Saturday morning meant the end of NERGC was near. I began with the New York track, starting with “But She Died in Upstate New York in the 1850s: How Can I Identify Her Parents?” By David Ouimette. New York state is not the easiest to research in. Vital records did not start until 1880, were not prevalent until the early 1900s and even though they are open to researchers, they are not available to browse, instead you have to fill out a form and hope.
This means that you need to use alternate records and get creative in your search. David discussed the importance of cluster genealogy, looking at neighbors, checking neighboring localities and going forward in order to go back, since you never know what information a descendent might have that can help you. My favorite thing he said, “the search for an individual is the search for the family” is one of the most important things to remember when conducting genealogical research. Even professional genealogists do not know everything. At the end of the session a woman in the audience asked if he had looked at a certain record set for his case study. Hopefully this new resource will help him in his search.
The second part of the NY track was “Spanning the Great New York Abyss: Connecting Generations When No Vital Records Exist” by Laura Murphy DeGrazia. Laura gave a lot of resources for NY researchers and I will write a post expanding on this later in the week.
After lunch (and another volunteer lunch ticket collection), I attended the workshop “Baker's Dozen Steps to Writing Research Reports Workshop” by Elissa Scalise Powell. If you have the opportunity to take this workshop, do it. I wish someone had explained research reports to me like this when I was still a baby genealogist. Everyone should be writing research reports using the standards shown in the BCG manual. Elissa recommends having a template for these reports that you can fill in throughout your research process. This report should be the very first thing you do, prior to any research, for any question you have. The way she explained it made it seem so easy that of course you will always write a research report. My goal is to write and post these on my blog weekly, particularly showing the process of writing it throughout the next few weeks.
My last workshop of the conference was “My Grandmother was a Fascist: Alien Registration Files and Italian immigrant communities up to WWII” by Shellee A. Morehead. This session was actually useful to anyone with immigrant ancestors who did not get naturalized until after 1940. The Alien Registration Act of 1940 made every un-naturalized immigrant register on a yearly basis. To see if your ancestor has a file, go here.
The next NERGC conference will be in 2015 in Providence, Rhode Island. I can’t wait!