Regular readers of What’s Past is Prologue might wonder where I’ve been for the last month due to the lack of activity here. I have been gone, but only for a week – earlier in the month I was busy (and lazy). But last week was my “genealogy vacation”! I attended the 2010 National Genealogical Society conference in Salt Lake City. Even though I have been researching my family history for 20 years, this was my first visit to Salt Lake City and my first genealogy conference. I had three reasons for wanting to attend this conference:
Location, Location, Location
1 – Research – the location of the conference was a major draw for me. How can I pass up an opportunity to research at THE Family History Library?
What Do I Think I Know?
2 – Education – No matter how much you think you know about genealogy, or how many years you have been researching, or what initials appear after your name, there is always something new to learn. The 2010 NGS schedule had dozens of interesting topics on the schedule.
“It’s friendship, friendship, just a perfect blendship.” (Cole Porter)
3 – Community – In the last two-plus years of blogging, I’ve made many friends in the geneablogger community…but I had only met one in person. The conference was an opportunity to put some faces to the names I’ve come to know online.
So how was my genealogy vacation? Great! Here is how the results exceeded my expectations:
1 – While I didn’t have a specific research plan, I came prepared with some families and places I wanted to research. I was able to find a lot of information that I still need to process, translate, and record. I found:
- ten documents confirming information I already knew, but did not have copies
- thirteen “new” events
- six “negative” results in which people were not found in the expected time and place – despite the lack of information, this negative information will now force me to come up with a new plan to find this information
I spent the majority of my research time on Polish research, with only a small amount of time researching Bavarian records. Some of the documents I found include
- a 1689 birth in Puch, Bavaria, of my 6th great-grandfather
- Several Polish birth records from the early 1800’s for some 3rd great-grandparents in Wilczyn and Ślesin, and some 4th great-grandparents in Mszczonów and Osuchów
- Biographical information on my great-grandfather’s cousin who was in the Polish Resistance and died at Auschwitz
- My great-grandparents’ 1902 marriage in Dobrosołowo, Poland
Plus, I added more names to my family tree by learning the identities of four 5th greats and two previously unknown surnames of two 4th great-grandmothers. I probably learned even more, but I have not had time to process all of these documents, translate some Polish and Russian, and organize the research.
2 – The pull of the library actually kept me from going to many of the talks that I wanted to attend. But I did attend several interesting sessions that provided great information. Just a few of the sessions I attended included
- Five Ways to Prove Who Your Ancestor Was by Thomas Jones
- U.S. Passenger Arrival Records, 1820-1957 by John Philip Colletta
- Polish Court Record and Census Records by Stephen Danko
- Polish Archives: Behind the Scenes by Ceil Wendt Jensen
- German Ahnentafeln by the Thousands by John Humphrey
From left to right: author/blogger/tv star Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, author/speaker Loretto “Lou” Dennis Szucs, Randy Seaver, Kathryn Doyle, the Photo Detective Maureen Taylor, Family Tree Magazine editor Diane Haddad, Stephen Danko, Sheri Fenley, Donna Pointkouski, and Elizabeth Hansford
3 – In my high school, there was a corny proverb painted on the wall of the main hallway: “There are no strangers here, only friends that haven’t met.” This was true of the conference! Through blogging, emails, and Facebook, the geneabloggers had already formed a little family and it was great to finally meet and socialize with bloggers like Sheri Fenley, Steve Danko, Denise Levenick, Lisa Alzo, Kathryn Doyle, and Matthew Bielawa (and Randy Seaver, who I had already met last year). I also met Dear Myrt (Pat Richley-Erickson), the Chart Chick (Janet Hovorka), the Genealogy Geek (Elizabeth Hansford), Michelle Goodrum, my Internet Genealogy editor Ed Zapletal, and Family Tree Magazine’s Diane Haddad and Allison Stacy. Besides fun conversation and socializing at dinner (and a showing of Who Do You Think You Are?), the mutual assistance was phenomenal. Everyone wanted to hear about each other’s research. I can’t tell you how lucky I was to research Polish records with Steve Danko and Matthew Bielawa nearby!
So in my week off from work, I did not do any sight-seeing around Salt Lake City. We did not have great weather (unless you happen to enjoy extreme wind, rain, and snow flurries). I did nothing that my non-genealogy friends would find the slightest bit fun (other than discover some nice pubs). But, all in all, it was a wonderful genealogy vacation!