RSS Feed

Tag Archives: FGS Conference

The Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference: Part 2


It’s the Alamo Gift Shop!

I made a point of walking to the Alamo on my last day at the FGS Conference. My love of history spurred me to document my family’s history, and I certainly wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to explore one of the icons of American history. My first impression was the juxtaposition of scale. I walked out of a shopping mall onto the Alamo grounds. Highrise hotels dwarfed the small church. The whole beautiful Spanish style structure could fit right into the mall I had just walked through. But stepping inside, I sensed isolation and the fragility of this foothold in a growing land.

Meanwhile, back at the conference, I attended a session about military records by Curt B. Witcher of the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center at Fort Wayne, Indiana. He filled my head with a number of different directions to go while researching the seven sons of GGgrandfather Jacob Croy who enlisted in Marietta, Ohio to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War. More than that, Curt’s calm, welcoming demeanor and obvious expertise made me really want to visit the Allen County Public Library someday. I’ve heard fabulous things about it, and now the library is on my list.

Then I tackled Elizabeth Shown Mills, or more accurately, she tackled me. I attended two sessions by this guru of citations and proofing: Sources and Citations Simplified (really?) and Finding Origins and Birth Families: Methods that Do and Don’t Work (or document, document, document.) She outlined the expectations for sourcing, citing, and documenting all your hypotheses and conclusions. I was trying, really trying, to be thorough, accurate, and forthright, but it seems my performance was more what my husband says it is in the kitchen, a little sloppy. Downtrodden, I walked to my next session. As it happened, I sat next to someone who attended the same session. Not wanting to show my hand, I evenly asked, “What was your impression?” Sure enough, “I felt like quitting,” she said. A rush of relief enveloped me. I wasn’t the only one. Now, don’t get me wrong! I get it and so did the person I “interviewed.” Elizabeth’s “simplifications” are clear and valuable. Her very linear outlines of process are excellent. Her publications are sought out, even revered. Find them here, as a starting point. But, has those of you who have followed this blog know, I struggle with the push and pull between accuracy and the breath that brings these people of the past to life. 

Luckily, I hustled over to another session by Lisa Louise Cooke on How to Use Google Earth for Genealogy. She explained how to solve picture mysteries, access historical maps, find homesteads by searching land patents, and making video tours of an ancestor’s life. Now that will engage my family! The joy was back! Get excited at

And finally, I dealt with copyright law at Can I Use That In My Genealogy? What You Should Know About Copyright Law. I became very conscious of this responsibility while attempting this blogging project. As the presenter, Thomas MacEntee, outlined the process of determining what is and isn’t copyright protected, I began to feel a little more confident again. And, yes, human. I know better when to ask permission and know that I need to ask forgiveness here and there, as well. The bottom line: always give credit. I give Thomas MacEntee credit for a great presentation. Find him at He also gave permission for us to share this amazing site for recording your sources, citations, etc. (remember Elizabeth Shown Mills?) I might be able to do this after all. Meanwhile, my family is going to love those Google Earth tours!

The Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference 2014:Part 1

The River Walk in San Antonio

No, I’m not briskly traversing the famous walk in San Antonio right now. I’m in my hotel room after my first full day at the FGS Conference in San Antonio trying, after a first failed attempt, to remotely post my musings. My body experienced both the swelter of Southern Texas humidity and the local remedy, toe numbing, shiver producing air conditioning. But never mind, a well organized conference and engaging presenters more than made up for it.

The opening session featured Riders on the Orphan Train with Phillip Lancaster and Alison Moore, a multi-media presentation about the 70 plus years beginning in the early 1850’s when tens of thousands of children from New York were placed on trains heading all over the country to be adopted. Learn much more at this web site and, if you haven’t read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, do it. It is quick, well-written and inspiring.

I then headed to a session by Marion Pierre-Louis giving many excellent suggestions on blogging. I plan to implement many of them soon, but right now I am breaking an important rule, keep them short. Next time???

After lunch I moved on to a session by Melissa C. Tennant called Discovering Female Ancestors. She gave a plethora of suggestions regarding how to analyze artifacts looking for hints that can point the way to uncovering the who, where, and what of women in history. I filled my notes with many ideas on how to proceed with a special mystery woman of my own from my last post, my GGgrandmother Margaret “Pugh” Croy.

Finally, my WOW of the day, Lisa Louise Cooke! Her session called Turning your iPad or Tablet into a Genealogy Powerhouse confirmed what a good friend kept telling me, “Ipad’s can really be amazing if you learn more.” Okay, Ron, you are right. (Well, maybe…I don’t exactly feel that way right now as I try to complete this post!) But Lisa was fabulous, so fabulous that I dropped my last session and went rushing to her next one down in the exhibit hall. I will probably catch one more before the conference ends. Get her newsletter, subscribe to her podcasts, read her book! Not a genealogy geek? Don’t let that stop you. If you want to maximize the value of your tablet, check her out at