Disclaimer

My research may not be completely correct and should be taken as a work in progress. Please do your own fact-checking. I welcome collaboration from any distant relatives.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

NERGC Wrap-Up

By Saturday my head was spinning! Between starting the week with a nasty cold, the dreadful and cowardly bombing at the Boston Marathon and the ensuing manhunt, and my first genealogy conference, it's been an intense week! By Saturday there was a lot to be thankful for, my cold was reduced to a minor annoyance, the Boston bombers were identified and either dead or captured, and I was having a great time with all the wonderful people attending NERGC. 

Friday Night, Heather Rojo hosted a special interest group for bloggers. It was very well attended and I think everyone had a great time. It was a diverse group of experienced bloggers (some with multiple blogs), relative newbies, and a few who are considering starting their first blogs. Heather created a list of blog posts about the conference that can be accessed at Nutfield Genealogy. I noticed that several only have a day or two and I expect a few more posts will trickle in as people recover and write about the last day or write a wrap-up post. 

Saturday, I attended several very interesting talks and a workshop. The first talk was given by Craig Scott of Heritage Books. They specialize in histories and genealogies including reprints of hard to find older titles. I've purchased a number of their books but this talk was not about promoting the business. The topic was "Getting Ink on Paper: Publishing Your Material in a Digital Age." Craig shared his experience to help the audience understand what makes a quality genealogy book. He is one of the most entertaining speakers I've seen. 

Next I went to see F. Warren Bittner for a second time. This talk was supposed to be following the writing theme but his computer was hit by a virus and he lost his presentation. Being a class act, he politely told participants that they were free to leave without offending him but he would be giving a different talk than what was advertised. I chose to stay and learned all about courtship rituals, the guild system, Bavarian government, illegitimacy, and marriage laws in 19th century Germany - a great history lesson illustrated by the story of one family - "The Bittner Bastards of Bavaria." I highly recommend attending any talk he gives - you won't be disappointed! 

Then Donna Boumenot and I had just sat down to lunch when Heather and Vincent Rojo showed up at the same pub and we ended up all having lunch together. After lunch, I attended a workshop by Elissa Scalise Powell to learn how to write research reports. I wasn't sure I needed to do this but by the end of the workshop, I was convinced of the value to even the most casual genealogist. 

Next it was off to learn about "Symbolism on New England Gravestones" by Donna E. Walcovy. She had a few technical difficulties but once she got that fixed, "Oh Boy!" She is a character! She is also a highly intelligent and skilled preservationist who is passionate about New England cemeteries. She shared many photos of graves to discuss the changes in artwork over time. I laughed more in her presentation than in any other. 
Donna calls this common image from Puritan times "Lightbulb Head" for obvious reasons
Phew! Are you tired yet? I know I was. I had a quick break to call Bill and then a glass of wine before heading into Saturday's banquet. I shared a table with more interesting people. A man named Ivan from Connecticut who is a retired journalist but still an avid writer of fiction. He wanted my thoughts on high school students and disciplinary infractions so he could add realism to his latest short story. Fellow bloggers, Heather Rojo and Jennifer Zinck, were at my table. 

The dinner talk was "Cold Case Unit: Adventures of a Forensic Genealogist" by Milli Knudsen. It was fascinating to hear her journey from a teacher to a genealogist and indexer to working with the state police in New Hampshire on their cold cases. Although the stories of the girls she used to illustrate her work were sad and disturbing, it was interesting to see how solving a genealogy puzzle is like doing police work. Her skills at organizing information so it could be easily analyzed proved to be just what the cold case unit needed. Click here for a news article about her experiences. 

Then it was time to say goodbye to my new friends and head back to Maine...and I got home about 11:15 pm. Clearly I need to be better about taking pictures to use in my blog posts but if you check out the other blog posts from Nutfield Genealogy, you'll see that others have learned that lesson already. It was an awesome experience and I can't wait to see everyone again. I certainly got my money's worth out of this conference!