NERGC 2013 full report

This post is appearing a bit early because I am excited to share about my experiences at a genealogy conference the past several days. I spent 4 wonderful days at NERGC this year. I went to the inaugural Tech Day and heard Steve Morse speak about some of the “behind the scenes” aspects of his One-Step website. Josh Taylor spoke about genealogists and social media, and Laura Prescott spoke about building a family history website. It was a great day.

Thursday the conference opened up. I volunteered at the registration booth for most of the morning and made some new friends and caught up with a few people I already knew. While the classes are generally very good, I think one of the best things about genealogy conferences is the relationships that are formed and renewed. I went out to lunch or dinner many times with friends and caught up. I even met a new friend who suggested we work on a joint project. You just never know…

This is my friend Donna who I met several years ago when we were in the same ProGen group.

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In terms of classes, I attended Warren Bittner’s classes on federal land records and complex evidence and Laura Murphy DeGrazia’s class on reasonably exhaustive searches on Thursday. From a social history aspect, I loved the photos of homesteaders from the Nebraska Historical Society that Mr. Bittner included in his federal land record talks.

Friday morning I woke up to the news that a major shootout had occurred in Boston between police and the terrorist suspects and the town was on lockdown as they searched for the second terrorist. I worried about my friends in the area and checked the news in between classes. It was nice to escape into a class and focus on something else for an hour. My friend Barbara Mathews summarized it best: “While our hearts are in Boston, our minds are in New Hampshire at NERGC 2013.”

I learned about some new resources in the class on Loyalist Migrations: The David Library of the American Revolution (good for both Patriot and Loyalist research) and the OliveTreeGenealogy Loyalist resource page. I also attended a talk about the resources of loc.gov which is one of my favorite go-to places for social history and genealogy.

There were some classes on ancestral foodways and genealogy clues in quilts that looked interesting, but I wasn’t able to attend them. I did attend classes on “digging up the dirt” on my farmer ancestors, indentured servants and resources used to follow the migration route of our ancestor. The theme of the conference was “Woven in History: The Fabric of New England.” Social history fits very well into this topic, which was reflected in the wide variety of classes offered that touched upon social history. The final class I attended Saturday afternoon was about writing up our research into well-documented and interesting narratives. It was a fitting way to end the conference as writing is such an important part of social history and genealogy. We can research all we want, but the act of writing it down helps us organize, fill in the holes, and share with our families.

On Friday evening the New England GeneaBloggers group met. It was wonderful to meet other bloggers and to talk about some of the technical and not-so-technical aspects of blogging. Some newbies were there and hopefully we were able to hook them into blogging.

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I was a facilitator for a luncheon table about social history on Saturday. There were 25 tables, each with a different topic. It was great to see so many people attend and we had a good discussion at my table. It was nice to meet some other social historians and learn about some of their favorite tools and research interests.

Like any good historian and genealogist, I bought quite a few books, mostly about social history. I also bought a couple of genealogy reference books and a CD of 16 years of back issues of The Family Chronicle. Lots of reading to do when I get home.

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All in all, it was a wonderful conference and I came away with many new ideas and resources, some of which may appear in future blog postings on this site. It is good to be home though.

About bridgingthepast

Welcome to Bridging the Past. We help genealogists connect to their colonial New England ancestors by sharing with them information about the lives of their ancestors. What did they eat? What did they wear? What was a typical day like? Did my ancestor fight in a war? What was life like for that ancestor, and for the loved ones he left at home? Why did they move? Was it part of a larger movement? By answering these questions, and many more, you can bring your ancestors to life and feel closer to them. We design lectures to answer these questions and give genealogists the tools and resources to personally connect with their ancestors by fleshing out the lives of their ancestors so they are more than names, dates and places on a piece of paper.
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