To conference or not to conference

GLOBE wwg MINE_edited-7In the aftermath of #Congress_2018 and as Caloundra Family History Research gears up for the 2019 Queensland Conference, Waves in Time, it seemed appropriate to re-post a story I wrote for the Worldwide Genealogists a few years back in 2015. I’d be interested in your views.

To conference or not to conference?

That is indeed the question!

Over the last few months (of  2015) I have been heavily tied up with family history conferences.

DSC_2893 cropFirst it was RootsTech-FGS in Salt Lake City in February and before I knew it the triennial Australasian Congress of Genealogy and Heraldry (the equivalent of the USA’s FGS conference) had arrived.

At RootsTech-FGS I was just there to learn, hit the family history library, maybe do a blog post or two, have fun, and meet up with genimates. Congress 2015 was a little more pressured with responsibilities as one of the three official bloggers (Jill Ball aka GeniAus, and Shauna Hicks) and also because I was presenting two papers. You can meet the speakers and learn about their topics by looking at this summary by TravelGenee, Fran.

We’ve had post-Congress blog reports from many genimates (you can see a list here – thanks GeniAus) as well as a Congress review hangout by GeniAus this week with its “kiss, kick, kiss” approach.

More recently others have been hanging out at WHYTYA Live! in Birmingham.

PROs and CONs

All of which has made me think in general about the pros and cons of attending genealogy conferences and how we make the choice.

This decision differs in some ways from work-related conferences where we have to convince managers and purse-holders that our attendance will benefit us, but also the organisation, and that we will add value in some way by either presenting or reporting back to colleagues. Even if we pay for it ourselves, it becomes a tax deduction (usually).

So here’s my “five bob’s worth” (Aussie-speak for opinion) on decision-making considerations for a family history conference, whether a local, national or international one.

FINANCIAL

money imagePut simply, dollars will be the first consideration for most people. Is there even enough money in kitty to consider it at all?

The funds may be available, but what are the competing priorities or possibilities for the individual or the family? What other travel opportunities are in the mix? (See the later section, touring).

What will the person gain from attendance? How will it improve their family history research, their skills and knowledge? Will the genea-obsessive be joined by other family members?

KNOWLEDGE: SHARING & LEARNING

No matter how long we’ve been researching, whether we’re internet-driven or like to do on-site visits to libraries, archives and cemeteries etc, we will always have something we can learn from others.

Each of us develops special skills and interests, largely driven by the need-to-know basis of figuring out information relating to our ancestors. Depending on how wily they are at hiding from us, we will utilise, but also develop, brick wall strategies.

Others have suggested that it’s good to attend sessions which aren’t applicable to your own family. This doesn’t work for me simply because I don’t get many chances to attend such events as I live a long way from the hub of such activity. When I am spending significant amounts of family money on a conference I want to get maximum bang for my buck, and focus on presentations which will increase my knowledge and understanding of topics. This is why DNA talks were high on my list at RootsTech.

I also look for depth of content from speakers with a wide knowledge of their topic as well as a passion for it. Yes I’ll learn from every talk I attend, but I also want to be stretched.

Probably my key criterion to assess a presentation is whether the speaker has inspired me as well as imparting knowledge. For these speakers I will have notes which include “think about….”and maybe some mind-maps on how it might come together.

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RootsTech 2015.

In the 21st mind-set of entertainment we expect the speakers to be skilled presenters but the reality is that they may not be professional speakers, just fellow family history obsessives who want to share their passion for a topic.  We also need to cut them a little slack.

Of course all this is difficult to assess in advance, so when making your decision you can only analyse what’s been submitted in the abstracts. If there’s more than one talk per session that really interests you (as there so often is) then you should be able to get knowledge value and the option to be flexible.

There’s other opportunities for learning in the many displays by sponsors and exhibitors. What a great way to learn about new products, check them out on-site and get the advice of other researchers.

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The Expo Hall at RootsTech is quite simply mind-boggling.

SOCIALISING or NETWORKING

While this sounds a little frivolous it can play a huge role in your take-home vibe from a conference.

This is your opportunity to talk about family history for days on end without putting people to sleep or sending them running for the hills.

 Congress 2015 bloggers
Geneabloggers at Congress 2015, Canberra.
Thanks to GeniAus and Mr GeniAus for the photo.

Do you know lots of other genimates from blogging or social media? This is your chance to meet them face-to-face over coffee/lunch or an informal dinner outing. One of the benefits of blogger beads (initiated by Geneablogger guru, Thomas MacEntee and shared at Congress 2015 by GeniAus and in 2018 by GeniAus and Lone Tester) is that you can readily identify fellow bloggers and have an immediate bond.

Are you a newbie who feels they “know no one”? Conferences can be a great way to meet new people with a common interest, perhaps even new cousins. Where there’s an opportunity for research interests to be listed do take advantage of them. GeniAus did a great job with the Genimates at #Congress_2018 facebook page which made the newcomers feel welcome and the ribbons she provided made them readily identifiable. Thanks Jill!

TOURING

 bridge and opera house
Sydney Opera House and Bridge and a large cruise ship
– our immigrant ancestors would be astonished.

Perhaps not the most critical aspect of the decision-making, or is it? The venue of the conference may be a temptation in itself. I’m sure it formed a part of my decision to attend RootsTech/FGS as it meant I could visit the genealogy holy grail, the Family History Library.

Congress 2015 was held in the Australian capital, Canberra, which was certainly a temptation with the National Library, Archives, Australia War Memorial, old and new Parliament house and other wonderful research and touring opportunities. Congress  2015 social events were held at the AWM and Parliament House – what a privilege!

And for those who’ve always wanted to visit Australia, perhaps Congress 2018 is something to put on the bucket list? It’s being held in Sydney, perhaps our most well-known city with its spectacular harbour, Opera House and Bridge. Appropriately the Congress theme is “Bridging the Past and the Future”. Judging on the reactions of the overseas visitors to Sydney, it was a popular choice for Congress 2018.

Informal Survey – HAVE YOUR SAY

During a final-day Congress 2015 panel session led by GeniAus, Josh Taylor mentioned that perhaps the term “society” is out of date for younger potential genealogists. Do you agree? Are you a member of a family history/genealogy/local history society?

Also I wonder if the word “genealogy” continues to fully reflect how we refer to what we do. What is your preferred term when you tell people about your hobby obsession? Is it genealogy or family history?

What other things do you consider when you make a choice about attending a family history conference?

Have you been to conferences locally or nationally? Were they of benefit? Have you changed your views over the years?

It would be great to hear your views and comments! Congress 2021 is still under debate, and who knows, your comments might help inform the future.

Exploring the Expo Hall at RootsTech/FGS

A quiet Expo Hall...for now.

A quiet Expo Hall…for now.

I’ve done the serious and the sightseeing… now it’s time for a quick synopsis of my explorations of the Expo Hall.

Last week I mentioned how the bloggers had a privileged tour of the Hall before Thursday’s Keynote Speeches. From then on it was busy, busy. I had looked at many of the companies’ websites, prepared a checklist, and highlighted a map of booths I didn’t want to miss and that worked well.

Find My Past and the Irish

I confess I didn’t spend time listening to the mini-presentations in the Expo Hall as there never seemed to be enough time. I do have membership with most of the big geneaproviders so have a good idea of where they’re at. However I did come along to hear the Find My Past speaker telling us what they were planning for Irish records, and let me tell you, they will have us dancing jigs when they arrive. I’ve been with FMP since way back, and totally enamoured of their recent Friday releases. It’s plain they don’t intend letting their game down.

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Here is a copy of the slide which they showed listing upcoming Irish resources in coming months (and yes, I did ask permission to use it). Just imagine what might be in there for the Irish diaspora.

Loved their badges with Kiss me, my ancestors were Irish/English/Scottish/Immigrants etc.

Quirky but enlightening

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Nancy Douglas from WriteMeaning.

Nancy Douglas from WriteMeaning.

I had Write Meaning on my checklist and was lucky enough to find Nancy Douglas free, thanks to a mistake I made with scheduling. Nancy gave me a specific piece of text to handwrite in cursive, plus a couple of images to draw (I am so not an artist). She then analysed my writing and drawings using her experience as a certified handwriting analyst. Initially I was a bit nervous but the experience was very positive, though with a couple of family surprises. It was well worth my $US20 investment. The business also offers the opportunity to have your ancestor’s writing analysed which I think would be both fun and helpful – just need to find something I am certain they personally wrote…for those who could write.

Thanks Nancy for a fascinating interview.

Education

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Tahitia McCabe who was representing the Uni of Strathclyde.

I wanted to look at three stands: Board for Certification of Genealogists, the University of Strathclyde, and the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. I know friends who are doing NIGS units but no one so far who’s doing Strathclyde’s program. At present I’m not in a position to commit to any of these – family obligations – but I will be giving them some serious thought.

I was also interested in the Association of Personal Historians – another to consider.

DNA

I decided to purchase an Ancestry DNA kit while I was in the Expo Hall and have returned it, as I believe we can’t yet get them opin Oz. Apparently the results will be ready in 6-8 weeks. It will be interesting to see how it compares with my Family Tree DNA tests. I hope it was worth the sacrifice of not buying that nice coat from Macy’s <smile>.

You can read what I wrote about my RootsTech/FGS genetic genealogy learning here on the Worldwide Genealogy blog.

StoryWorth

Hope and team from Story Worth.

Hope and team from StoryWorth.

Of course I’ve already mentioned StoryWorth and what a pleasure it was to meet the team, especially Hope with whom I’d been in email contact. I’ve got my other half signed up with their program. I think it’s an easy way to get answers to questions in bite-sized chunks.

Books and resources

Foolishly I didn't write down this young lady's name, though I did ask if I could publish her photo.

We had a good chat with Laura and I got her permission to use this photo. Thanks Laura!

I promised myself “no books”, after all I’m trying to declutter, but there were a few I couldn’t resist. I bought Zapping the Grandma Gap (Janet Hovorka), Mind Maps for Genealogy (Ron Arons), and Maureen Taylor’s Family Photo Detective. I could have bought the latter as an e-book but my photo books are among my most-used resources so I went for a hard copy.

I just had to check out Eneclann which publishes great Irish books and CDs, more and more of which are available as downloadable e-books once purchased.

Genimates

Lisa Louisa Cooke from Genealogy Gems was on my visiting list and she kindly agreed to be photographed with me. I had already been to a couple of sessions she presented.

Of course I had to visit with Alan and Alona at Unlock the Past Cruises.

Flying the flag at Unlock the Past Cruises.

Flying the flag at Unlock the Past Cruises.

The Media Hub was in the midst of the Expo activity and there always seemed to be a genimate to wave to. Thanks Thomas MacEntee for my fab ribbons!

And the (free) Soda Fountain had great lemonade to wet one’s whistle, and was always popular.

Fun

DSC_3128 editOne of the American traditions, which doesn’t happen in Australia, is the supply of ribbons and buttons to add to one’s bling. It might look a bit silly from the outside but is good fun.

The Geneabloggers’ beads, provided in 2015 by Dear MYRTLE and Cousin Russ, got comments from lots of people and made it easy to identify fellow bloggers. I was surprised how small a drop we were in the ocean of attendees. I was tickled to bits when a coincidental conversation revealed the lady had read my Worldwide Genealogy post thanks to Randy Seaver’s Best of the Geneablogs 18-24 January 2015.

The Aussies contributed their own bling to the event with people taking Aussie stickers, koalas, tourist pins, and pens/keyrings with Aboriginal patterns. The recipients were really surprised and enjoyed sharing a bit of Down Under.

All over, red rover

That’s a wrap from me for Roots Tech. There’s so much more I could share but other commitments are calling. Don’t forget to check out the RootsTech Video Archive and consider purchasing a couple of FGS audio recordings (click through the 51 options). I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Randy Seaver, blogger extraordinaire at Genea-Musings, is keeping, and updating, a consolidated list of all blog posts relating to this record-breaking event. Thanks Randy for making it so much easier for us all to check our people’s experiences and learn from them.

It was such a lot of fun, especially catching up with my genimates, and meeting new ones.

Incidental Sightseeing Part 2: Salt Lake City

After my intense post this morning on ethics, genealogists and conferences, I hope you enjoy the light relief from my about-town photos of Salt Lake City.

The Zions First National Bank is such a pretty building. I'd have liked a better shot, but time was short and traffic was tricky.

The Zions First National Bank is such a pretty building. I’d have liked a better shot, but time was short and traffic was tricky.

This awning on a semi-derelict building near the Hilton Hotel kept catching my eye.

Check out the faces framing the awning.

Check out the faces framing the awning.

They make 'em big in the USA.

They make ’em big in the USA. My friend Sharn is dwarfed by this Ford 150.

We had a lovely meal at PF Chang's and met up with Linda Robbins and hubby.

We had a lovely meal at PF Chang’s and met up with Linda Robbins and hubby. Linda writes at http://hollingsworthrobbinsfamilytree.blogspot.com.au/

Salt Lake Temple in Temple Square.

Salt Lake Temple in Temple Square.

Collage of mountain scenery.

Collage of mountain scenery.

I made these two collages with Pic Collage, having been shown it by my new friend Laurie from Confuse the Dead (and also an FGS Ambassador). Thanks Laurie, it was as easy as you said, and good fun as well. I now have it on the iPad and the smart phone.

Socialising in Salt Lake.

Socialising in Salt Lake was interspersed with serious research and learning.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little detour from serious genealogy.

 

Ethics, Genealogists and Conferences

Ethics and equity and the principles of justice do not change with the calendar.
(DH Lawrence) from http://www.brainyquote.com/

family-history-back-to-basicsSometimes we need to be reminded that this genealogical passion of ours isn’t just about vacuuming up as many names, dates and data as we can track down, wherever we find them. We are also obligated to act responsibly, with respect for family (especially living family), ownership of information, and with accountability to those who share their expertise with us.

With the upcoming AFFHO Congress in Canberra, all attendees need to become mindful and informed of ethical standards which should guide our family history research and how we disseminate it. Let’s get back to basics with these issues.

One of the earliest sessions I attended at FGS/RootsTech was one entitled The Ethical Genealogist, by highly regarded speaker Judy Russell – click to see an interview with her by James Tanner of Genealogy’s Star blog. (Although her session wasn’t video-taped, you can purchase the audio-recording here for $US10).

I’d never heard Judy speak before, though I follow the wisdom she shares on her blog, The Legal Genealogist. Only minutes into the presentation it was obvious that her excellent reputation was entirely deserved…she’s an engaging and informative speaker. Aussie genealogists who are planning on taking the 11th Unlock the Past Cruise from New Zealand to Australia will have the joy of hearing her present.

Anyway, back to my theme. Straight up Judy mentioned that it was okay to take photos for social media (at least that’s what I wrote down). Blind Freddy could work out that she didn’t mean take snaps of every single one of her slides and share the whole content. What’s happened subsequently, for her and other speakers, has caused something of firestorm which is pertinent to any conference we attend, whether wearing our genealogy hats or others.

Image purchased from Shutterstock.com

Image purchased from Shutterstock.com

Judy captured the essence of ethics in the playground rules we learnt in kindergarten:

  • tell the truth
  • play nice
  • don’t tell tales.

I’m not going to elaborate on these here – I think they’re pretty self- evident though Judy’s nuanced discussion of them certainly wasn’t elementary. However, when in the 21st century, with the avalanche of interest in genealogy some of these golden rules seem to have been lost.

I’ve mentioned before in my blog posts, that we should always, always ASK for permission to use someone else’s content, research or images. We should always, always ACKNOWLEDGE the other person’s research (whatever form it takes). I’ve certainly had photos from my website siphoned off and attached to family trees, without either of these happening, despite the copyright notice across the photo.

Image created in Microsoft Office Word.

Image created by Pauleen Cass in Microsoft Office Word.

Just recently, I also found a blog post I’d written (of which I was rather proud) for World Wide Genealogy, “happily” conjoined with a genea-product promotion on LinkedIn. I was NOT a happy camper because in my opinion it inferred that the post belonged to the product-owner. Carelessness or contrivance? Only weeks later the same thing happened with other genimates’ posts. Needless to say this was not a booth I visited in the Expo Hall at RootsTech – the product may be useful but I voted with my feet, and my wallet! Mind you, if the same person had been working I’d have been tempted to shame-job them by visiting.

stop-is-it-yours-ask-acknowledge

Image created with keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

It seems to me that too many of us are getting so absorbed with a belief in entitlement, with the justification that “I’m just sharing”, that we happily forget it’s not actually ours to share, and furthermore when we’ve signed up for programs we’ve specifically stated we will not abuse our membership in this way. These presentations, papers, slides, photos do NOT belong to us. After all if a person works making a chair, for example, we don’t think it’s okay to simply walk off with it and share it with our mates. Why? Because it’s the person’s income stream and also it’s THEFT. Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s no defence.

391 ethical dilemmasBack in February 2015 on the 4th Unlock the Past cruise, Jill Ball aka GeniAus hosted an Ethics Panel which was very interesting. One of the questions was around photographing every slide in a presenter’s talk. The panel was universal in believing this was a breach of their copyright. We have regularly bemoaned that we didn’t tape this session.

There have been some excellent posts written post-RootsTech, which ought to be high on our compulsory reading list.

Credit and Copyright by Judy Russell

Copyright and the Genealogy Lecture by Judy Russell

More Genealogy Copyright Issues by Michael Leclerc on the Mocavo blog.

Genealogy’s Star: James Tanner regularly posts on similar issues, based on his legal experience.

You can read the AFFHO Ethics standards here.

For further reading you might want to look at the following sites referenced by Judy Russell as providing standards for genealogists:

Board for Certification of Genealogists– Standards

Association of Professional Genealogists – Ethics

Thanks Judy Russell for your knowledge, commitment and discernment in raising our performance standards as genealogists and family historians.

Incidental Sightseeing Part 1: Salt Lake City

When you have less than a week to fit in four conference days, three visits to the Family History Library, and lots of socialising, there’s not much time left for actual sightseeing. I notched up some distance to-ing and fro-ing and along the way took shots that caught my eye. Here are some of them. My SLR is playing up at present so I took these with my phone camera.

View from my hotel room - isn't it pretty?

View from my hotel room – isn’t it pretty?

One of the entrances to the City Creek shopping mall...just up the road.

One of the entrances to the City Creek shopping mall…just up the road.

The creek which runs through the shopping complex.

The creek which runs through the shopping complex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just love fairy lights when it's wintertime overseas. These were a mix of white and yellow.

I just love fairy lights when it’s wintertime overseas. These were a mix of white and yellow.

Looks like it belongs in France to me.

Looks like it belongs in France to me.

Now THAT's an Apple shop!

Now THAT’s an Apple shop!

Abravnel Hall, Centre for the Arts. I liked the sun on the red art work and the rather Expo-ish street art.

Abravnel Hall, Centre for the Arts. I liked the sun on the red art work and the rather Expo-ish street art.

The impressive entry to the Salt Palace Convention Centre - site of RootsTech and FGS.

The impressive entry to the Salt Palace Convention Centre – site of RootsTech and FGS.

Liked this quirky construction.

Liked this quirky construction framed by the mountains.

I was surprised how quiet the streets were in SLC. You can see the Trax arriving in the centre of the road.

I was surprised how quiet the streets were in SLC. You can see the Trax arriving in the centre of the road.

Do join me for Part 2 of my Incidental Sightseeing tomorrow.

Congress 2015 meets RootsTech/FGS

DSC_2845My genimate Jill Ball (GeniAus) was generous enough to invite me to participate in an interview with Congress 2015 speaker, Josh Taylor at the combined RootsTech/FGS conference in Salt Lake City. It was my first experience of being interviewed, and interviewing, in a proper sound booth so that was fun…and slightly intimidating at first. Jill will be sharing the Josh Taylor video on her blog in the near future, so I won’t share any spoiler info with you.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the interview Jill and I did at RootsTech.

Josh Taylor’s RootsTech presentation: Tech tools

However, I did want to whet your enthusiasm further for Congress by sharing Josh’s online RT/FGS conference presentation about “30 pieces of tech I can’t live without”. I wonder how many of them you use and what you (and I) will try after viewing the video?

One of the things I like about the blogisphere is the sharing of tools, tips and techniques we use for our genealogy – so many of Josh’s tips were among my favourite tech tools. Having said that, there were quite a few other tools I want to try: mood board, flipboard, reddit, trello, some WordPress widgets, snag it and Archive Grid. Oh, and wouldn’t a Hovercam be nice <smile>, As Josh says himself, you have to choose the ones that work for you. I especially enjoyed his comment about why you save five minutes in a library – I could certainly relate to that <hint – about the 8 minute mark>.Tegxedo cloud

What I particularly like about listening to Josh is that he’s so passionate about his family history and he “gets” what we’re on about. I was also impressed that he mentioned JSTOR, which we can access through the National Library of Australia with our library cards – make sure you allow time in Canberra to visit the Library.

Sharing the learning online

RootsTech has some of the presentations online here and more are expected in coming days.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies has their recorded sessions available to purchase for $US10 which I think is a pretty good bargain. I’ve downloaded a couple I didn’t get to and two I did: one on long-distance membership, something of great relevance to me, and a genetic genealogy one I thought was very helpful. More about the latter on my Worldwide Genealogy post today.

Join us at Congress 2015

Congress 2015So if you’ve been feeling left out when following the Twitter, FB and G+ feeds of the 15 Aussies who went to what Jill calls “the greatest (genie) show on earth”, there’s still plenty of opportunity for you to get a taste of the experience. And of course, since you’ll be coming to Congress 2015 in just over a month, there’s lots more ahead for you, including enthusiastic keynote speaker Josh Taylor.

Jill Ball has stocked up on blogger beads for the Aussie bloggers so there’ll be plenty of fun in store, as well as all that learning.

Don’t forget you can read about all our expert speakers through their interviews on this blog and my fellow official bloggers Jill Ball and Shauna Hicks.

We’re looking forward to meeting you at Congress and renewing friendships with those we’ve met elsewhere.

 

Reviewing RootsTech 2015: The highlights

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As I sit in the lounge at LA Brisbane airport waiting for the Qantas “bus”, it seems quite surreal to think of all that has happened in the short space of a week. Let me see if I can capture the highlights for you.

MOST EMOTIONAL

Hands down this was the keynote by Vietnamese-Aussie expat, Tan Le, a former Young Australian of the Year. Her speech was a testament to the resilience and courage of her family. She spoke so evocatively of her life’s transitions and challenges and the strength and influence of family. It was also a powerful testimony to the value our refugees have brought to Australia. Her talk should be compulsory viewing in schools (and parliaments!) around the country.The live stream is here now.  You can now click here for an extract.

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On a personal note it was such a privilege to be part of her official photograph with the bloggers and ambassadors. I think she was pretty pleased to see some among Aussies among the crowd.

BIGGER THAN TEXAS

I enjoyed meeting up with Hope from StoryWorth as we'd been in touch before the conference. StoryWorth won the Innovation Challenge at RootsTech, and that's a big cheque you see behind us.

I enjoyed meeting up with Hope from StoryWorth as we’d been in touch before the conference. StoryWorth won the Innovation Challenge at RootsTech, and that’s a big cheque you see behind us.

Being a blogger as RootsTech is such a treat…we had a couple of great opportunities. One of them was being given a back-stage tour of the Expo Hall on the Opening Day, before it was open to the public. It was fantastic to have the chance to get your bearings before the cross arrived. A comment was made that RootsTech should be RootsTexas as it was now bigger even than Texas!

Imagine a conference where on one day there’s 20,000 attendees! That was the final day, family day, when the place was huge! It was also the only day I felt somewhat overwhelmed by the crowds….after all that’s about 20% of Darwin’s population in one place!

BUCKET LIST TICK

DSC_2781I guess every genealogist has a visit to the Salt Lake Family History Library on their bucket list, so it felt quite an achievement to get there. Despite spending two full days there and playing hooky from Saturday’s keynote (which I’m told was excellent) I didn’t get beyond the British floor B2. It was wonderful to be able to work through  the books I had on my list and see what I might have missed.

LOTS OF LEARNING

I made a deliberate choice to prioritise genetic genealogy talks and I now feel that I’m more confident in my understanding than I was before. Whether that holds true when I get immersed in my results remains to be seen. My commitment was demonstrated by buying an Ancestry DNA kit rather than a rather nice coat that caught my eye at Macy’s. It was a lot easier to do the test in the States and MAY give me different matches than I’ve got from my Family Tree DNA tests.

I was impressed by the professionalism, skill and knowledge of all the speakers…they were all in the 4 or 5 star range with one exception.

GENEABLOGGERS and TECH

We bloggers are so much part of each other’s genealogy lives it was surprising to see how small a drop we were in the ocean of attendees at the combined FGS RootsTech conference. However it was a quick point of connection as we recognised people from our virtual worlds. Thanks to DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ we were all bedecked in red and white beads which made recognition easier. Not to mention that the one and only Thomas MacEntee who bedecked us all with an array of ribbons.

Not all the Geneabloggers at RootsTech but a representative sample with keynote speaker . Not sure who took the photo, but thank you!

Not all the Geneabloggers at RootsTech but a representative sample with keynote speaker AJ Jacobs (on the right) . Not sure who took the photo, but thank you! As far as I know we gave each other permission to use photos at will.

Thanks to the wizardry of the RootsTech app it was easy to compare presentations and speakers – though a lot harder to get down to just one choice per session. I was annoyed that I dropped the ball with one session thinking it started on the hour, not the half hour. I used the app comprehensively to locate vendors, choose talks, and assess each talk.

INTERVIEW NEWBIE

It was a whole new experience to be in the media den, being interviewed by Jill Ball aka GeniAus along with Hilary from the UK and Tas from Sydney.

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Thanks Sharn for being out photographer outside the glass room.

Straight after that Jill and I interviewed Josh Taylor who will be speaking at Congress 2015 in Canberra. We’ll let you know when the link is online.

I really admire Jill for her courage on her first trip to RootsTech in 2011 and then going solo in the media room. You’re a trail-blazer Jill, and inspire us all.

AND THE FUN

Needless to say the week of socialising was also a ton of fun from the Commonwealth dinner on Tuesday night to the Saturday night get-together at Dear Myrtle‘s home,  where Myrt also gave us some Hangout on Air tips. Thanks to Myrt and family who made the evening, and RootsTech, so special.

Dear Myrt party hangout

A great gathering of Geneabloggers at Dear Myrtle’s home as a conference finale.

Genealogy Heaven

imageIt’s hard to believe I’m already half way through my weimageek of genealogy heaven in Salt Lake City. It’s already been so much fun meeting with Aussie geneabloggers, face-to-face meetings with overseas bloggers, social events and great learning experiences.

If that all sounds like too much fun and frivolity rest assured I spent some serious time in the genealogical holy grail, the Family History Library. Given I’ve been reading microfilms in Brisbane or Darwin that wasn’t my primary focus. Instead I opted to prepare a long list of the books held in the library, many of which can’t be found in Australia and which can’t be ordered in through the local family history centre.  With a wish list a mile long I photographed relevant segments of the books which I can digest at my leisure. I was particularly pleased to be able to read Gillespie’s book on researching Irish Local History.

I did take the opportunity to read the microfilm for the Griffith Valuation Revision Books for Courtown Harbour in my pursuit of the Callaghans who I wrote about recently. I’ll post about that in due course but not until I get home.image

I had a brief fishing expedition for one of Mr Cassmob’s ancestors in County Carlow, but the time wasn’t productive and I gave it up. We tend to think (live in hope?) that the release of the digitised Irish parish registers will solve our problems. I think we may be mistaken. This one was so faint as to be totally illegible in the relevant period. I may give it another go one day but it won’t be a quick process.

On Tuesday evening we had a Commonwealth group dinner organised by GeniAus which was great fun and I was able to have a long chat with Tessa Keogh, Hilary Gadsby, Ruth Blair, and Rosemary Morgan (sorry I can’t get links to work on the iPad so see below). There is a real sense of community among the group and such a pleasure to meet in person. Just as exciting was meeting Randy Seaver and Angel Linda in the foyer of the Hilton…isn’t the virtual world an exciting place?!

Yesterday was the start of the FGS Conference and today RootsTech commenced. My schedule has been packed and I can honestly say every speaker has been excellent. More on that anon.

You can read about my genimates on these blogs:

GeniAus: http://geniaus.blogspot.com.au

Tessa Keogh: http://www.geneabloggers.com/introduce-tessa-keoug/

Hilary Gadsby: http://genemeet.blogspot.com

Rosemary Morgan: http://londonrootsresearch.blogspot.com

Ruth Blair: http://blog.familyhistorysearches.com

Randy Seaver: http://www.geneamusings.com

Would you trust this woman? A mug shot among the microfilm stacks.

Would you trust this woman? A mug shot among the microfilm stacks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting organised for RootsTech and the FGS Conference

The geneaglobe is abuzz this weekend with planning for the combined RootsTech and (US) Federation of Genealogical Society Conferences in Salt Lake City. While the start date is still more than three weeks away, we Antipodeans will likely be heading off a little earlier. For my part I’m leaving Mr Cassmob and the Furry Feline at home minding the house and having a few days in Brisbane en route. However, on the way home it will be a very long-haul flight from Salt Lake to LA to Brisbane to Darwin, a mere 33 hours in transit. Gee I’m glad I worked that out!

So what is on my planning list? This is all a bit nitty-gritty but it seems to me we often overlook the semi-obvious. With thanks to all those who’ve gone before me, and provided advice, wisdom and mateship.

TRAVEL

Flights booked and confirmed, and ESTA permit done

Hotel booked in Salt Lake.

Travel Insurance

Patience packed…oh well, this might be a stretch.

TECH STUFF

SIM cards for smart phone & iPad.

Laptop – to take or not to take, that is the question

Cash cards if required.

An amount of US dollars to pay for transit expenses, TRAX fare etc

US adaptors and charging cords.

ID protector pockets for passport and credit cards (thanks Gail for my birthday presents).

USB and backup drive.

In-flight reading, books and podcasts on iPad…oh yes, I’m supposed to sleep.

SOCIAL MEDIA and SCHEDULING

RootsTech App downloaded and profile updated. Thanks to genimate Caitlin Gow for helping me sort out my profile picture (click on the shaded face outline then load a photo).

Add friends as they come online: there seem to be huge gaps at present.

Work out which sessions to attend: lots of competing entries for me so far between FGS and RootsTech. It would have been ideal, as mentioned elsewhere, if the schedule had included the earlier FGS start.

Book and pay for lunches and computer labs if required/desired.

Sign up for the Geneabloggers at RootsTech Facebook group (I hadn’t known this was here but am now online, thanks Heather. You do need to be a geneablogger.) It’s a great way to connect with people in advance.

Sign up with Geneabloggers’ Thomas MacEntee for your blogging beads. (Thanks to DearMYRTLE and Russ Worthington for sponsoring the beads).

Download the Salt Lake City Visitors’ Guide to iBooks or equivalent.

RESEARCH

Save relevant documents to Evernote and sync if you have a full subscription, along with travel documents.

Prepare a list of things to search in the Family History Library: I’m focusing on books rather than microfilms which I can order in here and which take a lot of time to review thoroughly.

Work out my schedule so I can fit in more visits to the library after hours.

Pray for minimal jet lag so I’m functioning on arrival <smile>.

BITS & BOBS

Aussie souvenirs.

Business cards for my blog with family names on reverse.

Badges with my family names and places.

Bubble wrap and zip lock bags, as usual.

Dilly bag featuring my blog name (from Vistaprint).

Strong muscles for all the stuff I take and collect (hah!)

I wouldn’t mind seeing an at-home game for the Salt Lake City Jazz NBA team but don’t think that they’re around…shame.

CLOTHES

Boring but necessary. I’ll be going from 25-35C (or 85-95F) to -2 to about +5F so there’s quite a change. I’m telling myself we’ve often travelled in winter so it will be fine.

Lots of layers, a pashmina or two, coat, scarves, walking boots and hat: that should cover the extras.. a challenge for someone who lives in shorts and tank tops!

My genimates Jill Ball (aka Geniaus), inaugural Aussie explorer at the first RootsTech,  and Alona Tester (aka LoneTester) have also written posts about what to take to RootsTech and similar conferences (albeit with fewer numbers)

The good thing is all this will be good preparation for AFFHO’s Congress 2015 in Canberra.

I’m looking forward to it and it will be so interesting to see conferences on a scale which are impossible in Australia.

What have I forgotten? Any thoughts?

Back to Basics 1: First Quarter 2015

tiger's tailI nearly let myself get dragged along by the tiger’s tail again with all the enthusiasm Thomas MacEntee has generated around the geneaglobe with his Genealogy Do-Over (GDO) Project.

The GDO Facebook site has been abuzz with ideas, strategies and new software suggestions. Anyone with genealogy interests can join in – you just need to ask to join the group. I’m certainly going to use some of these suggestions along with Thomas’s GDO activities.

However, as I said on my blogiversary post, I also want to go about things a slightly different way. Further reflection made me realise that some of my planned activities need to be deferred until April as they don’t fit with my commitments and priorities this quarter.family-history-back-to-basics

So MY GOALS for January to March 2015 will be:

DNA

I’ve had my autosomal test done quite a while ago and Mum gave permission for hers in 2014. My goal from testing was to learn more about my problem Irish ancestors: the McSherry/Sherry/McSharry family (northern Ireland?), the Gavins and Murphys (Kildare & Wicklow), the Furlongs (Offaly) and Callaghans (Wexford).

Recently there have been close cousin DNA matches, which certainly helps triangulate the data. However, I still feel I’m wandering in the forest with Red Riding Hood, trying to identify how to take my matches further. It may be scientifically true that we are cousins, but I want to know in which line! Not to mention the wild-card that has two cousins on my mother’s side also matching my husband’s DNA….now that’s tricky!

Objective: I’ve pencilled in lots of DNA presentations at the combined Roots Tech/FGS conferences Salt Lake City in February 2015, so I’m hoping that after that I’ll be able to move forward more accurately, and confidently.

EDUCATION and RESEARCH

There’s lots of learning opportunities ahead for me with RootsTech and FGS then only a month later is the Aussie version of FGS with Congress 2015. There’s going to be lots of new speakers to listen to, genimates to meet, and information and stories to swap, as well as research opportunities.

En route to Salt Lake I’ll be taking a couple of days to pop up to Toowoomba and Murphys Creek for just a little more research about the place where the Kunkel family settled.Revisit record revise

In Salt Lake, pre-conferences, I’ll be focusing on the books section of the Family History Library. I’ve been in the habit of hiring in microfilms for many years, and I can continue to do that any time. What I can’t do in Australia is read any of the books that are in the library. Helen Smith has posted an excellent article on how to approach your research at the FH Library.

In Canberra, for Congress 2015, I’ve allowed some extra days and will be following up some archive sources for Duncan McCorkindale who helped build the nation’s capital, as well as visiting the War Memorial, National Library etc. I know there’s going to be far more to do than time will permit.

After Canberra I’m heading to Sydney for a few days but that’s mainly a holiday event to celebrate our anniversary. If something pressing comes up I may sneak out to Kingswood but will try to stick with the living not the dead. (I’m sure himself will be pleased, and amazed, to hear this!)

CONGRESS 2015

Congress 2015Blogging: As you know I’m an official Congress blogger, along with Jill Ball (Geniaus) and Shauna Hicks. We still have some exciting speaker interviews to bring you, and during Congress we’ll also be blogging about what we’re seeing, learning, and doing.

Presentations: I am doing two presentations at Congress and both papers have already been submitted to the conference organisers. However I also have the Powerpoint slides, as well as my on-the-day content, ahead of me. I really want to get these away before heading off to Salt Lake in February.

SOFTWARE

Family Historian 6: I’ve downloaded the update to version 6, and will be trying to learn a little more about it so I can pick Jill’s brains while I’m in Canberra.

Evidentia has been getting lots of kudos on the GDO Facebook page so I downloaded it and will give it a whirl.

Folder Marker is a program which lets you colour code your computer folders. I hadn’t known about it before but thanks to the FB poster who mentioned it, I’ve downloaded it and will see what I think and whether it helps.

RECORDING RESEARCH

BAck to Basics flow diagramI am still ambivalent about how much data I want to store in a genie program (Family Historian) vs a Narrative document/blog posts.

Blogging suits my preference for narrative family history and also lets me tell stories of the families for whom I have no plans of writing a published family history or of updating my finds on the Kunkel family. I write my blog posts in Word initially then cut and paste. A simple change I’ll make is to save the file with a surname leader, and save to that family’s folder.

In my hard-copy files I sort by family (where I’m not inundated in paper) and by generation (when I have heaps of info, eg the Kunkels). Within this I sort by “topic” or theme eg legal matters, petitions, certificates, church, military. That’s how my brain works, so I’m happy with that system.

Blogging has given me a community of like-minded friends who are supportive and interested. Unfortunately in recent months I’ve been a poor genie-friend myself and not supported others nearly well enough. Time to go back to commenting more.

Outcome 1: If I get to the end of 2015 with my electronic files in better, more systematic order, and tagged, I’ll be happy.

Outcome 2: Meanwhile there’s going to be a whole lot of scanning going on. Plus I plan to get back to commenting on blog posts.

Outcome 3: I have a suite of oral histories about Murphy’s Creek that I want to transcribe and also digitise. This is a project which will occur across 2015.

ANCIENT HISTORY

Another GDO Facebook person, Lynn, linked this story which suggests ways to manage our data. I like the idea that our initial research should be by surname rather than with a focus on families as entities, and I particularly empathised with the content. When I started all those years ago, pre-personal computers, I kept my research findings on A4 paper by person’s name and didn’t collate into families until I’d established the links. Whether it’s a natural style for me, or just habit I don’t know.

FAMILY BUSINESS

Lots of family events coming up in the next few months, as always, means this quarter is a busy one every year. On top of that retirement is looming for my other half (I’ve been retired for a couple of years), plus downsizing and packing up an inordinate amount of “stuff”.

WHERE TO?

Over the weeks and months, I’ll be reporting in on what I’m achieving and where I’ve gone astray. Thoughts, tips and support will be much appreciated. Like Geniaus I won’t be completely foregoing tangential genealogy – after all, that early morning inspiration may be an ancestor whispering in my ear.

How are you going with your 2015 planning?