Sunday, November 14, 2010

Family History Expo - Day 2

I really wanted to get this posted last night, but after a 2-1/2 hour drive home and a 750-word essay due before midnight, the blog took a back seat for a moment.  Better late than never!

Ok, I told myself I wasn't going to complain about any of the goings-on at the Expo.  I understand it's a huge event and there are billions of moving parts and all that.  However, I am going to ask one question in hopes that it might help the folks at Family History Expos and Gwinnett Center think about something:

Would it have been that difficult to have someone selling coffee outside the exhibit hall before the classes got started in the morning?

Ok.  Rant off.

Even without my morning coffee, my first class managed to keep my attention pretty well.  Raymon Naisbitt with FamilySearch spoke about Finding Your Irish Ancestors.  Now, I'm still working on my peeps in the United States and am nowhere near ready to dive into any overseas research just yet.  Frankly, overseas research scared me a little.  Ok, I'm still a little scared of my German research, but not so much anymore with Ireland.  I know it's going to be hard to find a lot of records since my preliminary research and unconfirmed information tell me that my ancestors were in Ireland before civil records were kept, and (of course) they were Catholic.  I learned that the Catholic churches were terrible record keepers out of fear of persecution.  Fabulous.  At least now I know before I start my research over there and I can plan around those records (or lack thereof).  Nice job, Raymon.

Finally, I was able to get my hands on some coffee and headed to my next class: Finding Your Family's Stories Online.  First, I just have to say that Tami Glatz is amazing.  How she manages to have that much energy in the morning is astounding (obviously, the speakers were able to get coffee before the classes started!).  I have pages of notes just from one hour with her, and I can't wait to get all this information saved into my browser favorites!  I know there are stories out there ... now I will be able to put my hands on them!  I will be sure to post any findings.

My next class was with Leland Meitzler of Family Roots Publishing: State and Territorial Censuses and Census Substitutes.  I know, yawn-fest, right?  Well, not so much.  Leland was able to keep the information flowing and keep my attention.  I learned where to go to look for information for the 10 years in between the federal censuses and in case my ancestor's portion of the federal census was damaged or is missing.  Now I have a better chance of being able to find John Charles Slowey's father, and hopefully prove his birth date!

After lunch, Billy Edgington spoke to us about Civil War Records.  She really knows her stuff!  Now I know what to do with the records I found on Footnote.  She gave us some excellent tips on what to ask for and what to expect from the request, and where to go from there.

Now, I've been using Family Tree Maker by Ancestry for a very long time ... since the 1990s I think.  This weekend, I broke down and purchased RootsMagic 4.  They were having a special for the Expo, so I picked up RootsMagic and the book, Personal Historian, and Family Atlas for 50 bucks.  Not a bad deal.  It's going to take some time transferring all of my research over to the new program, but I figure it will give me something to do until I have access to the New FamilySearch ... which leads me to my next class  Michael Booth, one of the developers of RootsMagic.  He spoke to us about how RootsMagic works with FamilySearch.  I was impressed with how easy it looked.  Of course, all that may change once I start trying to get it to work with my family, but we'll see.  He was very helpful after the class in answering some questions I had about transferring my research.

The closing keynote address was given by Holly Hansen, the President of Family History Expos about a brick wall she had recently broken down. Very motivational. They drew the names for all the fabulous prizes after she was finished.  The grand prize was a week-long research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City where the folks at the library would be at your beck and call, paid hotel and everything.  It was at about this time in the ceremony that I realized I hadn't written my name on the back of my little ticket that I spent so much time going from vendor to vendor to have them sign off.  Oh well.  I never win anything anyway.

They will be back next year, November 11-12, and I have already put it on my calendar.  My goal for the remaining 364 days until the next Atlanta Expo is to figure out how to be in 11 places at one time so I don't miss anything!


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