Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 2 at the NGS Conference

It snowed overnight, but the walks were only wet when we all traipsed into the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City for Day 2 of the National Genealogical Society Conference at 8 a.m.

I went to Elissa Scalise Powell's presentation on "The Research Cycle - Don't Pedal Backwards." [Have you noticed that the professionals all have this catchy title...just wait!]. Elissa described a 7 step Research Cycle, and noted that many researchers start at #5 - "Search and collect the data" without thinking about Steps 1 to 4 - analyze the current state of the problem, create a hypothesis or define a problem, identify all sources for the data, and design a research plan for accessing and examining data. Steps 6 and 7 are analyze and evaluate results and draw a conclusion. Elissa used a case study of Joshua Hammond (born 1797 where? MD, VA or PA?). She found records for Joshua and his siblings to determine that Joshua was born in PA.

The Exhibit Hall opened at 9 a.m., and I talked quite a bit to Leland Meitzler, Tom Kemp, Laura Dansbury of Ancestry.com, Diane Haddad and Allison Stacy of Family Tree Magazine, Pat Richley and Ron Arons (dressed in his gangster suit today - he made the local newspaper in his convict outfit on Wednesday). I talked so much that I missed the 9:30 class, so stayed and chatted some more with several other folks.

Before 11 a.m., I went off to attend Elizabeth Shown Mills' talk on "What Kind of source is This? Original? Derivative? Primary? Secondary? Direct? Whatchamacallit?" [see what I mean - have we ever seen "Whatchamacallit in a presentation title before?] Elizabeth discussed "Humpty-Dumpty Words" (those that are obsolete or have imprecise meanings - like "primary source," "secondary source," "collateral source," "printed primary source," "tertiary source," etc. She also discussed the legal and judicial proof standards - preponderance of evidence, clear and convincing, beyond a reasonable doubt -- and noted that they don't serve genealogy well because there is really no such thing as a "Final answer" in genealogical and historical research. Her main point was that genealogy research needs precise and consistent terminology that fits our needs. The terms in the Genealogical Proof Standard serve the genealogists needs - original or derivative source, primary or secondary information, direct and indirect evidence.

I hurried out of the room to have lunch in the lunch area, but got sidetracked to the entrance doors where it was snowing pretty good outside. I had to take some pictures... After lunch, I went to the computer area to check in on Facebook and Twitter. Then it was off to the Ancestry.com meeting with the genea-bloggers. There were about 20 in attendance. Eric Shoup summarized the ExpertConnect service (they have 2400 providers, about 700 of them meet an "approved" criteria). The average rating of all providers is 4.7 out of 5, which is excellent.

Tony Macklin then went through some of the changes to the Search process and why they are modifying it. He noted that they engaged 20 of their most passionate critics, and solicited over 400 feedback comments in the process. Most of the discussion was similar to the Ancestry.com presentation on Wednesday night. In question time, I asked if Ancestry.com was considering a Person wiki along the Ines of New FamilySearch and WeRelate.org, and the answer was no. Eric noted that there needed to be some sort of arbitrator and that Ancestry.com wasn't able or willing to do that. There were several geneabloggers there that I had not met before - Banai Feldstein, Amy Urman, Mary Douglas and Michelle Goodrum. I also met Rick Crume for the first time.

I was determined to attend the 2:30 p.m. session - and decided on Debbie Mieszala's talk on "The Curious Case of the Disappearing Dude." Debbie chased down James McBride, who was age 2 in the 1880 census in Ottawa County, Michigan, son of Thomas and Mary McBride, with several siblings. She found that father Thomas was a captain on the Great Lakes, that mother Mary died in 1893, and in the 1900 census only the two youngest children were found living with Mary's brother, Joseph Cowan in Muskegon MI. Thomas apparently faked his death in 1883, came back from California where he had run off, and died in Duluth MN after a fall - all from newspaper records. In the process, Debbie found that son James began using the name JC Bud Mars and was an aeronaut, flying balloons and later airplanes, and was actually fairly famous - there's a book about him. He lived to 1944 and died in Los Angeles, after living in San Antonio TX, Fremont MI, New York City, Montpelier VT. A fascinating story about the person, but also about Debbie's search - it's worthy of an NGSQ article, I think!

I hung out in the Exhibit Hall for awhile, then went to my hotel room and read my email, and at 5 p.m., Linda and I walked over to the Nauvoo Cafe in the Joseph Smith Building for dinner. At 6:30 p.m. we got to the LDS Conference Center (21,000 seats) and were treated to a two hour show hosted by Jay Verkler of FamilySearch and featuring five short videos of family history stories, five songs by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and an hour-long dissertation by author David McCullough. We enjoyed all of it! The walk back was cold, but dry!

3 comments:

Wendy said...

I'm so jealous! Glad you are having fun. It sounds so educational and interesting. Thank you very much for blogging about it!

Brenda said...

Great recap! I wish I was there, even with the snow:)

Heather Rojo said...

How is David McCullough as a speaker? He's getting on in years. He lives near my sister on Martha's Vineyard, and when my Dad was still alive he would bring his books to the island and walk down to David's house to have him autograph his books. A very nice guy. I hope to inherit those books someday.