Sunday, March 4, 2007

The talks I missed

I posted yesterday about the five talks that I attended at the Family History Fair in Escondido (CA). I missed 23 other talks, so I read the syllabus last night in a free hour and found some talks that I wish I had attended:

1) Alan Jones presented "The Magic of Roots Web" and "Using" One of my colleagues attended the Rootsweb one and said it was excellent. Unfortunately, the syllabus doesn't give much detail.

2) Kory Meyerink also presented "Getting There from Here: US Sources for Tracking Immigrant Origins," "Getting There When There's Nothing Here: European Sources for Tracing Immigrant Origins," and "Digging Up the Roots of Electronic Family Trees: Sourcing an Unsourced GEDCOM File." Kory is well known for his expertise on immigration, and I'm sure his two presentations were very helpful to those with that research area of interest. The last one has an excellent list of web sites with online family trees. The syllabus material is in outline form, and has numerous references, but I know (from experience) that Kory said a lot more than what is in the syllabus.

3) Barbara Renick also presented "Evaluating Compiled Genealogies," Finding Indexes for Un-indexed Books," and "Eleven Layers of On-line Searching." She applied the five phases of genealogy research on the first talk, and said that a compiled source should be evaluated using a "three strikes and you're out of luck" rule if the answers to the following questions are "no":

a) Are sources quoted?
b) Is the compiler related to the ancestral family or ancestor?"
c) Has standard usage been followed?
d) Is the information complete?
e) Is the family structure incomplete or inconsistent?
f) Is there a contradictory migration pattern?
g) Did the author gain anything by stretching or obscuring the truth?

One of my colleagues went to the "Finding Indexes ..." presentation and enjoyed it. Barbara defined OCR, and listed resources of online OCRed and electronic books. After reading the outline, I see that she missed some of the volunteer book transcriptions done by Janice Farnsworth (I've lost the link for her books), Jane Devlin (, Ray Brown ( and others in New England.

Barbara's last talk on "Eleven Layers..." looks interesting and is similar to my own list for searching online census records for elusive ancestors (hers is better outlined than mine). Her outline provides lots of advice and some warnings, including browsing through databases before searching them (try to find alternate spellings of names) and to beware of repositories with more than one catalog, or sites with more than one library.

4) Richard S. Wilson presented "Using Legacy Family Tree," "Scanning Basics," and "Editing and Enhancing Photos." His syllabus outlines are in narrative form and are very helpful. In the latter talk, he provides helpful hints for graphic formats, image editing programs, and recommended scanner resolution.

There were several other presentations, but these are the ones I think I missed out on the most. Having the syllabus helps, but there is no substitute for being there.

In my dream world, these talks are videotaped and sold online for download so that the speaker is rewarded for their hard work and the researcher can see and hear the talks they missed.

1 comment:

Steve Danko said...

Hi Randy,

I'm afraid that all the genealogies I've compiled would fail Barbara Renick's "three strikes and you're out of luck" rule because I'd have to answer "no" to the last three questions:

e) Is the family structure incomplete or inconsistent?
f) Is there a contradictory migration pattern?
g) Did the author gain anything by stretching or obscuring the truth?