Saturday, May 22, 2010

SGS Spring Seminar a Rousing Success!

Today's Spring Seminar with Elissa Scalise Powell was a rousing success! About 140 people attended and nobody got wet! Elissa's 4 topics contained something for everyone. She was surprised (as was I) at the range of experience among our attendees--from total newbies to 30+ years of genealogy research. I hope everyone learned something new.
One of the tidbits I picked up was in the very first session called "Hiding Behind Their Skirts: Finding Women's Records." If you're looking for women's diaries or letters about a particular area, search for a local university that has a women's studies department. Chances are, they will have collected at least a few diaries from that area. Now why didn't I think of that?
I also like her idea of searching for "church neighbors"--people who attended the same church but maybe didn't live very close to your family. I've got lots of families back in East Tennessee in the late 1700s/early 1800s and have looked for individual events in the church records. Now I'm going to go back and look at some of the other family names in those records and see if I can find more family connections.
In her "Twenty Years of Stuff--Now What Do I Do?" talk, Elissa suggested creating Home, Working and Resource files. That really sounds like a great (and relatively simple) idea. Maybe I'll try it after I get over the shock of hearing that she doesn't take her laptop into courthouses and libraries. The will codicil example Elissa shared with us is very similar to one that was published in the SGS Bulletin several times back in 2008-09.
Elissa's third topic was "Rubik's Cube Genealogy: A New Twist on Your Old Data." I really like the idea of creating timelines for records for the areas in which I'm researching. The graphics Elissa presented make it clear where you should be looking for records for specific people. I'm embarrassed to learn that Family TreeMaker can generate some of them for me and I've never used that feature. And that Burpee seed planting zone map was a kick!
As a geographer, naturally I liked all the maps Elissa showed in her final talk, "How Did My Pennsylvania Ancestor Get Here? Migration Trails Out of the Keystone State." We saw the Burpee seed planting zone map again, but linking it to European planting zones was fascinating. Several people were interested in the ethnicity maps Elissa showed from the 1990 US Census. FYI, the University of Virginia Library has a historical census browser available online which allows you to create tables or maps from US Census data from 1790 to 1960 for states and counties. Check it out at
I hope everyone else who attended today's seminar learned as much as I did. My apologies for the mess-up on the lunches; it obviously isn't what we expected or thought we'd paid for. I'm looking forward to a relaxing dinner at Marie Callendar's and hope to see many SGS members there.
Thanks to all who attended and to Elissa for four wonderful presentations and to our SGS volunteers who made this happen, especially Jean Roth, Cary Bright, Linda Fitzgerald, Christine Schomaker, Pat Younie, Tom Hamilton, Elizabeth Howie, Rosemary and Jon Lehman, Mary Roddy and Ron Floyd. 

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