27 August 2010

FGS Conference Ends

Most of my blogger friends have already written about the fun we all had at the FGS Conference held last week in Knoxville, Tennessee. I'm still recovering from the sleepless nights and a long drive home. I love attending conferences, but the constant swing from tired to exhilarated and inspired is exhausting.

The tiredness comes from late nights. It's difficult to make yourself go to bed at a reasonable hour when old friends and friends you just haven't met yet are telling great stories late at night. I marveled all week at how the conference planners, volunteers, and speakers managed to keep going all day, every day, when I just wanted to take a nap. I was especially impressed with the energy put into the conference by Paula Stuart-Warren, Lori Thornton, and Pat Oxley. There were dozens of others I never met who worked hard so I could have a great week. I hope everyone in attendance remembered to express appreciation for the work of all the volunteers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Paula Stuart-Warren writes the official FGS Conference Blog and a personal blog at Paula S-W's Genealogical Eclectica. In her article "The FGS Conference was a Fantastic Success!" she indicates over 1800 people attended. It's a good thing the convention center was so big.

The inspiration and exhilaration come from learning. My favorite sessions were "Planning 'Reasonably Exhaustive' Research" by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, and "Reasonably Exhaustive Search: What Does That Mean?" by Laura DeGrazia, CG. These two sessions help a researcher key on the "reasonable" part of the reasonably exhaustive search required by the Genealogical Proof Standard.1 The "exhaustive" part of the search was covered by Elizabeth Shown Mills in "Poor? Black? Female? Slave? Southern Research Strategies." She taught us about those less common and harder to find records that can bring our ancestor to life.

Now I have a couple of months to recover and get some work done before the Family Tree DNA Conference, the Texas State Genealogical Society Conference with Barbara Vines Little, CG, and the East Texas Genealogical Society Fall Seminar with J. Mark Lowe, CG.

  1.   Christine Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case (San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2005).

© 2010, Debbie Parker Wayne, All Rights Reserved

14 August 2010

History and Genealogy: Two Worlds or One

Over the years I've been part of many discussions about the differences in genealogists and historians and why genealogists are looked down on by "real" historians. I have to admit, I don't think too highly of those who are name collectors or are only interested in looking for a prominent or royal ancestor to point to. My husband, who is not a genealogist, always wants to ask those people, 'But what have YOU done?"

But most genealogists want to know more about their ancestors as real people with real lives, black sheep or white, preacher or bigamist (or both), farmer or civic leader. To discover those real lives we need to do scholarly genealogical research to link the right people into families, have a firm understanding of the history of the times to place them in context, and meld the two together in a logical narrative. The big picture "macro history" and genealogy or "micro history" are both needed.

"Modern genealogy—appropriately done—is history in microcosm," states eminent genealogist and degreed historian Elizabeth Shown Mills, but "our field still fight[s] an uphill battle for recognition as a legitimate field of social study." She goes on to describe the rift between historians and genealogists and how it developed.1 But there is hope in her description of "new genealogists" and "new historians" and a coming together in the last few decades.

One example of genealogist and historian coming together, in one person, is Carolyn Earle Billingsley. Her book Communities of Kinship demonstrates how scholarly genealogical research "can be used to tease out the underlying nuances" of a society. In her introduction she discusses the similarities in historical and genealogical research methods.2

My current reading turned up another example of the two disciplines coming together. The current issue of Southwestern Historical Quarterly has a review of a book useful to both genealogists and historians.3 Mark Gretchen has documented slaves of Guadalupe County, Texas, using the records thorough genealogists use every day: tax rolls, census enumerations, court, deed, probate, and sale and mortgage records.4

I can't wait to read this book as I had an idea to do something similar for one of my counties, but the project has been on the back-burner for several years and may be for a few more. But I bet I get some great ideas on how to proceed.
1. Elizabeth Shown Mills, "Genealogy in the 'Information Age': History's New Frontier?," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 91 (December 2003), 260-277, particularly 260 and 261; online archives, (http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/galleries/Ref_Researching/NGSQVol91Pg26077GenealogyHistory.pdf : accessed 14 August 2010).
2. Carolyn Earle Billingsley, Communities of Kinship: Antebellum Families and the Settlement of the Cotton Frontier (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004).
3. Deborah Liles, review of Slave Transactions of Guadalupe County, Texas by Mark Gretchen, Southwestern Historical Quarterly CXIV (July 2010): 96-97.
4. Mark Gretchen, Slave Transactions of Guadalupe County, Texas (Santa Maria, California: Janaway Publishing, 2009).

© 2010, Debbie Parker Wayne, All Rights Reserved

07 August 2010

FGS Conference in Knoxville is a Great Educational Opportunity

Continuing education is important in the genealogical discipline as it is in other fields. A conference combines education, networking, hands-on shopping, product demonstrations, and fellowship in one big event.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference (FGS) and the Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference (APG PMC) are only days away now. Important conference details are being added constantly to the FGS Conference Blog so check it often. The blog offers many articles giving details of speakers and sessions, exhibitors, optional events, and area attractions to help you plan your trip. Online registration at the FGS site ends at midnight August 8th. You can still register at the door, but some events may have reached capacity.

Information on the APG PMC is available at http://www.apgen.org/conferences/index.html. PMC sessions offer information on managing your business as well as topics of interest to advanced researchers and those who want to get published.

In addition to all of the wonderful official events on the schedule there are always many unofficial events, too. Members of the ProGen Study Group will meet for dinner on Wednesday night. If you might be interested in joining a ProGen Study Group but have questions, join the ProGen topic table at the APG PMC on Tuesday, August 14th, or ask anyone you see wearing a burgundy color ribbon with "ProGen Study Group" printed on it.

Most attendees learn so much at a conference they feel their head may explode by the end of the week. But you go home enthused and energized and ready to use all of that new knowledge.

© 2010, Debbie Parker Wayne, All Rights Reserved

05 August 2010

TSLAC Grant Awards

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) just announced the list of grants awarded to digital projects. Several projects of interest to genealogical and historical researchers are:

  • Making the Bexar Archives available online.
  • Allowing free public access to the earliest Texas newspapers held by the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at UT Austin.
  • Digitizing 19th century photographs that depict Texans from a variety of cultural groups ... as well as locations from all regions of the state.
  • Making the history of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) on the U.S.-Mexico border and the military buildup that occurred on the U.S. side of the border during those years available.
  • Digitizing and transcribing Houston Metropolitan Research Center oral histories.
  • Documenting the  lives of Texas military veterans through video oral histories.
Keep an eye out for these exciting additions to Texas history to come online. Additional projects are named in the announcement that can be viewed at the link above.

© 2010, Debbie Parker Wayne, All Rights Reserved

Deb's Delvings in Genealogy - A New Blog

I finally found time to set up the blog I have been considering for some time. Deb's Delvings seemed an appropriate name as I plan to cover diverse topics in genealogy, digging deeply into some. This blog will cover topics of interest to professional and advanced researchers and those who want to become more advanced researchers. Special attention will be given to genetic genealogy (DNA), laws affecting family history, Texas history and records, and using technology in genealogical pursuits.

After working more than twenty years in the computer industry I moved home to East Texas. In 2005 I formed Wayne Research to offer genealogical services to others. Working with computers and technology required ongoing education and the genealogical discipline is the same. Courses at Samford's IGHR, the ProGen Study Group, and attendance at as many national and regional conferences as possible have contributed to my genealogical education. I hope to share some of that knowledge as well as things I learn while researching and writing on new topics.

Feel free to add comments about topics you'd like to see covered in future posts.

© 2010, Debbie Parker Wayne, All Rights Reserved