Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Planning for the Expo: The First Weeding of Sessions

Last year, I attended my first ever genealogy conference, the 2010 Atlanta Family History Expo. I had a blast and came home with my head buzzing over all the new information I had learned and a determination to do it again as soon as I got the opportunity. I have been waiting since I got home for this year's expo agenda to be posted so when I saw that it was finally up the other day, I started planning.

From last year, I knew that the hardest thing for me, aside from getting over my shyness, was figuring out what session I wanted to attend at each time slot. There are so many good ones to choose from, it's hard to narrow it down to just one.

Last year, I focused on sessions that could help me in my personal research. Since most of my lines are concentrated in the Southeastern United States, my skills and experience are in that area. While I may eventually choose this region as my area of specialization, I need skills in other areas as well so I've decided to take at least a couple sessions specifically to expand my horizons.

So far, I've done a little narrowing, but as you can see, I still have a ways to go. Since the expo isn't until November, I have some time to weed down the list even more. My mom is interested in genealogy as well and has expressed an interest in going with me to the conference so maybe I can talk her into taking a few of the sessions for me.

Friday, November 11th

02:00 PM     
  • Opening Keynote Address
03:30 PM 
  • Researching North and South Carolina-the people, the records, the jurisdictions. Some of my maternal line has roots in South Carolina. I also live close to the South Carolina line, making it a distinct possibility that I will be researching there in the future.
  • Georgia Research: the Basics. I also have Georgia roots with multiple lines on my maternal side. This made the list because of that, but the fact that it includes the basics in the title of the session makes me wonder if it might be too basic. I made the mistake of choosing a basic class last year and was disappointed because it didn't really offer much additional information over what I already knew.
  • African American Newspapers. This session I chose as a way to expand my horizons. I do have a distant direct-line African-American ancestor so this would be helpful with that particular ancestor. However, the main reason this session made the list is that it is something I'm not familiar with and want to learn more about.
04:50 PM
  • Census Techniques and Strategies for Finding Elusive Ancestors. This session was actually on my list of possibilities last year, but I ended up going with a different session. I do have some very elusive ancestors so this would be helpful to me in my personal research, but also towards my eventual goal of becoming a professional genealogist.
  • Finding Your English/Welsh Ancestors. I do have English roots (don't we all?), but have done no serious research into those ancestors. As with the other session offered in this time slot, this would help me personally and professionally.
  • Historical Events and Their Impact on German Research. This session is definitely a stretch. Unless one pops up with more research, I have no German ancestors. That means pretty much everything that's covered in this session, aside from what I learned in history class, will probably be brand new to me.
  • Georgia Land Records. As I mentioned before, I have a lot of roots in Georgia. Land Records are also something I have not yet explored.
07:50 PM.
  • The Clothesline Approach to Documentation and Analysis. I enjoy reading Dear Myrtle's blog and have learned a lot from it, but I have never had the opportunity to attend one of her presentations. Since documentation is something I'm working on doing consistently and I could probably use more tips on analysis, this session definitely makes my list.
Saturday November 12th

10:00 AM
  • The Tired, the Poor, the Huddled Masses and the Wretched Refuse: US Immigration from 1820 to 1954. Aside from researching my husband's immigrant ancestors, I don't have a lot of experience in this area so this is an area in which I need to sharpen my skills.
  • How to Document Your "Common Man" Ancestors in British Land Records. As I mentioned before, while I have British ancestors, I haven't really researched them so I'm not familiar with the available records.
  • Special Sources for Confederate Research in NARA. I have Confederate ancestors, but haven't really explored NARA that much so this would be helpful.
11:20 AM
  • Hansel & Gretel: Finding and Following Our German Ancestor's Trail Home. As with the other German session, this one is on the list because it takes me out of my comfort zone.
  • Finding Your Scottish Ancestors. This is another session chosen specifically because it's something I know nothing about.
  • The Campaigns Forgotten: American Wars after the American Revolution and before the Civil War Records in NARA. As I said before, I haven't really explored NARA that much. I'm also curious about the wars and records I may be missing.
  • Question Everything. I included this session on the list of possibles because I think it might be helpful in teaching me to evaluate and analyze records more effectively.
  • Newspapers: Finding the Details about Your Family. While I have used newspapers before in my research, I could always use more tips. Plus I have to admit I'm curious about the special access promised.
01:10 PM
  • German Research: Records Other than Vital. Another German research session chosen to expand my horizons.
  • Finding Your Irish Ancestors-Are There Really Any Records? I have been told that my Hayes line came from Ireland. Until I'm able to extend my line beyond my 2nd great grandfather, I can't prove it, but I'm curious about what records are available.
  • Using the Genealogical Proof Standard and US Census Records as a Foundation for Creating an Effective Research Plan. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm not that great with putting together research plans. This is definitely one that could be helpful.
02:30 PM
  • Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. I've heard of the Freedmen's Bureau, but beyond that, I don't know much about it.
  • Records of the Poor in England-Pre 1837. Another area I'm not very familiar with and want to learn more about.
  • Flames Over the Courthouse. With lots of Southern roots, burned courthouses are a given. I'm always interested in alternate record sources I can use.
03:50 PM
  • Closing Keynote Address


  1. Wow! You'll be busy. I hope you post some re-caps on your blog for those of us at home. :)

  2. I will be posting a recap of the courses I eventually decide on. Last year, I did a recap of each day, but had to wait until I got home because I didn't have a way to post while I was gone. Or rather, I didn't want to post using the small screen on my phone. I did tweet throughout the conference though and plan to do so again this year.

    This year, I should have a laptop or tablet (fingers crossed) when I go. My plan is to do a recap of the day each evening and then possibly a couple posts with a more in-depth look at my favorite sessions once I get home.