NGS Notes: A Sampling

Quantifying a conference like NGS is a bit like standing next to a waterfall and trying to count the drops. There are just so many facets and factors a person can assimilate at once.

Here are some Cincinnati 2012 moments that stick out for me, though, as I look over my notes from the Event To Date.

• Hearing Elizabeth Shown Mills lecture on indexes and how to find elusive ancestors in them. It was a succinct dissection of what indexes really are (and aren’t), vital in understanding how to use them effectively.

• A detailed, fascinating and occasionally heartbreaking lecture by Patricia Wells Stamm on the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, with emphasis on the disastrous 1973 fire and aftermath. Stamm explained a lot about what you can expect when requesting records from this center, and paid special attention to the painstaking efforts to salvage anything remotely salvageable — efforts that started practically before the smoke cleared, and continue today.

• Listening to NGSQ co-editor Thomas W. Jones talk about citations as a means of communication – not only a way of telling readers what we know, but reminding ourselves why we concluded what we concluded. This goes a long way toward mitigating the [outrageous whining] faint resentment that [nearly always] occasionally emerges while I construct a decent footnote.


Flipping Over Genealogy (At NGS 2012, Of Course)

Dear friends, I’m at the National Genealogical Society’s 2012 Family History Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. There is much wonderful information and insight to study and ponder here — overwhelming, really.

In fact, it’s almost as overwhelming as my hotel wireless connection is underwhelming, leaving everything I load image-challenged. Mr. Archaeologist assures me that back home, my images are just lovely,  so I’m going to take it on faith that the photos on this post are showing up. Sort of like the courtiers in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” I guess.

From Day One: Here are some contrasting views. First, the Big Exhibit Hall with all the genealogy bells and whistles:

And next: Guess what! The genealogists are sharing space with the gymnasts! That’s the Men’s Junior Olympic Nationals going on across the hall.

It was fascinating watching the twists and turns and somersaults for a few minutes, before returning to the mental gymnastics in the conference seminar rooms. The lectures have been lively, humorous and thought-provoking. My only gripe is that I want to go to all of them, and I cannot figure out how to clone myself. Many lectures will eventually be available on CD-ROM via a link on the NGS conference page, which is a comfort.

As ever when I attend an event like this, at day’s end I am tempted to bang my head on my hotel-room desk with all the fresh realizations of things I coulda/woulda/shoulda done in my research. But only momentarily. The dominant chord is always excitement. Yesterday’s shoulda-dones are just that … done. The future, on the other hand, is looking good, what with all these bright new shiny genealogy ideas to play with.


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