30 April 2017

NERGC 2017 - Day 3 & 4

Day three, yes, I was crazy but I decided to commute to this conference. Everyday I drove to Springfield. Fortunately it was an easy commute. But unfortunately due to some Friday morning traffic I was held up for about 15 minutes which meant I got to the conference late and my first session was filled. So I was locked out and nothing to report on regarding Margaret Sullivan's session on "First Generation Irish." With spotty free Internet service, my blog posts were written during this time. Friday could be considered my Irish day. Three of the five sessions I was attending focused on Irish genealogy.

The first session that I attended was presented by Donna M. Moughty, a professional genealogist specializing in Irish research. Her blog is Donna's Irish Genealogy Resources. Moughty's knowledge on Irish genealogy is immense and one will quickly realize that fact once she begins her lecture. Her focus was on "Locating Famine Emigrants Using Griffith's Valuation."

Griffith's Valuation is actually a tax list of Irish land occupiers or those who paid the taxes. It is considered a census substitute because all Famine era censuses were lost in the 1922 fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin during the Irish Civil War. Therefore it is pertinent to use this record to locate your Irish ancestor.

On the website of Ask About Ireland, Griffith's Valuation can be found here for free. Please review the information here to learn how to use the Valuation. It can take a few uses to get the hang of it. I am still learning about it so I will not delve into it on this post.

During lunch the exhibit hall was checked again and I ended up being lucky enough to to get a free 20 minute Genealogy Roadshow private consultation with DNA specialist Blaine Bettinger on my DNA results. My DNA results are in from Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. We will go over the results on Saturday morning.

Exhibit Hall

After lunch, another Irish session, "Mapping Irish Locations Online," by Pamela Holland. Pam discussed the breakdown of jurisdictions in Ireland. Such as how Ireland's thirty two counties and its 62,000 town lands are broken down into Civil Parishes, Catholic Parishes, and Register's Districts. Townlands.ie and irishancestors.ie are great sites to aid in this task.

Pam Stone Eagleson presented the next session, " Confronting Conflicting Evidence." When researching documents the evidence found in records sometimes conflicts with previous found evidence from different sources. So now the question is; which document is correct or are both documents incorrect?
Eagleson's method to confront and correct these conflicts is to

  • identify the conflict
  • conduct new and additional research
  • compare and analyze all found sources
  • write up a resolution to the conflict (if possible- all conflicts cannot be resolved)
Noted professional genealogist F. Warren Bittner gave the last presentation of the day, "Complex Evidence." Bittner's lecture tied in with Eagleson's session by detailing how he got the answer to his question by examining multiple sources to make a comparison and then a conclusion on conflicting evidence. He did this by combining and analyzing sources from indirect evidence that was found in various documents. 


Backing up a step; direct evidence from a document answers a question by itself. Such as when was George Eger naturalized? The answer to that question should be found on his naturalization paper. The one document answers the question. Whereas indirect evidence comes from sources that are combined with others to answer a question. It is a roundabout way of getting the answer from analyzing many different sources and cross referencing them to each other. If a diagram of this method was drawn out it would resemble a highway road map where various pieces of evidence point to each other, intersect,  and across to others.

Tomorrow is last day of the conference and if I am lucky I will be leaving with one or more of the free giveaways that the vendors are offering. I have my eye on free tuition for a certificate in genealogy from Boston University.

Saturday, Day 4, the last day. Well over one thousand people attended this conference. They had their choice of presentations to attend. There were 94 sessions, 8 workshops, 3 luncheons, and 2 dinner banquets to choose from. The sessions that I gave a brief description about were those that I attended.

Today was my tech day. Most of the sessions I was attending today were tech based instead of on analysis or methodology. After rushing and getting into the NERGC conference this morning I quickly found out that I was in the wrong session. The rooms were side by side. Soon I was in the correct program, "Being More than Social on Social Media," by Jen Baldwin from FindMyPast and Ancestral Journeys. One take away from Jen's excellent lecture is social media is not going away and if you are not on social media, get on it!

Jennifer Baldwin
There are various platforms within social media (SM) that are applicable for genealogy. One of the most popular SM sites is Facebook (FB). FB has well over two billion users and has over 10,000 topics related to genealogy. I am sure one can find something of interest there. Other SM venues include Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snap Chat.

According to Jen, when using SM consider what do you want to do with it? If you are looking to establish yourself in the world of genealogy. Make a plan and work the plan. Some tips for a SM plan:

  • Ask yourself what are you here for 
  1. To become a better genealogist?
  2. To find cousins?
  3. To build your genealogical reputation?
  • Details for your venture
  1. What SM platform do you plan to be on? 
  2. Create long term plans
  3. Brand yourself
  • Establish your voice and content
  1. Show your personality
  2. How will you present yourself and content?
  • Be in it to win it
  1. Commit yourself for success
  2. Be realistic and capable of adapting
The Genealogy Road trip with Blaine Bettinger was extremely successful. During our 20 minute chat, Bettinger was able to help me with questions on my DNA results. He also showed me how to use GEDmatch better. GEDmatch is a third party tool that aids genealogists with their DNA results. Raw DNA files are uploaded to GEDmatch from the DNA testing companies such as Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. With these companies results pooled together a researcher can have a larger pool to fish in for ancestors. Best of all, GEDmatch is free.

The session after a long lunch break was the informative presentation "Obsure & Neglected Sources" by Certified Genealogist Diane Gravel. Important take-a-ways included expand and use the FAN method when researching. FAN is friends, associates, and neighbors. For example; when scouring over census pages, why not check two pages before and after the page where you found your ancestor? Other relatives may have lived nearby. Other record sets to explore include Bibles, criminal records, maps, Google books, land ownership records, DAR records, and lineage society papers.

"Tools & Techniques for Finding Family Online" by Jennifer Zinck was the second to last presentation that I attended. Zinck gave numerous examples of web sites for locating living people. She stressed how important it was not to publicly share information on living people. Aside from the big three search engines Google, Bing, and Yahoo, web sites to search when searching for living people include FB for individuals and groups and Ancestry's public records index record set. Excellent people search databases include pipl, spokeo, and DOBsearch.

After another long day, the last session attended was "Online Tools to Organize & Collaborate with your Cousins" by Kelli Bergheimer. Kelli urged that on your initial contact with a cousin; be brief and do not overload or ask too much of the person. You could aggravate them and then you are getting nowhere. After contact is made, ideas to keep interest going with both parties can include creating cousin email groups and using photo sharing web sites such as photobucket and flickr.

NEGRC was the first genealogy conference that I have attended. It was great. I leaned quite a bit and met a lot of nice people. In the future months I will be attending more conferences as my schedule allows. Next February I will be looking forward to attending the world's largest genealogy conference, Roots Tech, in Salt Lake City.