NGS: What did I learn?

To help me and perhaps be beneficial to you, I thought I would look back at my notes and capture some, but certainly not all, of what I learned at this National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2016 conference held 3-7 May 2016 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

“When Worlds Collide: Resolving Conflicts in Genealogical Records,” Judy Russell, presenter: Isn’t it great when two sources agree and answer our research question? But, as we advance in our genealogical skills we see that disagreement between sources actually is much more common than agreement.  Judy urged us to first assess whether the conflict mattered, e.g. “Kate” for Katherine–does not matter. She urged us also to really read Standards 17, 48 and 49 in Genealogy Standards [1] to understand the limitations and the outward boundaries of decision-making. Always check the quality of your sources.

“Dissection & Analysis of Research Problems,” Elizabeth Shown Mills, presenter (who nudged out Tonya Marking’s presentation on “Recovering Identities of Slaves of Roseland Plantation, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Case Study” and Tom Jones’s presentation on “Going Beyond the Bare Bones: Reconstructing Your Ancestor’s Lives”): Elizabeth shared with us her research approach with a summary of her research approach.  The syllabus is most valuable here.  It was affirming to me that I was using many of the tools she suggested, including assessing each source uniquely, and using timelines to see gaps in the research.

“Reasonably Exhaustive Research: the First Criteria for genealogical Proof,” Elizabeth Shown Mills, presenter. In 60 minutes, ESM took us across multiple states, illustrated deep research using FAN club principles, conducted deep mining of sources, topical and geographic thoroughness, and cross generational research. At the end of the presentation,  the entire audience was exhausted! This case study, representing 1000 hours of research time,  will be written up in NGS Quarterly, so keep a watch for it.  In addition, she plans on posting the research document (700 pages1) on her Historic Pathways blog site after publication in the Q.

“Using Griffith’s Valuation to Identify Your Ancestor’s Origins: A Case Study,” Donna Moughty, presenter.  I would have bought this presentation as a download if it were available but not all presentations were audio taped, and this was one that wasn’t. Donna certainly knows a lot about how to access and read not the original Griffith’s and the revisions which occurred into the 20th century.  Several good websites were shared and a methodology for finding Irish ancestors was illustrated.  Donna stated, “Wouldn’t we all love to have our Irish ancestors back to 1807?” I then realized that I have my lines back further than any Irish researcher can hope to have. I am lucky.

An Add on
At the Exhibit Hall I attended a session conducted by My Heritage on Danish records.  They are “madly” digitizing and indexing the Danish records to put them online and hope to have parish and census records done by the end of 2016!  This will be terrific add as the present Danish site, even tho’ free, is difficult to access using very old search technology.  My Heritage is a huge company, similar to Ancestry, but for the rest of the world.  This is the place to find cousins in the country of origin.  I also met (again) Donna Thompson, who is a candidate for the Director position of the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa.  She has her interview next week. I wish her the best.

It was great seeing friends and meeting new ones.  My own presentations went very well. One woman said that she wanted to know where I would be speaking because they drive a motor home to events she wants to attend.  A groupie!?  I referred her to the Genealogical Speakers Guild where I post my speaking opportunities.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: laundry? pet the cat! and prepped for my presentation on Monday the 9th to the Genealogical Society of South Whidbey Island (GSSWI).

[1] Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tennessee: Turner Publishing Company, 2014) 14,27, 28




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