I’m at the National Genealogical Society family history conference again this year, this time in Las Vegas. The city is sort of wasted on me since I’m not real interested in gambling but it’s a good conference. Some highlights after three days:
- Three really good sessions on New York state. Most of my brick walls are there, and there turns out to be good reason for that, because records are pretty sparse compared to other states. A variety of source types were discussed, along with the problem of the dearth of records. The cheerful answer is that this isn’t a problem, just do cluster genealogy and indirect proof. Time to work more on the FAN club.
- Yesterday I went to a session on chain migration from Wójtowa, Galicia to Chicopee, Massachusetts taught by David Ouimette. I was worried that this was a bit too specific but it turned out to be real good. The story was interesting and provided good advice for Polish as well as other nationalities of genealogy.
- I mostly avoided the sessions by big-name genealogists only because I’ve heard them a lot already and wanted some other points of view. I did go to one session by Josh Taylor, though, called Borders and Boundaries, that covered the importance of researching a location before researching the people there. The idea is that the more you know about a location the better you can plan your research. You can also learn what life for the person would have been like even if you don’t have a lot of specifics on them. This approach was also built into the Polish session in the previous bullet, but not as explicitly.
I always like walking around the exhibit floor. Some highlights:
- I talked a lot with Chris and Katie Chapman of Geungle, who are working on a proof-based approach to genealogy software. The goal is a product that covers the genealogy process from speculative research up through family trees. Currently I have all that divided between Evernote, Evidentia, and RootsMagic. They have some interesting ideas based on semantic web technology and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
- AncestorSync is working on a product that will let you sync your genealogy database with someone elses. That way if you have another genealogist in your family you can share your work without merges or doing tricks with Dropbox and scripts like I do. I wrote about them during last year’s conference when they had an earlier version of the product, but they have gotten a lot done in the last year. They are now doing beta testing, and as soon as I can get the product I’m going to set it up to share work with my sister.
- I asked Bruce Buzbee of RootsMagic about a Mac version of the program, but it is still a ways off. Some of the libraries used in the Windows version are not available for the Mac so it is requiring a lot of writing from scratch. Fortunately the program runs pretty well under Crossover on the Mac so I can wait.
- I won two books, Sto Lat: A Modern Guide to Polish Genealogy and The History of the Polish Panorama from the Polish Mission near Detroit. I sort of bounce between American and Polish genealogy, so I’ll be ready for when I get back to Polish work.
- I got a presentation on ResearchTies, a web application for managing your research. You can set up a research plan, then do the tasks on your list, and log what you find. Your results are then searchable in a number of ways. It is more fully developed than the to-do lists and research logs in RootsMagic and more structured than Evernote. I’m pretty attached to Evernote so I won’t be switching, but if you need a way to manage your research tasks it looks pretty good.
- I stopped by the BCG booth to talk about certification. They had me read Harold Henderson’s portfolio to see an example of what is required. Nothing like pressure. It was a pretty interesting portfolio and I would have like to have read the whole thing if I had time. They also gave some advice on knowing when I’m ready to start the process. They said that if I can read Tom Jones’ new book Mastering Genealogical Proof then I’m ready to start. I had already bought the book yesterday, so now I’ll need to start reading.
I had an empty spot in the schedule yesterday so I went to the National Atomic Testing Museum. It was interesting to learn how that worked and it added some more interesting local flavor than the casinos.
One more day of sessions and then I fly home on the red-eye. I’ll be glad next year when the conference is in Richmond, VA.