The best session I attended Monday was learning about the resources at the City of Boston Archives. Marta Crilly, an archivist there, gave an outstanding, well organized presentation. The archives has a fantastic collection of resources for Boston research -- records of taxes, voter registrations, the almshouse, a correctional institution, children's institutions, the lunatic hospital, business registration certificates (including ones for married women; they had to register their businesses separately to protect their husbands' assets if the business went bankrupt), school transcripts and publications, teacher lists, city employees, maps, and photos. A lot of the photographs have been digitized and are online, but most records are available only at the archives. Luckily, you don't have to go in person; they have a friendly and knowledgeable staff who can help people who are not local. I didn't bring information about my half-sister's family (who lived in Boston for several years) with me to the conference, but when I return home I think I'll have to take a look and see what kinds of questions the archives can help me with.
Another useful session was on postwar resources at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Reference librarian Megan Lewis gave an overview of the resources available, which include photographs, oral histories, films, and transcripts. The museum has merged what once were separate catalogs for each collection into a unified catalog that covers most of the museum's holdings. There is also a search page for part of the ITS inventory. The other good part of the day was a roundtable session that I coordinated for Jewish genealogical society newsletter/journal editors. We had some productive discussions about what different societies are publishing in journals and newsletters, and how there is now much more of an intersection between those publications and digital communications.
The disappointing part of the day was that the three sessions I attended that were focused on my own personal family research, in Latvia and Belarus, were all duds. The descriptions in the program didn't really match what the presenters talked about, and I took away very, very little useful information. I felt that half my day was wasted.
|Board of Special Inquiry transcript|
The other really good part of the day was that my new presentation about online Jewish historical newspapers was very well received. The room was packed to overflowing (okay, it was a really small room; apparently the programming committee didn't think the session would attract many people). Later in the afternoon I had several people who were at the talk come up and tell me they thought it was a great talk and that they found the information very useful. And someone from a Florida genealogical society said she wants to have her group bring me out there to give a presentation!
I was particularly proud, because this was the first time a family member was able to come to one of my talks. My cousin Janis wasn't able to come after all, but her husband George took some time off from work to come and listen to me. Plus my cousin Yoni volunteered to help look over the PowerPoint file ahead of time to make sure I didn't have any grammatical errors in the slides; he decided it looked good. He did admit, however, that he had been hoping to find a mistake just so he could correct me.
And I just looked at the clock and noticed it's 1:30 a.m.! I better get to bed; the first session starts at 8:15 ....