Monday, May 6, 2013

What I learned at the NSGS state conference

The Nebraska State Genealogical Society (NSGS) had yet another exceptional speaker at last weekend's annual conference with Beth Foulk. Beth is a volunteer instructor at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri.

Beth is my kind of conference speaker with her enthusiasm, passion and knowledge. All of her sessions were great and my favorite focused on using timelines to help with your genealogy research. I've used the timeline feature on Ancestry.com on several of my direct ancestors. Not just listing events that are associated with a document, I would add the births and deaths of family members, so I could put together a bigger story of my ancestor's life.

Beth showed many examples of timelines she has created in Microsoft Excel. I love Excel for data management and her samples gave me a lot of new ideas on organizing timelines outside of Ancestry and my genealogy software. I can hardly wait to get started on these!

I especially liked how she had a column to reference the sources for data items. I envision having a separate tab in Excel with complete source citations that is linked from the data field in the main timeline. She also demonstrated how a person could color code specific events, such as property transactions, as a visual method of identifying what information needs to be gathered. I also plan to use a timeline in Excel to track the migration patterns of family members through each year's census.

One of the other gems that Beth discussed was the Hathi Trust digital book site. http://m.hathitrust.org/ This site provides a search of digital books available online, or an entry showing where to find the book in a library. This will become another item in my toolbox for finding books, alongside Google books and World Cat.

I always leave genealogy conferences with a wealth of new ideas, excited about trying new things. This year's conference was no exception.

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