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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FGS 2011 - The What

FGS shared the conference program early on. It was easy to choose the tracks I wanted to take - all of them! Narrowing my list to the six per day that time allowed was the tough part. Since I would be attending only the Friday and Saturday sessions, that meant 12 tracks total. Here are some of my picks:

Amy Johnson Crow, CG 
After Mustering Out; Researching Civil War Veterans by Amy Johnson Crow offered some great advice;
  • the Civil War was a watershed event for records
  • Union & Confederate records are similar, but are held in different repositories
  • pensions were based on service and honorable discharge only*
  • NARA film T288 is a general index of pension files
  • Confederate pension records are kept in the former Confederate states
  • Union veterans should have recorded a copy of their discharge records locally
  • Some Confederates are listed in the 1890 Special Schedule**
* A veteran didn't have to be injured to qualify for a pension
** The 1890 Special Schedule of Union Soldiers and Widows is not yet indexed, but the images are browseable on FamilySearch

With this information, I may be able to learn if my Virginia-born Charles W Littrell (who disappeared after moving to Ohio) is the same man who served in two regiments of the Confederate Army.

Finding the World with WorldCat was taught by Curt B. Witcher, MLS, FUGA, FIGS; one of my all-time favorite speakers. He filled the hour to the brim with information and sprinkled his presentation with such good humor, we didn't realize how much we were learning! Some of the takeaways included searching WorldCat in five subject areas:
Curt B. Witcher, MLS, FUGA, FIGS

  • surnames; type "Smith family" in the search field; typing only "Smith" yields unrelated results
  • geographic locations; use town, township, county, or state names
  • ethnicity; like "French in Ohio" or "Swiss in Chicago"
  • religion; search by denomination or specific church names
  • occupation; think "Illinois blacksmiths" or "Chicago bakers"
I had used WorldCat before, but not very well. With the information Curt shared, I can't wait to visit my library to try again!

The same speaker offered Beginning Swiss Research and Using German Church Records and made my FGS conference attendance a priceless event.  Michael D. Lacopo, DVM was fun and funny and very knowledgeable. We started by comparing the administrative districts in German-speaking areas to similar entities in the states. For me, that exercise moved the unknown to the understandable:
    Michael D. Lacopo, DVM
  • Cantons = states
  • Verwaltungsregionen = county
  • Verwaltungskreise = township
  • Gemeinde = town
I took four pages of notes in the first track and countless more in the second. Both were so well done that I was surprised when each hour came to an end. The most important takeaway for me was the renewed hope I have about finding Jacob Mueller's Swiss birthplace.

Debra Mieszala, CG
Another fun track I attended was Lessons from a Snoop: Collaterals and Associates by Debra Mieszala, CG. Debbie was absolutely delightful. She made us laugh again and again while sharing examples of how to use peripheral people's records to learn more about our ancestors. Her stories were adorable, her results were phenomenal, her lessons were remarkable.

The last track I attended on Saturday was presented by Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers fame; Twitter - It's Not Just "What I Had for Breakfast Anymore". Thomas used wonderful visuals to help beginners in the group gain a better understanding of Twitter and TweetDeck. I had thought this was going to be a more advanced track, but refreshers never hurt. It would be a perfect introductory class to someone interested in (but intimidated by) social media.

The lineup of tracks and workshops for FGS 2011 was perfect. A mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced programs on a variety of topics. My hope was to learn at least one thing in each program I attended. The presenters exceeded my expectations in nearly every instance.

This post is part two of my "Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How" series on my experience at FGS 2011. You can read the first part here.

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