Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Day One at the NGS 2013 Conference - Morning Report

The 2013 NGS Conference started today with an excellent Keynote talk, some mariachi music, the open Exhibit Hall, and the first day of sessions.

Jordan JonesNGS President, opened the Conference by welcoming the attendees, and summarizing the benefits of being an NGS member.  He introdsuced Julie Miller, who named the winners of the Newsletter Awards, and the Presidential citation.  Amy Crow gave a short summary of
The Keynore speaker at 8 a.m. was Marina L. Smith on "People, Policy and Records - the Importance of Historical Background."  Marian noted that:

*  Some questions take years to answer  You won't find everything at once. 
*  You need historical background to solve many problems
*  Question your sources.

Her case study to illustrate her points was trying to find out who wrote the Morton Allan Directory of European Steamship Arrivals, from 1890 to 1930, punlished by the Immigrant Information Bureau.  It wasn't a person named Morton Allan!  She noted that, after the 1906 Naturalization Act, the government required the immigrant to provide the port, date of entry and ship name to become a naturalized citizen.  Consequently, it became a challenge for some to remember those details many years later, and a little business sprang up near some ports.  Eventually, the Directory was created by somebody.  Significant fraud occurred, especially with ticket agents who used the book.  Marian eventually found that a former Ellis Island worker, who had worked for Cunard later, wrote the directory and a relative name Lilly Goldman published the Directory.  In the 1930 U.S. Census, Lilly Goldman had sons Allan and Morton, hence the name of the Directory. Marian noted that records tell an ancestors story, but the source also has a story.

After the Keynote, Jordan Jones, Shirley Wilcox and Melinde Byrne gave short retrospectives on the lives and accomplishments of John Humphries and George Russell, two NGS leaders who died in the past year.  This was nice. Then the winners of the 7-night stay in Salt Lake City was announced (Heather from Seattle), and the winner of the 2014 NGS Conference Registration in Richmond was announced (Terri O'Connell, one of our geneablogger colleagues).  A loud cheer came up from our little area of the hall.

As a finale, a local mariachi group from a Las Vegas area school played several songs in front of the assembly, then led us out to the entrance of the Exhibit Hall, played a few more songs, and the Exhibit Hall opened about 5 minutes early at 9:25 a.m.

I rushed into the Exhibit Hall looking for the Blogger/Press area, and finally found it opposite Leland Meitzler's Family Roots Publishing display (turn hard right at the entrance to the Exhibit Hall).  I put my stuff down, and hooked up the laptop to the Ethernet cable (yay!!).  I wandered every aisle of the Exhibit Hall - my sense is that it's about two-thirds the size of the RootsTech 2013 hall with maybe half of the vendors.  

I went off with Paul Hawthorne for the SDGS and CGSSD pictures at 10 a.m. at the registration area.  Then it was back to the Exhibit Hall to read blogs on the laptop and gab with the other bloggers (Valerie, Terri, Jen, Leland, Emily).  

I went off at 10:40 a.m. to be sure I had a seat at the first presentation session.  I went to Judy G. Russell's talk on "The Treasure Trove in Legislative Petitions."  Judy showed many examples of interesting and humorous petitions from Federal and State records during this talk, often reading paragraphs of interest from them.  For many of the examples, she described what could be learned from them about the people involved, the historical setting, and the issue at hand.  Two of the most interesting petitions were from Andrew Jackson in the early 1800s protesting his still tax, and Mary Todd Lincoln asking for a pension in 1869.

Judy described some of the record collections/group in the Natinoal Archives, Library of congress and State Archives, noting that much of the material is not digitized or indexed.  Some genealogical societies have indexed archival collections that might be found on PERSI.  Some published records may be found  in online book collections.   She noted that illiteracy did not stop petitions, that researchers should search for issues and not surnames in finding aids, to use newspapers to determine issues of the day, and to look for women using topics like temperance, suffrage and schools.

Judy is an excellent speaker (but I knew that from the webinars I've seen), and has a wealth of knowledge on her subject.  If you have a chance to see this talk, I highly recommend it.

After Judy's talk, I headed off to lunch at the SuperBook Deli and ate my cheeseburger watching four baseball games, a soccer game, three horse races and a dog race.

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

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