Saturday, May 23, 2015

NGS Conference Summary - The Sessions - Part Two

Continuing on with my impressions from the conference of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference last week . . .

Rock Stars: Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist

Me with Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist
First of all, I have to admit that I'm a lawyer-wannabe. I got hooked on studying communications law when I was in journalism school in the 60s-70s. And I even enjoyed studying contract law. Then I got obsessed with CourtTV in the 90s.

I even went to an orientation session at the University of Nebraska College of Law, Becoming a student at that time wasn't going to happen, so I took several paralegal classes at the College of St. Mary a couple decades ago. I am still hooked on law, especially copyright law. So it should come as no surprise that Judy Russell is one of my genealogy Rock Stars.

I was wandering through the vendor hall at NGS and Judy was standing by the booth sponsored by the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), of which I've been a member for a couple years. One of the ladies asked if she could help me and I replied, "I want to meet Judy Russell!" At which point, Judy and I greeted each other and posed for a selfie as we've been Facebook friends for a couple years.

When I attended the state conference of the Missouri Genealogical Society (MoSGA) in 2014, I was thrilled to learn that Judy would be speaking at the 2015 conference. So I wondered if I was going to "overdose" on Judy by attending Judy's sessions at NGS. This is not possible! I ended up attending three of Judy's talks at NGS and she knocked it out of the park on every one!

First, I attended Judy's talk at the luncheon, The Rest of the Story. The one concept I got from this talk is that some of our ancestor stores may not be ours to tell. Respecting the privacy of living persons is important.

The sound bites-tweets-comments from this session include:
  • We do a disservice to our history when all we do is repeat facts.
  • We must put the story of every member of our family into the context of their life at their time in history.
  • We are the gatekeeper of secrets.
  • Not every story is ours to tell.
  • Sometimes it is our responsibility to leave the stories there.
  • There is a distinction between story keepers and story tellers.
Living With Legal Lingo

The next session of Judy's that I attended was Living With Legal Lingo. From my days as a student of paralegal studies, I was already a fan of Black's Law Dictionary. I remember writing out my 3x5 cards of legal definitions in preparation for the tests at College of St. Mary. Even when I downsized my collection of physical books a couple years ago, I HAD to have the e-edition of Black's. It IS ESSENTIAL!

What I learned from Judy in this session that there are many other law dictionaries that are contemporary to their times. Quoting Judy: "To understand the records, we need to understand the law at the time and place the document was created."

Additional Legal Resources:

ARG! No, that wasn't enough! I also attended Judy's luncheon session about Pirates in genealogy! And they aren't all Jack Sparrow! This lecture was just pure fun! 

On Saturday night following the conference, about 25 of the genealogy bloggers got together for dinner. It was beyond my wildest imagination that I would actually be seated next to Judy at this dinner! Sometimes, I'm a Chatty Kathy, but in this situation, I was just thrilled to sit there and listen to all that Judy had to share! She is one classy woman, a genealogy rock star, a legal beagle, and I am honored to be in her presence!

Yes, in my book, Judy G. Russell is a Genealogy Rock Star! And I am looking forward to spending two days with her in August at MoSGA!!!


  1. Love, Love, LOVE Judy. She is also a very entertaining speaker, and that has to be hard to do with some of the subject matter. I have seen her speak a few times and each time she has been amazing!

    1. I would recommend any an all of Judy's lectures. She's the best!

  2. Judy G. Russell is at the top of my list of genealogy speakers. I totally agree that some stories are not ours to tell. Just because we know doesn't mean we have to tell.

  3. Judy is certainly a woman of substance! She's at the top in my book.

    1. Judy Rocks! I can barely wait to hear her again in August!