Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year's Eve!

I couldn't help this last post for 2013. As I was looking at the year totals, I was only one post away from blogging more than last year. So, here is a small token of the New Year celebrations of the past. This is a photo of my grandparents: Bessie (Pace) and Charles Daniels....with a twist. In mid-December of 1943, my Grandfather had been home on leave, still recovering from contracting malaria after fighting in the Pacific. As the year was coming to a close, he was given orders to return to service, in Europe this time. To spend every last moment possible together, my Grandmother traveled with him to New Orleans where his ship would be disembarking. I have always loved this photo of them - the sadness and fear is evident as they face an unknown future. At a later date, he sent her this memento wishing her a Happy New Year, and recalling the moment they spent together "Dec-15-1943. Me & My Darling on the eve of my departure, Hoping for a safe journey & an early return. Pop" As readers of this blog will be able to attest, he did make it home safely, and lived to be 93 years old, passing away on Christmas Day of 2004. Grandma on the other hand, is still with us, and 93! What a long and memorable life together!
Happy New Year's Eve! Here's to more blogging in 2014 - not a resolution, just a hope!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Musical Graves & A Mystery Solved

In autumn 2011, I posted about the practice of grave robbing in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. This late 19th century practice has been well documented, but the actual number of bodies stolen has not been. As part of the post, I related a family story that was written down and added to the E.E. Barton Papers in the 1940s: "My Mother never did think that her grandfather [Samuel Cox] rested in his grave, for just in a night or two at 12 o'clock, a man left that grave with something wrapped in white lying across his horse in front of him. The man was a truthful man, and is a brother-in-law of my father, Newton Humble was the man. [Speaking of the witness]. We always thought that it was old Dr. Thomas, and that he probably took the body to Cincinnati and the medical college to find out what was the cause of his death." Pearl Allender 

For decades, my family has known where this small family plot was located. My Great-Grandmother, Nellie Cox Beyersdoerfer, would always point it out to us, and when I was early into my genealogy journey, my Mother and I visited a few times. We knew this was the resting place of Samuel Cox (d.1857) and his first wife, Mary Dean Cox (d.1836), on their farm, Cox's Run. The stones were in terrible shape - hardly legible with lichens filling in the carvings. They were so bad that photographs did not help, and so I took notes about each stone. The plot only contained a few graves. Two upright, carved stones, and a couple of rocks sticking out of the ground with no markings/carvings. Per Kentucky law, the landowner had been faithful about keeping them from harm by placing his bales of hay around the plot each year. There was a small fence, but things were deteriorating, and they did sit dangerously close to the road.
Samuel and Mary Cox Graves, taken in 1996
In a surprise move out of left field, Jim Cox, another distant cousin and descendant of Samuel Cox, recently decided that they were in harms way. He took action and paid to have the graves re-located to a larger cemetery that already contained many of this couple's descendants. According to reports from John Peoples of Peoples Funeral Home in Falmouth, they disinterred each grave, but only found remains in two of them: the two adult graves with carved stones. With no remains being found in the rock marked graves, everyone assumes these were infants and already decomposed to dust. Both sets found were re-interred into the same grave next to Sam & Mary's Grandson, Jeremiah Cox in Lenoxburg Cemetery. If my memory serves me correctly, Jeremiah is on the outer edge of the cemetery, not too far from other Grandchildren of Sam & Mary - a very fitting spot for them - and quite romantic as this was the original couple who produced so many Cox descendants. I'm certain they would have approved.

So....with two sets of remains being found (one set was more complete than the other), this might suggest that our old family story related through many generations was just that - a story. Which, actually makes me feel better. I was hoping Grandpa Cox was resting peacefully in his grave, and not scattered to the wind without his family's knowledge or permission. This also exonerates poor Doc Thomas as Pearl accused so many years ago. Will this make me leave this story out of our family history? NO WAY!! I still love this story, and it serves as a valuable example of the oral grapevine that flourished in our family - even if the tale was wrong.

Plus....how do we know there wasn't some community truth to the story? In other words, maybe there wasn't a grave robbing going on....but maybe some other nefarious activity? Was someone sitting in a graveyard getting drunk and needed to be carted home? Was the person on the horse drunk and merely took a small detour late at night through the graveyard? Or, was Newton Humble drunk as a skunk that night, and telling a whopper only seen in his imagination? With any of these scenarios, it makes for a colorful addition to the family narrative! Besides, the conclusion they all made about the sight in the middle of the night proves the prolific nature of the grave robbing rumors in the area.

As for a small post script, their new stone has not been made just yet. That is a work in progress. Another cousin, Eric Peelman, has been hot on the trail of this story and is helping with the effort to replace the stone. They had hoped to re-incorporate the old stones into a new monument, but that might prove to be too cost prohibitive. However, Eric sent me these wonderful photos of the stones after they had been cleaned off - how beautiful they were under the years of lichen build-up!! We rarely get to see them in this state, so I was delighted with the end results. I can't wait to see what they have in store as a monument. Once that is up, I will travel to that cemetery for more photos!

Friday, December 13, 2013

RootsTech 2014: Sneak Peek

While RootsTech may be a little less than 2 months away, the speakers and organizers are hard at work getting all of their logistical ducks in a row! Seriously, new updates and meetings are practically a weekly occurrence - and the Christmas season is no exception! Which is why you have seen so many posts and announcements from the 2014 participants. As the energy and buzz increase over the coming weeks, here are a few brief updates:

New RootsTech Flipboard Magazine, put together by Lisa Louise Cooke:

I have loved Flipboard for over a year now, but this new, curated issue, full of RootsTech scrumpciousness is a fantastic way to get into the RootsTech energy. 'Tis the season to sit by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate while the snow piles up outside - what better reading material than a collection of RootsTech commentary from your favorite writers/bloggers!? Flipboard is great for tablet reading, but is available across many platforms and via your PC.

RootsTech Session RT1452 (on-site & recorded):

One of the things speakers have been encouraged to do is introduce their session a little before the conference. As a sneak peek, I will expound a little beyond the general session description which reads:

"Piecing Together History: Crowdsourcing Events to Glean the Most Out of the Current Generation. As a technology driven society we have focused most crowdsourcing initiatives on social media venues and electronic metadata collecting methods. However, a balance of tech and nontech approaches is necessary to reach a generation in transition."

This session was birthed as a result of several crowdsourcing or "knowledge sharing" events that took place at the Kentucky Historical Society over the past few years. As a state historical society library, our collection runs the gamut from genealogy/history related books, to original photographic and manuscript collections. Many collections are small and family or community focused with little to no contextual information. In an attempt to provide additional information, we hosted a series of events called "Piecing Together History" to foster community engagement. Through this process, we had to assess the individual collections that would be used for the events, as well as determine what information was sought. This session will follow the steps we took in preparing the collections for community interaction, followed by the information gathering strategies utilized to ensure the information was permanently attached to the collection components. Over the past few years we have incorporated many strategies, including technologically driven gathering methods. Only after trial and error did we find a mutli-method approach that allowed for maximum involvement and knowledge sharing. This final method can be employed with any type of collection and with any type of group. From family reunions to academic settings, this session will demonstrate best practices for engaging audiences of all types and technological levels. (This session has been selected as a recorded session to be broadcast at the RootsTech Family History Fairs - see below)

RootsTech Livestreaming and Family History Fairs:

As a special treat, for those of you who cannot make the trek to Salt Lake City in February, you can still enjoy RootsTech sessions from your area via two options:

1. This year's conference will be livestreaming several sessions for free throughout the conference! Get a cup of tea and enjoy some sessions from home!

2. Many other sessions will be recorded for later viewing at local Family History Fairs in various national and international venues. As a goal for 2014, RootsTech is attempting to arrange 600 satellite locations around the world which will receive and broadcast recorded sessions from RootsTech 2014, in several languages. Information about the locations should be coming soon, so stay tuned to see if your area will be hosting a local fair to showcase some of the 2014 sessions! For those in Kentucky, the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort will be one of the venues showing the recorded sessions. We anticipate hosting our Family History Fair in March as part of our regularly scheduled Second Saturday programming. More info TBA.

Can't wait! See you all soon!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The RootsTech Ripple Effect

It's getting closer!! Before you know it, we'll be reveling in genealogy tech geekdom! No, I'm not talking about Christmas morning in the 21st century genealogist household....just the most tech-fabulous conference of all: RootsTech 2014!

For those of you who have never attended, I know the hype can be a bit overwhelming when this conference rolls around. Social media is the technological life-blood of this event, and I anticipate that increasing, not decreasing. Even though I have never been linked to this conference in an official capacity, RootsTech and I have a long history together, beginning with the very first year in 2011. From its very inception, we knew it would be different....but we had no idea how far it would reach in terms of influence and industry-wide growth. As we prepare for 2014, here are a few of my own observations and reflections:

1. Speakers/Sessions:
From the first year, I was involved pretty closely, as my Pastology business partner, Chris Starr, was invited to give two sessions on applying semantic web principles to online family trees. As an inaugural speaker, we had no idea what to expect. We prepared the presentations, submitted our required content, and flew out to embrace this new conference frontier. From what I remember, the sessions were much smaller, dialogue was flowing from day one, and attendees were sponges! The eagerness to learn and share new ideas was intoxicating and exhilarating. From that first year, everyone knew it was a huge success, and would only get bigger. I can also remember questioning its sustainability in one place (Salt Lake) with the other major conferences each year, and with the economy tanking like it was....but I underestimated the draw of technology in the genealogy field. It may have been slow to start, but once it got a foot-hold, nothing was going to slow the momentum. Here is a link to my first impressions that year:

Ripple effect: I was watching a demonstration recently about the online tree building option from FamilySearch, and the questions/issues raised with this type of interface were shockingly familiar. I remember chewing these questions over with my partner and with FamilySearch developers that first year - and it suddenly hit me - it happened! The semantic web foundations materialized exactly as he had presented that year! Seeing a technology principle applied to a new genealogy product was beyond exciting! It proved very quickly to me that the sessions and developer/user environment fostered at RootsTech is vital to our tech growth in this field. This is only one example among many, I am sure!

For 2014, I have noticed how the sessions may have some of the same intro classes for those new to technology, but the remaining sessions are evolving with our learning and understanding. Be prepared for new topics, advanced elements, and increased conversation. This will be MY first year as a speaker, on a subject gaining in popularity: crowdsourcing. Also new for 2014: satellite locations/streaming! At FGS 2013, I signed up my library (The Kentucky Historical Society) to be one of the satellite locations for the live/taped sessions. We have more to learn about this concept, but while an increased number of sessions will be live this year, we are told that even more will be taped, translated, and shared around the globe at various RootsTech Satellite locations. I was notified that my session may be selected for this type of sharing....gee, no pressure! Sweating a little at the thought....

2. Bloggers:
The official blogger list must be fairly well set at this late date as I am seeing more and more bloggers with their official badge added to their page. Alas, I am always a bridesmaid and never a bride in this category....but I have blogged faithfully every year since its inception. I will include a list of my RootsTech posts from the previous years below. I have to say that last year became a little controversial as the conference organizers chose to branch out to non-genealogy bloggers. This was a great idea in principle, but not successful in application. From what we could tell, only ONE of the non-genealogy bloggers chose to attend RootsTech and blog about it....very sad. Many of us hope they branch out to new or different genealogy bloggers out there this year, or we will have the same problem - repeat list of the same super-popular bloggers - who don't always blog about it throughout the conference.

Ripple effect: The trend of "official bloggers" has taken a firm hold on almost all genealogy conferences, both large and small. Due to some of the things learned at RootsTech over the years, the other conferences have embraced slightly different approaches: allowing bloggers to sign-up instead of appointing them, calling them ambassadors instead of bloggers, experimenting with Twitter users (as micro-bloggers). I hope RootsTech pays attention to the way other conferences are handling this situation - I think the other conferences have adapted and circumnavigated the troubling aspects much quicker.

3. Twitter:
I can't even remember if I was using Twitter in 2011. I don't remember Twitter being as big of an element at RootsTech that first year - but the second year - whoa!! By 2012, Twitter was large and in charge! The giant placards were around reminding people to tweet with the proper hashtag, and the big screens were up, letting us see the live Twitter feed about RootsTech. That was very exciting! I can remember tweeting and engaging with other Twitter users in the main hall during the opening sessions. That really enhanced the experience for me....I loved it, and continue to love that wonderful use of Twitter.

Ripple effect: The other major conferences took note, and now, with each conference I attend, Twitter conversation is lively, engaging, and educational! I am even seeing the large TV screens set to run Twitter highlights or feeds, just like RootsTech. A marvelous addition!

4. Un-Conferencing Sessions:
By far, this was my favorite feature of the new RootsTech concept. Bringing developers and users into the same arena for dialogue and engagement was brilliant! Over the years, I have seen this increase, and hope it continues to play a major roll in what we get out of RootsTech each year. I also hope the trend moves a little bit more centrist in collaboration - not so much developer to developer and user to user, but more developer to user, etc. I think that is vital to developing products that are genealogist/user friendly.

Ripple effect: I have noticed the major conferences trying to implement this feature - but while the opportunity to engage is there, folks have not warmed to this idea outside of the RootsTech arena. I hope people realize its value and participate more, but some things may not convey well outside of RootsTech....or they may just take a little bit more time.

5. Future:
While I am very excited about RootsTech 2014, the big talk on campus is 2015 when FGS and RootsTech converge at the same time, in the same conference venue. The Salt Palace is large enough to accommodate two conferences at once. Each year I have attended, there has been a different type of conference on the other side of the building. Although, I am confused about logistics when it comes to the sessions and exhibit hall contents. FGS already has a tech track, just as NGS does - which is another ripple effect from RootsTech - some of the sessions are FROM RootsTech that year. Plus, the exhibit hall for RootsTech is clearly more tech focused - even booksellers were a big controversy one year. Oh well, I'm sure we will learn more later as the those in charge hammer out the details....but one thing is for certain: I anticipate MORE streaming sessions each year. Perhaps one day, all of RootsTech will have an online only pass....wouldn't THAT be awesome!

For your reading pleasure - My Journeys Past RootsTech Anthology:
RootsTech 2011: My Take

Distinction of Honor @ RootsTech!

RootsTech Rebuttal

Perspectives: RootsTech 2012

RootsTech Bound Kentuckians?

RootsTech Day 1

RootsTech Roundup

RootsTech Virtual Edition

Pandora's Box: Official Bloggers

RootsTech Rowdies in Google+

Monday, September 2, 2013

Saving Ridgeway

Over the years I have watched many historical places whither and die due to neglect, bureaucracy or perceived progress. Last year I was made aware of a local struggle to save a historic plantation in the heart of the Bluegrass. In fact, the more I learned about this house, the more I wanted to back the effort. Its historic value goes beyond Kentucky and reaches to the national level. Unfortunately, despite its addition to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, the closer we get to saving it, the harder the struggle becomes.

During the NGS Conference in Cincinnati I took a friend down to Cynthiana in Harrison County to see the house for the first time. He was one of the only known descendants of the house's builder: U.S. Congressman and War of 1812 veteran, Colonel William Brown. The house has been protected from demolition by a decade's worth of efforts from a few local angels. Over that decade, the land around the house has been beautifully re-developed into a community park. The Flat Run Veterans Park has provided much needed space for a farmers' market and several new sports fields for the local teams. Appropriately, the house stands as a beautiful sentinel at the top of the ridge, overlooking the entire park and Licking River valley. Absolutely one of the most beautiful views of the area that I have ever seen.
Built in 1817 (per a local tax increase seen in 1818), the home's builder was quite a historic gentleman. He was a noted local attorney and friend of Henry Clay. He served in the House of Representatives during the Missouri Compromise. His family connections became significant with is marriage to Harriette Warfield, the sister of Dr. Elisha Warfield - prominent Lexington Doctor who delivered Mary Todd Lincoln. This friendship with the Todd family would later influence many others known to the journey towards an end to slavery.
Ridgeway was built to be a large plantation worked by enslaved individuals. According to records, the Brown family enslaved almost 40 slaves, which was modest based on the size of acreage. By the late 1820s, something changed with the Colonel. He became unsettled with the concept of slavery. By 1830, with land grants in hand for the Illinois territory, due to his 1812 service, he made plans to relocate his family and slaves to Illinois as a means of freeing them. This process was not instantaneous. In 1831, the Colonel and his son-in-law relocated the majority of their slaves to Illinois, securing their freedom. A few slaves were left behind in Kentucky with the Colonel's son as they prepared to move the entire family to Illinois. Unfortunately, in 1832, tragedy struck. The Colonel became ill and died in Illinois.

Within the following decade, the Brown family had to recoup, but had not given up on their plan to move the entire family north. The Colonel's son, James N. Brown stayed for a few more years and tried to secure the beginnings of his new family - which resulted in the death of at least two children that we know of....their gravestones still exist, but have been vandalized and removed from their original resting place. The gravestones hope to be restored to their original location, or incorporated into a children's diversity garden in the back of the house - depending on the funding and plans approved. At the present, they lie in the foyer of Ridgeway.
Once the entire family finally made it to Illinois, they were already closely intertwined with the other Central Kentucky families that had relocated to the northern territory. Two such families were the Todd and Lincoln families. In fact, in the earliest years of the Brown's attempt to secure a future on their new farm, one of their first farmhands in Illinois, was a young Abraham Lincoln. This relationship only grew stronger as the years progressed. A few facts about this relationship:

James N. Brown: Son of Colonel Brown remained friends and colleagues with Lincoln throughout his lifetime. One of Lincoln's most important letters that explained his view on slavery was written to James. After Lincoln's death, James was chosen by Mary Todd Lincoln as one of the pallbearers in Springfield for the final journey of Lincoln's body.

Senator Orville Hickman Browning: Nephew of Colonel Brown and Cynthiana native. As an aspiring attorney, while still in Kentucky, he "read the law" with the Colonel at Ridgeway. Browning later became one of Lincoln's closest friends and advisers...later being appointed Secretary of the Interior by President Johnson. It was to Browning that Lincoln penned the famous line "to lose Kentucky is to lose the whole game." (1861)

After the Browns left Kentucky, the house had a long agricultural history. Slavery was once again a sad reality under the new owner, Dr. Joel C. Frazer. As a slave-holding Union supporter, he freely allowed the Union army to camp on the plantation just north of the river during the Civil War. As a critical area during the struggles with John Hunt Morgan in relation to the two Battles of Cynthiana, history has labeled the encampment as Camp Frazer.

After the Civil War, the house changed owners a few more times, all the while maintaining its strong agricultural heritage in the tobacco and horse industries. One of its last owners of the 19th century, William Handy raised competitive Trotter horses and was known nationally for their great quality. His work was so respected that the house later became known as The Handy House.

The structure itself has already been deemed structurally sound. The flooring throughout is comprised of thick Chestnut that blanketed the Eastern U.S. prior to a blight that wiped out this native resource. The carvings enhancing the stairs and mantle pieces are beautiful examples of period workmanship. Walking the house in this state was sad, but realizing the potential before our eyes reminded us of the importance of our efforts. The historic value in combination with the beautiful architectural elements makes this place special, and very worthy of salvation.

A New Future:
Our plans include re-vitalization, not period restoration. We would enhance and restore the period elements while incorporating some modern conveniences. With these improvements, Ridgeway would secure a new future as a much needed community center and ranger station to watch over the park. Unfortunately, misinformation has inspired a small local faction that is ever determined to get rid of the house - with intentions of building a swimming pool in its place. For the record, there is ample room next to the house where the barns once stood, plus, there is no funding available for any pool construction once the house was demolished. As an added deterrent, federal assistance would be blocked for further improvements to the park if the town decided to demolish a federally recognized structure as Ridgeway was declared in 2005.
And then there are the nearby graves...
Regardless of intention regarding need for a local pool, there is also the matter of two nearby cemeteries. Some of the families that resided at Ridgeway over the decades, both free and enslaved are buried somewhere near the house. Unfortunately, this does not seem to impress upon the local opposition, despite the legal implications of digging up a couple of cemeteries.
How you can help:
We are so close....the city has given us a temporary lease to make improvements on the property for the purpose of converting into a community center. Of course, major funding is being sought to complete the work. Somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000. Many local folks have worked for over a decade to get this far, but time is running out. If we do not secure funding to begin improvements soon, the city will take the lease away, and the house will be disposed of in short order. Please consider donating any small amount to help with the effort! Tax-deductible donations can be made through the Friendsofridgeway.org site.
We would also love some additional support via our Facebook page: Friends of Ridgeway.
Thank you all for your support!
PR Chairman, Harrison County Heritage Council

Saturday, August 24, 2013

#FGS2013 - That's a Wrap Folks!

For my final blog post on this, the last day of FGS, I will aim to make things a little more visual for those of you who did not get to attend - while reflecting on the good, the quirky, and not so good moments of an overall great conference!

Obvious Distractions:
First of all, I loved the venue. Very spacious and contemporary. For those quick enough to have snagged a room at the Hilton, or even the Marriott, this had to be an even better experience (My new conference goal from now on - staying in the adjoining hotel - it does make a difference, comfort-wise). Probably my only complaint, which could have been remedied by the conference planners: we needed charging stations! The plugs for charging devices were few and far between....or just in a hallway with no bench. Floor campers next to the plugs was a common sight.
Second: Even though I love it when we have major conferences in cities with huge genealogical libraries nearby....be forewarned that this increases your stress level exponentially! We have all learned the cardinal rule of conference attendance: PACE YOURSELF.....ummm, that rule flies out the window when there is this temple of family history sitting there, every day, just taunting you to come inside and discover more ancestors - late into the evening hours. I am in no way criticizing this treat as I am used to this taunt in Salt Lake City during RootsTech....but if the 2013 group of FGS attendees seems even more exhausted than usual, cut them some slack...they had a lot competing for their potential sleep hours! Below are some snaps of the gorgeous, accommodating and welcoming Allen County Public Library - and I will send out a big THANK YOU to her staff and volunteers. They were awesome!!! I hope someone sends them some cake, just for the amount of reshelving alone!

Mums the Word!
Ok, I was one of those singing the praises of the un-conferencing sessions that are so popular at RootsTech. So, naturally, I was delighted to see this concept included at FGS (called GenSpiration Sessions) - apparently this was the third year offering this feature - but no one got excited about this option. In fact, it was so sad to see the four boards that represented each day of the conference, sitting there, practically naked every day. I think throughout the course of the conference, only two brave souls posted a session for folks to attend. I have not given up on this concept and I hope the conference planners give it another try. I'm really hoping it gains popularity soon!

Chirp Chirp!
Twitter was once again a hugely favorite way to keep up with attendees this year! The hashtag #FGS2013 was trending due to the frequency and volume of tweets coming out of Fort Wayne. The conference planners featured this activity with a large screen running the visibletweets.com site to display the activity. It was very pretty and colorful, with very large print to read across the room. I liked this display, but I found that I soon got tired of it since it was not real-time....instead, running tweets that could be as old as 14+ hours. With a real-time stream of the hashtag activity, non-Twitter users might have better understood the shear popularity and high-octane vibe that comes with this rapid fire/energetic form of social communication.
Oh, and which option did I end up going with to advertise my Twitter use? I went with the round sticker! It fit just fine with the FGS logo below, and yet, didn't get lost in my ribbon trail.
Telling Stories 21st Century Style:
The current trend of supplementing your genealogy with stories and memories is not losing any steam. Perhaps the trend is not as strong as at RootsTech, but look at this lovely little addition to the exhibit hall by Family Search to capture the stories of those who were willing to share! I'm thinking the addition of plexi partitions might lessen the distraction that had to be felt by person in the spotlight!
Technology Transitions:
Kudos to the FGS folks again for keeping the Cyber Cafe concept alive and well! I think the addition of charging stations around the couches would go over swimmingly with this crowd. With each new conference, the technology is changing fast! By far, I saw more tablets this year than ever before. Some are still using laptops, and I admit to bringing mine for my blogging back in the room during the evenings, but I too have transitioned into being a tablet attendee, and my shoulders love me for it! I did hear some complaints about the wi-fi being too spotty, etc. I didn't have too much of a problem with this - but the deeper I went into the building during sessions, the weaker the signal got....at least in my experience.
One thing I adore about conferences is the cutting edge announcements that get released during the crowded events. It is one reason why bloggers are given access to a media hub - they want us all to get excited and spread the word! For 2013, the biggest announcement by far was the 2015 merger of RootsTech and FGS in Salt Lake City. Apparently this is a one time only merger, but it does move FGS into February that year. It also means these two conferences will take up the entire Salt Palace Convention Center - I heard folks already talking about whether they could reserve their hotel room this early! Yep, I admit, this one got me really excited too - come on 2015! The other news released to us was by Family Search - lots of upcoming projects and developments, including new discovery centers and satellite locations for RootsTech....I will cover some of those more in-depth at a later date.
We Fired Our Guns....
And don't forget about the Preserve the 1812 Pension Project! This was the theme for the entire conference, which made for a very visually arresting set of events and activities - complete with quilts and ballgowns! Here is a link for you to join the effort and learn more!
Another Triumph, Mrs. Cratchit!
I cannot thank the conference planners and ACPL staff enough! This was a great city choice, a great venue, and things went swimmingly...except for a few snags that are common with every conference...I do not envy you your job, but I am increasingly impressed with how well things progressed, and how much you made our conference experience another rousing success!
I would say "see you all next year"....but San Antonio might be just too far out of my travel range. But
seriously, if you can make it....this conference, in beautiful San Antonio?! Go for it! And don't forget to blog/tweet it for me so I can experience it vicariously!
Night all! Let the post conference coma commence!!
P.S. The rest of the blogging crew did a wonderful job! Thanks to Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings who gathered all of our posts into one place for easy browsing: http://www.geneamusings.com/2013/08/fgs-conference-blog-compendium.html

Friday, August 23, 2013

FGS Day 3! Caffeine I.V. Please!

I refuse to give up on my goal of blogging for each day of the conference! It is still day three, and I am here....panting....frantically trying to make this happen! However, it will be a short one folks as my caffeine is wearing off. Each evening I have managed to get this done by having tea in the hotel room - which is not smart under normal circumstances - but let's hear it for strong tea! (And maybe a bite of dark chocolate as a conference treat/supplement)

Ok, so day three was still pretty hectic with sessions and side events. I know that last night, the late night in the exhibit hall, was supposed to fulfill my exhibit hall objectives, but there were too many folks around trying to accomplish the same thing! Birds of a feather and all that....so I did take some morning time to get back in there and interview some folks. As a librarian, I was curious about the various companies and whether they offered discounts or library versions of their products. We already subscribe to the library edition of Ancestry + Heritage Quest + Fold3. All  are very popular in the research library, but after talking with a couple of competitors, I learned that Archives.com does not offer a library subscription, but Find My Past was working on this option, hopefully for next year - nice tidbit for the future!

Session-wise, I attended some gems today! By far, my favorite today, and I believe for the entire conference so far, was the "Lost Children" session by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom. If you have any guardianship, orphan, adoption, or vagrant issues in your tree, this is one session you need to learn more about! This one struck a chord with me for two reasons: 1. This is a question we get asked a lot at the reference desk. It is a common source of brick wall material for many, and tracking down any records takes talent and tenacity. Kentucky is like most states in that this is a huge challenge. Over the centuries, various organizations were in charge of these transactions, and not regulated by government authorities until late 19th or early 20th centuries. 2. My own grandfather was a part of the orphan system in Kentucky. We are lucky to have his records as given to us by the orphanage, but so many are not this lucky and the rights of adoptees has become a great issue. Ms. Bloom's session outlined the specific challenges and philosophies of the this issue by time period. What invaluable information! I will be using some of her tips to help patrons who walk in with this challenge. Bottom line: If you can get any of her material regarding this subject - get it!

Ok....caffeine fading....the rest of the day resulted in more research at the library....more conversations and fun moments....an 1812 celebration....and a live #genchat session on Twitter, which just ended at 11....I think I've officially squeezed everything I can into this day! As my final entry for the last day (tomorrow), I will sum up my experience and close this self-imposed challenge out.
Goodnight all!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

FGS Day 2!

The highs and lows at a conference never cease to amaze me - not lows emotionally, just physically. Lots of caffeine and general excitement keep me going, but as FGS rolls along, I encounter new things each day. For Day 2, I met some more bloggers that I recognized - I also met a Twitter buddy who revealed her appearance after I asked to meet her :-) Thanks Marcy - great to meet you! The exhibit hall also opened, which naturally allows everyone to reconnect again while they shop and learn new things at the many wonderful booths.
The exhibit hall is very nice this year, spacious with many familiar faces and brands. No big surprises that I can see yet. Probably the weirdest part of the exhibit hall has to be the societies section or gallery. All of the local/state societies affiliated with FGS are clustered together behind the main FGS booth. However, the spacing is so tight within these two rows, it is like running a genealogy gauntlet. If you take into consideration the bulky swag bags we are all carrying, movement in tandem, yet opposite directions, begins to resemble a game of twister.

Some highlights from Day 2, including session tidbits:

Big announcement for 2015 - RootsTech and FGS will occur at the same time within the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City!!

Late night in the exhibit hall - lots of door prizes.
Got to meet up with a good portion of the FGS Blogger Ambassadors!

Preserving the War of 1812 Pensions effort - very prominent part of the conference, and some groups are giving away fantastic door prizes within various donation levels.

Inland Rivers Library by Patricia Van Skaik:
Great collection at the Cincinnati Public Library - for ancestors who worked in the inland shipping/river transportation industry. Many clues for researching further can be found in regular records, such as census, which might list an occupation. Naval records can also provide great info on these ancestors. Navigation maps list very obscure towns or communities along the rivers.

Family Search Luncheon: Star Wars Family Tree and a virtual demonstration of the new Discovery Centers - first Discovery Center will open in Seattle Washington!
Railroad Research by Patricia Walls Stamm:
One of the most difficult of records to locate. Golden age of railroads - 1900-1950. Many repositories of records exist, but lots of work needed to locate the ones you need. Best record if you can find one - Railroad Retirement Board, which covers service from 1937.

I know this is a short report for today, but I am holding some things back for a final report sometime Saturday.
See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

FGS Day 1 - Officially

It's finally, officially here: FGS 2013! As the official kick-off got underway, we were treated to an opening session by Cyndi Ingle Howells of Cyndi's List. She was speaking of today's challenges and necessities for online presence success, all while reminiscing about the early days of online efforts. So, just to be clear, no music or flashing images....as Cyndi put it, "background music on websites is SO 1998 - just don't do it!" It was clear to everyone that things have changed dramatically since Cyndi pioneered her staple of the genealogy field....and we were again amazed at the changes ahead. As Societies, it is imperative that we follow her advice to impact more lives, survive, and maximize engagement. Great lessons from an amazing online pioneer - we thank her for her many years of hard work!

Since today was a focus on societies, the issues followed an administrative pattern. The thing is, we all need to adopt this broader mindset. We should all become outward thinkers....adopting, or at least thinking about issues that influence the big picture. While most have missions in place, that staple should be maintained by the healthy habit of evaluating what we are doing to follow said missions. Much of the session content I attended today revolved around publishing and social media. Ironically, both are inevitably intertwined. While publishing would appear to be a different medium, it too is evolving into virtual/online formats. With that transition to an electronic venue, the publications then become easier to promote within the new social media tools that we all must master. So....the more we learn about social media and the quicker we utilize it within the many functions of our society, the greater the overall impact of our society! Which also translates to: we, as a society live to see another day! Yes, that is the message being spread....societies are struggling, but those who can adapt are actually growing and thriving!

Some other tips I picked up from the sessions I attended today (not every session I attended):
First of all: If you see this paparazzi pointing at you...run! She has an itchy and lightning trigger finger!

Cyndi Ingle Howells: 
(Website creation) Don't forget to let people know where you are! There may be many counties with an identical name - just different states.
Red print on websites makes for specific visual challenges - don't do it!
Provide unique content that also changes to keep people coming back to your site.

Tina Lyons: 
Consistent naming/branding along all social media platforms is a must for every society! 
Learn about various social media tools on a personal level FIRST before using it for your society.
Make sure you use the society e-mail address to set up accounts....not someone's personal account that cannot be accessed by any other administrators.
Try not to bore or confuse your audience/visitors.

Rachel Popma:
Mine other organizations for great authors...especially professional/trade organizations.
Make submission guidelines and author agreements visible for potential authors.
Self esteem issues prevent many from writing....you may need to cultivate or encourage a lot to get a submission.

George Morgan:
Partner with local libraries for programming/project partnerships.
Learn your library catalog FULLY or you will miss something in the collection! If you need a librarian to teach your group how to navigate the catalog properly - DO IT!
Utilize Special Interest Groups to diversify your programming and outreach..

The daily activities were capped off by a lovely event hosted by Find My Past: Social at the Botanical Gardens!
Despite the long lines and weary, hungry attendees, the event was a fun way to meet up with colleagues and friends. The gardens are beautiful and the music was a fun addition to the festive food and drink. Here are a few photos from the event.

Wow, OK, I think I'm done for today - exhibit hall opens tomorrow!! See everyone in the morning!!


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