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.


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 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.


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.


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.

Library of Congress: Digital Newspapers as resources

The Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website has amazing resources available to you for free from the comfort of your home. Several posts will be dedicated to the resources available there, but we’ll start with the digital newspaper collection. About 4 million images of newspapers from around the country from 1836 to 1922 are available on this website free of charge. The search function is fairly easy to use and you can do a basic search or a more advanced search. You can search by name, location or other keywords.

I searched for Levi Savage and the search results looked like this. There are 203 results, with 20 on each page. The digitized page for each result is shown, with Levi’s name highlighted in pink. You can zoom and save as a pdf file to your computer. Many of the newspaper articles dealt with his service in the Mormon Battalion, his son Levi Mathers Savage, and occasionally his father.

Example of search at LOC

Here are a few of the interesting things that I found:

This is when Levi’s trial for cohabitation began.
The Salt Lake Herald, Sept 10, 1887, page 8

The Salt Lake herald September 10 1887 Page 8

In other records I have found the information needed to track down Levi’s court records. However, they have been lost and are not available. Therefore, this newspaper account of his words at the end of his trial are important to understanding him and the role polygamy played in his life. The Salt Lake Herald September 30 1887 Page 8

The Salt Lake herald September 30 1887 Page 8

This tells me where he was taken so that I can further progress in my research.
Salt Lake Herald Oct 1 1887 page 8

salt lake herald oct 1 1887 page 8

This is a lot of money back then. Definitely something to look further into and figure out what was going on. Based on entries in his son’s journal, I suspect this is for damages sustained in Millard County in the late 1850s or early 1860s. This is where they lived before moving to Toquerville.
The Salt Lake Herald Feb 14 1899 page 6

the salt lake herald feb 14 1899 page 6

Don’t look just for your ancestor’s name. A big part of social history is learning about the bigger world in which your ancestor lived and gaining various perspectives on events in your ancestor’s life. This article is a great example of how to do this. I don’t know that Levi felt this way, but I know that somebody that lived in the same area thought Toquerville was a great place to live.
The Union Sept 18 1897

The Union Sept 18 1897

I used the SnagIt program to pull out just the portion of the page that I wanted. But, in doing your own research, don’t forget to look at some of the articles that are around the article of interest to get a sense of what else was going on. Looking at advertisements can be especially interesting and enlightening.

If interested, here are a few links about Chronicling America

What are some of the treasures you have found on the Chronicling America website? I would love to hear from you in the comments section.