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The 2017 Conference in Pittsburgh

This week, hundreds of genealogists are descending on Pittsburgh for the 2017 conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

It gets underway Wednesday with Society Day plus an evening social event (what could be better than a boat ride onboard the Gateway Clipper Empress for a dinner cruise along Pittsburgh’s three rivers?).

And there will be plenty of sessions during the conference on The Legal Genealogist‘s favorite topics: law, genealogical ethics, and cool record sets we wouldn’t have but for the law.

Even during Society Day, society leaders can learn from Randy Whited about the rules of societies in
Plain Spoken: Updating and Simplifying Your Society Bylaws, session W-113 at 11 a.m., and then, at 3:30 p.m., Jane Haldeman presents Oh, Those Pesky Minutes and Motions in session W-128.

The main conference opens on Thursday morning, and sessions this law-and-ethics geek recommends (or will be presenting!) include:

Thursday, August 31

• 11:00 a.m., T-207, Anatomy of a Pension File, presented by Tony Burroughs FUGA
What are the hidden messages of government abbreviations, notations, and bureaucracy in pension files? Understanding the documents, the pension process, and processing information will squeeze the most out of a military pension file.

• 12:15 p.m., T-211, Luncheon ($): Professional Ethics: Yes, No, Maybe and Maybe Not?, presented by Judy G. Russell JD, CG, CGL
Genealogists deal with sensitive issues all the time: how to handle family secrets, what to say about living people, crediting the work of others. (Sponsored by Association of Professional Genealogists.)

• 3:30 p.m., T-222, My Taxes Were Due When? Using Delinquent Tax Lists and Release Books, presented by J. Mark Lowe CG, FUGA
If paying taxes is not your favorite pastime, then your ancestors may have avoided taxes as well. Learn to use their delay in paying as a tool to finding those pesky family members. Tax records can tell us much more than about property.

• 5:00 p.m., T-229, Finding Your Ancestor in Military Bounty Land Applications, presented by Rick Sayre CG, CGL, FUGA
Many bounty land records rival pension records in their value. Find these records and locate bounty land, including state bounty land. Explore the records using new online tools.

Friday, September 1

• 8:00 a.m., F-307, Courting Pennsylvania: The Courts of the Keystone State, presented by Judy G. Russell JD, CG, CGL
Understanding the records of the courts closest to the average citizen is crucial to finding clues to family history in Pennsylvania and beyond.

• 11:00 a.m., F-321, What’s a Prothonotary? Your Guide to Pennsylvania’s Courthouse Records, presented by Elissa Scalise Powell CG, CGL
Learn to navigate successfully through original Pennsylvania courthouse records and their special indexes, only some of which are online.

• 11:00 a.m., F-316, Help Me Please: Government Claims and Unusual Pension Requests, presented by J. Mark Lowe CG, FUGA
Learn to find letters and requests to presidents, governors, or other governmental officers for your ancestors. Case studies will be presented along with hands-on activities.

• 2:00 p.m., F-326, “Deemed a Runaway”: Black Laws of the North, presented by Judy G. Russell JD, CG, CGL
Slavery’s force was felt far north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and the Black Laws of northern states created valuable records for tracing African American families.

• 2:00 p.m., F-346, RPAC: Building Bridges with Your Legislators, presented by Jan Meisels Allen , Jan Alpert FNGS, Frederick E. Moss JD, LLM
Sponsored by Records Preservation and Access Committee
Genealogists can make a difference. Learn the steps taken by PAHR beginning in 2007 that made death records available after 50 years and available online begining in 2014.

• 5:00 p.m., F-338, Federal Records Relating to Rivers and Canals, presented by Pamela Boyer Sayre CG, CGL, FUGA
Learn about federal records at NARA, Bureau of Land Management, and the Library of Congress that present a picture of development, traffic, and travel on rivers and canals.

• 5:00 p.m., F-340, Apprentice Records in African American Research, presented by Ari Wilkins
Learn how to research and analyze apprentice records for children of color.

Saturday, September 2

• 2:00 p.m., S-429, Land Records of the Pennsylvania State Archives, presented by Kimberly T Powell
Learn about the wide variety of state land records held by the Pennsylvania State Archives. This presentation will introduce the patenting process and documents it created, as well as how to navigate and use the records available online.

• 3:30 p.m., S-430, New England Colonial Probate and Deed Records, presented by David Allen Lambert
Sponsored by New England Historic Genealogical Society
This session will give an understanding and overview of New England probate and deed research.

• 5:00 p.m., S-438, Death Certificates: Keys to Breaking Through Brick Walls, presented by Tony Burroughs FUGA
Death certificates are vitally important for learning ages, places of death, places of birth, women’s maiden names, military service, etc. Researchers need the skills to analyze the records and know what will lead to additional sources.

Hope to see you in Pittsburgh!

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