Tuesday, August 27, 2013

FGS 2013- A Recap

I admit it, I wasn't very diligent about blogging this trip. I'm sorry. The Allen County Public Library was a huge distraction and staying at a hotel farther away from the conference center was an added obstacle. By the time I made it back to my hotel in the late evening, after being gone since the early morning hours, I was exhausted. So I'll give you a rundown of the sessions I did attend.

Thursday marked the opening of the exhibit hall, which is always cause for a lot of excitement. I had a few things in mind to purchase this trip. My first purchase was a magazine from the publishers of Family Chronicle titled, Tracing Your War of 1812 Ancestors. It has a good overview of events and gives suggestions of others sources to read.

The first session I attended was Craig Scott's Records of Forts and Posts. This was a very good session. Craig as always is extremely knowledgable about military record groups at NARA. It's amazing he can keep track of them all! I learned that their were two kinds of people in forts; people who ran the fort and the regiment in the fort. I had never thought about it in this way, but it makes sense. Regiments move around, somebody has to stay at the fort and maintain it. Craig went on to discuss textual records, search strategies, finding a post, and information that would be found on various records.

Next, I attended Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens session on Finding a Needle in the Haystack of Territorial Papers. I learned a little about the Territorial Papers at IGHR at Samford this past summer in the Understanding Land Records class. As you might imagine this record set deals with territorial land purchases. It is an interesting group of records, but there is no guarantee that your ancestor is mentioned in them. However, that doesn't mean that their neighbor, brother, or cousin isn't in them so it doesn't hurt to check it out. Elizabeth also mentioned Record Group 28 that has the Records of the Post Office Department. Somebody had to deliver your ancestor's mail, or maybe it was your ancestor!

The last session I attended for the day was Huguenots in New Amsterdam and Early New York presented by Karen Mauer Green. If ever you want to learn about Huguenots then Karen's lecture would be an excellent choice. Although my Huguenot ancestors did not settle in New York it doesn't matter. The background history is the same and the research methodology can still be applied. Karen gave historical background information and told us that there were two waves of French Huguenots to New York. She also showed us examples of how many variations there could be to one surname in the records. It seemed that this was the result not only of the ancestor but of the person/institution who was creating the record. The possibilities were mind boggling.

Friday and Saturday morning I ended up in the library researching. I had planned to attend a couple of sessions during that time, but I was lucky enough to find a truckload of information about my ancestors. Although I didn't win any prizes or giveaways, I still felt like I won the information jackpot. Saturday afternoon I attended two sessions. The first was, Obtaining the 20th Century Military Records From the National Records Center by Patricia Wall Stamm. I have a WWI veteran and I would like to order his file from the Records Center. Patricia did a good job of explaining the history of it, the fire that consumed the old location, the procedures of the new location, and what records are available. I always hear people complain about the length of time it takes to get records from this repository, and I was aware that they get a lot of requests. However, I didn't realize that the Records Center receives somewhere between 5,000-6,000 requests per day. Per day. How crazy is that? Now wonder it takes them a while. Not only that, priority is given to urgent requests that come in. For example, a veteran who is still living and needs his records for hospice assistance, etc.

The very last session I attended was another of Craig Scott's on The Indian Wars. He told us there were four periods of Native American conflict, and reviewed the conflicts that fell into those time periods. Again, many record groups were discussed and what you would find in them. He referred us to the Mitchell Map on Google. I love maps so I was pretty excited about that mention. There are so many records for this particular subject it is dizzying. Needless to say, if your ancestor took part in any Indian War, then you have a lot to work with even if your ancestor is not mentioned directly.

Other conference news that you have probably heard about by now is that a new version of Family Tree Maker will be released in September, the next FGS conference will be held in San Antonio, and the one after that will be held with RootsTech in Salt Lake City. During the conference there was a big push to raise money for Preserve the Pensions of 1812. The money raised will be used to scan these documents and put them online at Fold3. There were a few companies that pledged to match the money raised at the conference and this all added up close to 1 million dollars in all, with the matches included. Pretty impressive.

I had a great time and met some interesting people. It is always fun to see your friends, talk shop, get ideas, ask for advice, and hash out a problem or two. For a week you get to live in a genealogy bubble, and it's pretty amazing.

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