Sunday, August 17, 2014

WSGC 2014 - Day 2

Amazing topics today from writing your family history to DNA to Internet genealogy and more. Joshua Taylor gave a great class about using Google and the Internet. He stressed the importance of using a research log during online searches to be a more effective genealogist. He also gave some great tips on how to use Boolean searches to find more databases using Google. I didn't know that a Google search only goes so deep into a website. Think back to what it was like to use a library card catalog. Just like a card catalog rarely has the name of our ancestor in a title, rarely will a Google search turn up the name of our ancestor in a useable database. Google is very powerful but we need to learn how to use it.

Mary Kathryn Kozy gave an excellent talk about autosomal DNA. I now understand why I might have a DNA match to someone who doesn't have any surname or location matches. DNA is a fascinating new branch of genealogy. Her talk inspires me to take advantage of the DNA sales and get more kits to test the older members of my family. The farther up the pedigree tree I can test, the farther back my DNA results will reach, and the more potential cousins I can find.

Have you started writing your family story yet? Stephen Morrison talked about the importance of telling our family stories. He had some practical ideas on how to get started and the key things to include. Documentation is just as important as the stories themselves; otherwise, they are just fiction. His discussion has spurred me to begin organizing what I have. I don't need to have "completed" my genealogy to write about it. I don't want to leave behind working files and a disorganized mess of notes; I want to leave behind something valuable that won't be tossed or sold in an estate sale after I'm gone.

Joshua Taylor wrapped up the conference by presenting an advanced case study from his own family tree. I'm a bit envious at the amazing documents and experiences he had. Although his family was not in the same location as mine, I can still learn from the techniques he used and apply them in my own research. Although I'm not in a place where I can travel to the locations where my ancestors lived to do onsite research—yet—I keep thinking someday...

All in all I'd say it was a successful conference. I'm energized and encouraged. Being with a large group of like-minded individuals is inspiring and I look forward to getting more involved in my local groups. I can't wait to put into practice the principals I've learned, and I'm even getting started on Book One of my family history today! For those of you who have never attended a conference and have only considered going, I highly recommend it. The energy and power behind all those minds in one place is a wonderful experience. There is so much potential to break down your brick walls if only you put yourself out there and ask.


Friday, August 15, 2014

WSGC 2014 - Day 1

What a full day! Thank goodness Eric Stroschein is a good speaker because I spent four hours in his classes on methodology today. Each skill-building class built upon the previous class. Using his own family research as an example and an interactive approach with his "audience," he demonstrated the genealogical process, using methodical evaluation of evidence from beginner level to advanced. Everyone, from newbie to advanced genealogist, could see the importance of following a standard. The final hour was an advanced case study using indirect and negative evidence. This is where he brought it all together using Excel tables to analyze seemingly unrelated evidence.

During the evening meal, we were treated to an excellent talk by D. Joshua Taylor about the Y generation and the family tree. Basically, he said that although it may look different than how we do genealogy, the Y generation is certainly interested in family history. Toss that pedigree chart and focus on the stories, adventure and people in the family tree. Our families are more than just names and dates on a chart. Did you know there is a video game called Family House which is essentially a game that creates a family tree? Did you know there is a program called TreeLines that is a story-centric family tree? What a great way to connect the generations and make sure our family legacy isn't lost to the ages. I think those programs are a great idea, not only for the Y generation, but for all those family members whose eyes glaze over when the charts come out.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

2014 WSGC

I'm in Arlington, Washington, for my first genealogy conference. D. Joshua Taylor from Genealogy Roadshow and Who Do You Think You Are? is the keynote speaker. There are 24 classes with great presenters from many different backgrounds. I'm registered for a series of workshops on methodology by professional genealogist Eric Stroschein—Using Direct Evidence, The Importance of Methodical Evidence Evaluation, Correlating and Analyzing Seemingly Unrelated Evidence, and Indirect and Negative Evidence Case Study—and that's just Friday!
Saturday will be a modge podge of workshops on topics like autosomal DNA, Internet research, and how to start writing about your ancestors. The conference wraps up with a case study.
I'm sure my brain will be on overload, but I'm going to try to blog throughout the conference. Of course, I have to fit in a visit to the vendor hall. Can a genealogist ever have too many books?