Saturday, October 16, 2010

Final Thoughts on the California Family History Expo

Friday at the Expo - Part 1
Friday at the Expo - Part 2

By Saturday, I had been fighting a sinus infection for almost a week, but I was determined not to let my nose ruin my day (my apologies to the folks who had to sit next to me). A couple of Saturday's California Family History Expo workshops that I enjoyed were:


Nancy E. Loe (a.k.a. "Sassy Jane Genealogy") taught a workshop entitled "Think Like an Archivist: Finding Hidden Genealogical Materials in Libraries and Archives." If you're like my husband and think every document of genealogical value is to be found somewhere on the internet, then this is the workshop for you. Jane...er, Nancy... is a fellow Central Coaster, so it was nice to finally meet her in person (even if only to wave from the back row). She gave plenty of helpful tips not only for finding archived family documents online, but also for how to prepare oneself for research at an institution. I was never a Boy Scout, but I do believe in being prepared!


Gordon J. Clarke of FamilySearch talked about "Powerful Tips and Tricks for FamilySearch Record Search." He gave some great pointers and tricks for wading through the bazillion or so documents on FamilySearch. I was especially excited to learn that Google will eventually be crawling the site, and results will be available via Google and other search engines. Awesome news! Also, the new (beta) site is expected to replace the old site by December of this year, so be on the lookout.


The final session of the day was Holly T. Hansen's "Kiss Those Brick Walls Good-Bye! Research Success Stories," in which Holly shared some of her personal research stories about breaking down her own brick walls. Sadly, my own brick walls are still firmly intact, but hopefully I received some good tools this weekend for knocking them down! Following Holly's talk, it was time to say goodbye to the 2010 California Family History Expo (how did 2 days go by so quickly?).

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During Friday's Expo Shopping Expedition, I picked up several items, including a cute t-shirt for my daughter, and one for my husband that I didn't want to show in case he was reading my blog (he wasn't). So here is my daughter modeling the shirt I bought for my husband. I'm sure his census is (are?) around here somewhere, probably hiding with my marbles.

Never being one to pass up the books, I couldn't resist Leland Meitzler's Family Roots Publishing Co. display. I picked up a copy of Christine Rose's Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures,which I'd been meaning to do for quite some time, since it was highly recommended by my ProGen2 peers last year. I also ran across what I've been told is the LAST COPY EVER of Holly T. Hansen's The directory of North American railroads, associations, societies, archives, libraries, museums and their collections. I hadn't heard of this book before, and had not set out to purchase it, but you know how sometimes a book just calls to you? Well, this one was loudly blowing its whistle, so I grabbed it on my way to the cash register. I was later told by a disappointed Amy Coffin (whose son is quite the railroad aficionado) that not only was it the last copy in Leland's store, but the last copy ever, as the book is now out of print (sorry Amy!).

A couple of other books made their way into my bag: one is a family history book for children that Leland talked me into buying (not like it was hard), and the other is a book about creating... well, a book. I will write about both of these in some future posts.

I had to use all of my restraint to stay away from the folks at the Flip-Pal mobile scanner booth because I knew I would end up wanting one. Back in April, I bought a VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner,which I'd heard great things about. Unfortunately, I'm still trying to get the hang of this bad boy, which is a bit more difficult to use than I expected. As much as I would love to try out the Flip-Pal, I'm still determined to master the Magic Wand (although I'll probably change my mind eventually).

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On Saturday night, many of the Expo speakers, exhibitors, and bloggers attended a dinner party at Lisa Louise Cooke's house. Lisa is a delightful hostess, and has a beautiful home and a lovely family. It was so much fun to walk around and see photos of the many ancestors she talks about on her podcast (in fact, I was so inspired that I repeatedly promised to go home and paint my walls... the ones that are currently covered in Crayola murals, thanks to my daughter's budding artistic talents). I commented to Lisa's husband that I recognized some of the names on the walls, and he replied that he was surprised at how many of Lisa's listeners know more about his ancestors than he does!

I also had a chance to peek at Lisa's studio, where all the podcasting action takes place. I was amazed at how organized she is! Genealogy binders were neatly filed and labeled above her desk, and it looked like everything was in its proper place. I only dream of one day being so organized.

Dinner was delicious, and the amazing cake which Lisa made for dessert was... well... the icing on the cake of a wonderful day. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures, but you can see what it looked like by visiting Janet Hovorka's The Chart Chick, or Amy Coffin's We Tree Genealogy Blog. It was truly remarkable, especially knowing that Lisa made it herself.

And don't get me started on the quilt.

(Thank you for a most excellent evening, Lisa!)

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Although I love the learning, my favorite part of any genealogy conference is the people. I was happy to finally meet A.C. Ivory, (Find My Ancestor) in person - and to find out what "A.C." stands for - as well as to briefly meet Leah Allen (The Internet Genealogist), who was busy running from class to class. I had a chance to meet the adventurous Becky Wiseman of Kinexxions, who I'm certain must be the bravest woman in the world. Ron Arons is as funny and interesting in person as you'd expect, and will hopefully get to marketing those cute sheep toys very soon. And I had a wonderful chat with Gena Ortega (Gena's Genealogy); in addition to being a professional genealogist, Gena is a homeschool mom, and was able to give me some pointers on the ins and outs of homeschooling. I seriously don't know how she does it all!

It was also great to spend time with folks I'd met before but hadn't had much time to get to know, like Lisa Alzo (The Accidental Genealogist) and Denise Levenick (The Family Curator), a couple of very special and knowledgeable ladies. And of course, it was wonderful to reconnect with so many old friends again (you know who you are). Unfortunately, these events always seem so short, and there's just never enough time to visit, share, and get updated on everyone's busy lives.

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Many thanks to the producers of the California Family History Expo for putting on such a great show, and for inviting me to participate as a Blogger of Honor. You can read more "Blogger Re-Caps" of this event on the Family History Expos Blog. Until next time!

Copyright © by Elizabeth O'Neal

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1 comment:

Family History Expos said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful re-cap of the California Family History Expo. We are so thankful to have you as a Blogger of Honor. The picture of your "little genealogist" is adorable. We hope to see you and her at future Expos!