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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Expo: My Highlights

I came home yesterday after another wonderful day at the Family History Expo and CRASHED. My brain was just all a buzz with the amount of new things I had learned and experienced, I was a bit overloaded. I've had a chance to actually digest a bit and wanted to share some highlights from the expo.

First off, I was very impressed by Holly Hansen (President of FHExpos) and her staff. As a Blogger of Honor they went out of their way to make sure that I was having a good experience. It was so unexpected. Thank you!

The Expo was held at the recently built Embassy Suites in Loveland, Colorado. The facility is stunning and was a perfect venue for the expo. There was ample room for those who attended and the classes offered.

The Exhibition hall was a buzz of activity between classes. I enjoyed mingling with the vendors and learning about their products. It was nice to put a face with a product and I enjoyed being able to ask questions. I even bought a few things that I am excited to implement in my research.

Everyone was given a cd with pdf files of the syllabus for each class. It took a while to load and figure out but I found it very handy to pull up the syllabus on my laptop during the class and then follow along with the speaker taking notes on things that were not included in the syllabus (no frantic copying of the slide before it changed to the next one). Even though I had a copy of the syllabus ahead of time, it was still difficult for me to decide on what class to attend. The class selection and topics were varied and interesting even to multiple skill levels.

Thank you to my wonderful husband who stayed home and watched my 4 and 2 year old boys so I could attended the entire expo. I have found that conferences and expos are an excellent way to re-energize my interest in family history and open doors in my research. I came away from the expo excited to utilize what learned in my personal research.

What did I learn (highlights):
  • Tax collectors are notorious gossipers. You never know what information they included in their yearly tax report and their records cover nearly 100 years before federal census records are available.
  • The 1911 British Census is available even though it wasn't supposed to come out for another two years and it includes the original handwriting of those taken in the census.
  • Techniques for taking digital photos of documents and photographs instead of making photo copies of them. I was surprised at the quality and ease. You can even photograph microfilm images.
  • The amount of German genealogical records available online is astounding! None of it was available like that 6 years ago. I'll have to learn a few words in German and then dive into the wealth of information online.
  • Familysearch has created a Wiki which is replacing their research helps and allows them to do immediate updates and gives quicker access to materials. It also allows anyone to add information, edit existing information, create links, add local news and events, and submit pictures of a place. It's something I'm going to have to play around with a bit and get involved in.
  • My husband has Swedish ancestors in his family so I attended a class on internet sources for Swedish genealogy. I was again amazed by the amount of information available for foreign countries. Family History really is a worldwide project. Family History Centers have access to Genline (a pay site that has images of Swedish records). My husband and I will be checking it out.
  • I ended up attending the Twitter class I mentioned a few days ago. I found it to be very helpful, which wasn't hard because I am very new to the technology and lingo. I have been Tweeting about the expo though I feel sorely unfamiliar with the workings of Twitter and the lingo and etiquette. The class helped me feel more comfortable and opened up my eyes to the possible advantages of twitter to family history. Essentially the network of genealogists has a lot room to grow on Twitter, there's a lot of potential. Go join Twitter!
  • The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) website makes records easy to access even if you are not a member. They have a wide array of information available for a minimal fee and I plan to utilize their records. I have Patriots in my heritage and I am anxious to see what the DAR has on them and I might even go through the process to become a member myself.

I look forward to next years Family History Expo. I think it will be even bigger than this year with more attendees and vendors. I can't wait and I'll see you there!

Meanwhile... Happy Tree Climbing!

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