After hearing all of my genealogy friends talk excitedly about Jamboree for the last three years, I finally had a chance to attend the big event. Jamboree 2011, also known as the Southern California Genealogy Society’s Genealogy Jamboree, has been going strong for 42 years. The conference draws not only attendees from all over California, but others like me who traveled a long way just for the opportunity to hear some great speakers and meet some great genealogy friends. I’m glad I went – not only did I have a great time, but I learned a lot! Here are the top ten things I learned at Jamboree 2011:
1. From Warren Bittner, I learned that I’m not the only one who has to go back and research some more after I thought I found the “right” answer. In a great lecture on “Elusive Immigrants”, Warren provided great examples on how to perform exhaustive – or exhausting - research. With great humor, he reminded us that that’s why we call it “REsearch” and he gave me some new ideas for old research problems.
2. From Lisa Louise Cooke, I learned that I need to update my version of Google Earth. In her session on “Google Earth for Genealogy”, Lisa showed how this awesome tool can be used to aid your family research and learn more about your family’s neighborhoods.
3. I was very happy to finally attend a lecture by one of genealogy’s true “rock stars” – Stephen Morse – who has the unique ability to explain complicated ideas so that everyone can understand them. But I was shocked to learn how many other attendees in the audience had never heard of Mr. Morse’s One-Step Webpages! Seriously? Experienced genealogists need to shout Steve’s name from our rooftops (or blogs) to make sure everyone getting started in genealogy knows his name. I feel a blog post coming on… The One-Step site started out as a tool to help find immigrants, but it does so much more now that every genealogist can find at least one of Steve’s tools useful.
4. The Photo Detective herself, Maureen Taylor, expertly explained “Advanced Photo Detecting – Cracking the Cold Case”. She makes me want to dig out all of my photographs and hunt for clues. If you ever have the opportunity to hear Maureen speak – go! You won’t be disappointed.
5. I attended several other interesting lectures, but many of the most useful things I learned came from sidebar conversations with my fellow genealogy bloggers that took place in between lectures at either “Bloggers’ Island”, the hotel lobby, or literally beside the bar. From these knowledgeable friends I learned several new things about new computer technology, writing, self-publishing, and researching Polish records.
6. I learned that peer pressure is alive and well as the Pointer Sisters (also known as Tonia Kendrick, Caroline Pointer, and footnoteMaven) convinced me to join the Twitter revolution. You, too, can follow my inane and/or insane comments @donnapoint if you dare.
7. I learned that pinatas don’t come pre-stuffed, and that you can’t fill them with nearly as much candy as you think you can.
8. I learned that genealogists are resourceful and well prepared. From whom else could you get a pinata-whacker, some string, a corkscrew, and a spare pair of pajamas at a moment’s notice?
9. I learned that occasionally you know as much as the lecturer and you realize that you could have given a talk on the same topic equally well. I don’t mean this to sound snobbish; rather, sometimes you know more than you think you do. Rather than be disappointed that I didn’t learn anything new in those lectures, I was happy to realize all my years of research has taught me something that even I can share.
10. Finally, I learned that genealogists make the best friends! I was so happy to spend some time with friends I met before, friends that I’d known online for a while but never met in person, and new friends I met for the first time. As I said after my first genealogy conference last year, there are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met. I won’t list all of the bloggers here as the list is lengthy, but I do want to offer some special shout-outs. First, to my traveling companion, Lisa Alzo, thanks for putting up with me, laughing with me, and sharing your wisdom with me. To Steve Danko and Kathryn Doyle, for the hospitality, being great tour guides, and making our trip to San Francisco so special. To Denise Levenick, for being our chauffeur, Hollywood tour guide, and provider of donuts, wine, and other goodies as needed.
Some of my non-genealogy friends and family members wonder what “new” things I could learn since I’ve been researching my family for so many years. But I came home with so many ideas…ideas for new blog posts (which this blog has lacked for months!), articles for magazines, lectures to present at other conferences, new avenues to pursue to climb over my research “walls”, and even an idea for a new business. I have so many new ideas that I’ve had a headache for days, so for now it’s time for a nap. But let it be a lesson learned (call it #11) – if your brain becomes bored and you lack new and/or creative ideas, go hang out with friends at a Jamboree!