Wednesday, May 11, 2011

NGS 2011 - Day 1, Part 1

Just in case there is someone reading this post who doesn't know what "NGS 2011" is - it's the National Genealogical Society's 2011 Family History Conference and it's being held in Charleston, South Carolina May 11th - 14th. 

There may have been a lot of people around here who needed a little extra sleep this morning since we had a very loud thunderstorm between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. I felt like I'd just gotten back sleep when the alarm went off at 6:00 (probably because I had just gone back to sleep) but the Opening Session was worth the effort it took to get moving early.

Lower Level when the crowd was still arriving.
Upper Level
I haven't heard an attendance number but you can get the idea that there are a lot of people here. A large number seem to be first time attendees - at least it looked like it when we all stood up.

The conference was opened by the Charleston Police Pipes and Drums. A representative of (who sponsored the opening session) gave a brief update about their goals of adding more records and made two big announcements. First, they give a $1000 grant every month to an individual or society for a project of historical significance and will be awarding a grant to someone here at NGS this week. Applications can be picked up at their booth in the exhibit hall. Second, they are giving free memberships for the remainder of 2011 to everyone who comes by their booth. Needless to say they were busy later when the Exhibit Hall opened

David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, talked about the "Transformation of NARA." Researchers now arrive at the National Archives with cameras and scanners and WiFi is available at Archives I and II. He encourage everyone to leave comments on the NARA blogs to give them feedback on records that are online and things we'd like to see. He said there are 130 million NARA records currently online with partners Ancestry, Family Search and Footnote. Information about the 1940 census was obviously of great interest to the audience as most of the questions he was asked dealt with it. He said the 1940 Census will launch on NARA's website on 2 Apr 2012, that they will have enough servers space to handle it and that the census is "sort of" indexed.

The final speaker was Buzzy Jackson, author of "Shaking the Family Tree: A Writer's Perspective on Turning Research Into Writing." If you've read her book, you already know she's funny. When she first started genealogy research, she couldn't find her own marriage record. She'd only been married six years at the time so this led her to speculate that she was not descended from type A individuals. She confessed to considering breaking into her aunt's house to get to her grandfather's Bible because her aunt wouldn't let her touch it. She talked about a couple who helped her with her Jackson line when she was getting started. That couple is here and they met for the first time here at NGS. Her main advice - "write it down."

I should mention that several of us were Tweeting away during this opening session but about the time it ended, so did our cell signals. I spent the rest of the day frustrated about it but what can you do? I started picking up a signal around the time I left the conference center this afternoon and based on some later Tweets, a few others did as well. I hope that's a good sign for tomorrow. We'll see. If you're following along on Twitter and there's not much activity, you'll know why.

It looks like Day 1 is going to need a Part 2 but that won't be coming until tomorrow night. And speaking of tomorrow, I may have over-scheduled myself as I have sessions selected starting at 8:00 a.m. and ending and 8:00 p.m. Too much? Probably - but I really want to go to all 7 sessions.


  1. You'll regret it if you don't take advantage of all the opportunities on offer.

    Thanks for you post - will look forward to reading whatever else you may have time to share.

  2. I'm ready to go to all sessions again tomorrow night too sans thunderstorms in the early am. I'm glad I'm not the only one who is saving part 2 for tomorrow ;-) I'm going to take advantage of the printing stations as well and print some of the syllabus handouts when I get there so I can pick my classes more wisely. See you tomorrow!