Exploring New Paths to Your Roots
11th New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC)
comes to Springfield, MA, 6-10 April
Lucky New Englanders! This week is NERGC, The New England Regional Genealogical Conference! It is only held every two years, but is every bit as fine a conference as any of the national ones. It's within commuting distance for lots of New Englanders, and for a very low registration fee you'll get instruction and presentations by some of the best genealogists in the country. Read all about it and pre-register here: http://www.nergc.org/NERGC2011/index.html. Or, just show up and sample the lectures. Entrance to the Exhibit Hall is free, and you'll be able to see demonstrations of all of the major genealogy software vendors. You can visit the booths of local societies, buy books & charts, learn how to make your web searches more productive and win some great raffle prizes. I promise you, if you are even slightly interested in genealogy, you'll be like a kid in ye olde candy shoppe at NERGC!
Lots of people are curious about genealogy but don't know where to begin. Of course you start by looking at your own family information, whether written or passed down to you by word of mouth. But once you have gathered that you'll want to move on to the great wide world.
Nowadays most people usually get their feet wet on the internet. It can be completely overwhelming at first, and Ancestry.com doesn't help beginners much with their exhortation to "just start" researching without knowing what you are looking for! Yet in a way that is good advice. Just jumping in will show you how much is out there. And you'll learn simultaneously that you need some way to weed through all of that information. How do you know what is valid? You certainly don't want to accept everything you find, because one wrong connection guarantees that you'll be offtrack for the rest of that line. For instance, if you make a mistake on your great-grandmother, it means that everyone you find after her is incorrect! You can waste years of your life following bogus lines, so you want to make sure you establish solid links between parents and children.
If you're going to take up genealogy as a hobby you need to learn about the best ways to prove those links. A large genealogy conference like NERGC will give you plenty of opportunity to learn, with multiple simultaneous tracks. Here are just a few: Immigration and Migration, English and Irish Research, DNA & Technology, Records and Sources, New England Research, Treasures, and hands-on Workshops.
What sort of a record trail did your ancestors leave? What can you expect to find for 19th Massachusetts, or 17th century Connecticut, for instance? What is considered reliable evidence? Or maybe you have broader questions, such as: How do you get into the Mayflower Society? How can you find your ancestors' homeland? Why does my family think I'm weird because I love old cemeteries? You'll find the answers to these questions and others you haven't even thought of yet in Springfield this week Thursday to Saturday.
This is a great time to take up genealogy! NBC's Who Do You Think You Are is in its second season and getting better with every episode. Universities, libraries, archives, governmental agencies and private individuals are frantically uploading original documentation. Googlebooks is making thousands and thousands of out of copyright books available (and searchable!). Even so, everything does not magically come into our homes. We still need to go to repositories and dig out original documents sometime. Find out what you have right at home, and what you need to hunt down at NERGC this week. I hope to see you there!