Sunday, August 19, 2007

FGS Conference - Day Three

These were my lecture selections out of the eleven options that were available for each of the six hour-long sessions on this, the third day of the FGS Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

My Friday morning began with "Old and New: Combining the Best of Internet and Traditional Research" by Rhonda R. McClure. She emphasized that the internet is a good thing but not 'everything' is out there. The internet allows us to do more faster, to do things we could not do before it came along. It is not the be all, end all for genealogy research. She continued with examples such as indexes, the IGI, Ancestry, PERSI and Online Catalogs that can and should be used as preparation for onsite or traditional research.

Next up was "Stories that Instruct: Using Case Studies to Teach Genealogy Methodology" with John Philip Colletta, one of my new 'favorite' speakers! He discussed examples of how human drama can be pulled out of documents to illustrate usage of a resource or methodology. Case studies can be used to teach a skill, how to find a particular record, how to use an archives or repository, and how to interpret historical documents. Case studies can help bring records to life.

Rounding out the morning was "Trace Your Roots with DNA" presented by Megan Smolenyak. This was a very basic introduction to Y-DNA which is the most popular type of testing being done. Y-DNA is passed from father to son through each generation thus is useful in conjunction with surname projects. There are different 'resolutions' for testing - the higher the resolution (or number of markers tested) the higher the cost for testing. The results are more reliable and consistent with the higher resolutions. The more people that have the testing done means a greater chance for a match. The important thing to remember is that DNA testing will probably not tell you who your specific ancestor is but it will tell you if you are related to someone else, perhaps someone who has done more research than you have! This session was really good for me because I knew nothing at all about DNA testing.

Megan also started out my afternoon with "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options". In this lecture, she talked briefly about the various DNA tests that are available, primarily mtDNA, which is passed from a mother to each of her children but the sons don't pass it on to their children. This is the second most popular type of testing, after Y-DNA, and is more of a 'deep ancestry' type of testing. The results will tell you which maternal haplogroup to which you belong, i.e. which of the 'Seven Daughters of Eve' you are likely descended from.

Then it was into "The Twilight Zone. . . Strange Web Sites for Family History Research" with Christina Ann Staley. The sites she mentioned will not provide you with any specific data on your ancestors but instead can help you to add meat to their bones and stories to their names. Included were sites such as The Weather Channel (for information on major weather historical events), The Old Farmer's Almanac, old book sellers, the history of costume, The History Channel, and many others.

The last session of the day was "Finding the World with WorldCat" presented by Curt Witcher. The largest bibliographic database in the world, WorldCat includes data on more than one billion items in more than 10,000 libraries and record repositories world-wide! The basic search screen on WorldCat searches across all the fields (metadata) for that term. Use the Advanced Search screen to limit your search to specific fields such as the Title or Author. The search results can be refined to those more relevant to your task at hand. You can find out which libraries have a book of interest and where that library is located and even how far away it is from you. If the book is listed as an available internet resource, i.e. it has been digitized, a clickable link is displayed that allows you to access the online version directly. In many cases the digital version can be printed or downloaded. Curt emphasized that WorldCat should be used in conjunction with the Family History Library since the FHL catalog is not included in WorldCat. The books that the ACPL is digitizing, in the project with the FHL and Brigham Young University that was announced on Thursday, will (eventually) be available as a direct link in WorldCat as well as in the ACPL online catalog. If you are not utilizing WorldCat you are missing out on a huge resource!

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