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National Genealogical Society (NGS) 2014 Family History Conference

Originally published 10 May 2014

This week I had the pleasure of attending two days of the NGS 2014 Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia. All the sessions I attended were worthwhile, but two in particular were exceptional: "Using Evidence Creatively: Spotting Clues in Run-of-the Mill Records" by Elizabeth Shown Mills and, "Can a Complete Research Problem be Solved Solely Online?" by Thomas W. Jones. Both speakers are icons in the genealogy field. Both delivered funny, enlightening, and energizing presentations.

I also attended a very good session entitled Using NARA's Finding Aids and Website, by Pamela Boyer Sayre. Though I have used the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) site and performed research at the Washington, DC NARA, the presentation was quite helpful. If you've haven't used the NARA site yet, it is extensive and can be overwhelming to use. Ms Sayre described it as an ocean, which I think is on the mark; however she provided several helpful tips for navigating the site that I am anxious to implement.

Finally, the presentation entitled, "Tract Books: Master Index to Federal Land Records" by Angela Packer McGhie has me chomping at the bit to look for my Swedish great grand uncle who farmed in Minnesota. The tract books and associated files can have a wealth of information because applicants had to provide documents, to include naturalization papers and certificates of military service, as well as an application that contains personal details. The tract books also provide the exact location of the land and its "genealogy" of ownership. Great stuff!

Stay tuned. I will share my takeaways from the sessions in the days to come.

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