Monday, July 15, 2013

What to Bring, What to Bring?

What does one bring to a genealogical conference anyway?  

I had this thought almost immediately after registering for this year's FGS Conference in Ft. Wayne.  I was too excited just knowing that I was actually going, but now I had to discern what to bring?  I mean, OTHER than my toothbrush and footie-pajamas?  This is my first conference and I have to admit, I'm feeling a little green with regards to conference protocol.  I'm the noob.  I may have been doing this genealogy gig for years, but to actually network with real, LIVE human beings and not just the dead ones from my family?  I'm feeling very...uncertain.

The "problem" being that this trip to Indiana is at the tail-end of our family vacation time.  The last leg in our journey through Gettysburg, Washington D.C., a brief stop in Ohio for a day at Cedar Point to keep the monkey children from rebelling, and THEN I will finally be there.

Yep...hubby and monkey children will be accompanying me...but not to the conference.  Are you kidding? They have as much desire to do that as they do to go on any of the jaunts through local cemeteries that I've taken them on. ("Oh mom.....another one?"  Yes kids, look! Another one!)  No, no - no worries.  While I am taking in the wonder and glory of all that is before me at FGS 2013, they will be sight-seeing to their hearts content at all that Ft. Wayne has to offer families.

But still...that is a LOT of packing.  So, here is my list...consider it to be a forewarning for that morning when we leave our home, and Mr. D. is giving me that look that says, "Really? You need all of this?"

Do I bring my computer? - You betcha!  First of all, when I'm not sitting in on a conference lecture, I plan on being at the nearby library/genealogy research mecca (Known as the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center).  And although, unfortunately, I am still not a paperless genealogist, I am pretty comfortable knowing what I have available to use on my flash drives and my computer.  I imagine if I were a tablet user I would probably bring it, but I'm not.  It's a personal preference, as some people prefer that level of portability.  When I am sitting in on the specific lectures that I've already picked out, I will be tap-tap-tapping away on my computer...I think.  I don't want to be a distraction, but there will be notes to be taken!  I'm an avid note-taker!

**QUESTION:  Do YOU take notes at these things? Do YOU use technology to do so?**

Speaking of notes...I have the Evernote App on my computer as well as my phone.  This is fantastic for jotting a note down from a passing thought and then researching it further on my computer, or for maintaining notes on a topic, and then being able to reference them later on my phone if I don't have my computer with me.  Look into it, it's a freebie!

(And if all else fails...I have my trusty notebook and pen that travels with me pretty much everywhere.)

I am also bringing (actually, I still need to buy) a lock for my computer.  Not that I don't trust my fellow genealogy friends that I will be working beside, but let's face it, I put a lot of time, thought, and saving into my computer purchase. I also have a lot of personal family goods on my computer.  This is my baby, and nobody is going to get their hands on it while I'm off searching library stacks for that one vital piece of information.

Another item that many who share this fascinating hobby with me are in love with is the Flip-Pal mobile scanner.  I've seen it.  I was impressed with it, in that it is a portable scanner.  But, I don't have a Flip-Pal, and instead I use the iConvert portable scanner, and it's a fantastic little gadget!  I definitely plan on bringing this with me.  I've checked the Center's site, and it seems that most items (minus court records and oversized maps) are available for photocopy, so a scanner should be within my rights to use. (But I will certainly double check before I make that first image.) 

Don't forget your camera too!  Whether it's photographing documents instead of scanning, or just while out sight-seeing in the city, my camera is going to be very busy on this trip!

I mentioned that I'm not a paperless genealogist - so I will probably be bringing my file boxes with me. There are two of them - one for each side of my family.  Are they necessary?  No.  But have you ever been away on a research trip and you found something...a reference...a name...and you wanted desperately to double check the information .... and you couldn't because you left your files at home.  So I'm bringing them with me.  They'll probably stay in the hotel or even in the van...only to be brought out at the end of each day if needed.

A To-Do List:  I have a list...a list that I began a year ago of articles that are available there at the Genealogy Center in the Allen Co. Public Library...articles that pertain to becoming a professional genealogist.  It's been a dream of mine to do this genealogy thing professionally, and these articles were "required reading" by some top-of-the-line and well respected genealogists.  Adding to this list, will be to check obituaries and  family histories, maps, and look into the early colonial New England resources...heavily.  I'm even going to venture west of the Mississippi River in my research for my friend whose family has roots in the state of Kansas.  Why not?  The opportunity is there to get my hands on resources that I wouldn't normally be able to.  I plan to take every minute that is available to me to look at!

Anything Else?  You mean other than my previously mentioned toothbrush and footie-pajamas?

What else is there?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

History, Education, and Keeping It Real

While I was scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning, I read a tweet from the National Archives that shared a pic of two love-birds on the Archives steps after Mr. Lovebird had proposed to Miss Lovebird. My initial reaction lasted a short moment where I thought I might vomit at the saccharine sweetness of the event.

Then I went to click on the picture to see these lovebirds...and I hesitated for a brief moment.  Did I really want to see what two history nerds in love look like??  Because let's face it, if you propose to your girlfriend on the steps of the National Archives in Washington D.C. on July're a history nerd. Turns out, Tommy and Abigail are actually a ridiculously cute couple, and to top it off...I'm going to go so far as to say "Abigail - Lovin' the sandals that you were sporting on this festive occasion! I can't even see all of them, but I love the patriotic blue!"
Owly Images - @USNatArchives
The more I thought about this happy couple, I realized that Mr. D. and myself may very well be a couple of history nerds ourselves.  Yes, I just admitted that (or had you already figured it out upon learning that I follow the National Archives on twitter?).   I guess it was only a matter of time before the realization hit me.  After all, our 2 1/2 week family vacation this year includes Gettysburg, Washington, D.C., and a genealogy conference. (And an amusement park - but that's just so the monkey children won't get ugly and revolt against us!)

Just last week, Mr. D and I's date night consisted of heading out to watch a new movie, Copperhead.  I'm guessing most people haven't heard of it, nor will they outside of this blog.  It wasn't being played at the local mega cinema multi-plex, but rather a theater known more for it's independent films.  There were all of maybe 10 people watching it with us...and at 40 and 43 years old, Mr. D. and I were the youngest ones in there.  Still, I found it fascinating - the Civil War, to fight or not to fight - and to prove that I actually am a history nerd, I sat through the closing credits just to find out where the historical settlement was that this was filmed at.  (Admittedly, it was disappointing to find out that a United States Civil War movie was actually filmed in Canada.)

So yes, I just confessed it to you.  I am, just like Tommy and Abigail, a history nerd.  And really, that's not such a bad thing.  I think this country needs a few more of us.  If the schools and their Common Core standards are only going to focus on English Language Arts and Math...who is going to focus on making sure our American history is taught to the future generation?  Who is going to make sure that our future leaders will actually know what the Civil War was about, and when World War II was fought?  Our veterans from that generation are quickly disappearing...who will be here to tell these kids what it was like to be taken as a prisoner of war in nazi Germany when the only subjects that teachers are concerned about are the ones that they're being tested on for state aid consideration and their own evaluations?

So maybe that's why our family vacation will be dangerously close to boring for the monkey children.  Because what we will be showing them and teaching them will hopefully stick with them...somewhere.  Maybe it will be at the forefront of their thoughts and turn them into little history nerds too.  (Yay!) Most likely they'll tuck it away to never be thought of again until they become responsible adults and realize..."Hey I remember that from when mom and dad took us on that snooze-fest of a trip that one summer...I get it now!"  Then the spark will be lit, and watch out world...a whole new generation of history nerds will have evolved!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vacation Oops!!

Two days ago, I registered for FGS 2013.  (Overwhelming excitement!)

Yesterday, I began booking hotels...One for the 3 days we'll be in Ft. Wayne for FGS, and then another one for on the way home when we'll be stopping in Sandusky at Cedar Point for the day.  (More overwhelming excitement!)

Today as I sat at the orthodontist's office waiting for D-man to get his adjustment, I was slightly giddy thinking over the plans that had been made thus far...

A few days at Gettysburg...a few days in DC...home for a few days to do laundry and make it to a Board Meeting...Ft. Wayne for 3 days...Cedar Point on the way home...

And that's when the "oops" slapped me in the face.

The plan as scheduled was going to force us to drive from our home here in NY state to Ft. Wayne, Indiana in time for my first session at 11:00am on Thursday morning.  That means we would have to get up and head out at maybe 3am!!

That is NOT a vacation.

Hubs claimed he tried to tell me this last night, but I was too focused on my conference to listen to his reasoning.  I'm claiming he didn't try nearly hard enough to get this through to me.

Thankfully, we had the option to change our hotel reservation without too much trouble, and changing the trip to Cedar Point BEFORE getting to Ft. Wayne may be more satisfying for the monkey children. All I do know is that I will now be getting a few more hours of sleep on Thursday morning.

And that makes me a much happier genealogist!