Monday, September 28, 2009

Have you ever?

Have you ever looked at a workshop title or description and said to yourself, "I wouldn't be interested in that topic because I don't have ancestors in that place"? Did you sign up anyways and take a chance? or Did you stay at home thinking I won't spend the money as I won't learn anything worthwhile? 

On Saturday, the Bruce Grey Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society held its annual Fall Event in Durham, Ontario. They have been doing this for quite a few years now in October or as it was the case this year, in September. They bring to our area excellent speakers, often from Salt Lake City.

This year, Evva Benson, AG from the Family History Library returned to speak. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend last year, as I had a conflict on that day. Last year's topic was English genealogical research. I was sorry that I missed it because I heard how knowledgeable she was and that she gave excellent presentations. My paternal ancestors were from England and I know I would have learned alot.

This year's topic was primarily Irish research with one presentation on Scottish Research on the Internet. Should I go? I have no Irish ancestry, although I do have a first cousin now living in Ireland. If someone wants someone to help them with their Irish research, I quickly refer them to someone who is specializing in that area. I have much on my to do list. Should I stay home and tackle those tasks?

My decision -- I should go. Why?

1 . The food is always good. The Durham Anglican women cater and the meal is always delicious - ham and scalloped potatoes, vegetables, some jellied salads and rolls and homemade pie. [I wasn't disappointed.]
2. I want to see my friends. [I did. There are some that I only see once a year at this event, but it is great way to spend a day with your special friends.]
3. You always learn at least one new thing or you are reminded about something you had forgotten that might help you in your current research.
4. I likely would not have tackled anything on my to do list.

Kathleen Labudie-Szakall welcomed everyone first.

Evva Benson's first topic - was "Tracing the Origins of Famine and Post-Famine Irish Immigrants".
What did I learn that interested me?

1. That generally that pre-famine emigrations were Presbyterians from Northern Ireland and post-famine emigrations were Catholic from Southern Ireland.

2. research strategies that can be transferred to all research (this was a reinforcement of much I already knew).

   - "leave no stone unturned" when trying to learn information especially the place of origin in the "old country" - take a list of places you should research and do it for the key members of the family, siblings, etc. then do it for all relations in the area and then their associates to find missing information. She provided a flow chart that was specific to Irish research but one could be developed for other places of origin.

 - She told about some specific resources that help with surname distribution in Ireland that can be helpful if the name is uncommon and you know father's name and mother's maiden name if they were born in Ireland. If many of the neighbours were of the same ethnic origin, could they have come from the same place? Test out this with the surname distribution resources.  [Note to self: what resources are available for other countries? - Germany - my Stiver (Stoeber) ancestors came with a group under the leadership of William Berczy. Has anyone done a study of all these names using the techniques that she suggested but applying it to Germany.]

After a break, she talked about "Tracing the Scots-Irish Immigrants" and "Irish Records Overview"

Before lunch there was a short annual meeting. The same executive were voted in and all the board members were introduced. Thank you to all of them for all their hard work.

During the lunch break, people visited the vendors' tables. The Grey County Historical Society table was looked after by our past-president.

I had the opportunity to make contact with a person, whose ancestor had written about Owen Sound, in the early 1920s. He wrote his observations of early life in Owen Sound and area as he remembered it. His information is so very interesting. I would like to see his work published. I would like to include, in appendices, follow up research on his writings. [Yes, I know I have other projects that I need to finish first, but making this contact is important. Thanks Betty W.]

Following the door prizes, we settled down again to learn more. This time the presentation was about "Ireland Internet - Separating the Gold from the Blarney".

After a short break, we heard about "Scottish Internet". I haven't done much Scottish research on the Internet.

 - During this talk, Evva Benson mentioned that 70-80% of the OPR (Old Parochial Registers) - pre 1855 Church of Scotland records are on Family Search. A more complete database can be found on the disks at the Family History Centres and at the Family History Library. They are all on  Scotland's People. It is important to remember that these are only Church of Scotland records and that if the family was a member of one of the break away groups they would not be included. This was new information for me.

At the end of the day, there were a few minutes remaining and our speaker gave us a couple more tidbits.

At Familysearch go to Library then Education - then Family History Library Series Online.
There you will find some free online classes. Check it out. They would appreciate your feedback.

The last site was quite exciting for those of us who do English Research - interactive maps She suggested being patient while the maps load. I will have to take some time to check out the features of this site.

So, am I glad I went? Yes! Look at all I learned from the day.

Thank you, Evva Benson! Thank you Bruce-Grey Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society!

Have you ever? - Have you had a similar experience? Make a comment or write about it on your blog.
© 2009 Janet Iles


  1. I particularly agree with number 2 about transferable skills/approaches.
    As a teacher I frequently attend pedagogical workshops discussing teaching methods & materials for subjects and levels that I don't teach.
    I feel that sometimes we're so focussed on content, that looking at something in a different context gives us a really fresh outlook.
    Thanks for giving me food for thought,
    Evelyn in Montreal

  2. I'm glad you went, too! It's great to attend events outside your research area, you learn new things and make contact with new people--as you've clearly done here. You just never know what you'll find!


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