A day just for me: South Davis Family History Fair

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A day just for me: South Davis Family History Fair

Normally, I am officially representing World Vital Records and MyHeritage at many events, as part of a team, and staffing a booth. This past weekend, however, I was able to attend the South Davis Utah Family History Fair as just a conference-goer.

While it is always an adventure to go to a show with a team and a display booth, attending as an individual – simply to learn – is a renewing experience. We don’t always have time to attend interesting sessions when we attend events as an official team!

Here are some of my day’s highlights:

The keynote by Karen Clifford (“Uniting Generations: The Changing Face of Family History Research”) demonstrated how time has changed everything from FamilySearch to the way we search, how we share genealogy and collaborate. The great talk stressed that as the modern world continues to make massive and fast improvements in technology, we need to not only keep researching but also to share and collaborate, nicely, online so that the most recent advancements are used to our advantage.

She discussed her son who decided to research his father’s line despite the work going back many generations and the work already “being complete.” As a professor and genealogist, Karen told him “good luck” and hoped he’d find something to do.

In reality, her son found 52 mistakes in the line – some included incorrect LDS ordinance submissions – sealing the wrong husband and wife and other errors. Because he went back and investigated from the beginning, he was able to find new sources of information that were not available 15 years ago. Advances in genealogy proved to be a great asset.

Karen’s talk was good for me because – as I’ve previously mentioned – my relatives have gone to great effort to do our genealogy, but, there aren’t many sources proving the information. Currently, I ‘m working to prove each fact with documentation – a mountain of a task – but I‘m sure it will result in a healthier tree.

Barry Ewell

Barry Ewell

The session by Barry Ewell of MyGenshare was next.

His talk was excellent despite a persnickety computer that decided that his session was a great time to install 13 Microsoft updates. Barry wanted to toss his laptop into the nearest fountain, but maintained his cool and managed to teach great stuff up until the problem and after his computer began cooperating again. One of the first rules of conference presenting is “if something can go wrong, it will go wrong – so be prepared!”

Barry stressed that it is important to know the local area and history you are researching. It will help you know what was going on when your ancestors lived there.  If there was a church near a creek or if there a particular person knew everyone, you need to know that to know what to search and what to look for. Those geographic areas already have town history experts – maybe the librarian, the local historian – with whom you should consult. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just find the right expert the expert learn what you need. You could always become that expert if you’d like, but you probably don’t have to do that.

Lisa Louise Cooke Ultimate Google Searhes

Lisa Louise Cooke Ultimate Google Search

The next session revealed many new ideas about searching Google, taught by Lisa Louise Cooke. I’ve always noticed these classes but thought I already knew how to search Google correctly. But Lisa quickly demonstrated many tricks that I needed to hear. I have already used only one such tip and quickly found my grandmother’s obituary  in a small Utah paper and fairly recent.

Just for fun – and to brush up on some US history, I went to an interesting, fun class on Abraham Lincoln.

It was a great day and I learned much helpful information. I’m hoping to do this more often.

Happy hunting for your ancestors!

Mark Olsen


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