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NGS 2012 Day 3

Into the final stretch at the National Genealogical Society Conference here in Cincinnati — one more day of sessions and meeting people and putting faces with names and catching up on old friends and…

So… what were my three highlights for Friday, Day 3 of NGS 2012? Hmmm… documentation, boxed sets and birthday celebrations.


You can pretty well count on filling any room at any national conference by putting a well-known speaker with a keen-sounding lecture title in the room. Elizabeth Shown Mills can fill a room at 8 a.m. with Okay, I Got the Neighbors: Now What Do I Do With Them? And Thomas W. Jones’ lectures on things like Finding Unfindable Ancestors and Inferential Genealogy were sure winners.

But sometimes you wonder… can even a great speaker like Tom Jones fill a room on a subject like Documentation: The What, Why and Where — the nuts and bolts of genealogical citations?

Now anybody who’s read this blog more than once knows I’m a fanatic on documentation. Someone gently joshed with me that I’m the only person they know who’d add footnotes to update an epitaph.1 But even I had my doubts on that one — a room full of folks who’d take an hour out of a busy morning to listen to the hows and whys of citations?

But I’m delighted to report I was dead wrong. Yep, a whole room full of folks, taking notes and paying close attention. And listening, really listening, when Tom kept drilling home the central lesson of good genealogical practice: we cite our sources not just so we can find our way back to them when we need to, not just so others can check out what we’ve found, but so that we can really understand the record we’re using and evaluate the evidence it contains.

Our families — the people we do genealogy for — deserve nothing less than the best genealogical practices and it was wonderful to see a whole room full of people serious about setting their sights on just that, for themselves and for their families.

Boxed sets

I was walking past the table of Jamb Tapes just outside the exhibit hall when a sign caught my eye. Usually, the tapes of lectures are $12 each. But Jamb is launching something new: a set of four lectures by the same speaker for $45. These are not sets from this conference, though some of the topics are from this year. They’ve been put together from past presentations by first-rate speakers.

Eventually, the Jamb folks said, we’ll be able to go onto the Jamb website and pick any four lectures by the same speaker — say, two from this year and two from another year — and package them into a boxed set of our choosing.

The four sets available for ordering now, at the conference, and after the conference on the website, are:

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS:
    • The Genealogical Proof Standard: What It Is and Is Not
    • Using Correlation to Establish Facts That No Record States
    • Organizing Evidence to Overcome Record Shortages
    • Inferential Genealogy: Deducing Ancestors’ Identities Inferentially

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS:
    • Genealogical Problem Solving: Professional Techniques for Everyday Success
    • Citations & Sources Simplified: From Memorabilia to Digital Data to DNA
    • In a Rut? Seven Ways to Jump Start Your Research
    • How to Find the Truth about a Family Story

Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA:
    • Genealogical Goldmine: Records of Old Settlers Organizations
    • Tho’ They Were Poor, They May Have Been Rich in Records
    • The WPA Era: What It Created for Genealogists
    • Railroad Records and Railroad History: Methods for Tracking

John T. Humphrey, CG:
    • Finding Your German Ancestor’s Place of Origin
    • Researching 18th Century Germans
    • German Church Records: the Heart and Soul of German Genealogy
    • WWW of German Genealogy

Good deals, all!

Happy 100th birthday, NGSQ

By Friday evening of an NGS week, folks are usually pretty tired. It’s information overload hitting hard for the most part. Even socializing can be tough after a few days of all day sessions.

But this Friday night at NGS, things were a little different.

An absolutely radiant Ann Hilke, whose term as NGS President will end later this year, kicked off a lovely reception Friday evening to celebrate the 100th birthday — volume wise — of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. Past and present editors were introduced and honored, and those who have contributed to and learned from the NGSQ joined in the fun.

Today’s NGSQ is a far cry from its beginnings 100 volumes ago. Some of the articles printed in the earliest days can be — and are — cheerfully described as downright embarrassing. Undocumented would be a kind way to characterize early submissions; downright fictional might be a fair description of others.

Nowadays, it’s an educational tool beyond measure and getting an article published in “The Q,” as it’s called, can be about as heady an experience as a genealogist can hope for.2

But one message the editors work tirelessly to get across: any family may have an NGSQ-worthy story to tell. Nobody tracks down every line with ease and an abundance of records. When we do find solutions to difficult genealogical problems with a variety of sources to fill in record gaps, writing it up — well and well-documented — is the first step towards seeing your name in print as an NGSQ author. Go on. Give it a try. You know you want to…


  1. See “Remembering Totsy,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 28 Apr 2012.
  2. Trust me on this one. I only mention my own NGSQ article, oh, once or twice a day… okay, so maybe more often, but only when I’m with genealogists! See Judy G. Russell, “`Don’t Stop There!’ Connecting Josias Baker to His Burke County, North Carolina, Parents,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, March 2011, 25-41.
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