Friday, May 21, 2010

Some lessons from the OGS conference.

In a previous post, I talked about some of the networking that went on at the OGS Conference last weekend. Today, I want to mention some of the gems that I picked up at the conference, and where they've already led.

The first talk I went to (and introduced the speaker) was by Thomas Jones, a well-known researcher and speaker.  His talk was titled "How to Avoid Being Duped by the Internet", but as he said, it should really be "How to Avoid Being Duped by the Internet."  He stressed that we need to focus on primary and original sources for our research, and to make sure not to stop at indexes when the original data is available.  I am guilty of this with some of my sources, and this has led to some errors in my research due to transcription problems.  That is, whoever transcribes the original census data (or whatever) makes an error and so the it is important to try to see original images of the source.  He also talked about original sources vs. derivative sources, and how original sources (created soon after the event in question e.g., birth registration) are better than derivative (e.g., newspaper clippings, census data, etc.)

James F.S. Thomson gave two talks that I attended.  The first one was on passenger records.  These have been a helpful source for me in the past, but he gave some new ideas plus a huge list of references and links in his talk notes.  His second talk was on Scottish Church Records and the big progress that is being made in digitizing these pre-1855 Old Parish Registers.  He covered a bit of Church History from Scotland and talked about the kind of information that will be (and some is) available.  I am particularly interested in some Kirk Session records at the time of my ggrandmother's youth.  My next step will be to figure out what parish this family likely belonged to and then I can see if the records are available.

An overflowing room for the talk on Social Networking and Genealogy was proof that there is a lot of interest here.  And we got some great stuff from Marian Press who teaches at the Institute for Genealogical Studies where I am taking courses.  She put me on to the UK version of ancestry called Genes Reunited and I've been busy building my tree over there and corresponding with potential and ACTUAL cousins!  She also talked about Flickr as a great way to (1) back up your photos; (2) search for photos of your ancestors that others have posted; and (3) find photos of important buildings (e.g., churches, town halls, castles, etc) that may make up part of your family's story.  The National Library has a huge number of images up there, as well as the Library of Congress.  She also talked about some interested Twitter feeds for genealogists (TheGenealogue, megansmolenyak, UKNatArchives).  Delicious is a great way to store bookmarks on the go.  

I attended a session co-hosted by four Toronto researchers regarding some new initiatives that are in progress:  (1) indexing all the war memorials in Toronto Public Schools; (2) a detailed transcription of the 1861 census in Toronto; (3) indexing of the Toronto Trust Cemeteries and (4) Simcoe's Gentry: Toronto's Park Lots.  These are all exciting project particularly for those living or researching Toronto ancestors.  In particular, the indexing of the cemeteries is an ongoing project that needs volunteers with high-speed internet access and I'm planning to sign-up to do some transcribing.  

I missed the session Sunday morning on Eastern European Family History as I misread the start time and was very late, but I attended two other sessions that morning.  The first by Rick Crume was entitled "Genealogy Hack:  Tricks to Crack Seven Top Genealogy WebSites".  It sounds criminal(!) but it simply pointed out some important tricks to making sure that you are plumbing the resources for everything that's there.  For example. on, there are two difference search engines and you should make sure that you use both ("old search" and "new search").  The use of wildcards and soundex searches.  Doing global searches (good) vs. searching specific databases (better).  He talked about a new beta version of Family Search and some of the new features.

This post has gone on long enough, so I'll talk about my new connections in a forthcoming post.

No comments: