Saturday, October 27, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Hallowe'en Personality

In keeping with the season, tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun exercise from Randy Seaver is focused on Hallowe'en.

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Go take the Hallowe'en Personality Quiz at  http://www.blogthings.com/whatsyourhalloweenpersonalityquiz/ 

(2) Post your answers on your own blog, as a comment on this blog, or on your Facebook page.

(3) Tell us if this is "right on" or not.  Have fun with it!


Okay, here's what the quiz has to say about me:

• You See Halloween as Fun

• A bit of an introvert, you like the special occasions just as much as everyone else.  You just have your own unique way of celebrating Halloween.

• You often feel invisible when you're in public.  And it's a shame, because you're really quite a character.

• Your inner child is open minded, playful, and adventurous.

• Your fears are irrational and varied.  It's hard to predict what you may be afraid of on any given day.

• You're logical, rational, and not easily affected.  Not a lot scares you ... especially when it comes to the paranormal.

• You are unique, expressive, and a trendsetter. Your ideal Halloween costume is over the top and one of a kind.

Well, I think the quiz missed me on several counts.  I'm pretty extroverted, and I don't often feel invisible anywhere.  My friends and family will be happy to vouch, however, that I am quite a character.  My fears are few and far between, and very consistent (buzzy things).  I am indeed logical, rational, and not easily affected, and not a lot scares me (which contradicts the statement right above it, about my fears being irrational and varied).  I will admit to being unique and expressive, although I don't think I've been setting any trends by wearing Hawaiian shirts.  My ideal Hallowe'en costume used to be dressing up as a hooker; is that over the top?  More recently, I tend to wear East Indian clothing.

I guess the quiz can't be relied upon very much, huh?

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Oregon Archives Crawl Was a Blast!

I am so glad I went to the Oregon Archives Crawl on Saturday!  I had a lot of fun at the three locations talking to archivists, librarians, and others who work in archives and repositories.  Since I'm still pretty new here, it was a great opportunity to learn about what resources are available.

One big difference between the Archives Crawl here and the ones I visited in Sacramento, Califorina is that it is pretty easy to walk between the host insitutions here.  In Sacramento, the hosts were spread out, and you had to drive between them or take the shuttle that was available.  Either way, a lot of your time was taken up traveling between locations, which didn't leave as much time to talk to archivists or look at the cool things on display.

The highlight of my day was at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center, the second stop on my rounds.  They had a City of Portland quiz game going on, where you spun a wheel and could win the prize you landed on if you correctly answered a historical question about the city.  I guessed right that Portland's city hall had been bombed at some point in its history, and I won a copy of Portland Memories:  The Early Years, a Pictorial History.  It's a beautiful hardcover coffee-table book with historic photos of Portland covering the late 1800's to 1939.  I also picked up a deck of cards with Oregon historical information from the Oregon State Archives table, and a button with the State Archivist's seal.  How many archivists have their own buttons?!

From an archives/research perspective, I discovered some really interesting repositories in the area.  Probably the most unusual is the Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health.  In this country, mental health information is generally not easily available, so it was surprising to find that the hospital has created this museum to educate people.  Documents and exhibits cover a timeline of the subject in Oregon dating from the 1880's, the training of those who worked at the hospital, spirituality/religion, the history of treatments, therapeutic activities, and children at the hospital (both patients and those of employees and residents), along with oral histories.

One museum that resonated with me personally is the World of Speed Motorsports Museum, which I had not heard of.  (It's only been around for about three years.)  I've written about how I grew up around racetracks and garages because my father was a car mechanic and also raced, so anything about racing catches my attention.  Now I need to plan a trip to Wilsonville so I can see what they have in the museum.

I had a good conversation with Terry Baxter of the Oregon Country Fair Archives, another unusual repository.  The archives holds organizational records, promotional records, fair ephemera, audiovisual records, and donated collections.  Who would have thought that so much would be available about a county fair?  In addition, Terry told me that the archives crawl happens every other year, so now I know why I didn't hear about it last year.

In talking with Terry about the crawl passport, I mentioned that the archives crawl in Sacramento, California has a passport also, where you can get stamps from all the exhibitors and then get a small prize, usually a set of commemorative coasters.  He liked that idea, so maybe at the 2020 archives crawl here we'll be able to earn a small souvenir.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Did You Get to School?

I am revisiting my childhood for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver:

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1)  How did you get to your school(s) through high school?


(2) Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or on Facebook or Google+.  Please leave a comment on this post with a link to your post.


It's obvious from Randy's comment about having gone to three schools (only three!) that his family didn't move around as much as mine did (there's a reason my mother earned the nickname "the wandering Jew").  Let me see how many I can recall . . . .

I don't really remember how I traveled to elementary school, or actually how many schools I attended during the years my family lived in California.  We left in March 1971 while I was in 3rd grade.  I know I was at Rorimer Elementary in 1st grade; that is in La Puente.  When we moved to Pomona I'm sure I went to a different school, so that's at least two.  I think I went by bus when I lived in Pomona.  Maybe my mother drove me (and my sister?) to Rorimer, or maybe my sister's mother did?  I guess I should ask my sister about that to see what she remembers.  But there may have been a school between Rorimer and Pomona.

In Australia I attended two elementary schools:  Daceyville Public School for the 4th grade (which I was in for only the second half of the school year) and Woollahra Demonstration School for the 5th grade.  I remember my mother driving me to Woollahra, because she complained about it, but there may have been a bus to Daceyville.

When my family returned to the United States, we moved to Niceville, Florida.  I had three months of the 6th grade, at James E. Plew Elementary School.  (And for those who are counting, that makes at least five elementary schools I attended.)  I rode the bus to school there.

I remember telling my mother that whether she moved or not, I wanted to go to the same school for all my years of junior high school and high school and not have to be the "new kid" in school.  I actually managed to accomplish that.  I rode the bus to school at C. W. Ruckel Junior High School and Niceville Senior High School, even after we moved 10 miles from Niceville out to Villa Tasso.  We moved while I was still in junior high school.  The school bus picked us up in Villa Tasso on County Line Road, because Niceville is in Okaloosa County and Villa Tasso is in Walton County, just over the county line.

When there was really bad rain, however, my mother sometimes drove us to school from Villa Tasso, because we didn't have paved roads, and they often flooded in the rain, so we couldn't safely walk to the bus stop.  And if the temperature was below zero (which does happen in the Florida panhandle) she might drive us also.  Sometimes she just drove us to the bus stop, though.

Until now, I have never thought about whether we were actually in the residence area for Niceville schools once we moved to Villa Tasso.  We must have been, because the bus came out there.  And really, we were so far away from everything else in Walton County that it wouldn't have been practical for Walton to bus us anywhere.  I guess the counties worked out something.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Shared Responsibilities in a "Blended Family"

Loretta (family friend),
Laurie, and Mary Lou, before the
latter two lived with my family
Today is October 16, the birthday of my half-sister's mother, Mary Lou.  I've written previously that Mary Lou and my sister Laurie lived with my family for a while in California.  I believe it was during that time that my mother and Mary Lou came up with a creative way to share responsibilities for childcare.

As I recall, Mary Lou would get us kids up in the morning, fix us breakfast, and help us get ready to go to school.  My mother, who worked a graveyard shift at the time, would come home in time to see us before she went to sleep.  She would then pick us up from school in the afternoon, spend time with us until our bedtime, and put us to bed.  After that, she would go to work, and the cycle would start over again the next morning.

I think this was when my family lived in La Puente and Laurie and I attended the same elementary school, so roughly 1968.  We apparently were well ahead of the curve with blended families and coparenting, which were probably terms that hadn't even been thought of yet.

And I had Laurie read this before I posted it, and she agrees it sounds right!  Not doing too badly for events that happened when I was 6 years old.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Google Translate versus Professional Translation

As a professional genealogist, one of the things I do is translation.  I'm a member of a group of professional genealogy translators that was started to help raise awareness of the benefit of using a professional translator with specialized genealogical knowledge, as opposed to finding a general translator or just using Google Translate (or some other machine translation option).  The group formed about two and a half years ago, and so far we haven't made much progress.  Why we haven't made much progress is often a topic in our monthly online meetings.

The biggest problem we seem to have is conveying why it's better to use a professional translator, particularly one with specialized genealogical knowledge, as opposed to simply popping over to Google Translate and using its "automagic" translation.  Google is awesome, right?  It does so many cool things, and the translation is always improving.  Why should I go out and actually *pay* someone when I can get it for free at home?

Well, for one thing, machine translation is far from perfect.  Yes, it's improving all the time, but it still misses the mark quite often.  A wonderfully entertaining article by Fred Hoffman (a professional translator) that points this out is available online in the October 2016 issue of Gen Dobry!Another article by Fred, this one in the November 2009 issue of GenDobry!, truly makes clear why relying only on modern machine translation is no substitute for effort taken to find the correct meaning of an obsolete word.

Then what's a genealogist to do?   To be fair, Google Translate does have its place.  If you don't understand the language a record or document is written in, absolutely go to Google Translate, enter the text, and see what Google comes up with.  It is rarely perfect (or 100% accurate), but you should be able to get the gist of what's going on.  After that, if it seems as though the document is relevant to your research, find a professional translator to do a more accurate, more nuanced translation.

But why not just settle for what Google gives you?  I equate that rough translation Google Translate gives you with the ubiquitous family trees on Ancestry.com and other sites.  Since the vast majority of those trees have no sources listed (or list only other trees as sources), I look at them as hints and possibilities.  I use them to mine for ideas for research.  But I never rely only on them, because I have no idea where the information came from.  They're stepping stones on a journey, but not the final destination.

Google Translate gives you hints.  It's a "rough draft" of the meaning of your original text.  But translation is an art, not a hard science, and machine translation still has many years to go before it can truly compare with what a professional translator can do.  So it's a stepping stone on your journey to an accurate translation of your document.

And once you've decided you want to find a professional translator, where should you look?  Well, for genealogy, I recommend going to the Association of Professional Genealogists site and clicking on the link for "Other Searches" under the "Find a Professional" navbar.  On the "Advanced Search" page, you can scroll down and choose "Translator" on the "Service Category" pop-up and your desired language right below that.  Then look through the results.

Of course, not every language is available.  About 30 people come up for French, 25 for Italian, nine for Russian, and even three for Czech, but none for Finnish, Greek or Slovenian.  So what to do if no APG members work in your language?

The next place to look is the American Translators Association.  Near the top of the page you can search for a translator (or even an interpreter) by your beginning (source) language and then the language you want it translated to (target).  ATA of course has members who translate from French, Italian, Russian, and Czech, but you can also find Finnish, Greek, and Slovenian, along with many more.  The advanced search allows you to look for a specialized knowledge area; unfortunately, ATA doesn't list include genealogy on the list, which is why you're better off starting your search at APG.  Professional genealogists are generally more familiar with terminology that appears in documents important to family history research and often have come across obsolete terms in old papers.  Most ATA translators focus on modern-day language and may misunderstand older terms.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Sporting Activities

It looks like more people are helping Randy Seaver come up with new themes for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission: Impossible! music, please!):

(1) What sporting activities did you participate in as a youth and as an adult?


(2) Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or on Facebook or Google+.  Please leave a comment on this post with a link to your post.

Thank you to Lisa Gorrell for suggesting this SNGF topic.


Sports, huh?  Never one of my strong points.

I don't remember any organized sports from when I was really young.  I know I had a sports uniform (which I have kept all these years), worn one day a week, when I attended 5th grade at Woollahra Demonstration School (in a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales).  I think Friday was sports day.  I can't think of what sports we played at school, though.  I recall having the opportunity to play soccer, cricket, and rugby while I lived in Australia, and I strongly disliked the first two.  I doubt I was particularly good at any of them.

When my family returned to the United States, I was able to be bad at more sports.  The only F I ever received in my life came in physical education.  My teacher, who looked a little like Crystal Gayle but whose name I don't recall (I can still picture her in my mind), didn't believe that I couldn't do a cartwheel and failed me for that.  She thought I was faking.  Sorry, lady, I still can't do a cartwheel.  But I'll always remember you (and not in a pleasant way).

I had various attempts at archery, basketball, volleyball, baseball, and softball, all of which I was very bad at because I can't aim well.  (My father learned this when he tried to teach me to shoot a gun.)  Even trying to compensate for how I missed didn't work.  One thing I was reasonably good at with baseball and softball was catching, but I never learned how to use a glove properly, so I always caught barehanded.

I did some bowling, mainly during summer breaks, but that was another thing where aiming was almost a prerequisite.  I was the queen of gutter balls.  I think my lifetime high score is in the 70's.

I was long and lanky, so I should have been good at running, but nope, I sucked at that also.  It wasn't until I was in college that I learned I had totally flat feet.  (One healthcare person told me they were so flat they almost went the other way.)  At least that explained why I was so miserable at running.

I am pretty sure there were Girl Scout badges for sports stuff, but I don't remember if I earned any of them.  I know I saved my uniform and badges, but I have no idea where they are in the house.

My brother and I used to play sandlot football in Villa Tasso with some of the other kids living out in the sticks.  I always wanted to be a quarterback (I dreamed of playing for the Minnesota Vikings when Fran Tarkenton retired), but that whole problem with aiming bit me again.  I was a good lineman, though.  The guys had trouble moving past me, because it was like my feet were planted in the ground.

The closest I ever came to playing football was, many years later, being an assistant coach of a professional women's football team.  I can't remember the team name or how I found out about it, but I drove from near the USC campus out to Van Nuys for the nighttime practices.  This was not long after my knee surgery (see below), so I couldn't do a lot, and there was no pay.  But I was thrilled to be part of it.

In college, however, I did find a few athletic activities at which I was at least adequate.  I got into weightlifting about the summer of 1982, when I really, really wanted to try out as a walk-on for the USC football team.  I had a couple of friends on the team, one of whom was a walk-on himself (Rick Vasquez, a quarterback), who encouraged me, and wide receivers coach Nate Shaw thought I should at least be given a chance.  But John Robinson refused to talk to me.  I competed in a couple of local weightlifting contests and even won two prizes.

During the time I was working out with weights, I also started bicycling as exercise and part of my training regimen, not just as a means of transportation (because I didn't have a car at the time).  I used to ride laps around the USC campus.  I think I built up to 11-mile runs, and then fall semester came and I was taking classes full time and working half-time in an office.  Between that and wrenching a knee (which eventually needed surgery), boom!, there went the exercise routine.  Because of the way I injured my knee, now I can't even ride a bicycle half a mile.

The other sporting activity I got into and enjoyed a lot was swimming.  I had been swimming since I was a kid, but nothing major.  USC had an Olympic-size swimming pool in the old PE building.  I did lap swimming and built up to a mile at a time.  I found it very relaxing and enjoyable.

At this point in my life I'm mostly fat and lazy.  I walk, and that's about it.  As a fan, however, I love the NFL and root for the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders.  I enjoy baseball (see Lisa Gorrell's post on this topic) but haven't gotten really enthusiastic about a team since the Montreal Expos ceased to exist.  And I will always love the Boston Celtics.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: 20 More Questions

Hmm, this week's questions for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun actually require a little bit of thought.

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Ellen Thompson-Jennings wrote 
20 More Questions About Your Ancestors and Maybe A Few About You this week and Linda Stufflebean thought it would be a great SNGF challenge.  I agree!

(2) Copy the questions from Ellen's post or from my post below and insert your own replies.  Be sure to comment on Ellen's blog so she knows you wrote about it.


(3) Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or on Facebook or Google+.  Please leave a comment on this post with a link to your post.

Thank you to Ellen for her post and to to Linda Sufflebean for suggesting this topic.  If you have an idea for an SNGF topic, please let me know.


Q1:  Why do you love doing genealogy/family history?
A1:  Solving the puzzles.  No two families are the same, so the answers are never exactly the same.

Q2:  How far have you traveled to research an ancestor?
A2:  Only to Connecticut.  But I sent my brother on research in Manchester, England. 

Q3:  What do you think your favorite ancestor would think of our lives today?
A3:  I'm not really sure that I have a favorite ancestor.  If I have to pick someone, I guess it would be my great-great-grandfather Gershon Yitzhak Nowicki (~1858–1948).  His occupation on the passenger list when he arrived was given as wood turner, but in the United States he became a Hebrew teacher.  From what I have been told, he was a pretty lively guy, even right up to the end and apparently adjusted reasonably well to living in this country after moving here at the age of about 64.  I think he would be curious about our lives today and willing to learn new things.

Q4:  What do you think that your ancestor would like/dislike?
A4:  That's a damned good question.  I haven't a clue.

Q5:  What was the most unusual cause of death that you’ve found?
A5:  I can't think of any particularly unusual causes of death that I've found in my own family.  In my half-sister's family, I did find four generations of men who all (but one) died of heart attacks before reaching the age of 60.

Q6:  Which ancestor had the most unusual occupation?
A6:  I must have a pretty boring family, because I don't recall any particularly unusual occupations.  The aforementioned great-great-grandfather, who was marked on his 1922 incoming passenger list as a "likely public charge", probably because of his age, was enumerated eight years later in the 1930 census with the occupation of Hebrew teacher, however, so he was still working at the age of about 72.

Q7:  Have you ever gone to where your ancestor lived and it felt like home even if you’ve never been there before?
A7:  Unfortunately, no.  That happened to me the first time I came to Portland, but I have no family connection to the city.

Q8:  Do you have a distant ancestor (several generations back) that looks like someone in the family?
A8:  Sort of.  I have a copy of a photograph of an unidentified man whom I believe to be my 3rd-great-grandfather, because he bears a strong resemblance to my great-great-grandfather (his theoretical son) and has the distinctive Gorodetsky ears.

Q9:  What is the oldest ancestral photo that you have?
A9:  The oldest photo I have is of my great-great-grandparents Victor Gorodetsky and Esther (Schneiderman) Gorodetsky and their first child, Etta.  It was taken in Kamenets Podolsky, Russia (now in Ukraine), probably about 1890.

Q10:  Did you have an ancestor that had an arranged marriage?
A10:  Not that I know of, although it's likely that some of my Jewish ancestors did have arranged marriages.

Q11:  If you could live in the time period of one of your ancestors what year would it be?  Where would it be?
A11:  About 1834 in Manchester, Lancashire, England, the year after my 3rd-great-grandparents Richard Dunstan and Jane Coleclough married.  I especially would ask Jane who her parents were and where she was born.

Q12:  Which ancestor was married the most times?
A12:  My father and his father were each married three times, but my grandfather also had a long relationship with my grandmother without benefit of marriage, so he probably wins.  Grampa married Elizabeth Leatherberry Sundermeier about 1922, Anita Clarice Loveman in 1953, and Adelle Cordelia Taylor in 1961, and he lived with my grandmother Anna Gauntt from about 1934–1952.

Q13:  If you’ve tested your DNA, what was the biggest ethnicity surprise?
A13:  The 12% Irish ancestry that Ancestry said I have, and then also said that my brother has.  So far I have nothing in my research to substantiate that.  On the other hand, I don't actually believe it, either.

Q14:  Did you have a female ancestor that was different or unusual from other females from that time period?
A14:  My mother, who was not inclined toward domesticity and worked outside the home from the earliest that I can remember.

Q15:  Did your ancestor go through a hardship that you don’t know how they managed?
A15:  Not an ancestor, but a collateral relative.  According to information from the 1900 census, my 3rd-great-grandfather's brother's wife (I said collateral, remember?) had three children who were living, but in 1910 she reported that she had had three children and none of them was alive.  Losing all three of your children within a ten-year period would have to be devastating.

Q16:  How often do you research?  Are you a genealogy addict?
A16:  I do some research almost every day, but even if I'm not researching, I do something related to genealogy every day.  I'm definitely addicted.

Q17:  Do you have someone in your family that will take over the family history?
A17:  Not yet, and definitely not for my own family.  So far the most interest has been shown by my older stepson, in my research into his family.

Q18:  Have you had a genealogy surprise?  What was it?
A18:  By the time I finally got the results of the DNA test it wasn't that much of a surprise, but I did confirm that my paternal grandfather's father was not the man his mother married.

Q19:  Are you a storyteller?  What’s your favorite family story?
A19:  I am a pretty good storyteller, which works well when I'm giving genealogy presentations.  My favorite family story is about how my father competed on Ted Mack's Amateur Hour and came in second place to Gladys Knight.

Q20:  What was your greatest genealogy discovery?
A20:  Learning that the Sellers family is descended from Alexander Mack, the founder of the Schwarzenau Brethren (Dunkers), even though I've since learned that I'm not actually a descendant of Mack because I'm not biologically a Sellers.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Oregon Archives Crawl

While I was living in California, I wrote about the Sacramento Archives Crawl (this year taking place tomorrow, October 6, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), part of the outreach during Archives Month.  The point of Archives Month is to make more people aware of archives and the great information you can find in them, and to encourage everyone to preserve their own records.

Well, after I moved to Oregon, it sure wasn't going to be practical to fly back to Sacramento just for that Archives Crawl.  But now I've learned about the Oregon Archives Crawl!  (There was no crawl in 2017, so that's why I didn't hear about it last year.  But Oregon appears to have been celebrating Archives Month since 2008.)

It seems to be set up similarly to the one in Sacramento, with a few facilities hosting tables for many archives and records repositories.  This year's event is being held on Saturday, October 20, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (a couple of hours shorter than the event in Sacramento).  The host institutions are the City of Portland Archives and Records Center, the Oregon Historical Society, and the central branch of the Multnomah County Library.  You can start crawling from any of the hosts and then progress to the others.

This year's theme is "Changing Attitudes."  Thirty-two groups are participating, including some from Washington State.

The Crawl also has a Facebook page, where it has been featuring posts about several of the groups that will have tables.

So I'm looking forward to visiting the different locations, talking with lots of archivists, and learning about what's available.  Anyone want to come out and "crawl" with me?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Wedding Wednesday

Mirta and Max
I learned via the New York City marriage index, which became available through the efforts of Brooke Schreier Ganz and Reclaim the Records, that my 4th cousin Max Szocherman married Mirta Mata in New York (probably Manhattan) in 1959, 59 years ago.  (Max and I share 3rd-great-grandparents Avram Yaakov Nowicki and SIrke.)  After consulting with other cousins on that side of the family,  I have been told that the wedding was about October 2, so I'm commemorating it today with photos that were shared with me by those cousins.

Max and Mirta were both born in Cuba, Max probably in Guanabacoa and Mirta in Habana.  I know the Szocherman family had already been traveling to and from New York prior to Castro coming to power, but they apparently moved there permanently after that event.  Max and Mirta likely knew each other already in Cuba.

Max, Tania, Julia, Louis, Mirta (face mostly hidden), ?, ?; Foreground: back of rabbi's head

Front row:  Julia, ?, Mirta; Left/middle:  ?, ?, Tania, Fanny, Welwel; Back:  Max, Honey, ?, ?

Left:  Julia, Honey, Eli; Right:  hat, Fanny, Louis; Back:  ?, ?

Left:  Julia, Honey, Eli;  Right:  hair, back of head with hat, Louis, Fanny, ?

Julia, Tania, Honey, Eli

?, Louis, Fanny, ?, ?, ?

Monday, October 1, 2018

Whoops! A Tad Behind in Wrapping Up FGS Day 3

Where does the time go?  I just realized that I didn't finish reporting on this year's FGS conference, having failed to write about the last day, even though one of the best sessions took place then.  Shame on me!

I began my Saturday with a volunteer shift at the Association of Professional Genealogists booth in the exhibit hall.  We usually don't get a lot of people stopping by, but it's nice to have the resources available for those who want to ask about the organization.  As usual, most of the inquiries I fielded were about how to find a professional genealogist to help with research, but a couple of new BYU graduates with degrees in family history asked for advice on starting a professional genealogy business.  I'm happy to spend some time in the booth to help promote the primary American organization for professional genealogists.

During my time in the booth, I popped out a couple of times and spent some time looking in the exhibit hall for good deals to spend some free "dealer dollars" that I received with my registration.  I finally decided on one of those books for a grandparent to write down information about his life and give to a grandchild — my boyfriend wants to create memories for his younger granddaughter, and I thought this would be a helpful supplement to the time they spend cooking together — and a more general memory book focused on events on each decade from the 1930's to the current time.  It's always fun to get free stuff, and the books ended up costing me not even a penny.

After my shift was over, I zoomed over to catch a session in the first time slot.  As much as it pained me to do so, I did not attend Tony Burroughs' presentation on oral history.  While Tony is one of my personal inspirations as a genealogist, I have read quite a bit about taking oral histories, and I thought I would be better served to learn something new.  In that vein, I went to Tina Beaird's talk on Scottish Presbyterian Church records, and I'm glad I did.  I know a fair amount about religious records, but I learned some specifics about the Presbyterian records, which can include not only the sacramental records one would expect (births, marriages, deaths) but also confirmations, transfers, pauper records, school records, session minutes, suscription lists, and print publications.  Wow, that's a lot of places to find information about your family members!  And Tina was a good speaker, too!

After Tina's talk came the lunch break.  Near the end of the break, MyHeritage held a trivia quiz in their booth, with attendees who answered questions about flags correctly winning various prizes, including DNA tests and annual subscriptions.  I managed to eke out a three-month subscription by guessing the right answer for the flag of Papua Guinea.

I spent the afternoon learning more cool genealogy information.  Ari Wilkins talked about how former slaves, after Emancipation, used newspaper advertisements and the Freedmen's Bureau to try to reconnect with family members.  No study has been done to determine how successful people were, but it appears that for the most part they were not.  It seems that more researchers are successful nowadays in reuniting family branches by using DNA and tracking down cousins.

Janis Minor Forté spoke about strategies to identify slave owners and then using that information to reconstruct slave-era families.  I already knew the techniques she described, but it's always good to attend talks such as this because there are often little gems you find nowhere else.  Since I have not been able to move any of my family lines past the 1865 barrier, I need all the help I can get.

The final presentation I heard was Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, covering copyright myths, in her version of the top ten.  The most important thing I learned in this session was that something I had been told years ago was wrong.  I don't even remember where I learned it, but someone I trusted gave me incorrect information about copyrights on photographs.  After Judy's talk it became clear to me that having your photographs developed in no way reduces or negates your copyright in those photos.  The developer functions as a publisher does for a book.  I'm glad I never passed on that bad information to anyone else but annoyed at myself for not having analyzed it better.

I had a great time at this year's FGS conference and learned a lot.  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go.