New England Regional Genealogical Conference 2011 in Springfield, Mass., the theme of which was "Exploring New Paths to Your Roots." I enjoyed seeing my two Northeimer cousins as well as eight of my classmates from "the 4th BU regiment" Boston University Genealogical Research Certificate program. I felt right at home among the 800 or so fellow genealogists, and I'm now feeling re-invigorated and ready to pursue some new (and renewed) personal genealogical goals.
I've put together a few thoughts on future potential paths I could take, and I've referenced some of the excellent presenters at the conference. Maybe one of these ideas would work well for you, too!
1. Explore university libraries special collections and archives. Previously, I only pursued academic transcripts and yearbooks in my genealogical research. But I never considered searching special collections and archives of university libraries. Laura Prescott presented a wide range of materials available in university libraries. If you know an ancestor attended a particular institution of higher education, chances are alumni records might shine a light on that individual. It makes sense when you consider that alumni tend to brag about their accomplishments and family developments via their alma mater's publications. And if an ancestor happened to work at a university, their research or involvement might also be in their records. Why did I not think about this considering I've worked at three universities over the last ten years? You might even be surprised to find a family portrait as part of a university collection; for example, if you search "family" at Miami University's Digital Archive, you'll find many family photographs and interviews.
This is a perfect time to give a shout-out to my alma mater, Radford University, for their treasure chest in their Archives and Special Collections. They've digitized so much history, and they even have recent yearbooks on-line, where you could find me in 2001, for instance).
2. Look at school district records. This is another academic area, but I hadn't considered checking these out before. These might be harder to find, but the information potentially contained within school district records includes: student enumeration lists, tax payer records, teacher term reports, school district meeting minutes (to name a few). Pam Stone EaglesonCG did a wonderful presentation on this. I have at least a couple of ancestors who I know were teachers; perhaps I can find out more about them through school district records.
D. Joshua Taylor, who I was surprised to learn was born in 1985 yet is already nationally known and respected in the genealogy community (and with celebrities through NBC's Who Do You Think You Are television series), briefly mentioned in his introductory keynote speech that he finds great use for Twitter. So, alright, perhaps it is time for me to really push myself into the so-called "Twitter-verse." After all, the younger generations of genealogists (like myself) tend to be more social media savvy.
4. Start recording personal histories of family members. I should really start collecting personal memories of family members, like my mother for instance! I'm always telling her, "Mom, you should write such and such story down!" But she's a busy person and understandably finds writing all those stories down an overwhelming prospect. I picked up a book called "Legacy: A step-by-step guide to writing personal history" by Linda Spence in the exhibitor hall, and it has hundreds of questions you can ask yourself or others in order to compile a personal history. So my idea is I'll e-mail my mother one question each week and hope that she responds back with some details. This way she won't be overwhelmed but over time I'll get plenty of tidbits.
5. Write a book. What a wish I've got here. My BU classmates continue to encourage me to write a book about my 4th-great grandfather Isaac Green Mask (see my previous blog post on him), due to the fact that I have a collection of twenty original letters written to and from this man from 1854-1871. He and some of his close relatives had lives definitely worth writing about. One of my classmates is about to publish her own book this year, which I think is so exciting (I'll be certain to mention her book on my blog when it's published). I really should consider writing a book -- I know I can do it; I just need to get started.
6. Become actively involved with NERGC or other genealogical societies. At both NERGC conferences, I have been a volunteer; volunteering helps make the conference flow smoothly, plus it's just a great experience. I feel as though I could contribute a lot more by serving on a committee for NERGC or another genealogical organization. As I'm now 31, I expect I have many years ahead of me where I could help make a difference and also gain experience professionally in the process through this sort of involvement.
7. Use resources such as NUCMC. NUCMC (I love how it's pronounced nuck-muck; it sounds like a strange creature a child might imagine) is the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. I heard it mentioned at least four times in different lectures and presentations at this conference, but beforehand it was completely unknown to me. It's a useful finding aid for manuscripts, which are essentially hand-written or original copies of works, such as letters, diaries, and dissertations. Just be sure to go to the OCLC WorldCat Search on its web site.
8. Get back to researching my genealogy! I've completely neglected researching my genealogy. Around April 2010, I took all of my family tree information down from my web site and Ancestry.com after completing the BU class, because a fair amount of my data was either uncited or taken from other researchers' family trees (both I had learned were a big no-no!). However, I never really started the research again. So much to do! While I'm at it, I also really should update my family history web site. It needs some love.
9. More and more, I'm thinking I'd love to move to the Baltimore area. I've been searching for jobs lately, and I've had fleeting thoughts of moving to Baltimore, Maryland where many of my ancestors lived. It also helps that the National Archives and Library of Congress are close by in Washington, D.C. After attending a presentation by John Philip Colletta, Ph.D. about the resources available at the Library of Congress, I am really keen on putting down this idea of moving to Baltimore as a serious goal.
10. Take more photos. I'm a little frustrated with myself for not taking pictures at the conference. So a reminder to myself and others to visually document your adventures in the future! There's a good photo out there somewhere of many of the BU graduates at the conference, though. I'll try to get a hold of it!
Did you attend the NERGC 2011 or have some thoughts? Feel free to comment on this post or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.