NGS Conference in the States – Highlights
By Carolyn L Barkley
Over 1600 people – conference attendees, speakers and exhibitors – met in Kansas City last week for the National Genealogical Society’s Conference in the States. In addition to attending lectures on skill building and methodology, Midwest resources, migration, ethnic resources, land records, and a variety of workshops, those attending had opportunities to attend a reception at the National World War I Museum, take a tour of the Truman Presidential Museum and Library in nearby Independence, Missouri, or research at the Mid-Continent Public Library.
Now that I’ve returned home and sifted through all the things I managed to squeeze into my one suitcase, I thought I’d share eight of the more interesting things (in no particular order) that caught my attention.
- Mid-Continent Public Library is slated to open its new Midwest Genealogy Center on June 2nd. In order to make the move, the current genealogy department will be closed from May 27th to June 1st. The new center, billed as the “Nation’s Largest Stand-Alone Public Genealogy Library,” will be located on eight acres of land at the intersection of Lee’s Summit and Kiger Roads in Independence, Missouri. Costing over $8 million to construct, the center will have over 50,000 square feet of space on two levels. Amenities will include lockers, a break area, and limited food service for researchers, as well as several oversize parking spaces for researchers with RVs. Check out the video presentation and site plans at http://www.mcpl.lib.mo.us/genlh/mgc.htm.
- New title from Genealogical Publishing Company. The Female Index to ‘Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England’? is a new publication that proved very popular with shoppers at the GPC booth in the exhibit hall. James Savage’s four-volume Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England is one of the gems of published works on New England genealogy. Published in the 1860s, however, it paid short shrift to indexing females. While males can be found by checking the surname arrangement, women are spread throughout the volumes listed under their husband’s or father’s names. Finding a woman whose maiden surname is unknown, or who married several times has been tedious at best, or impossible at the worst. A surname cross-index created by O. P. Dexter in 1884 did not improve the ability to find women. Patty Barthell Myers’ compilation of a female index, however, resolves the problem and is a significant addition to any library, personal or institutional. Myers has indexed all females alphabetically by maiden and married surnames, with entries totaling over 50,000 names.
- Ancestry 25th Birthday Celebration. Ancestry celebrated its 25th anniversary in the genealogical business with a wonderful reception featuring a video retrospective of the company’s accomplishments over those years. Each attendee received a copy of the May/June issue of Ancestry magazine, of particular interest due to the center-fold map showing the migratory trends of our ancestors from Virginia to Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and beyond. This map is one that you will want to keep in your files as a visual resource for your research. I’m going to put mine right inside the cover to Thorndale and Dollarhide’s Map Guide to the U. S. Federal Census, 1790-1920 (Genealogical Publishing Co.).
- NewYorkAncestors.org. For those of you researching in New York, the New England Historic Genealogical Society announced a new site highlighting their collection of New York resources: NewYorkAncestors.org. This online resource includes several databases including probate records, marriage and death records, settlers of Beekman Patent, newspapers and periodicals, published genealogies and biographies, court records, census tax, and voter lists, and cemetery and church records.
- Improved Catalog for the Family History Library in Salt Lake. FamilySearch and FamilyLink announced a new partnership to improve the catalog for the Family History Library accessible at the Library, at Family History Centers, and at home by researchers. New entries will point to digital sources with online images of the original records. These images may be stored in a variety of locations including FamilySearch.org, Footnote.com, or Ancestry.com, local genealogical libraries and societies, or your personal webpage. Some images will be free-of-charge, others will require payment, but the pointer to them will be available to all. One of the best features will be the inclusion of source citations and the ability to add a comment if you feel that the information is incorrect. Better still, anyone can add new data to the catalog. If your genealogical society posts images on its site – or if you add scanned images to your personal site – you will be able to notify the catalog site and have your images reviewed for accuracy by professional librarians prior to adding to the catalog. Check out additional ongoing FamilySearch projects at http://www.labs.familysearch.org/and comment on them on the FamilySearch Labs blog. Projects under development include Record Search, Family Tree, Standard Finder, a Research Wiki, and more.
- Cherokee Family Research Center. This brochure caught my attention on the “freebies” table. The center, located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is operated by the Cherokee National Historical Society, Inc., [CNHS] a non-profit organization established in 1963 to “preserve and promote Cherokee history and culture and to educate the public about that history and culture.” The center specializes in helping individuals research their Cherokee ancestors and provides a collection specific to the period from the Trail of Tears (1838-1839) to the time of Dawes enrollment (1900-1906). The center is open for individual on-site research with paid museum admission, or provides staff who will do your research for you for a fee. In addition, CNHS offers a life membership to the First Families of the Cherokee Nation to those who can document that their ancestor was a “œlawful resident of the Cherokee Nation, east or west, prior to the ratification of the Cherokee Nation Constitution on September 6, 1839.” For more information, go to http://www.CherokeeHeritage.org/ or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. [NOTE: Clearfield and Genealogical Publishing Company have published several titles on Cherokee research. Go to http://www.genealogical.com/ and enter a keyword search for “Cherokee”? to see the list of available titles.]
- Family Atlas. RootsMagic, Inc. has introduced a new software produce that can add visual detail to your research database. This software allows you to import your family data from RootsMagic or other genealogy software (the brochure says RootsMagic, PAF, Family Tree Maker, Legacy, or GEDCOM, so TMG users will want to check first). Family Atlas matches your places against its list of 3.5 million place names and locates them on the map. You can add markers (relationships, names, event types, etc.) and configure them with individual colors and shapes. You can also add, text, pointers, titles, and legends, and add lines between markers to illustrate migration. When completed, you can print, save to PDF or other graphic formats. You can download a free trial at http://www.familyatlas.com/.
- Family Quilt. If you like to take a break from your research now and again, but still want to stay connected with your genealogy, consider making a family tree quilt. Our Family Tree Quilt Kits are available from J.J.Appleseed, LLC in Eugene, Oregon. A basic family tree fabric panel allows the beginning quilter to make a small-sized (24 x 24) hanging, personalized with family names. More experienced quilters may want to consider a 29 x 29, or a 40 x 40, wall quilt top kit. For the very ambitious, these quilts would make wonderful Christmas gifts for family members – or perhaps a great raffle prize at a reunion. Check them out at http://www.jjappleseed.com/.
Genealogical conference exhibits are always full of interesting products, books, and services. Make sure you plan to spend lots of time seeing all the possibilities at next year’s NGS Conference in the States in Raleigh, North Carolina, May 13-16, 2009.