Well, the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ (FGS) 2014 conference has ended and by now, the genealogists who descended on San Antonio are hopefully safely back at home. If they’re like me, they are more energized than ever to get back to researching their families. What a whirlwind week! Had lots of fun learning, exchanging ideas with people at the Ancestry booth, doing demos, teaching classes, and just shooting the breeze with so many people who share my passion for family history. And I got to explore the beautiful city of San Antonio and the iconic River Walk.
I took a ton of pictures, but my favorites were of the tree in front of the Alamo and some photos in the Menger Hotel. The Menger Hotel was established in 1859 and has hosted many notable historical figures. Theodore Roosevelt recruited his “Rough Riders” in the bar of that hotel before the Spanish-American War. It was like being transported back in time as I walked around the elegant lobby. And seeing the Alamo itself was a really moving experience. So much history there!
Back at the conference I was able to catch some classes and now I’m really fired up to get back to my research. Inferential Genealogy with Thomas W. Jones was a great complex case study that demonstrated how even in the absence of direct evidence, it is possible to infer identities and other facts by assembling the details from multiple sources and underlying background, such as prevailing laws from the time period being investigated, customs, etc. The session was also a good reminder that we need to use care when we attach new people to our trees and be sure we have gathered sufficient evidence to support relationships.
Kris Rzepczynski, Senior Archivist at the Archives of Michigan, gave a great presentation on Big City Blues? Researching Urban Ancestors —a subject near and dear to my heart since much of my mother’s family lived in New York City and Brooklyn. I love that he uses a spreadsheet very similar to one I use to keep track of city directory entries. I’ll post some slides that show how to create one from one of my classes in another post later this week.
I also spent some time wandering around the various booths in the vendor area and found three new books that I “had to have,” two of which are from the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&B). I had a chance to speak with McKelden Smith, president of NYG&B. That interview, along with several others from last week, will be posted soon on the Ancestry YouTube channel.
The most enjoyable aspect was being able to meet with and dine with so many people from the many aspects of this field. One night we had a lovely dinner with a couple ladies who are DAR members, during which we chatted about some of the discoveries and stories we’ve uncovered through our research. We all agreed that one of the best part of attending a conference is being able to share your story with people who genuinely “get it.” They not only enjoy hearing about your research, they appreciate it, because it sparks ideas that can be put to use in their own research.
Here are some pictures I took from the conference.
About Juliana Smith
Juliana Szucs Smith has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 16 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.