New York State Family History Conference, Part 2: All the Learning

In my last post, I covered my general experience at the New York State Family History Conference. This time I will be writing about highlights from the classes and talks I attended.

Plenary Session

Friday was opened by a “plenary session” (which I had to look up: it’s the big meeting that everyone goes to). Joshua Taylor, President of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, officially welcomed everyone to the conference. He gave out two awards: the “Empire State Service Award” to Jennifer Liber Raines and the “Professional Service Award” to Susan R. Miller, for all her hard work at the conference.

Joshua then announced a new project that NYG&B was spearheading: the New York Land Records Project. This project involves the indexing of New York state land records on FamilySearch, a huge undertaking considering New York’s historic population. Click here for more information if you want to get involved!

President Joshua Taylor addresses the crowd. Author’s collection.

We were then introduced to the session’s main speaker, David Nicholson, head of Living DNA. David introduced the team members who came with him: Katie Welka from Canada, and Diahan Southard, who cartwheeled her way up the aisle! David spoke of Living DNA’s hopes to make DNA analysis more intuitive and more interactive. Some of their future tools are still in development, but look pretty exciting and accurate! Keep your eyes on this company!

MyHeritage Lunch

Knowing how MyHeritage is usually on the cutting edge of technology developments in genealogy, I signed up for their Saturday luncheon talk, “Genealogical Records in the Path of Destruction & Neglect – Past, Present & Future” by Mike Mansfield. Mr. Mansfield basically reviewed the well-known devastating losses (i.e. the 1890 Census) over the course of history, as well as data losses due to changes in languages, culture and technology. He made the very valid conclusion that each of us should be sure to document our own records and family history and to share it with others.

The Classes

Unlocking Roman Catholic Records on Findmypast – Jen Baldwin

  • Free Irish Catholic records! Author’s collection.

    There are lots of new records coming online onto Findmypast. Jen is working hard with diocese all over the country to get records online.

  • Catholic records from Ireland are free with a free account.
  • If you’re a member of the NYG&B, Findmypast North American records are free!

A Tour of Upstate New York Genealogical Research Repositories: Some Gems – Jane E. Wilcox

  • This was a sampling of museums, libraries, historians, and special collections, most of which Jane had visited herself.
  • A good online repository: New York Heritage

Genealogy and Maps – Philip Sutton

  • Philip is from the New York Public Library. The Map Division is in Room 117 at the main library, but there is a LOT online!
  • Philip demonstrated NYPL’s Map Warper, which is a really cool tool!

Using Geo-Tech Tools to Answer New York Research Questions – Frederick Wertz

  • Frederick showed us some common and uncommon map tools: Google Earth Pro, Arcgis.com (a paid site), GNIS.
  • Be familiar with the historical area before you research the map.
  • Research trip tip: note repositories on your online map software.

Converting a Bunch of Information into a Credible Conclusion – Thomas W. Jones

  • Thomas’ main point was creating an “assemblage” of information, which you analyze and correlate to come to conclusion. (Especially good when facts aren’t specifically spelled out.)

Writ in Stone: Cemeteries and Genealogy – Judy G. Russell

DNA and the Genealogical Proof Standard – Blaine T. Bettinger

  • Blaine made the relationship between these two concepts so much easier than it sounds.
  • DNA provides direct evidence of a genetic relationship and indirect evidence of a genealogical relationship.
  • If DNA is not available for whatever reason, consider it a “burnt courthouse”.

New York Records and Resources at FamilySearch – Cherie Bush

Outstanding Long Island Research Repositories and Resources – Terry Koch-Bostic

  • Honestly, there were so many resources; I

    Terri Koch-Bostic. Author’s collection.

    took 4 pages of notes!

  • Terry said that the best resource to start with was the NYG&B Gazetteer.

Documentation: The What, Why, Where and How – Thomas W. Jones

  • Documentation is not just the product, but the process as well.
  • The essence of documentation is: the who, what, where in, where is, and when.

Uncharted Waters: Diving into the Holdings of the New York State Archives – Jane E. Wilcox

  • It’s important to know that that the New York State Archives & Library had a devastating fire in 1911, though some records and some partial records were saved.
  • The NYS Archives seems to be organized much like NARA: each record set has a series number.
  • Use the finding aids.

By the end of the conference, I was spent! But it was so worth it. The next NYSFHC will be September 10-12, 2020 in Albany. Will you be there?

Advertisements

New York State Family History Conference, Part 1: All the Feels

When I first heard that the New York State Family History Conference (NYSFHC) was going to be in Tarrytown, NY in 2018, I said to myself, “I’m going!” and I kept a sharp eye out for details to be released. After all, it is within driving distance from my house – all I would have to pay is the conference fee!

Finally, the conference arrived on September 13 – 15. I didn’t sign up for any pre-conference workshops or tours, but I was okay with that.

The Venue

NYSFHC, put on by the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society, was held at the Doubletree Hotel in Tarrytown, right along the Hudson River (and I did not take time to take in the views, but I’ve seen the river plenty of times). For those who attended NYSFHC and stayed in the hotel, I’m sure it was super-convenient. The hotel had its own restaurant, but it seemed to me (the one time I ate there) that it was not used to handling a conference crowd. There were no other restaurants located conveniently nearby; having food trucks would have been fantastic!

The space that the conference was held in was sufficient. Classrooms were (usually) not too crowded, though for the smaller rooms you had to get there early enough to ensure you had a seat. A couple of rooms were either too cold or too warm, but this Goldilocks was prepared by wearing a blazer! The main exhibit hall was a bit crowded at times, but there was always the option of checking out the exhibitors/vendors out in the hallway.

Old Friends/New Friends

You’ll read in other blogs that the unique part of a conference experience is interacting and networking with others in person. That is so true!

I was feeling a little shy when I first arrived, but then I reached the exhibit hall and saw Jen Baldwin at the FindmyPast booth right away. She recognized me immediately from when we met at the Global Family Reunion and greeted me with a hug! Once again, the FindmyPast booth was a great place for home base.

Jen Baldwin at the Findmypast booth. Author’s collection.

Another touchstone was the OldMaps booth, where fellow Virtual Genealogical Association member Sara Campbell was handing out VGA ribbons for our badges. Little did I know, I’d actually met Sara two years before at a New England geneabloggers meet-up! At NYSFHC, I was tasked with taking a VGA group picture (which turned out to be two), and Sara helped redirect members outside of the exhibit hall for the pictures.

Meeting some of the other VGA members (Susan Schuler, Kim Cotton, Gail Gannotti, Carol Poulos, Karen Ramon, Ellen Healy, Jo Henn, Eva Kujawa from Sweden, and Marian B. Wood, who I’d heard speak a few months before) was awesome! Contrary to the conference being New York-based, these folks were from all over the world! And here we were, virtual members meeting together in person.

Virtual Genealogical Association meet-ups. Author’s collection.

But of course, I was most excited to meet up with my peeps from #genchat – complete with the #genchat selfie sign, created by Jenna Mills! There were a few people I knew would be there, based on Twitter feedback (like Jen & some VGA folks), and others that I was pleasantly surprised to see, like Molly Charboneau (who I met at the 2014 Genealogy Event) and Michael Cassara (aka @digiroots). Ironically Friday night was also a #genchat night, so meeting at the conference was a nice reminder to everyone that #genchat was still around!

Jen Baldwin, and me with Jen! Author’s collection.

Jo Henn. Author’s collection.

Molly Charboneau and Michael Cassara. Author’s collection.

Susan Schuler and Kim Cotton. Author’s collection.

Diahan Southard and Marian Wood. Author’s collection.

A Word About Badges & Ribbons

Now, I know that at conferences, you get ribbons to put at the bottom of your badge, but I didn’t know much about how you got them or why. I did have #genchat ribbons to give out to the #genchat folks, and I knew I was entitled to a VGA ribbon. I picked up a few that I knew I qualified for. (One guy I spoke to thought that I was a professional since I had “so many ribbons.”) What I didn’t know was I could actually get a lot more!

I found out from Jen via Twitter that “Ribbons are essentially free marketing… of course we all want our logos carried around by attendees and on social media. So in most cases, it’s a free for all. Each attendee can choose to be a part or not.” I guess if you’re in doubt whether or not you can have a ribbon, just ask!

Ribbon-decked badge! Author’s collection.

In my next post, I’ll be highlighting the talks I attended and what I learned.