Federation of Genealogical Societies Annual Conference Exhibit and News Summary

 By Carolyn L. Barkley

I attended the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ annual conference, “Footprints of Family History,” in Philadelphia during the first week of this month. Here are a few of the intriguing products or services I discovered in the exhibit hall and elsewhere.

  1.  Session Recordings. Not able to attend the conference? Approximately 120 recordings of the lectures from the conference’s four days of programming can be purchased from JAMB, Inc. The recorded lectures provide a wide range of topics, including the useful genealogical society management series. While the lectures are advertised as available on the JAMB web site, I checked their site today and the FGS conference has apparently not yet been posted. You may want to check the site later or call the company at 1-800-809-9284 and ask for a list of recorded sessions.
  2. Upcoming conference for those interested in New York research. The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has scheduled a conference for genealogists and historians: “Yorkers, Yankees, and Beyond: Tracking New York Ancestors Into, Across, and Around the State.” Presented in cooperation with the New York State Archives and genealogical societies of the Capital District and Saratoga area, the conference will be held from Thursday to Saturday, October 30-Nov. 1, 2008 at the Gideon Putnam Spa Resort in Saratoga Springs. Mel Wolfgang of Jonathan Sheppard Books is the keynote speaker. Call 212-755-8532 or visit http://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org/ for further information.
  3.  Interested in researching unusual resources? GenealogyToday.com offers access to many intriguing online collections including funeral cards (22,700 names), World War II ration books, and a family tree connection that includes Masonic rosters, school catalogues, railroad seniority lists, church records, society member lists and more. While many of these databases are free of charge, please note that access to some collections, such as the family tree connection, require an annual subscription.
  4. Ancestors in Philadelphia? The Philadelphia Department of Records “holds one of the country’s largest municipal archives of historic photographs, with more than a million images…some dating back to the 1860s.” Images can be searched by neighborhood, address, year or keyword and you can view a map of where they were taken and purchase a copy of the image. You might also want to look at Melissa Druckman’s Guide to the Microfilm of the Archives of Old Christ Church Philadelphia (Historical Society of Pennsylvania for Old Christ Church Preservation Trust, 1981) or Jean K. Wolf’s Lives of the Silent Stones in the Christ Church Burial Ground: 50 Family Profiles (Christ Church Preservation Trust, ca.2003). I discovered the latter two titles in the Christ Church gift shop. Even better, you can check out the historical resources and search capabilities they have made available on their website.
  5.  New Certificate Program in Genealogical Research.  Boston University is now offering a Certificate in Genealogical Research “focused on helping students develop the knowledge and skills essential to conducting quality genealogical assignments.” The program is directed by Melinde Lutz Sanborn, FASG. A major drawback for any of us who do not live in eastern Massachusetts is that the course is not a distance-learning course, but rather is offered on Saturdays over a 14-week period. For those who do live within commuting distance of Boston, however, the program provides “hands-on training in basic genealogical principals, techniques, and core competencies…” There are no prerequisites and the five modules include Foundations of Genealogical Research, Problem-Solving Techniques and Technology, Evidence Evaluation and Citation, Forensic Genealogical Research, and Genealogical Research Ethnic and Geographic Specialties. Further information and costs can be found at the University’s professional education website.
  6.  New products from ProQuest. ProQuest literature announced a new product: ProQuest Obituaries, providing “more than 10.5 million obituaries and death notices in full-image format from top U.S. newspapers, dating back to 1849.” This product will be available through public libraries and will be accessible remotely. Other new products include ProQuest Civil War Era and ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Black Newspapers, including the Chicago Defender, New York Amsterdam News, Pittsburgh Courier, Los Angeles Sentinel, and Atlanta Daily World. Check with your local library to see if it will be subscribing to these services.
  7. Association of Professional Genealogists awards. Several individuals received APG awards at the conference.
    * The first Young Professional Scholarship was awarded to Michael Melendez of Fullerton, California. This scholarship provides an opportunity for a young genealogist to attend APG’s annual Professional Management Conference.
    * Sandra Hargreaves Luebking was named as the second recipient of the APG Professional Achievement Award that recognizes “significant contributions to the field of genealogy by APG members” and “highlights a record of exceptional professional achievement through individual excellence and ethical behavior.” She was specifically recognized for her excellent example of genealogical professionalism and her numerous contributions to the field through writing, lecturing, and service.
    * Gary Mokotoff was named as the second recipient of the APG Honorary Lifetime Membership Award that recognizes “significant contributions to the field of genealogy by APG members” and “recognizes members whose achievement in genealogy has spanned a significant length of time.” He was specifically recognized for creating an excellent body of work in the field of Jewish genealogy.
    * Craig Roberts Scott, CG, received the Grahame T. Smallwood Jr. Award of Merit for his service to APG as Treasurer and as a board member from 2002-2007. This award is given for personal commitment and outstanding service as a member of APG.
    * Roberta “Bobbi” King received the APGQ Excellence Award for her column “Professional Profiles,” as published in the APG Quarterly.
    * Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to Donna Moughty; Beverly Rice, CG; and Linda Courtemanche.
  8.  Ancestry.com’s World Archives Project. During an evening program for society members, Ancestry.com staff unveiled its World Archives Project. This project, while similar to Family Search’s volunteer indexing project, provides a unique opportunity for partner participation by genealogical and historical societies. The project “gives people everywhere a unique chance to help save the world’s historical records — millions that might otherwise be lost. Anyone can participate by accessing record images in our system and entering relevant names, dates and other facts to make the information searchable online.” Societies may also submit projects and Ancestry.com promises that all indices will remain free to the public on their site. In addition, Ancestry.com will donate copies of record indexes and images from the project to partnering government archives and genealogy societies as well and will provide free advertising to partner societies. More information is available in the community section of Ancestry.com.

Genealogical conferences, whether at the local, state or national level, provide us with the best continuing education opportunities for the money. Plan to attend those in your state or locality, and mark your calendar for the National Genealogical Society’s Conference in the States in Raleigh, North Carolina in May 2009 and the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ annual Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas next September.

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