This was the longest, shortest week ever. I took in so much information there were moments I thought my mind simply couldn't take any more in, and then another nugget of wisdom would plunk itself in front of me and I'd wedge it in. I met so many people, but missed so many that I wanted to meet in person. There's so much research for me to do here in Cincinnati I could probably stay a month and not get it all done. But I have not a single regret about my week at NGS 2012. I will use the tools I've been provided to be a better genealogist, and that's the main goal of the Conference. However, the relationships created here are truly what it's all about. And for that I'm especially thankful.
I started Saturday sessions with Harold Henderson's "Indirect Evidence". I found it interesting this was an underlying theme in many of the sessions; the use of 'non-evidence' to help move research forward. Of course, there were sessions like Harold's that addressed it directly and he's a great speaker.
After Harold's session I walked out of the room, only to find myself in the middle of a long line of people waiting for a session that was starting in more than half an hour. Just to show what a long week it's been, I erroneously tweeted, "Waiting IN LINE to see Tom Jone's presentation...not confident we're going to get in. :-( #NGS2012" It wasn't until about 20 minutes later as I was grabbing a seat that I realized it was actually Elizabeth Shown Mills presentation I'd been waiting for, and I tweeted this, "Heh. I'm actually waiting for ESM's 'Information Overload?'...LOL...think that applies? #NGS2012" Yep. It completely applied.
Elizabeth spoke to a packed room, and I have to say that more than any other session, I took a lot from this one. She discussed how we've learned to cram the information we gather into the little boxes in our genealogy programs and that we've stopped using two essential tools in the Genealogist's arsenal: The Research Report and Research Notes. Of course, I believe the highlight of the session was when she quipped, regarding contacting someone about their relative, "...we're not gonna tell cousin Genie that her mama's two grapes short of a fruit salad..." The room erupted in laughter!
We caught up with Tina Lyons and her mom and with Linda McCauley we headed over to Chipotle for a quick lunch. There was a method in our madness. None of us had had Graeter's yet, and there was no way I was going to leave Cincy without having some. So, a Black Raspberry Chip in a pretzel cone later, my trip is now complete. (Not really, but my god...it was delicious!!)
I went 'light' on the afternoon sessions, enjoying "Paleography, Interpreting Early American Handwriting" by Carol Whitton. The best part of her presentation is that she made it interactive: we received pieces of lined paper and during the session we were given time to attempt to write our family surnames using the old alphabet. It was a lot harder than you'd expect! But, this class will help me better identify unknown characters when reading those old letters, wills and deeds from the early 1800s.
The final session was a bit of a stretch for me: "Success Story: Finding a European Village of Origin" by James Beidler. He followed a trail of seemingly indirect evidence to locate his German ancestor in his village of origin. As a German specialist, his focus was on Germany, and about half way through, I was thinking I wasn't going to get anything from the session. But, this week has been full of unexpected surprises and this was no exception. During the Q&A, someone asked about German handwriting, and Mr. Beidler made a comment about his expertise in this area. I quickly pulled out my laptop, downloaded a few pictures to my phone and after the session was over, waited patiently in line to ask him a question. As he was hurriedly trying to leave the room, I showed him the picture of one of the letters I'm conserving for my family; one of the letters I wasn't sure which language it was in. He stopped and carefully looked at it...and proclaimed it German! He also took my business card and promised to send me several resources I can use to get the letters translated. Another great success for the week!
I ran across the street to the Hyatt to meet up with Susan Clark, Becky Wiseman and Kathy Reed. Susan, Kathy and I have an interesting connection, and we were glad to have the opportunity to sit down and talk. A bit later, we were joined by Linda McCauley and Kim VonAspern Parker. But, the week was long, so Becky and I headed back to our hotel. I understand from social media that we missed quite a bit...I'll be searching for posts that provide the details ;-)
This was just an incredible week. I appreciate that there are lots of you that weren't able to go, and I hope that I was able to give you a feel for how it went. I've followed others as they've gone to conventions and now I know how it is being on the other side.
My time here isn't over. I'm closing up my laptop and heading back to Mary Strubbe's to complete the conservation on the German letters she has, scan as many of the photos as I can and spend some time creating some research reports on what I found here. Tomorrow morning I'll be leaving Cincy early to head to Bloomington, Indiana where I'm meeting Mary's uncle, Stephen Baer. Steve is Nancy Baer Strubbe's twin brother, and hopefully, the holder of a Burrows family bible dated 1801. At the least, he'll be able to fill me in on his childhood in Cincy and tell me a bit more about my Cincy relatives.
A special thanks to Becky Wiseman, who was crazy enough to put up with my 'perkiness' in the morning, and for being a wonderful roommate. Everything happens for a reason. Thank you all for taking the time to read my blog. I genuinely appreciate it. I love Genealogy and my Genealogy Family.
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