Sunday, March 7, 2010

At the Escondido Family History Fair

I had the pleasure of attending the annual Escondido (CA) Family History Fair at the Escondido Family History Center on Saturday, 6 March. This is the best one-day conference in San Diego County each year, featuring a keynote speaker, five sessions with seven tracks in each time slot, and an exhibit hall where no vendor can sell anything (the only real drawback).

I usually carpool the 40 miles each way to the Fair with my Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS) colleagues, and this year eight of us went in three cars, arriving at 8:15 a.m. Another seven CVGS members attended on their own, for a grand total of 15 in attendance, out of about 200 total attendees.

CVGS had a table near one of the exhibit hall entrances, and we displayed a poster of our three resident bloggers (Ruth, Susi and Randy), had handouts and my laptop highlighting the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog. There was usually one member minding the table while the others went off to the presentations. Almost all of the San Diego County societies were there, plus quite a few lineage and heritage societies. The National Archives and were also represented.

The keynote speaker was David Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer of FamilySearch. He spoke on "FamilySearch Tackles the Information Explosion," discussing why certain features are being phased out and how and why the new FamilySearch features are being phased in. He noted that PAF, CD products, IGI, PRF, FHLC on CD, Research Guidance, paper publications, microfilms, Scottish Church records, Vietnam and Korean War casualty files are being phased out. Being phased in with newFamilySearch are FamilyTree, FamilySearch Wiki, Standard Finder, Record Search (Pilot), FamilySearch Indexing, and Book Scanning. Not a word about GenSeek!

I didn't attend a presentation in the second hour, but did talk extensively to Roger Bell of, who showed me the new Footnote Viewer that will be available soon.

In the second hour, I couldn't wedge myself into the room for Debby Horton's talk on "Collaborating with Others" so I found a seat in Caroline Rober's talk on "Basic Military Research." She defined the types of military records that can be found, the many wars that there are records available for, some research strategies, what information might be found in different record types, and where the records can be found.

After a lunch (Subway sandwich, cookie, chips, apple, water) prepared by a Boy Scout troop (great service project!), I returned to the CVGS table in the exhibit hall and talked to people as they stopped by, including those minding the other society tables.

In the first hour after lunch, I tried to go to Frank Chocco's talk on "12 Step Program to Find That Elusive Ancestor" but left when I couldn't find a seat.. So I attended Barbara Renick's presentation on "5 C's to Success in Genealogy Today." Barbara used two fairly complex case studies to illustrate how to use classic and computer resources, collaborate with cousins, consistently cite sources (chant: find, cite, search, copy), and perform comprehensive searches (chant: civil, church, family, single source, multiple sources, census, probate). Interesting cases and solutions. My major takeaway here was to search up and down watercourses, rather than over mountain ranges, and to draw a 9-mile radius circle to find spouse's family - 9 miles being distance to walk or ride on a horse in several hours).

In the next hour, I stayed in the cozy seats in the Chapel and saw Barbara Renick's presentation on "Searching Newspapers Online." She walked us through newspaper archives on commercial genealogy sites (Accessible Archives,,, GenealogyBank, com, and; commercial information sites (NewsBank,, ProQuest, ProQuest Historical Newspapers, and Proquest Obituaries); Free genealogy sites (Google News Archive Search and During this talk, Barbara showed screen shots and different search techniques used on each site to find her Renick and Zucknick ancestors. Lots of information here. Her handout is on her website at

I stayed at the CVGS table during the last hour of presentations, and helped John and Ann take down the booth stuff, and put my laptop away.

During the day, I tweeted occasionally (on about my plans and/or events, but I didn't blog about the talks because of the time constraints.

The 159 page paper syllabus provided outlines and notes for most of the talks by the presenters at the Fair. I have some reading to do about the talks I missed.

All in all, this was a good genealogy day - outstanding presentations and excellent company.

1 comment:

Susi's Quarter said...

Randy I think we may have had more than 15 members attend. I forgot to mention one myself and I suspect maybe 20 total. A good showing for the group I think. Wow if half of us went next year where would they put us. :>)

Thanks for sharing.