I attended Nebraska State Genealogy Conference a couple weeks ago in Grand Island. Attendance was a bit disappointing this year as we only had about 40 people attend. Instead of a featured speaker, there was a theme this year of "secret societies" or some people call them "fraternal organizations". We heard from almost a dozen speakers, mostly on societies who have some secrets about them, what records they have, and how might we access them (if possible), or at least what we can find out about our ancestor who might have belonged.
First up was Cindy Drake, keynote speaker and an employee of Nebraska State Historical Society. She listed books and other manuscripts the society holds about fraternal organizations. This was informative. She provided a few handouts and most of the information was going to be available on the state web site. www.nesgs.org
Next was Joe Thompson was BPOE (Elks). He was pretty informative about what one might find. I enjoyed his speech and learned quite a bit about the Elks.
Third on Friday were the ladies from Kearney speaking about cancer and genetics. I had heard them in 2012 so I didn't learn much. Most of this seemed like the same information.
Last on Friday was Jim Standerford from IOOF (Old Fellows). I was particularly interested in this one as I have some ancestors buried in an IOOF cemetery. He did a good job answering questions, but I did not think he was as good of a speaker. He did say if an ancestor is buried in an IOOF cemetery and the city has another cemetery, there is a good chance that ancestor was a member of Odd Fellows. However some of the IOOF cemeteries have been turned over to the cities, so then those people may not necessarily be a member.
Saturday was day two, and we started with our annual meeting. Following that was a presentation on P.E.O. presented by yours truly and Nebraska state president, Merikay Berg. I thought we did a nice job, and my position as genealogist and P.E.O. member might help. It was a bit short but I'm sure people didn't mind. It's a bit hard to review my own presentation, so someone else might have to put their 2 cents in here.
Mitch Zabokrtsky then spoke right before lunch about different folders he had made on his families. I didn't learn much from him, although I think if I would've seen his folders I may have gotten some ideas. He titled his something about chronicling families.
The last presentation I was able to attend was Tom Hauder of the Masons. He was well prepared with a computer presentation and LOTS of information. He spoke for an hour and half. It was also informative.
I'm writing this without consulting my notes, so if you have questions on any of this, particularly in Nebraska, let me know and I will check my notes.
The last presentation of day two was Germans in Russia and I was unable to attend that one. I don't have any Germans from Russia to my knowledge anyway; my Germans are from Germany so I wasn't too disappointed.
The new board is looking for a featured speaker for next year in hopes we can have better attendance. My understanding is this conference was put together rather last minute. So if any of my genealogy friends have suggestions on a featured speaker or topic for 2015 which will be the last Friday/Saturday in April, please let me know. Or if anyone would like to submit their resume and topic, also contact me. Next year Nebraska State Genealogy Conference will be in Grand Island again. After that, we may change locations. Not sure if location has much to do with low attendance either.