Saturday, October 30, 2010

GOGS - Omaha conference was great!

Today marked the fall conference of the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society. There was a turnout of more than 100 genealogists for the event that was held at the Nebraska Methodist College in Omaha.

Highlights of the day

Land Records

Lynne Farr took the mystery out of land records for me and gave me a little more confidence in tackling this aspect of genealogy research. Visiting with her later, she advised me to take it all one step, one piece at a time. Something she said that really stood out was, "If your ancestor arrived before the Civil War, there is an 80 to 90 per cent chance that they are listed on a land record." That's pretty encouraging! She also recommended that we check out the rejected applications for land because they often have even more information of value to genealogists since the applicants were trying very hard to prove their right to the land.

Oral Histories

Former teacher and librarian, Lucille Saunders is a Storyteller who can really spin a yarn. Ask her to tell you about the time she was in jail! She and her colleagues from OOPS (Omaha Organization for the Purpose of Storytelling) demonstrated how to turn the facts about your ancestors into real-life stories. Honestly, I got chills up my back during a couple of the stories, and one brought tears to my eyes. One of the group was a delightful lady who is 91 years young. The group has a Facebook page; I encourage you to check it out. The group meets at an Omaha bookstore once a month to tell their stories and help one another craft their stories. Listening to them really helped me get some ideas on how to tell my ancestor's stories.

Organizing Your Files

After lunch we were entertained by Cyndy Salzmann, America's Clutter Coach (TM). In addition to her business of helping people organize their lives, she has written nonfiction and fiction books and has taken up the genealogy rein from one of her aunts. She encouraged discussion on binders vs. file folders, letter size vs. legal size, what to do with those oversized documents, color coding. Bottom line - there's no right or wrong way to organize your genealogy files, but once you design your system, stick with it. Check out Cyndy's blog, as well as her author page on Next to genealogy, there's nothing I enjoy more than a good mystery story, so as soon as I got home, I downloaded her mystery novel, Crime and Clutter (Friday Afternoon Club Mystery Series #2) for my Kindle.

What You Can Do With a Digital Camera

Pitch-hitting for Jeff Ramsell on this topic was Jim Ferguson, a former press photographer for UPI and the Sun. There was a lot of technical talk about megapixels, ISO, and a phrase I haven't heard in about 30 years: "Tri-X." Old 35mm film aficionados will remember that 400 ASA film. It was my standard for many years. He offered some tips on providing alternate light sources when photographing tombstones, and some of the perils of being a photographer who is a world traveler. Bottom line: set your camera to take photos at the highest resolution possible. You can always make the file size smaller later via your photo editing software. For those who don't want to shell out the big bucks for Photoshop, he recommended Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.

The conference also provided a nice opportunity to network and meet new people. As always whenever I attend one of these conferences, I am reminded of how much more I have to learn!

The Spring 2011 conference of GOGS will be held April 9, 2011. Featured speaker will be announced at a later date.

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