The New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) drew to a close in Springfield, Massachusetts, today, except for a closing ceremony scheduled for early tomorrow morning. All the lectures, workshops, vendor exhibits, and banquets ended today. I had a great time at this year's event and, from what I can tell, so did about 900 or so other genealogists that attended. I talked with a lot of attendees, and everyone I asked said they enjoyed it. Most also reported they plan to return to the next NERGC event, to be held two years from now in Manchester, New Hampshire.
I can't report much new today; most of the things I mentioned in the first two days' reports continued for the third day. However, I can offer a few observations about the entire conference.
First, I think the 2011 NERGC conference had about the perfect blend of traditional genealogy topics versus technology-oriented presentations. Some years ago, most genealogy conferences would ignore technology topics; but, much has changed since those days. Nowadays, most all genealogists use computers, whether to record their findings in a genealogy program, to search for information on the World Wide Web, or simply for use as a word processor. A few genealogists also use DNA, a trend that is growing rapidly. Some genealogists are "into" technology while others are very casual users of whatever technology is available to them. Whatever the expertise and interest levels, it seems appropriate to me that a number of presentations at any genealogy conference should focus on obtaining the best results possible from whatever tools we all use.
I didn't attend all the technology presentations held at this year's event. Admittedly, I am already familiar with some of the topics presented. However, I did learn several new "tricks" at the talks I did attend, proving that even we "old dogs" can benefit from many of the ideas presented at conferences.
I can especially cite David Ouimette's presentation on Digitizing the Records in the Granite Mountain, the effort by FamilySearch to convert all the microfilm records stored in Salt Lake City's underground storage bunker to digital records. The plan is to make as many as possible of these records available online, accessible by everyone in the world on any connected computer. Another was Donna Moughty's talk on Tools for Macintosh Users.
I was especially pleased to see one presentation about a software product that is not designed for the genealogy marketplace, but it is a perfect tool for use by genealogists. Connie Reik's excellent presentation about Zotero, the free citation and note manager, was an eye-opener and a perfect demonstration of how to use this program to organize and simplify your genealogy research.
Comment: Connie's PowerPoint slides were outstanding. If she ever gives a class on making great PowerPoint slides, I hope to be in the front row, taking notes!
DNA was even a more popular topic than the computer topics, especially with Jay Sage's presentation entitled, DNA for Genealogy and Blaine T. Bettinger's talk on How Autosomal DNA Testing is Changing Genealogy. Muriel Normand's presentation about the genetic disorders that early immigrants brought to Quebec was a revelation for those of us with French-Canadian ancestry. Another was Shellee A. Morehead's presentation on Sex, DNA and Family History, explaining the basics of DNA and showing how to use genealogy charts to answer questions about your ancestry by using DNA.
The NERGC conference held no less than two banquets, double the number of many other conferences. The Friday evening banquet was sponsored by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, where Paul Milner spoke on What Were Our Ancestors Really Like? It was described in the conference brochure as "A humorous look at the actions and motives of our ancestors as recorded in the records our ancestors left behind.”
On Saturday evening, the Connecticut Society of Genealogists sponsored John Philip Colletta's talk on Hacks and Hookers and Putting Up Pickles: Snares of Yesteryear’s English. John talked about our ancestors' vocabularies and use of the English language many years ago. His address entertainingly demonstrated how to use the historical context in which a record was created, as well as dictionaries, to understand what the old records really say.
You can read much more about this year's NERGC event by looking at the conference's online program at http://www.nergc.org/NERGC2011/program.html and clicking on the various links on the left side of the page.
All in all, I think this year's New England Regional Genealogical Conference was a great success, and the many sponsoring organizations should be thanked for their financial support as well as the thousands of hours of labor contributed by their members. There are far too many people involved for me to mention everyone, but certainly the efforts of conference co-chairs Pauline Cusson and Richard Clarke Roberts need to mentioned. Outstanding!
I plan to be at the next NERGC conference, to be held two years from now in Manchester, New Hampshire. Until then, I hope you will enjoy some of the pictures I took, shown below and also in my earlier article at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2011/04/nergc-gets-off-to-a-great-start.html. You can click on any image to see a larger picture.
That's me on the right, talking with Dave Allen of Old Maps, Inc. Notice the gorgeous map on the wall behind us. I recorded an interview with Dave and will be making it available online within a very few days.
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