded jibes, jokes and stories in a fun Tennessee v. Kentucky match-up. They also shared some ideas for doing research in both states. The exhibit halls opened after the session and I think I did pretty well, only spending $20 on items when there was so much there for the taking/buying. For those curious, I bought RootsMagic4 and the guidebook as a package deal after chatting with the helpful staff at their table.

I then attended a session on tracing immigrant ancestors to their countries of origin. This session was packed full of strategies and resources to try. It gave me hope for the searches I have ahead of me for my British, Scottish and German ancestors.

After lunch with Amy Coffin, Tonia Hendricks, Tina Lyons and her husband, I headed to a two-hour session by Elizabeth Shown Mills on Southern Research Strategies, especially for tracing the stories of poor, black and female ancestors. She presented two case studies that were complex and fascinating. She used a bullseye strategy, beginning with the ancestor at their earliest known/proved place of residence, slowly working out in concentric circles by studying their family, neighbors and acquaintances to search for evidence.

After that, I reunited with Amy and Tonia and a couple of other GeneaBloggers for the Genealogy Guys Podcast taping. They took questions from the audience and provided strategies for busting through brickwalls or approaching new areas. It was a really fun session and I think could be a model for future activities — with or without the podcast aspect.

After the podcast, Amy and I headed out to Market Square (the skies had cleared!) and talked shop over yummy food. Then I departed for the East Tennessee Family History Center, which has been kind enough to extend their hours this week while we’re in town.

I have family from Carter County in East Tennessee. After talking with the ETFH folks at the exhibit hall this morning, I wanted to check out the indexes for two of their journals to see if any of my surnames were covered. When I arrived after dinner, a staff member at the reference desk mentioned that they also had compiled genealogies. I made a beeline for that room and requested the vertical files they had on the HAYES surname and paged through a Carter County scrapbook while I waited for the records to be pulled. Most of the staff I encountered were nice, but one curmudgeonly guy was obviously put out by my newbie visitor questions. Harumph right back to him.

I didn’t find any real answers on this visit because I was pressed for time before they closed, but I noted the other vertical files they have available for a future visit. I also began searching through the indexes of the East Tennessee publications in their holdings. I’m looking forward to my next visit to the area so I can follow-up on what I saw today (and may even try to play hooky from a session or two tomorrow or Saturday to do more research).

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