Wednesday, May 11, 2011

NGS and My Darned Day Job

Where the Past is Still Present

NGS 2011 Conference: Where the Past is Still Present
Image: Detail from "A Meeting of Souls" by Madeline Carol, 1991

Hi all. Ancestry Insider here at the NGS Conference in Charleston. I wish I were reviewing a couple of cool sessions for you today, but to preserve my secret identity I am working a couple of shifts in the FamilySearch booth. I know you won’t blow my cover, so I can tell you how I’m disguised. I’ll be the short, tubby guy with normal colored skin. However, don’t let the disguise fool you; I’m actually tall and quite fit.

Let me tell you about one of the sessions I would have attended.

Finding Fathers

Elizabeth Shown Mills speaks to a full crowd on
Finding Fathers: Bridging the Generation Gap.
Image credit: National Genealogical Society

Noted author and genealogist, Elizabeth Shown Mills, taught “Finding Fathers: Bridging the Generation Gap.” The description in the syllabus reminded me of one of her classes I attended in 2009. In the syllabus, Mills emphasized the importance of thorough research, of discovering and using sources that are often overlooked, such as business records and directories. Mills said “success requires…harvesting clues—not just explicit facts.”1

In her class in 2009 she presented a case study illustrating the application of these principles in breaking through a road-block of burned counties and illegitimacy. This was one of the examples on my mind when I penned the descriptions of stellar genealogy in the genealogical maturity model.

Experiment Followup

Speaking of Mills classes reminded me that I have a scientific experiment riding since writing about one of Mills’s classes. (See “BCG Lecture: Elizabeth Shown Mills.”) It is an anecdotal experiment comparing the quality of indexes produced by paid, foreign workers versus volunteer, natives.

Mills found two gentlemen of the same name, both indexed on I asked Elizabeth not to correct the names and then we’d wait. We’d wait until FamilySearch indexed the names and then we’d compare.

Writing this article reminded me that I needed to check to see if FamilySearch has indexed the necessary census year. Nope. I’ll have to wait some more.

Well, I’ve written about a session I didn’t attend and an experiment I didn’t conduct. That’s enough damage for one day. Stay tuned…

The NGS 2011 Conference, “Where the Past is Still Present,” continues through the rest of the week at the North Charleston Convention Center, South Carolina. Single day registration is $100. Registration open daily at 7:00am. The Exhibit Hall (Hall B,A1) is free and open to the public each day at 9:00am. Exhibit space sold out, so you will find close to 100 exhibitors and plenty to see. On Saturday, “Ancestry Day” classes are also free.


     1.  Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Finding Fathers: Bridging the Generation Gap,” National Genealogical Society 2011 Family History Conference Syllabus, CD-ROM (Charleston, South Carolina: NGS, 2011), 6.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, I never thought to compare two different sources. Guess I'm too trusting!


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