Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2015 - some thoughts

Yesterday, I came home from the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) Conference in Barrie. The event began on Friday, May 29 and ran to Sunday, May 31. Friday during the day, workshops and tours were held. In the evening, a part of the college gym was the venue for the Opening Ceremonies. Saturday, the day started at 8:30 a.m. and ended after the banquet. Sunday, the day started at 8:00 a.m. and ended with the closing ceremonies.

So here are some thoughts about the weekend.

Friday afternoon workshop - Maps and Mapping for 21st Century Genealogists by James F. S. Thomson.
Maps are essential to genealogists. Mr. Thomson shared his "structured approach" to working with maps. He recommended seeing a variety of maps for areas of interest for different time periods and different scales. Digital maps often allow having different layers added or subtracted such as different features. He reminded attendees to check the terms of use for using digital maps in publications, including online. He also provided examples of different sites and a handout with exercises, commentary and links. Lots to discover that are new to me. I learned a lot in this workshop.

Friday evening was the opening ceremonies with Kirsty Gray as the keynote speaker.

Saturday morning, we began at 8:30 with a panel discussion with Thomas MacEntee as the moderator who posed a number of questions. Each person answered the same questions. The theme was Tracks through time (same as the conference). Each panelist (Richard M. Doherty, Dr. Maurice Gleeson, Kirsty Gray and Dave Obee) provided great comments and advice.

Next came the annual meeting of the Society. Even though the marketplace was open at the same time, the room was filled and quorum was achieved.

Lunch time was in the area next to the marketplace. The Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists met over lunch. We achieved quorum. It was great to see fellow members face to face. The focus of the meeting was hosting a pre-conference on Thursday afternoon prior to the Ontario Genealogical Society next year hosted by the Toronto Branch.

Three presentation time slots were offered in the afternoon. I attended two.

First - Identifying Immigrant Ancestors by Janice Nickerson.
Janice provided many suggestions for finding clues to where our ancestors may have come from before coming to Canada. She divided the talk into two sections with many excellent ideas: strategies and records. She provided many good points. She suggested asking the question of relatives: "Do you have anything old?" Another useful suggestion was Follow the Preacher.

Second - Tools for Embarking Upon German Research by Richard M. Doherty
Richard also included ideas for locating ancestors in what is now and what became Germany. My Germanic ancestors left in 1792 through the port of Altona, the port for Hamburg. Richard provided a timeline of major events. When my ancestors left with William Berczy and many others, it was before civil registration and it was before the French Revolution affected areas of Germany. Richard provided different website urls that would be helpful in the research.

Next I was off to the Marketplace where I was at the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists' table.

While at the conference, I also took a walk around the hall to see the various vendors and associations. I had a chat with the gentleman at the Quaker table. I recently wrote about Quaker connections in my postings about What happened after the death of Benjamin Hemingway? Quakers also settled in Grey County. I also had a chat with Mike at the Hamilton Branch OGS table. I stopped at the Toronto Branch table and told them that I had attended the last meeting online. I also did some shopping while I was there. I purchased four books from the OGS table (on sale), a mouse scanner from Shop the Hound and a book at the Global Genealogy table.

Before the banquet, I had an opportunity to say hello to my online friend and leader of the geneabloggers, Thomas MacEntee. Oh, I mustn't forget to mention the blogger beads provided to bloggers by Ruth Blair. They provided a conversation starting point. Thank you Ruth.

I sat at a table with some that I already knew and others that were new to me. Our after supper speaker was Dr. Maurice Gleeson. It was a humorous talk.

Sunday morning had an early start. The first presentation was at 8 a.m.

First - Putting Your Ancestors in their Place: an Introduction to one-place studies by Dr. Janet Few
Her talk was live streamed in. Thank you to the team that looked after the technical aspects.

According to Dr. Few "a one place study involves dissecting a small, definable, geographical area, to examine the individuals, buildings and processes of the past, in as much detail as possible". Before a person or a group begins, the boundary of the study should be decided upon and the starting point. Then the work begins. Searching for resources about the area is a good way to get started. Maps at different times are needed. These can be correlated with various records such as census. Throughout the project, statistics and names and details will be collected. Dr. Few said that after collecting information, it needs to be analysed and synthesized. Look at one theme or one period at a time. The learnings from the study need to be shared and this can be done in various ways.

Of course, my mind was trying to think of possibilities of using this frame work for the different organizations to which I belong. One place studies has a website at http://one-place-studies.org/studies. There is a register available at http://register-of-one-place-studies.org.uk.

I went back to the Marketplace to look after the group's table before lunch. It was busy.

After lunch, I heard an interesting presentation: Route of DNA from Flanders to Barrie by Dr. Maurice Gleeson. I have never had my DNA tested nor do I know much about using DNA in genealogical research. Dr. Gleeson shared how DNA testing has united branches of the Spearin family. One of the largest concentrations of the Spearin family has been found in the Barrie, Ontario. While in Canada, he had the opportunity for a family reunion. They visited the Spearin log house at the Simcoe County museums. The Spearin family are also part of a one name study. The information is shared on a dedicated website, blog and Facebook group.

The last session was Going Totally Offline, Almost -- On-site researching Libraries and Archives by Alan Campbell. Alan gave great suggestions about why you should do on site research and how you should prepare for a research trip.

The conference was almost over. The closing ceremony included a short talk by Kirsty Gray: Back to the Future. We heard about the OGS Conference June 3 to June 5, 2016. The theme "Genealogy on the Cutting Edge".

Thank you to all who made this conference a success. Now to spend time with the syllabus (I have both print and on a usb drive) and my notes. Then to apply them to by research.

© 2015 Janet Iles Print

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