Saturday, May 12, 2012

NGS 2012 Day 4

   Home again!
   A fine fourth and final day at the National Genealogical Society's annual convention in Cincinnati and a relatively quick drive home.
   My schedule changed a bit from what I listed in yesterday's blog. There was so many great lectures to choose from it was hard to decide.

   The first of the day was "Trails West to the Ohio and Beyond" by Barbara Vines Little. I was fascinated by her insights on why and how my pioneer ancestors might have labored over the mountains and down the rivers to find new homes.
   The last lecture of the morning was the one that originally inspired me to attend the convention.
   Elizabeth Shown Mills spoke at the Kentucky Genealogical Society / Kentucky Historical Society annual seminar last year, describing her research techniques and how they applied to research cases. She promised then to be speaking at NGS 2012 about data management -- how to cope with all the information a researcher could gather by following all of the family, associates and neighbors.
   So this morning the topic was "Information Overload? Effective Project Planning, Research, Data Management and Analysis."
   The technique uses word processing templates to create research analyses and plans, research notes and then research reports. It would be a paradigm shift for me from the way I have been doing research over the past 45 years.
   But, you can't argue with success. Since most of my ancestral research now involves the tough, end-of-line. brick-wall ancestors, I think it's worth an honest test. It will take more time, but perhaps be more rewarding in the end.

   Kip Sperry was the speaker for a luncheon sponsored by FamilySearch.
   I was interested in some of the statistics he had about what was on the FamilySearch website -- 1,139 collections including 2.78-billion names. I was unaware that microfilming, the film we can now order through the FamilySearch website, started in 1938.
   Of course that microfilming has been replaced by digitization and the films in the granite mountain are being digitized. Sperry said there were an estimated 2.4-billion images in the vault at the mountain and 530 million had been digitized. The original estimate of finishing the task was 100 years, but currently they think they will be done in 4-5 years.
   My day concluded with the talk by Thomas W. Jones on "Solutions for Missing or Scarce Records." He emphasized that we need to acquire the knowledge and skills to know where to look for records that have survived and how to assemble the pieces. Jones discussed two case studies in which researchers were able to successfully build a case from fragmentary records.

   I hope I've picked up some knowledge and skills over the past four days to apply to my research. Perhaps with that knowledge and Mills' management system I can break through a few brick walls.
   This was my first national genealogical convention. Will I do it again? The next NGS convention will be in Las Vegas. I won't be there. I heard it will be in Virginia in 2014. That's not too far away. Maybe.

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