The NGS conference overlapped with the annual celebration of Lewis & Clarks Expedition up the Missouri River in 1804. St. Charles is a lovely historic town and I enjoyed the brief time I had to explore there.
Here at Indiana Ties I plan to share some of the techniques, websites and skills that I picked up during the conference. I'm sure those new pieces of knowledge will continue to come forward in the next few weeks. In fact, a few are prominent in my mind already. For now, it occurred to me that I could share a few of these kernels of knowledge. Here are Five Family History Pointers I Gathered at NGS:
1. From Warren Bittner's program, "Pity the Poor Phul: Proving Immigrant Identities" -- He reminded us that a name you think is unusual may be very common in Europe. We have to be sure to learn as much as possible in U.S. records so we don’t misidentify someone in Europe as our ancestor. Be sure to investigate all of the family members so that you know you are following the right person. Don't be anxious to leave the country until you have found every record that completes the picture after they immigrated.
2. Also from the above Warren Bittner program: When using church records in Europe, he explained that confirmation and first communion records are often your best clue for people who were “from” a town, but not born there. Meaning, if they are listed in the first communion and/or confirmation records of the church records that you are searching, but you don't find them in the baptisms, that might indicate they weren't born there. You should continue searching for the birth in a neighboring town's church. It's possible the family moved. The birthplace may be lurking down the road.
3. From Anne Staley's program, " The Everyday Life of Your Ancestors" -- Anne covered the how's and whys of creating timelines to put your family members into context. What was going on in their lives? She shared a long list of websites to help find research assistance and historical input. For instance, under the category of Home life, Weather and the Farmer's Almanac, a website I've explored a little is Spiesonline.net. There are links to sources from Bankruptcy Records to the Freedom of Information Act to a list of Telephone Directory Search Tools and Voter Registration Records. The link for Genealogy Resources led me to Refdesk.com, a source new to me. If nothing else, there are fun links there. It will be a place I'll save, along with many others that Anne included.
4. From Tom Jones' program, "Proven Techniques for Finding Your Ancestor's European Origin" -- Tom reminded us that ethnic newspapers are better than English language ones for finding our ancestors because they could relate more closely to the people. Even though we may have a few challenges translating them, they contained the details about those particular ethnic people in the neighborhoods where they were living after immigrating to the U. S. The local German newspaper could contain personal information about a family member that would help to find their origin in Europe.
5. From Lisa Louise Cooke's program, "Tech Tools that Catapult the Newspaper Research Process into the 21st Century" -- Lisa revealed a totally cool website called Stanford Newspaper Data Visualization. All I can say is go there! The historical map covering U. S. newspapers, including foreign language papers, is a super resource for finding publications from 1690 to 2011. And the visual is fantastic. You can play with the map and find lots of great tools.
To keep our libraries and computers up to date, the 2100 registrants could roam in the large exhibit hall during breaks. After all, we just have to see what new software, services and other cool stuff's calling our names. And, of course, I had to make a few purchases to add to my library. Or maybe I'll create hangings for our walls in the new genea room.
Hope these family history pointers are helpful and entertaining. Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties.
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