Monday, September 24, 2012

UGA Fall Conference Report

This past Friday and Saturday I attended the UGA Fall Conference held at the Salt Lake Community College in Sandy, UT. When I first looked at the class selections I wasn't impressed.  I didn't think there were enough deep classes to pick from. (I've been finding that problem a lot recently with genealogy conferences.) It turns out that from the selection of classes I did find some great instructors and presentations.

The Friday Keynote address was from Robert Raymond on "Miracles and Serendipity in Genealogy".  I just love hearing these great stories that just send goose bumps up your spine.  Robert did a fantastic job.

I also attended two classes by Robert Raymond on "Baby Steps with Sources and Citations" and "Baby Steps with Evidence Analysis". Earlier this year I had attended Robert's Baby Step classes at the S. Davis Family History Fair. Robert told me he had reorganized the classes and instead of 5 or 6 classes it was down to 2. I just had to check them out. What I noticed missing was the maturity level selection for each section. Figuring out my maturity level previously really got me thinking about how I needed to improve. So this new format was a toss up for me. Great presentation, lots of info, just my personal interaction was gone. If I hadn't seen it the other way before I would have never missed them in this new version.

There were two classes from Karen Clifford that I attended, "How to Solve Research Problems" and "Pre-1850 U.S. Research Methodologies". Karen's always an excellent presenter. She has a lot of experience at it she's a college instructor on genealogy. She has written and teaches the genealogy courses offered at the Salt Lake Community College.  I need to figure out a way to take those classes. I want more depth on the subjects than what a one hour class offers.

Here are a couple of notes I made to myself during class.

1. Make sure I have all the Unique Identifiers on my ancestors - Ethnicity, Religion, Occupation, Social Status, Literacy.

2. Good older books to study: Genealogical Research Methods and Sources, The Handybook for Genealogists, and World Conference on Records Reports

3. Check out the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collection - NUMUC

4. Learn more about the Lyman Draper Manuscript Collection.

There was a dinner break at 5:00 p.m. I stayed around for the pizza party. Sadly the pizza was late, but the UGA gave it to everyone free.  That was awful nice of them. I had a nice time talking to my fellow conference goers over dinner.

After dinner I attended "Deconstructing Your Family Tree: ReEvaluating the "Evidence" by Michael Lacopo. I really enjoyed listening to Michael, but I find I didn't write any notes down.  Must have been the pizza buzz. He was very knowledgeable about his family and showed us how he evaluated each bit of evidence he found on them. I would definitely attend another class offered by him.

The last class of the day for me was Leland Meitzler - "Genealogy on the Cheap".  I can't say I learned any thing new, but I did enjoy the presentation. Leland has a lot of personality.

The second day of the conference started with a fantastic Panel Discussion - "The Cool Parts of Family History: Kids Having Fun!" with Janet Hovorka, Susanne Curley and Bret Petersen.  I have to say I wasn't to excited about the title. As I've become older I find I enjoy my quiet past-time and sharing it with a bunch of kids doesn't appeal to me. After this presentation I found out how wrong my thinking was. We really do need to sell the older generation on working with the youth.

Janet showed us how family history is cheaper than therapy.  What benefits youths get from knowing the roots they come from. She suggested that we pay them to do some jobs for us, and that will help get them hooked.  She said a lot more but that's what stuck out to me.

Susanne Curley is the director over the Riverton FamilySearch Library. They are having great success with the youth there.  She also gave some stats I found interesting.

1. There are 1.7 million records added to FamilySearch each month. We have 3 billion records now.

2. Riverton FSL had 7,777 kids visit since January 2012. That is not including the 1,200 youth that attended Youth Conference.

Riverton will let you print out a fan chart and cloud chart of your family. The fan chart compels the kids to fill in the blank spots.  The cloud chart helps them see what surnames are in the their family tree. The size of the surnames determine how many people you have by that name. Riverton is also working on installing an Oral History Recording Studio.

Susanne showed several videos of the youth at their library. You really caught the spirit of how exciting this was for them. They are doing great things at the Riverton FamilySearch Library.

Bret Petersen was the final panelist and he showed us how he has worked with the youth, including his daughter.  I really liked the way he described genealogy to kids.  He showed a picture of a cut tree trunk and it's rings.  Each ring was a generation going back. Each ring made up the tree and made it strong.  That's what knowing about your family history and where you come from does for you.

Bret showed a video with his daughter using the Hello Photo iPad app by placing a negative on the screen. Then with a smart phone camera she would take a picture.  The negative was turned to a positive and you could view the photo.  His daughter would then show the pictures to her grandparents and they would tell her who that was in the family.  It was really neat.

After the keynote panel discussion I attended Barry Ewell's class "The 30 Second Genealogist - How to Find Genealogy Answers You Want Now (MyGenShare).  He demonstrated his new website MyGenShare.  Showing us how to go through the site and what types of materials you can find there.  I already have a subscription, and really love the books there. Seriously you need to go take a look at the books you can read on the website. I figured I saved money by getting a subscription instead of purchasing copies that I have no room for in my house. Most of what he taught in class could be learned by watching the tutorials on the website. He did tell us some great things to come but told me I couldn't blog about it yet.

The second class of the day I attended Alice Volkert's "Record Keeping Methods". The class was focusing on keeping paper and I wanted something on digital record keeping and online forms. So it wasn't a fit for me. Sometimes that just happens.  I left the class to find something different to learn.

Shelle Morehead's class on "Finding and Using Manuscript Collections" sounded good.  Boy, was I sorry I didn't get to hear her full presentation.  She is an electric speaker, full of pep and energy.  She really knows her subject.  Once again I heard about NUMUC I really need to check that site out.

The next class I attended was by Warren Bittner - "Complex Evidence - What is it, How it Works, Why it Matters".  All I can say is WOW!  I've never attended any of his classes before.  He is so knowledgeable and has a very logical teaching method. He took us through the steps on how he compiled indirect evidence on who the parents and family were for an individual.  The journey took us through city directories, maps, census, church records, death certificates, etc. What a masterful job.

Warren said there are two different types of genealogists. Those that read the "National Genealogical Society Quarterly" and those that do not.  He made me want to be a genealogist that reads the NGS Quarterly. He also made me want to take SLIG classes, because he is one of their instructors.

He also suggested that we read "Numbering Your Genealogy" found in the NGS Store. He mentioned that none of the genealogy program's register style reports follow the correct numbering system. I would like to see how RootsMagic measures up to this. Someone in the class mentioned that NEHGS has a template for the register report but I couldn't find it.

The last class I attended was Valerie Elkins "Finding Your Family Stories".  She did such a great job explaining how to take the information we have and make a story out of it.  It's the stories that really touch those not normally interested in genealogy. I need to do a better job writing up a story on my families.

My report on the UGA Fall Conference would not be complete if I did mention the popcorn. Vendors were offered a discount on their booths if they would sponsor an activity. This was to help encourage family members to attend.  RootsMagic had an old time photo booth. Gosh now I won't remember the names of who did what. One vendor had you look for clues by following a map and if you found all the answers you got a prize. Another vendor had popcorn, which was very popular. Family ChartMasters had a fun game where you drew a card and then had to figured out the relationship on a family chart.  There was also a room for younger children to play a few games. It looked like fun.

So that ended my UGA Fall Conference experience. Overall I had a great time and learned more about me and what I need to do to became a better genealogist. That is the true measure of success.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

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