I’m heading back to the US for the largest West Coast genealogy conference - and the largest number ever of participating genealogy bloggers (70) – at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree 2011.
I just finished a short visit home after a long trip covering the East Coast. Here are some highlights of that trip.
At the end of March, I ran the MyHeritage.com booth at the Ohio Genealogical Society regional conference in Columbus. I reunited with old friends and colleagues, met new friends and also gave some lectures for local genealogy groups in Dayton and Cleveland.
The New England Regional Conference - in Springfield, Massachusetts – was next. I tried to find the Simpson family, but it seems it was the wrong Springfield. There were some very interesting lectures and the opportunity to work on my personal research with a lecture about genealogy repositories in Romania and Ukraine. A later conversation with the speakers discovered some previously unknown resources.
The genealogy conference schedule began very early in February for the 2011 genealogy tour – as I like to call it – at RootsTech, the first technology conference dedicated to genealogy, or perhaps vice versa. Family Search achieved its goal to bring together genealogy users and the technology developers who produce the wonderful tools we all use to trace, save and share our family memories and data.
The event was unique, and also allowed us to see old friends such as DearMyrtle, Thomas MacEntee, Dick Eastman and Lisa Louise Cooke. It was also an opportunity to make new friends, such as Ami, A.C. and Joan Miller - just to mention a few of the bloggers present.
Who Do You Think You Are Live will welcome some 20,000 visitors over this three-day event.
Our MyHeritage team has been busy! The first day of the family history fair was Friday, and we were very busy from the minute the show opened. Today (Saturday) will be even more crowded.
Here's famous genealogy blogger Dick Eastman with MyHeritage's chief genealogist Daniel Horowitz as Daniel demonstrates some of our new features.
Blogger and podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke dropped by yesterday to record short segments with Daniel and myself.
Today is expected to be even more crowded than yesterday and many people are dropping by to learn about the software, family sites, memory card game and other features such as SmartSearch, SmartMatch and more.
I'm preparing for my talk this afternoon on creating online sites for ancestral communities.
On Thursday evening, Daniel and I spoke in a double session for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. He spoke on SmartSearch, while my talk focused on genetic genealogy and DNA.
The MyHeritage team is very busy and includes Mario, Daniel, Robert, Laurence and mysef.
These conferences and fairs are always exciting, as we get to meet so many people. Many come up to us and announce that they are happy MyHeritage users. Others may have a small problem with a feature and Daniel is able to assist them, so they are also happy.
It's even more fun explaining about what we do to newcomers.
This was the first year for RootsTech, a new technology and genealogy conference sponsored by FamilySearch.org, attended by some 3,000 people.
The Salt Lake City, Utah-event was described by some as "a candy store" for genealogists, genealogy bloggers and technology creators, developers and suppliers.
As it brought together technology people and consumers of family history products, it also provided opportunities for genealogy bloggers to meet face-to-face with the movers and shakers.
Each day featured excellent presentations on many topics by well-known speakers. To see the speaker line-up, click here.
With so many exciting talks by industry leaders and speakers, it was hard to plan our days. MyHeritage Chief Genealogist Daniel Horowitz and I staffed the MyHeritage booth and were also scheduled speakers.
Researchers often dream of being locked up in a library, where we would have all the time in the world to enjoy those resources.
Since we don't usually get the chance to have unlimited access to such facilities, another interesting activity is to be at a conference attended by several hundred librarians.
Daniel Horowitz - Genealogy and Translation Manager at MyHeritage.com - and I were at the Association of Jewish Libraries conference in Seattle, Washington.
On the first day, we met with people from around the US and those who had traveled from other countries. Attendees were from public libraries, universities, schools, archives and many other organizations and institutions.
The recently concluded Southern California Genealogical Society's 41st Jamboree presented numerous such sessions.
Sometimes there are sessions at which the proverbial lightbulb switches on. Such essential knowledge is transmitted that the participants then find it difficut to look at their own individual family histories in quite the same way as before.
All of us have family stories that might be termed myths. How can we determine whether a story may be fact or fiction?
A fascinating session on just this topic was given by Jean Wilcox Hibben. With a PhD in folkore, an MA in speech communication, and a Certified Genealogist, Jean is president of both the Corona (California) Genealogical Society and the Southern California chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild secretary and much more.
I have to admit that some of my own recent research is not as organized as it could be, due to lack of time. There are notes on loose papers not yet in the correct folder or binder. There are photographs waiting to be sorted. There are miscellaneous printed emails that I understand - would anyone else?
Although beginning researchers might not think about this important topic, it is essential to address at every stage of research.
What will happen to your research if you become ill or worse? Will it be just thrown away? Will close family or other relatives understand what your work represents and its value?
This is a very personal topic for me as our family lost a 300-year-old family tree brought by one of the last family members to arrive from Belarus to the US in the early 1900s. He died in Florida in the 1950s and neither of his children were there. Everything in the house, including our priceless family history, was simply thrown away.
No matter how much research I do, the information contained in that tree will be impossible to replace in its entirety. It was compiled by those who lived that history and who knew much more than I can ever learn.