Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review of Midwest Family History Expos 2012

I attended the Midwest Family History Expos last weekend in Kearney, Nebraska. For those of you in Ohio who think you are in the Midwest, I would have a different opinion. Thankfully those people in Salt Lake City, Utah from agree with me. Kearney, Nebraska is 1733 miles from Boston and 1733 miles from San Francisco. THAT is indeed middle of America. Now maybe Ohio was put in the "Midwest" before America had 50 states, like when it only had 25 or something. Anyway, I digress.

The Family History Expos are largely sponsored by which is probably both a good and bad thing. It started Friday afternoon at 2 pm with an opening speech by Ruby Coleman from North Platte, Nebraska. This keynote was interesting but not very informative, as in I didn't learn anything to help me in my research but it was interesting to hear about hers. We were informed unfortuately that Tom Underhill was unable to attend, and we should cross out his presentations.

We then had a half hour break before going to our first presentation. With Family History Expos, you get to choose what presentation you want to attend. Each session had 5 or 6 choices, and a few presentations were repeated. Also a few presentations kind of followed one before, so it probably helped to go to both.
These are the sessions I chose to attend:
1. Finding Irish Ancestors with Kathy Warburton
2. What's New with FamilySearch in 2012 with Gregg Richardson (although it was supposed to be Ryan Koelliker but I guess he couldn't come)
3. A Review of Major Genealogical Libraries & Repositories by James Tanner
4. Presentation is Everything by Philipp M. Mayer

That was Friday. It finally ended at 8:40 and then you could browse more til 9 pm. Now I am one of the "younger" genealogists and I think ending at 8:40 pm is late. Mainly because I have kids, and I try to get them in bed by 9 or 9:30 pm. My opinion is maybe they could move a couple presentations to Friday morning, and then get Friday done by 6 pm (supper time).

Saturday I chose to do the following sessions:
1. Using Evernote for Genealogy with Anna Hopkins-Arnold
2. for Experienced Users with Anna Hopkins-Arnold
3. My Ancestors were from Germany and I Don't Speak German with Tamra Stansfield
4. German Research: Records other than Vital with Tamra Stansfield (I think she actually had a different title for this one)

First of all, they announced they will have Family History Expos next year September 2013 in Kearney, Nebraska! Yay! It will be the weekend after Labor day again. So mark your calendar now!

Attendees could order the syllabus printed in a spiral book; however the syllabus for every course was included for every attendee on a CD included in our packets. Very nice!

Probably don't have time to go over every presentation in this blog post, so I'll sum them up.
Generally I really liked the presenters from FamilySearch (Kathy Warburton and Tamra Stansfield); they knew their stuff and had good advice and good presentations. Gregg Richardson was also from FamilySearch but I don't think he knew his material well and often did not know answers to questions. This might not be his fault, as he might've been a last minute substitution. Also I think he does some sort of development for FamilySearch.
James Tanner did well with the major libraries. I learned about several there that have online catalogs. It was fun and informative. Would've liked to go to more of his presentations.
I enjoyed Anna Hopkins-Arnold's Evernote presentation and learned a lot because I've just downloaded Evernote and haven't done a single thing with it. Therefore I decided to go to her next presentation on That presentation was VERY full and I didn't think it went well. People kept interrupting her with questions, the presentation ran late, and I didn't think I learned much. Part of this was due to her having to switch rooms in between presentations so she had to set up her computer and projector again (a pain).

That's a brief take. I enjoyed going and learned a lot. It was very well worth it, especially since I did the early bird registration. I recommend going to a Family History Expo if there is one in your area. I hope to attend next year, if it fits in my schedule.

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