The exhibit hall opened a little before 10:00 a.m. and there was a gathering crowd eager to charge in. Once the color guard arrived the doors opened. My first stop was the BCG table to look at portfolios. I looked at one a few years ago and was completely overwhelmed. Well, I was still overwhelmed but this time I was able to focus a little more. I understood what I was looking at a whole lot more than last time.
At 11:00 the sessions started and the one I attended was "Finding "Unfindable" Ancestors," given by Tom Jones. Tom said that you have to believe you will find your ancestors when you hit that "brick wall." If you don't think you will ever find them, then chances are you won't. He proceeded to discuss reasons ancestors could be unfindable and strategies to use in trying to find them. Tom broke it down into steps and stated that if these steps didn't work then you need to go through the same steps with the next descendant. This idea sort of piggy backs onto Elizabeth Shown Mills' FAN club process.
For lunch I attended the luncheon held by the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR). The guest speaker was Elizabeth Shown Mills and her talk was titled, "Walkabouts and Chicken Men: Tales of the U.S. Census Takers." With a title like that how could you not go? Anyway, she discussed experiences of census takers that she had discovered in written works and also talked about some of her own. It is always a pleasure to listen to her speak.
After lunch there was a little time to run to the exhibit hall before the next session. I made a bee line for the Arphax booth. The company publishes books on original land owner records for some counties in the U.S. This enables you to see who your ancestor was neighbors with, where they owned the land within the county, water ways, churches, graveyards, and roads. If you get a chance you should check out their website.
Next, I ran over to listen to Paul Milner present, "Irish Emigration to North America: Before, during and after the Famine. I have Irish ancestors as does my husband so I thought this session would be interesting. I've also never heard Paul Milner speak and this was a good opportunity. He pointed out that the Irish that arrived pre-famine were following the religious leader and it usually involved a whole group or parish. Paul also discussed the different famine influx and the Scots-Irish.
After Paul, I attended the session "Understanding Your DNA Test Results and What to do Next," presented by Robert McLaren. I had the opportunity to meet him earlier in the day and was really impressed with his knowledge regarding DNA. His session was chock full of information, some of it I'm still trying to understand, but the questions I had were answered.
By this time I needed some caffeine. I had one more session to go, was a little bleary eyed from the DNA session, and had a 2 1/2 hour drive ahead of me. Sadly all of the concession stands were closed. No tea or coffee to be had anywhere! Drats!! Back to the exhibit hall. My last purchase was "North Carolina Research, Genealogy and Local History" by Helen F.M. Leary. This book has been on my mind for quite some time. It is rather large, so this was my chance to save on shipping charges.
The session I attended was decided at the spur of the moment. I ran into a colleague who was also a little bleary eyed from the day. Originally we were both going to attend different sessions but then decided that Warren Bittner's presentation "Understanding and Researching Illegitimacy: A Case Study." This was a great session and some fascinating research that was done by Warren. If you are interested in it then you will have an opportunity to read his article in the next issue of NGSQ.
I said my good-byes to friends and left Birmingham. It was a little sad as I listened to dinner plans being made, and schedules for the next day being determined. I also didn't get to talk to some of the vendors I wanted to, but there is only so much one can accomplish in a day. On the drive home I thought about all of the sessions I attended, the friends I was able to connect with, the new friends I made. I had a great time and a very full day.