Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Day Spent With the Sayre's

Yesterday the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society hosted their annual seminar. This year's presenters were Rick and Pamela Sayre. They make a great team and I'm always in awe of how tech savvy they are, maybe because it doesn't come that easily to me.

The morning sessions were Google Earth For Genealogists, Part I and II. I actually saw this presentation, or a portion of it, a couple years ago at Samford in an evening session. It is fabulous! In fact, I felt like I got more out of it the second time around. The first time, I just sat there blown away by what they were doing, this time I could focus more on how to do it. Rick and Pam demonstrated how to use Google Earth in your genealogy research. You can plat your ancestor's land then overlay the plat onto Google Earth. David Rumsey has also partnered with Google Earth, and made available some of his historical maps that can also be overlaid onto Google Earth. This can allow you to better view historic landmarks and get a feel of the atmosphere your ancestors lived in. They also showed how to tag places and attach photos or other pieces of information about your ancestor to that tagged place.

Pamela showed us one project she is working on with a Civil War ancestor. She has tagged all of the movements, on Google Earth, of his company during the Civil War. This allows her to visually track all of the states he moved around in over his term of service. "Isn't that more interesting that whipping out a pedigree chart or a tree to show your family?" she asked. No kidding!

The first session after lunch was Topographic and Other Maps for Genealogists presented by Rick Sayre. He demonstrated how topographic maps can help you locate cemeteries and churches. They can also help answer questions about why ancestors settled where they did. For example, a topographic map helps you to determine if the area was hilly, flat farmland, and what waterways are nearby. One website that Rick discussed was Ask About Ireland. This site has detailed historic maps and Griffiths Valuation. It's a free site and Rick demonstrated how the maps match up perfectly to the land structure in modern day Ireland.

Our last session was Newspapers and Periodicals presented by Pamela Boyer Sayre. Yes, looking through an historic newspaper can be time consuming, but they are so much fun! It is so easy to get side tracked by the gossip column, the ads, and obituaries of other people. Pamela pointed out that these items plus the headlines of the day, are pertinent to our research when creating our ancestors world. Just as our world is shaped by today's headlines. Some of the digitized newspaper sites mentioned I was familiar with, however it was a good reminder to check back with those sites. New stuff gets added. One site Pamela discussed that I was not familiar with was, the National Digital Newspaper Program. The site can help you locate newspapers in your state of interest. This is a site I will probably be spending my spare time on during the upcoming holiday week.

Aside from the wonderful topics covered, it was also a who's who of Samford instructors in the room. Not only were the Sayre's in attendance, but so was Elizabeth Shown Mills, Rachal Mills Lennon, and J. Mark Lowe (by the way his birthday is Nov. 25--we all sang). Overall, a fun day of learning and catching up with friends. Now time to get crackin' on my Google Earth projects and newspaper research!

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