Saturday, March 3, 2007

Live Blogging the Family History Fair

We made it to Escondido from Chula Vista in record time (35 miles) and registered at the Family History Fair in Escondido at the LDS South Stake. The venue has a large chapel, a second large auditorium and six smaller meeting rooms. There are four sessions in each of the seven rooms after the keynote speaker (Kory Meyerink) at 9 AM.

8 AM: In the display room, we found our Chula Vista Genealogical Society table and set up our displays and handouts. I spied an electric outlet and hooked up the laptop. A fellow came by to see if the wireless connection was working, and helped me get online.

There are tables and displays for the San Diego African-American Genealogy Research Group, San Diego Genealogical Society, Computer Genealogy society of San Diego, North San Diego County Genealogical Society, Hispanic Heritage Project, Escondido Genealogy Society, German Research Association, National Archives, Sons of Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Sons of the American Revolution, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, etc.

9:15 AM: So far, about 10 of our society have come by to say hello. We have a visitor's log to see who picked up handouts. Several people from the Chula Vista area have come by and were surprised to see that there was a local society. Potential members!

I will try to post something after every talk I attend. My 10:15 session with Richard Wilson was cancelled, so I'll try to hear Alan Jones on "The Magic of Rootsweb."

10:05 AM: The keynote address by Kory Meyerink was on "Googling Genealogy." It is a large task to summarize Google and it's application to genealogy in 40 minutes! Kory has a great handout in the syllabus - chock full of information about using Google for genealogy. He started out very simply - as if the audience was being introduced to Google. One lesson I learned is that the Boolean operators are my friend - I have not been using them and I should be using them. I also learned that Google indexes only part of a large page - that may be why some of my big research web page names don't appear in a Google search but some do. I have been trying wildcards at the end of words (e.g., "town*" does not return "townland"), but that doesn't work in Google. It also doesn't find truncated words (e.g., "marr" does not return "married"). He went through Google Directory, Books, News, Maps, Images, Earth, Email updates, etc. Kory has many great tips for using Google - this was a great presentation!

11:25 AM: I attended Barbara Renick's presentation on "Let Your Fingers Do the Walking." She took us through finding online resources, finding resources close to home, and ordering them from home. Her theme was that the smaller the geographic area covered by a resource, the more likely you are to find information on your obscure ancestors. Amen! She spent a lot of time on the WorldCat projects and stepped through a number of web pages to find small manuscripts in small libraries. I didn't know that the LDS Family History Library is not indexed on WorldCat. She also mentioned that the Southern California Gen Society in Burbank has excellent county resources. Barbara emphasized inter-library loan and copying services - from the FHL, Allen county Library, Library of Congress, the DAR and free lookups at local libraries or RAOGK. Another excellent presentation.

12:30 PM: I attended Beth McCarty's presentation on post-1837 Research in England and Wales. She showed typical birth, marriage and death records that were used for the Civil Registration after 1837. These were indexed in quarterly registers in separate registration districts. Beth explained how to find the names in the indexes - either online at or on microfilm (at an FHC). She presented strategies to find brides and grooms on the same page. She recommended obtaining the certificates using an agent in England that accepts US checks or credit cards, rather than pay a fee to a bank for a check in pounds sterling. Beth described the available census records, and how to find them online ( or on film (at an FHC). Lastly, she covered probate records after 1858 - film indexes are available on microfilm and the records have been microfilmed.

2:30 PM: Dee Sallenbach presented "Using US Probate and Deed Records to Track Your Family" to a large audience. She introduced the definitions of many probate terms and tips for using them, then did the same for land records. She spent half of the hour demonstrating how these records can prove relationships within families - tracing four generations of a Manning/Read family in South Carolina. There was a lot of good information here and in the syllabus.

3:45 PM: It's late, I'm tired, my butt hurts from the metal seats, so I decide to go to Kory Meyerink's presentation of "An Overview of Advanced Research Methods." Wow. A two week course in 60 minutes. I can't summarize this well, except to say it challenged me to consider things that I rarely consider. His charts expand on his outline, unlike most of the speakers today. Kory's theme was that Advanced Methods don't just use different sources - they deal with finding all resources and evaluating all of the information available. Putting your ancestors into context - the times they lived in, where they lived and why, their religion, occupation, financial status, education, etc. To solve some problems, you have to deal with their neighbors, associates, relatives, - the cluster of people they dealt with in their public lives. I couldn't take notes fast enough! I'm not tired anymore - which is good because I have to drive home now. A terrific presentation - one of many!

That's it -- I hope you enjoyed my running commentary.

8:00 PM: Well, we had 13 CVGS members in attendance. i'm guessing that the total attendance was over 300.

We made it home quickly, with lots of talk in the car about the speakers and their presentations - all positive. Now I have to read the rest of the syllabus.

When I set up the laptop at home, it would not boot to Windows - only a blank screen with a flashing cursor. Arghh. I called my son-in-law, who said to disconnect the AC cord and take the battery out, wait a minute or tow, and put the battery back in. Yep - that worked! How? Why? Who knows...but I'm back in business, but not knowing if it will happen again. We went out to dinner to celebrate my technical prowess. Umm, I guess it would be my son-in-law's technical prowess.

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