Saturday, April 8, 2017

FGS Regional/WSGS 2017 Gene-A-Rama Conference – 8 April 2017

Yesterday, I attended the first of a two-day conference of the FGS Regional/WSGS 2017 Gene-A-Rama held at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI.

The syllabus was sent via email a week ahead of the conference. I printed the pages I thought I’d need from home for the various sessions I planned to attend. The night before the conference I set up my conference bag, clothes I would wear, and other items I’d need. I either read the schedule wrong or was so excited for the conference to begin, I went down to registration about two and a half hours early. I was excited!

Before the sessions began, there was society business matters and announcements. Two of the sessions I’d planned to attend, their speakers were absent because of family emergencies. The WSGS president announced that the sessions would be filled with FGS speakers so there was no delay.

My first session was substituted from “100 Years Later: Finding Your World War I Ancestor” to “Pinterest.” I’m not an avid Pinterest user but sat in on the session and figured I could learn something new. The speaker didn’t disappoint. Good talk and PowerPoint slides.

My second session was after lunch. Again, the session was filled in with a different speaker, Curt B. Witcher. I’ve heard Mr. Witcher many times on different subjects. Several years ago, he was the seminar speaker at my local genealogy society. He’s a highly qualified and sought after speaker. His lecture was very much like the programed lecture; “Search for your Data in their Repository.” He gave many excellent points for narrowing down keywords in searches. He suggested using the “place” where your ancestors lived instead of their surname exclusively. His examples were five key components: place, ethnic, surname, religion, and occupation. I will be changing the way I do my searches based on the above.

My third session was again with Mr. Witcher, “Minding the Mother Load: Using Periodical Literature for Genealogical Research.” This was actually a session I had originally chose. Curt B. Witcher is the senior manager of the Genealogy Center in the Allen County Public Library in Ft Wayne, IN. I haven’t had much luck in finding anything in PERSI, that’s just me. I know it’s because I’m searching wrong. Mr. Witcher went into great detail showing and explaining the ins and outs of the search capabilities. Unfortunately, PERSI is now housed with a subscription site that is mostly used for international searching. I’ll have to use it in my local Family History Center.

The fourth and final session I chose was “Software: Genealogy Apps on Mobile Devices.” Substitute speaker was Rorey Cathcart. Ms. Cathcart is a professional genealogist. She did a great job pitch-hitting this subject. She used the handout from the syllabus and added many more ideas of mobile apps she herself uses. I’ll be checking out some of them and look forward to incorporating them with my research.

I met some very nice ladies from various parts of Wisconsin at my table for dinner. They gave me great tips for researching in Sheboygan County, which I will follow-up.

The evening dinner speaker was once again my favorite, Curt B. Witcher! His talk was “The Great American Tapestry—Voices of Our Ancestors.” No PowerPoint slides this time. His talk about our ancestors’ and the letters or journals they left behind gave us a glimpse of our ancestor’s thoughts and feelings. He wove a beautiful story by just reading the letters or journal entries.  A very enjoyable evening.

Copyright 2017, Gayle Ficarra Wolcott

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