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.

 

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