Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Report from the Field


My first experience into the world of Family History Expos was Friday, July 6, 2012 by way of my first experience using Amtrak in California. Instead of driving, I decided to try the comfort of the train.  Amtrak offers an under-2 hour, relatively inexpensive pathway from Emeryville to downtown Sacramento.  Being chosen as one of the FH Expo's "Bloggers of Honor", I wanted to attend some workshops at the event, but also to network and advocate for genealogy blogging on a mingling basis.  A couple of things that I liked about the Expo's organization is a late start to the workshops, which allowed me to travel from afar, and the shortened time allotted for each presentation (50 minutes).  Most genealogy presentations I have attended in the past were well over an hour.  As a mostly inactive listener, I find that absorbing genealogy topics has a useful life to last no longer than an hour, similar to my attention span for attending a museum expedition.  The shorter presentation time of the workshops at the Expo also allowed twenty minute breaks to visit the nearby exhibitors. The only negative to the whole day had to be my outside journey into the summer heat of Sacramento to find a coffee.

Two of the workshops I attended were on the subject of family history books.  My interest in these presentations is keen, as I want to get a jump-start on returning to my family history projects having recently finished a two-year commitment to earn an advanced academic degree.  Biff and Nancy Barnes presented Fascinating Family History Books and How to Plan and Organize a Family History Book.  Biff and Nancy present their material in tag team style; taking turns discussing each slide.  What I was most impressed by was their manner of showing examples.  Rather than talk or read the selections they chose to highlight, they played audio pieces from selecting original recordings, and from snippets from famous authors.   In one example, the audio piece from an unedited story was supplemented by showing the edited work on screen.  As an experienced teacher, I realize the importance of presenting material in multiple ways, i.e. using multiple senses, to address the different learning styles of students.  I was particularly impressed by the ideas and material covered in the first session: Fascinating Family History Books.  I have attended countless workshops on family history writing.  If this were the first workshop I ever attended, I would be energized and prepared with key ideas about moving forward!   What I am taking with me is how much ease the process of transcription to editing can have, and to what extent the author can safely edit the words of the speaker and retain the meaning they are conveying.

Another workshop I attended was British Aisles Migration Patterns to America.  Arlene H. Eakle, Ph.D., a migrations expert, was also a "Bloggers of Honor" at the Expo. Her blog covers the topic of genealogy evidence.  Her presentation was less a lecture and more a bibliography on key publications and resources on migration projects that may not be known to genealogists.  One work she cited as extremely important and well written on British migrations is Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer.  A work of particular interest to my own research on the Dutch in New York is The People of Colonial Albany: A Community History Project by Stefan Bielinski.  One project related to children, Child Apprentices in America, documents the names of children associated with the guilds in Britain who came to America via Christ's Hospital in London from the years between 1617 and 1778. The baptismal records of these children, as well the marriage records of their parents, are on microfilm in Salt Lake City. 

Fellow bloggers attending and presenting at the Expo included Nancy Loe, MA, MLS and James L. Tanner.  Other vendors exhibiting were RootsMagic offering free webinars, and Bay Area family historians Frankel and Fisch.
Clipart source:  http://www.clipartof.com/gallery/clipart/

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