Saturday, January 12, 2008

SDGS Seminar with Arlene Eakle

The San Diego Genealogical Society 62nd Annual Seminar and Luncheon was today at the Handlery Hotel and Resort in Mission Valley in San Diego. There were about 160 in attendance. This program was very informative and helpful to anyone doing genealogy research.

Arlene H. Eakle was the Seminar presenter, and she had four talks:

* "The Appalachian Triangle" - SW Virginia, including West Virginia, NW North Carolina, NE Tennessee and SE Kentucky - tracing an ancestor through the Appalachian Triangle is the most difficult American lineage of all to prove.

* "How to Find Birth, Marriage, Death Records Before 1900" - a review of how to obtain records from public offices, and how to find vital records in non-public office records, such as in newspapers, Americana, Bibles, pedigree and family group sheet files, mortality schedules, military pension records, etc. She had a list of useful web sites, both fee and free.

* "Evaluating Genealogical Evidence" - Accuracy for your genealogy records is a direct result of how you record and organize your genealogy data. She introduced her unique system, the jurisdictional approach, which guarantees a 96% success rate in tracing hard-to-find ancestors.

* "Tracing Women: A Fresh Look" - Tracing women successfully requires an examination of the activities in their daily lives - work, skills, duties, contacts, responsibilities, etc. Most historical treatments overlook or ignore the role of women in history. Arlene covered women's historical study resources, and gave examples form her own research.

Arlene passed out 24 pages of handouts, and there were several more free pages on the sales table. Although she didn't say it explicitly, one of her major messages is that in order to solve difficult ancestral research problems, you need to visit the localities involved and research in town, county and state repositories. The Internet speeds up the "survey" part of research with online books, census, military, immigration and other records, but there is so much more not yet on the Internet.

Needless to say, Arlene is a remarkable genealogy speaker and researcher. You can read about her research trips, publications and business endeavors on her blog site at and her web site at She sold many books and reports at this seminar!

The lunch was good (green salad, pork roast, mashed potatoes, veggies, cheesecake), and the table conversation was great. There was a mix of experience at our table, and it was amazing to find three sets of people at our table with an interest in the same counties. Ann and I talked extensively about Jefferson County, NY while Mary and Penny discussed eastern Alabama research.

The society installed its new officers today. Congratulations to Marna Clemmons for her election to President, succeeding Peter Steelquist who has served six years. SDGS has been in good hands during Peter's service, and I'm confident that Marna will continue SDGS's excellence in programs, administration and education. Peter received a nice desk set for his service.

There were many opportunity drawing prizes today, and once again I didn't win a darn thing. The big prize was a two-day stay at a Salt Lake City hotel. That would have been nice!

The conference room is not a wonderful venue. There were 170 seats jammed together in rows of 10, with a center aisle, a table with the overhead projector and a stand-up screen in the front. I much prefer to see visuals than hear the speaker talk. Arlene had some visuals to show her points, but not many, and they were difficult to read for many in the audience.

I struggle to stay awake in the afternoons. I was full, the doors were closed, the room got warm, and I found myself drowsing and jerking awake. I hope I didn't snore or snort - the lady in front of me looked at me funny once. I'm afraid I missed some of the afternoon lectures.

All in all, it was a fun, informative and interesting day for each of us. Arlene Eakle was great, the food was great and the company was wonderful. Thank you to Peter, Marna, Gloria and the others who made this event happen so that the San Diego genealogy community could enjoy the day.

UPDATED 8:30 PM: Added some text and edited some.

1 comment:

Miriam Robbins said...

Randy, I'm very envious that you got to attend this seminar. I have been a fan of Arlene's since I listened to a tape of her presentation on the Holland Land Records for upstate New York, and am a faithful reader of her blog. I am especially wishing I could have heard her talk on the Appalachian Triangle, as many, many of my husband's lines hail from that area.