Yesterday was the final day of the FGS Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Out of the ten options that were available for each of the six hour-long sessions for Saturday, these are the lectures that I chose to attend.
For me, the morning started out the same as the previous day ended - with Curt Witcher. His presentation of "Exploring the Crossroads of America: Indiana Records and Repositories" was a whirlwind tour of the Hoosier State. Curt outlined a six-step strategy for Indiana Research: (1) Identify all the local record repositories. This is especially important since many of the records are still located in the counties and communities where they were created. (2) Explore the county sites at Indiana GenWeb. All Indiana counties have a presence at Indiana GenWeb, some have an amazing amount of online data. (3) Visit the three state facilities in Indianapolis, either virtually or in person: The Indiana State Library, The Indiana State Archives, and The Indiana Historical Society. (4) Explore the offerings of the Indiana Genealogical Society (5) Explore the Indiana resources available at FamilySearch (6) Visit the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library! Each of these facilities has their own unique collection of materials.
At 9:30 I decided to forgo the regularly scheduled programming and attended a FootNote Users Meeting. About a dozen people attended this session in the small Boardroom of the Grand Wayne Center. I think I was the only one who was not a vendor or a speaker. Beau Sharbrough, Vice President of Content for FootNote, was the moderator of the meeting. The site was launched on January 10, 2007 and, in addition to the National Archives of the United States, has recently announced partnership agreements with the Family History Library and the Allen County Public Library. The site is not specifically geared toward genealogists in particular. One of their goals is to create and build a community related to History. Individuals can contribute to FootNote by creating story pages with their own personal records, documents, and stories. Individuals can also contribute by creating an annotation to any record - these are added to the online index and appear in search results. Individuals can also leave comments on any page to add to, correct, or enhance information contributed by someone else. You have full control over any information you contribute. There is a process in place for reporting inappropriate content that will then be reviewed by a member of the FootNote team. FootNote has been given exclusive distribution rights to the digital version of "Evidence Explained" by Elizabeth Shown Mills. When someone prints out a document from the FootNote site, the printed copy will contain a source citation that conforms to her criteria. The digital version, fully text searchable in pdf format, is available for about half the cost of the hard copy book.
My morning ended with "Lights, Camera, Action" presented by Tony Burroughs, which was a beginner's crash course on creating a digital video documentary. He emphasized that the software you select will define what you are able to do and how you will be able to do it. If your computer was purchased more than a year ago it probably will not have the processing speed or memory needed for the software to run properly. It probably also won't have a hard drive large enough to store the files that will be created. Tony briefly touched on the other equipment that would be useful, such as lights, cam corder, tripod, basic computer skills, shooting and editing techniques. You don't need video content to create a family documentary as it can be done with still photos and documents in the same manner used by Ken Burns for many of his documentaries. He also showed several examples that he has been working on that are still in the 'draft' stage. The process is labor and time intensive but the results are rewarding and well worth the time and effort.
After meeting up with some friends for lunch, I sat in on "Using Artifacts in Family History Narrative" with John Philip Colletta (again). John pointed out that there are basically three sources of information available about the past: Oral History/Family Lore, Private and Public Records both original and derivative, and Material Culture or Family Artifacts. A portrait of a person (physical traits, character, personality, social standing) can be created by carefully looking at and reviewing the information, photographs, documents, and records that have been collected on a person or family. John used examples from his own family to illustrate what can be gleaned from even the smallest artifact or bit of information. You can't say something was definite but by using terms such as "actions indicate", "it appears that", or "probably" you can infer that it was so and make an interesting narrative in the process.
The lecture with Mr. Colletta was the last one of the day for me. Perhaps, if the offerings had really, really interested me I might have stuck around for the next three hours, but I was very tired and having a very hard time staying awake! For me, the conference was a success. There was a lot to absorb. New ways of looking at age-old techniques. Refresher courses on the basics. Even some brand new stuff. Though tired and weary, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am looking forward to using some of this new-found knowledge!