Sunday, April 10, 2011

Greater Omaha Genealogical Society Spring Conference Wrap-Up

The annual spring conference of the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society was held yesterday in Omaha. The meeting room was packed with more than 150 attendees from Nebraska, all surrounding states and California!

The conference kicked off with a discussion of Irish history by Mary Lyons-Barrett who teaches modern Irish history at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She discussed the many places where the Irish emigrated to during different times in history (such as the famine). Even though I am of Irish heritage, I do not yet have a good working knowledge of Irish history. Dr. Lyons-Barrett provided an exemplary timeline in the syllabus which I plan to use as a starting point to learn more about "my people." I'm especially interested in learning more about the Statutes of Kilkenny (1366) which she said was the first example of race-based discrimination legislation.

She talked about the Irish workhouses, which many of us learned about in the Rosie O'Donnell episode of Who Do You Think You Are? a few weeks ago.

Next up was Kevin Cassidy who presented some great examples of documents to explore in Climbing Your Irish Family Tree. Among his points that I found interesting were:

  • Single Irish women came to America in about the same number as single Irish men. There were more single Irish women who emigrated than any other ethnic group.
  • The trend of older men marrying younger women was not unusual among the Irish. Many people delayed having children after the famine. When the men were ready to marry, they needed a wife of child-bearing age.
The third session was presented by Neil Breenhalgh, director of the Family History Center in Papillion and his colleague Sheila Laducci. I enjoyed hearing about the upcoming changes with They indicated that records are being digitized and indexed at a phenomenal rate so that the "beta" version of the site will no longer exist - everything is going live immediately. Because of this, they indicated that information on the site is increasing and something you found yesterday might be in a different location today. Sheila advised, "Be patient because everything on this site is always changing."

They also talked about the ability to order microfilm online rather than having to place the order at a Family History Center. It was also announced that the W. Dale Clark Library (Omaha Public Library) has been designated as a Family History Center.

The final presentation was by auctioneer and appraiser Tom Bassett who assessed some of the family heirlooms brought by attendees. I had to leave before his session, so cannot report on it.

Overall, it was a fantastic day. As always, the GOGS team put together a great genealogy day.

1 comment: