This weekend I attended my first ever genealogy conference, the Atlanta Family History Expo. If you followed my adventures at the Expo on Twitter, you will know that it got off to a rocky start with me getting stuck in traffic. This was after I overslept and missed an exit so I ended up not arriving until the opening keynote address was nearly over.
My first session was Social Networking for Genealogists, presented by Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers. Some of the material was familiar to me. I'm already on Facebook and Twitter. Other sites he mentioned, however, were new to me. I will be exploring them and letting you know more about these other sites once I'm more familiar with them.
Elise Friedman of Family Tree DNA presented the session on Traditional DNA Testing and Beyond. I haven't yet did any DNA testing for genealogy purposes, but I was curious about it. A lot of the material covered in this session I had already read online. I did find out about autosomal DNA testing, which I wasn't familiar with.
Next, I attended two sessions by Arlene Eakle, PhD of the Genealogical Institute. If you aren't familiar with Dr Eakle (don't feel bad, I wasn't), she's a professional genealogist who claims an impressive 96% success rate. After hearing her talk, I can believe it. Her sessions were so popular she ran out of handouts. She promised to mail them if we gave her our contact information so I'll be stalking the mailman until they arrive.
The first session of hers I attended was Want Land? Will Travel! Southern Land Records State-by-State. I learned a lot at this session. One thing I really liked about this session was that she didn't limit her resources to just a couple here and there. In the syllabus alone, there are several pages of books, microfilms, etc to check out.
I attended Birth, Marriage and Death Records in the Southern States, also by Dr Eakle, next. This session covered the various records and sources surrounding these events, as well as other miscellaneous records that may also hold this information.
My last session of the day was Beginning Your Native American Research by Billy Edgington. Even though the class was labeled as a beginner class, it was a little more basic than I expected. It also didn't address my particular problem- a rumor that someone in the family had Indian blood, but no indication of exactly who that person was.
Between sessions, I visited the Exhibition Hall to check out the vendors. Ancestry and FamilySearch both had exhibits that allowed conference attendees to search their respective websites. Both were highly trafficked so it was hard to get in.
I did manage to get in to FamilySearch. While I am familiar with it and access it from home regularly, I wanted to get some tips on a specific research problem- finding records for my husband's ancestors when the country they came from no longer exists, having been broken up into multiple countries following World War I. The woman I talked to gave me a few tips and told me to come back later to talk to another woman who has more experience with that region of the world. I did come back, but wasn't able to talk to the second woman. However, the advice the first woman gave me is more than I had before so I still came out ahead.
Other exhibitors included the African American Historical and Genealogical Society, AfriGeneas, Ancestral Hunt, Creative Memories, Easy Family History, Family Roots Publishing, Family Roots Travel, Family Tree DNA, Flip Pal Mobile Scanners, Footnote, the Georgia Genealogical Society, Heritage Makers, Limited Edition Publishing, Mississippi to Africa, the Breman Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum, The Genealogical Institute, The Perfect Word, Roots Magic, Stories to Tell, Taylor Construction, Timeless Footsteps, Wolf's Head Books and WW2 Connections.
I really liked the Flip Pal Mobile Scanner, but at $150 it was out of my budget. Being an avid reader, I visited the book vendors several times, but decided not to buy any because (a) I already have more books than I have space for and (b) there were so many great books to choose from I was having trouble narrowing it down to just one or two.