The annual conference of the U.S. National Genealogical Society opened today in Kansas City, Missouri. This year's event is co-hosted by the Missouri State Genealogical Association, the Mid-Continent Public Library, the Northland Genealogical Society, the APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) Heartland Chapter, and the Johnson County, Kansas, Genealogical Society. It's much too early to predict attendance numbers, but I must say that today's sessions were well attended.
The conference opened at 8:00 AM to a “packed house” with awards, introductions, and various speakers. When asked how many people were attending their first national genealogy conference, several hundred people stood up. Robert M. Sandfort, Ph.D., gave the opening session talk on Emigration to the Mouth of the Missouri – and Beyond.
I missed the opening session as I was chasing down a shipment of brochures from Kinko's. I finally retrieved them at 4:00 PM, even though I noticed that the hotel employee had accepted the shipment and signed for the package at 7:58 AM. All day long the hotel employees protested they didn't have the shipment although they later “discovered” it in the mail slot behind the front desk. So much for my ability to hand out brochures for the first – and busiest – day of the conference! Luckily, most everything else worked well on opening day.
The Exhibitors' Hall opened about 9:30 AM and was immediately mobbed. It was fun to watch the crowds as they examined all the latest products and services. The Exhibitors' Hall quieted down significantly when the various sessions started at 11:00 AM. Nine and sometimes ten simultaneous sessions, or “tracks,” were held the rest of the day except for a lunch break. Three special luncheons were held by various organizations, and the hotel's snack bars and restaurants were also full.
I spent most of my time in the Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter booth in the Exhibitors' Hall, nursing a sore foot that apparently I abused over the weekend while doing yard work. I didn't walk much, but that gave me a great chance to sit and talk with many people at the booth. I always love meeting newsletter readers, and today I had plenty to smile about, except for the missing brochures.
Many of the vendors are making announcements, including some of the nonprofits. I am sure I did not hear all of them today, but here are two that I managed to find and note:
FamilySearch (the organization owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and FamilyLink today announced a new partnership that will create a new and significantly improved card catalog for the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, the many local Family History Centers around the world, and individuals in their homes. The new catalog will contain all of the entries in the present catalog plus millions of new entries that will point to available digital sources. In most cases, those will be online images of original records. The records might be stored on FamilySearch.org or on Footnote.com or on Ancestry.com or on a local society's web site or most anywhere else. The images might be available free of charge or might require payment of a modest fee. Regardless of where a given image is stored or the access cost, the new card catalog will have a pointer to its location so that the user will know where it is and then can decide whether or not to view it.
The new catalog is expected to be fully visible to Google and other search engines, significantly increasing the opportunities available to find genealogy information.
Now for what I think are the best parts:
Part #1: Source citations can be included in the listings, including message boards for each scanned image where users may post their impressions and opinions of the quality of each source. If you believe that something is inaccurate, you will have the capability to warn others.
Part #2: Anyone can add new data to the catalog. For instance, if you place a dozen scanned images on your society's web site or even on your personal site, you can notify the card catalog. However, all submissions are held in a private area until professional librarians review the entry and verify its accuracy. The librarian can then release the link, making it visible to everyone. The manual review process should eliminate any problems with junk, spam, and other inappropriate material.
In describing this new database, Ransom Love of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stated, “We need to get to the point where the SOURCES validate the data.”
Paul Allen, CEO of FamilyLink, referred to this new catalog/database as “über catalog.” (You can tell that Paul just flew in from Germany.)
Keep in mind that today's announcement was just that: an ANNOUNCEMENT of something to be created in future months.
My Ancestors Found announced a new “Family History Phonebook.” It is a downloadable file that will list conferences and seminars, libraries, archives, media and publishing, retail and wholesale distributors, software solutions, web sites, support groups and more. The “Family History Phonebook” will be free to users and to the organizations listed. However, organizations may purchase larger ad space for modest fees. The “Family History Phonebook” is expected to become available in November.
I expect to spend more time tomorrow hobbling around the Exhibitors' Hall with my bad foot and will report on new products and services that I discover.