Everything is a blur…. following are a few highlights in no particular order.
Day #3 Keynote speaker Judy Russell was amazing. She is one of my favorite bloggers (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/) and an entertaining and animated storyteller. She explains how most of our family stories are lost (or mangled) in just 3 generations!
Dr. Spencer Wells, the director of the National Geographic’s Genographic Project, gave a fascinating talk about how the study came to be and shared some results.
The session was recorded and is free online, both are worth watching – (https://rootstech.org/about/videos/?id=3168208970001)
MyHeritage (http://www.myheritage.com/) was Friday’s sponsor and during the keynote they announced that the first 500 folks to stop by their booth would get a free all access 6-month package. I have seen lots of positive reviews in various blogs and have been meaning to give it a try…so I joined the stampede of folks and got my free pass. The site took my free pass, but unfortunately won’t take my GEDCOM. I get a message that reads, “Your GEDCOM file was successfully uploaded and is currently being processed. You will receive an email once processing is complete.” No email, no family tree, I tried 3 times, even trying two different GEDCOMs – one from Ancestry.com and another from Family Tree Maker. Saturday morning I spoke to one of the programmers at the booth; he tried to rectify the situation unsuccessfully – he kept my GEDCOM on his thumb drive and asked me to email on Monday if things weren’t resolved.
Next stop was genealogywallcharts.com. They were offering a conference special: A very large fan chart FREE in black and white or $5.00 in color; $5.00 extra if you wanted it laminated.
A very helpful guy, Bryant Larsen, gave me instructions on creating the chart using (http://www.tengenchart.com/gedcom.html) since I don’t have a FamilySearch tree (but if you have one, they can be automatically uploaded). I used the FamilySearch/RootTech computers, downloaded a GEDCOM from Ancestry.com and uploaded it to the site and in a few seconds I had a colored .pdf. Bryant submitted it to his printer queue and told me to come back in a few hours. I paid my $40.00 for four laminated copies and then completely forgot to go back! I returned Saturday morning to chaos. There were hundreds of charts on tables everywhere. I spent about an hour looking, but mine were nowhere to be found. Frustrated, I requested a refund. The owner of the company, Doug Butts, asked for my mailing address and promised to locate them and ship them at no charge….
So far Mocavo broken (see day 1 & 2 post), MyHeritage broken and wall chart lost :-( – They say everything comes in “three’s”.
I visited the GenealogyBank booth (http://www.genealogybank.com/) and for $99 they extended my current subscription for two years! Gotta love conference specials. I LOVE Genealogy Bank and have found lots of family mentions in their newspaper collection over the past two years. Especially handy is their recent obituary collection that dates back to 1977. I tend to look for living cousins to see what photos. stories and artifacts they may have inherited. Recent obituaries typically give me their names and location – I can then track down living relatives on Linkedin, Facebook or other social media sites.
I chatted with Steve Miller from EclipseIR (http://www.eclipseir.com/), the CEO of a facial recognition company for genealogists. My husband works in the facial recognition industry and it turns out Steve is well acquainted with my husband’s former boss, who is also our neighbor. The service is free. If you have a photo that you know is “grandma” and you have another that you think is “grandma”. Just email them both in and the software will give you a probability of the likelihood that it is grandma. Interesting stuff!
I emailed them a photo of my g-g-grandfather Ephraim Augustus Hall (left) and another photo that I believe to be Ephraim (right). I will update this post when I get some results.
I attended the hour long presentation by Michael J. Leclerc of Mocavo. I was impressed. They are adding lots of new information daily and seem to very interested in incorporating suggestions from their customers. One great thing they offer is “Genealogy Karma“ to empower the Mocavo community and connect researchers around the country (free). It is modeled after the defunct Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) – (http://www.mocavo.com/karma)
I spent a good part of Saturday at the Backblaze Demo theater. Comfy couches, a woman walking around with a basket of free candy and a raffle prize for each presentation (I came close, but didn’t win). Each presentation was about 20 minutes.
I watched D. Josh Taylor, another of my favorite presenters, talk about findmypast. They have an impressive collection of UK records (I have used them in the past and was able to piece together both of my Welch lines with parish registers).
I sat through Cece Moore’s basic DNA presentation again because I love listening to her. She is an organizer of the first annual “Institute for Genetic Genealogy” being held in Washington, DC August 16-17, 2014. Registration is only $85 (www.i4gg.org) – sounds like a great event!
I watched Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems speak about using Google Earth for time travel. Turns out that many of David Rumsey’s free historic maps (http://www.davidrumsey.com/) can be overlaid onto today’s map in google earth. In Google Earth go to layers/gallery and you will see the Rumsey Historical Maps.
Another great tool is the ability to look back at Historical County Boundaries (since boundaries changed frequently). For example, when my ancestors moved to Bangor, Maine they were in Hancock County until 1816 when the area became part of Penobscot County. This is important when looking for certain records, like land deeds, which are held at the county level. I would need to know to look in Hancock County for pre-1816 deeds. Go to http://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/, and select a state. At the bottom of the page, click “Download the KMZ File for use with Google Earth”. Unzip the file. Open Google Earth and click File > Open and select the KMZ file. The historical county boundary lines are in satellite view. Use the time slider to select a specific year. Cool stuff!
Overall a great conference! I did get to spend a few more hours at the library where I uncovered some Oneida, New York land ownership maps and city directories to use in a future #52 Ancestors post.
During the conference, I got an “alert” from Ebay; a painting by my grandmother’s uncle Walter Lansil was listed. I bid. One guy is bidding against me. I text my cousin Ed, excited. Turns out he is also bidding against me! We bid against each other up to $1,525.01 before we figured it out! The good news is that you can retract bids if the auction hasn’t closed. So we were able to do that this morning and are now negotiating for a reasonable price & custody arrangement :-)
It was a long journey home, through snowy Chicago (where miraculously I didn’t get stuck!). I arrived back to hubby and 4 kitties at 1:30AM – hubby sound asleep, 4 kitties awaiting anxiously at the door and very happy to see me!