Sunday, July 17, 2011

2011 Land Records and Genealogy Symposium Rocked!

Day 1 - Friday, July 15, 2011

What better timing to participate in the Land Records and Genealogy Symposium in Beatrice, Nebraska than on the eve of the Homestead Act of 1862.The 150th anniversary of this legislation is coming up next year. Millions of homestead record images are being digitized that will eventually be made available to the public. With my roots firmly set in Nebraska soil, I feel extremely fortunate that the Nebraska homestead records are the first to be digitized and will be completed before the project moves on to other states. This is definitely going to be a landmark research base for genealogists who are tracking ancestors through their westward move.

Homestead National Monument of America
display at the Land Records and Genealogy Symposium
July 2011
The past two days have been a whirlwind of activities in conjunction with the Land Records and Genealogy Symposium. I've been looking forward to the symposium for months - not only as an attendee, but because I was one of the speakers at the event. This was my first presentation at a major genealogy conference, so I was extremely honored and humbled that the organizers asked me to participate.
This symposium is held every two years and this year's event attracted nearly 100 people from Nebraska, several surrounding states and as far away as Massachusetts and California.

Friday began with me meeting the Genealogy Ninja, Thomas MacEntee, at the Lincoln airport. Those of you who know Thomas know that it's always great to get together with him. We arrived in Beatrice in time for lunch. Unfortunately, that meant that we were not able to hear the first two presentations by Sylvia Murray on Genealogy: You Can Do This and Carla Anders on Introduction to Land Platting.

Fortunately for me, I sat next to Carla during the conference and I'm certain that a new genealogy friendship was born. A lot of business cards and email addresses were exchanged! Carla operates Collecting Missing Ancestors and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. She has a wealth of experience in Midwest research.

During lunch, we were entertained by Chris Sayre, a native Lincolnite known for his dedication to traditional and contemporary folk music. Chris' CDs are available here.

After lunch, we were treated to two fantastic sessions on Land Records presented by Gail Blankenau. Gail and I live in the same city, have been Facebook friends for a while, but this was the first time we met in person. Gail really knows her stuff when it comes to land records! She is an outstanding and knowledgeable presenter. Gail is also a member of APG  and the Genealogical Speaker's Guild. I enjoyed getting acquainted with Gail and hope we can "do coffee" every once in a while.

The afternoon ended with an excellent session on Finding Women Homesteaders by Sylvia Murray. Her stories and photographs of these exceptional women were very interesting and inspirational. It makes you wonder if you could have done the same thing under those circumstances. Sylvia is also a member of APG and the Genealogical Speaker's Guild.

Homestead National Monument of America

After the close of the presentations, Thomas and I went in search of the coolest place in Beatrice. I don't mean "cool" as in "hip" - but literally, cool. The Nebraska temperature exceeded 100 degrees this weekend. We went to the visitor center at the Homestead National Monument of America. [Photo] The monument is operated by the National Park Service. The land is exactly the size of the original homesteads - 160 acres. We explored the museum and decided we needed to find an even cooler spot in Beatrice!

It was on to the Education Center down the road. This was the coolest place in Beatrice, so Thomas and I found a couple chairs and talked shop until it was time for the special dinner event. We were treated to a nice dinner, more music from Chris Sayre and learned more about the Homestead Act and the homestead records digitization project.

Learn more about the Land Records Project.

Other useful Homestead Records links:

Read about Day 2 of the Symposium >


  1. I'm going to have to bone up on this stuff when I get back to work on the in-laws. Thanks for the great links.

  2. Susan - glad you liked the links. I hope to post some more in the future!