Monday, November 14, 2011

Georgia Family History Expo Day 2

The second day of the Georgia Family History Expo went much smoother for me. I arrived early enough to check out some more exhibits before sessions started.

Even though I usually avoid having my picture taken, I promised my little girl I'd get one of me at the expo. A very nice expo attendee from Louisiana took it for me. Now you can put a face to the person you've been reading.

My first session of the day was Special Sources for Confederate Research at Nara with Robert S Davis. At first the classroom didn't have many people and I was beginning to think not many people wanted to fess up to the fact our ancestors were on the losing side. But then people started pouring in. Apparently it was popular with geneabloggers because Valerie Craft, Tonia Kendrick and Linda McCauley were there as well.

I learned that these particular records are at only the main National Archives in Washington, D.C. not the regional ones. They are supposed to be sending them to St. Louis in the near future. If you happen to be in Alabama, Wallace State College also has the records on microfilm. One thing to remember is that NARA doesn't have all of the military records. Some can only be found at state archives. This was a great session with an amazing speaker and I picked up several tips to use on my ancestors.

I had originally planned to take The Campaigns Forgotten: American Wars after the American Revolution and before the Civil War Records at NARA for my second session, but switched to Newspapers: Find the Details about Your Family with Thomas Jay Kemp of GenealogyBank. A lot of the material was familiar to me already. I've worked in the newspaper industry and used them before in my research.

I did pick up something new though. When researching for newspaper articles of our ancestors, we tend to look in only their local paper. However, articles about them are sometimes found in newspapers farther away. I definitely need to widen my newspaper search to see what I might have missed in earlier searches. Session attendees also got a special subscription rate so I'm going to check into what newspapers they have available to see if it's worthwhile for me to subscribe.

My third session was Using the Genealogical Proof Standard and US Census Records as a Foundation for Creating an Effective Research Plan with Teicha Hill Milhes. This was my first time attending one of her lectures and I found her to an excellent presenter. She really connected with the audience. She gave a good overview of her method for creating a research plan, what she dubbed the "Law & Order" Approach.

I feel a lot more comfortable with creating research plans now and can't wait to put what I learned to practice. One thing she reminded us, which bears reminding to anyone that researches genealogy, is that census records are not always right. She used a census record of her family to illustrate one of the most error-filled census records I have saw thus far. It had siblings of the household head listed as his children, children of his sister listed as his children and his mother listed as a male.

For my last session, I had originally planned to attend Flames Over the Courthouse with Leland Meitzler. I attended one of his sessions last year and was impressed by his knowledge and enthusiasm. However, it appears he wasn't able to make it because that session was dropped from the syllabus when I checked it before I left home.

I was going to substitute Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands with Joan E Healey. However, I decided to skip the last session in favor of visiting Ask the Pros and FamilySearch to get some clues on a couple problems I had run into with my tree. I'm happy to say I now have a couple new avenues to try.

Last of the day was the closing ceremonies. That held a bit of a surprise for me. When Family History Expos President Holly Hansen was talking about her family, I heard a name that sounded somewhat familiar. I'm going to have to do some research to make sure I'm right, but if I am, we have a common ancestor. As with last year, I didn't win anything, but I still had a great time and I'm looking forward to next year's expo.

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