Thursday, April 18, 2013

My First Genealogy Conference!

I'm in Manchester, N.H. attending the 2013 New England Regional Genealogical Conference. As someone who's dabbled in genealogy for quite a few years, I must say this past year has really taken my hobby to a new level. As I reflect on what made the difference, I have to say it's blogging. When I go to write something about one of my ancestors, I need to dig deeper to find the story behind the names and dates. I am also aware that I don't want to spread false information so I feel an obligation to hold my research to a higher standard of genealogical proof than I did when I was "dabbling." I am so grateful to Bill West of West in New England as he is the person who cajoled me into giving it a try and his blog provided me with ideas of how to get started. 

The sense of community among those who blog about genealogy is amazing! People are so generous in sharing information and helping you when you're stuck. Everyone cheers for and promotes each others' blogs. At the conference, bloggers wear beads to identify each other as fellow bloggers and tomorrow night there is a special group meeting of bloggers. I'm very excited about going and meeting some people who I only know from the online community. 

I was a little apprehensive about attending the conference on my own. I knew a lot of people would be attending with friends and spouses and many would already know each other from other conferences or historical and genealogical societies. I have to say that it's not just the bloggers who are very friendly! From the woman at the registration desk this morning who asked about the surnames I am researching (we discovered a common ancestor!) to those who chatted with me at lunch and dinner (everyone seems to have a family member who attended or attends Bentley), I have met and heard fascinating stories about their adventures tracing their family history. 

And since it is a conference, I should note that the workshops are wonderful. The opening this morning was about the mills in Lowell and Lawrence...well, I teach about that so I wasn't prepared to learn much...but I was proven wrong. Sandra MacLean Clunies' use of three specific people who worked in the mills highlighted some aspects of mill work that I hadn't thought much about before. Laura Murphy De Grazia paid moving tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon victims before her attempt to define what constitutes a "reasonably exhaustive" search. She had great examples and analogies to bring to life the topic and I came away with a much deeper understanding of the rather nebulous term. Warren Bittner shared the trials and tribulations of documenting his grandmother's family in New York. It was fascinating to see how even a certified genealogist struggled to piece together the evidence. It was like a episode of Law and Order following him through the clues to the presentation of persuasive proof of her parentage. He has a very entertaining delivery with lots of humor. 

Tomorrow is day two and I can't wait to see what else I can learn and who else I can meet. Who wants to come with me next year? 

1 comment:

  1. Very good. I am from Maine also and now live in Tennessee. I also started a blog about my family in Mt Vernon,Vienna, and Woolwich (all in Maine).
    I grew up in the Lewiston-Auburn area. Graduated from Edward Little High School. Where are you from? Mary Ellen