Twice a year, genealogists from around the United States and Canada gather for four days in a U.S. city for the National Genealogical Society Conference and the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference.
A typical conference day has 25 to 35 one-hour lectures on a wide variety of genealogy topics. The conferences are a good way to be exposed to a large amount of knowledge in a short period of time. They are also places to meet and mingle with other genealogists. Ideas are discussed, methods are evaluated and new products displayed. Many a "brick wall" has come tumbling down around a conference luncheon table.
I attended my first genealogy conference in 1998 when it was held in Denver. In May, I attended the National Genealogical Society Conference in Sacramento, California. Although several "Arnold sightings" were reported by participants, the highlight of the conference for me was the lecture "Tracking Your Genes in Genealogy: DNA Testing" presented by Thomas H. Shawker, M.D. and Donn Devine, Certified Genealogist.
I was fascinated with the subject and how it is being used by genealogists. There are currently two DNA tests being done for genealogy. The Y-chromosome test is used for paternal ancestors and the mtDNA test is used for maternal ancestors. Information obtained from the tests can be used to determine relationships, reconstruct families and determine ethnic origins. Both tests are simple and easy. All that is required is a cheek swab sent to a laboratory. There were three laboratories represented at the conference, Trace Genetics, Inc., Family Tree DNA and Relative Genetics. All three charge about the same price, $150 to $270 per test, depending on the type of test. DNA testing has been used to prove or disprove common ancestors such as in the Thomas Jefferson-Sally Heming controversy.
DNA test results are not used alone but in conjunction with other documented evidence. I’m not sure where this new tool will lead us but it is exciting to have it available.
PRODUCTS AT THE CONFERENCE
Map Guide to German Parish Records by Kevan M. Hansen, published by Heritage Creations. These books show boundaries for 19th-century German Catholic and Lutheran parishes. They go one step further by linking them to the Family History Library microfilm number. The first four books of the forty volume series were released at the conference.
GenSmarts by Automated Genealogy Research
GenSmarts is a software program that takes data from a genealogy software family file and analyzes it. The program looks for missing information, then makes recommendations for further research by producing a specific list of things that should be done. It also references online resources that may help with the research. This program works with most current genealogy software. Cost: $29.95.
U.S. Cities Galore by Frustration Solutions, Inc.
U.S. Cities Galore is a Windows utility program that is used with a genealogy program. The program will find a county when the city and state are known, find and correct spelling errors for cities and counties, and make all the place names in your data base conform to your preferences. It works with all genealogy programs. Cost: $29.95
RootsMagic, 2.0 by FormalSoft, Inc.
RootsMagic is a genealogy program that is easy enough for beginners, yet it has many features that the more experienced will appreciate. Cost: $29.95
Family Tree Legends by Pearl Street Software, Boulder, Colorado.
Family Tree Legends is a fully functional genealogy program that is easy to use. It is similar to Family Tree Maker. Cost: $29.95
James Jeffrey, Genealogy Specialist at the Western History and Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library was awarded the prestigious NGS Filby Prize for Genealogical Librarianship at the NGS Annual Banquet on May 20, 2004. This award is given to librarians for significant contributions to the genealogical community.
Birdie Monk Holsclaw, CG, Longmont, Colorado, was awarded the NGSQ Best Article Award for her article entitled "Life and Death on the Frontier: The Robert and Loana McFarland Family of Boulder Valley, Colorado" which was featured in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, December 2003.