After today's conference sessions hosted by the Alberta Genealogical Society, I have to say that it was well-worth the time and investment to attend. I have a feeling that by tomorrow afternoon, I'll be exhausted! It was great to see people with a full spectrum of abilities and interests. There were complete beginners, all the way to advanced professionals and with research interests spanning every corner of the world!
The morning started off with a plenary session presented by Stephen Young who came from Utah to talk about the new changes to the FamilySearch website in a talk titled Family Search: Genealogy at Your Fingertips. The Family Search collection already contains several billion records and Stephen showed us how much of the site's content, including what one must usually pay for to access in other repositories, is available for free in Family Search. According to him, ~1.3 million records are being added daily--which is an amazing feat by anyone's standard--especially considering that a lot of this work is being done by volunteers. After his plenary speech, I was left with a new-found appreciation for Family Search.
I had the opportunity to meet Dave Obee and attend two of his presentations. The first one was titled Mythbusters - Challenging Some Common Beliefs, which addressed common misconceptions such as name spellings and their pronunciations over long periods of time. The final session of the day was the 7 Habits of Highly Successful Genealogists. By that session, the final one of the day for me, I was getting pretty worn out and had trouble focusing on what he was discussing, but thankfully, I have the talk recorded and can listen to it once life settles down a little.
I recorded almost all of the sessions I attended and will make available shortly, as long as I can secure permission from the presenters .
Pat Ryan headed up a session titled EXTRA! EXTRA! Family Secrets Exposed in Newspapers! Pat offered great explanations of the vast quantities of family history which can be obtained through reading through old newspapers of yonder. They aren't only useful to find an obituary or birth/marriage notice, but to also get an idea about how our ancestor's lived and what they were doing both personally and as a society, at the time. Since many of these older papers covered much smaller territories and populations than they do today, much of the content also focused on more positive aspects of current affairs (such as who was visiting whom or who recently returned from a tour of duty during the "war-du-jour"), rather then the negative (unless there really was something remarkable that happened, such as a robbery or a murder to report).
"La crème de la crème" of the day (for me) was the Flip Pal scanner I was finally able to acquire. Now that I have it and am using it, I'm quickly discovering how powerful it really is for scanning older books or documents which you would never be allowed to scan or copy otherwise. According to several people whom I spoke with at the conference, its portability and ability to scan without a computer attached to it make it the ideal tool to bring along to research trips and libraries.
The supper banquet was delicious and tremendously enjoyed. It gave people an opportunity to get to know each other better, to network and discover others with similar research interests. The entertainment of the evening was hosted by Louise Cooke who hosted a Genealogy Game Show using Google Earth to demonstrate to those of us whom didn't sign up for her classes how great a tool it can be for presenting family histories. As for myself, I ended up buying some of her books online because I think that it's such a wonderful way of creating a visual presentation of a family's activities and movements throughout time.
Sadly, I was too wiped out to attend Sunday's events, but I'm sure that a great time was had by all and that the planned sessions were just as good. I hope that Edmonton also hosts this event next year and if so, I definitely plan on being a part of it.