Category Archives: NERGC

The City That William Pynchon Built

 

2017 NERGC Conference “Using the Tools of Today & Tomorrow to Understand the Past”

April 26th through 29th will be a busy one for 1,100 or so genealogists. Speakers, vendors, professionals, hobbyists and the curious will converge at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts! The New England Regional Genealogical Consortium’s  (NERGC) conference is a biennial event that is 2 years in the making and is produced in various cities throughout New England.

My role as a co-chair for this year’s event consists of a great many responsibilities including marketing. As a result, I’ve brought my retail experience to the table and helped as much as I could in getting the word out.  Some of the unusual opportunities included the MassMutual Center itself which, for example, sends an “events update” email to a 25,000 name database. That sounded like a pretty good audience to me so I signed up to have our event included with a special offer for those registering through that site. We offered a “coupon code” to those registrants to claim a small gift as a token of our appreciation.

We’ve been placing announcements on multiple Facebook pages, Google+ Communities, Twitter, Pinterest, press releases to newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, and announcements at a wide variety of genealogical societies around the country…wherever we thought we might find an audience who could be drawn to an event such as ours.

Since I participate in a number of genealogically oriented Google Hangouts every week, I always get a chance to talk about the conference to an audience that is literally worldwide. These short promotions are courtesy of the Hangout host who, most of the time, is Pat Richley-Erickson and her cousin, Russ Worthington who produce the “DearMYRTLE Hangout” series.

William Pynchon – Founder of the Agawam Plantation

Here’s my point….finally! Among other genealogical societies, the Central Massachusetts Genealogical Society asked me to assist them with 2 issues: First, get them started in the use of virtual meeting platforms to bring a wider variety of speakers to their membership; and second, give my presentation titled “The City That William Pynchon Built” at their April meeting in Gardner, Massachusett.  I broadcasted the presentation from home to a room full of CMGS members in Gardner.  This link will take you to the YouTube channel where you can hear a brief history of the City of Springfield where our NERGC conference will be held.

William Pynchon was an English businessman who invested in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and arrived here around 1630. He then struck out to explore the wilderness of what we know today as the Pioneer Valley and the area along the Connecticut River. Well, without going into too much detail, if you have any interest in NERGC or the host city, Springfield, take a look at the video and leave your comments.

And by the way, at the time of this blog, you can still register to attend the NERGC conference. There will be over 70 presenters from around the world with 135 programs and workshops. There will also be 75 vendors with an amazing array of genealogical products and services. There is no need to register to visit the Exhibitor Hall.

After the conference, I will be glad to post the highlights with pictures and stories.

A view of Springfield from across the Connecticut River in West Springfield.

 

 

 

DNA Testing – But Which Test and Which Company?

Many people ask me about DNA testing. My first response is to try to determine why they want to test. Looking for cousins? Looking for medical information? Looking for ancestral origins? There’s actually a test for each a fact that surprises some people and may complicate the decision making process. Taking the wrong test can be a waste of time and money.  Some companies offer a wide variety of choices and others have a very simple offering.

So, where to start. The International Society of Genetic Genealogy has posted a highly informative grid of the 4 major testing companies, what each offers and how much their services cost.

Here’s the link: https://isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal_DNA_testing_comparison_chart

The information you find there should help just about anyone who is considering testing. It’s very easy to order the wrong test and ultimately cause frustration. Decide what your goals are first and then select an appropriate test from an appropriate company.

Good luck! Feel free to get in touch with me if you’d like more details. Use dave@oldbones.info. to reach me directly.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the upcoming New England Regional Genealogical Conference taking place in Springfield, Massachusetts starting April 26th and running until April 29th, 2017. Over 70 highly respected genealogists delivering 135 presentations, workshops, Ancestor Road Show, and an Exhibit Hall with approximately 75 vendors. The public is free to explore the Exhibit Hall while attendance to any of the programs requires registration.  Click here for dates, times, featured speakers, luncheons, banquets, historical tour of Springfield founded in 1636, a tour of the Museum of Springfield  History and Archives and about 1,000 fellow genealogists to rub elbows with. Featured speakers include Warren Bittner, a nationally acclaimed genealogist specializing in German research; Thomas MacEntee, another highly respected expert in multiple genealogical pursuits; and Kenyatta D Berry, co-host of the PBS program “Genealogy Road Show.”

NERGC? What’s a NERGC?

Using the Tools of Today & Tomorrow to Understand the Past

“Using the Tools of Today & Tomorrow to Understand the Past”

The New England Regional Genealogical Consortium produces a conference every other year. Each NERGC conference is held in a city somewhere in New England. Past conferences have been in Hartford, Connecticut, Manchester, New Hampshire, Providence, Rhode Island, and this year, Springfield, Massachusetts. The event will kick off on 26 April 2017 with a specialty day devoted to Librarians, Professionals, Genealogical Society Management and Technology. During the following three days, you’ll have a chance to hear and learn from 70 genealogists of every level and in every aspect of genealogy and genealogical research. NERGC organizers have devoted quite a bit of time and space to DNA, a “hot topic” in today’s genealogy world.

The MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield is the venue. Hotel accommodations are available within a block. Other than presentations, this year’s conference includes several workshops, banquets and a “private” tour of the archives at the Museum of Springfield History.

Our opening speaker is Mary Tedesco, a co-host of the PBS program, Genealogy Road Show. Speaking several times during the conference are 3 featured speakers, Thomas MacEntee, Warren Bittner and a third, another co-host of Genealogy Road Show, Kenyatta D Berry.

NERGC is supported by 23 genealogical from societies around New England, all of whom will be represented at the event. Volunteers from each will be busy making sure your experience is optimal. Stop and visit each of them in the Exhibit Hall and perhaps you can meet with a society near where you live.

Also in the Exhibit Hall, you’ll see a wide variety of vendors of genealogy products: Books, CD’s, old maps, clothing, and other genealogy-oriented products. Scheduled are genealogy companies such as Ancestry.com, Evidentia Software, FindMyPast and Geni.com to name a few.NERGC is worth a look! If you can’t make Springfield this year, the 2019 conference is scheduled for a return trip to Manchester, New Hampshire.

NERGC

English: Old print in Darłowo Castle with gene...

English: Old print in Darłowo Castle with genealogical information about King Eric the Pomeranian of Scandinavia, as released by image creator Ristesson; Place: Darłowo, Poland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re all talking about NERGC here in the North East.  NERGC?  So what’s NERGC?  It’s the acronym for the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium.  NERGC orchestrates a biennial conference at strategic cities here in New England.   Now it’s not RootsTech..nowhere near the size.  I believe RT had approximately 30,000 registrants this year, give or take 10,000.

No, NERGC is quite a bit smaller but of no less significance or importance to the genealogical community here.  Speakers, sponsored luncheons and dinners, workshops, society meetings, exhibitor hall with unopposed exhibit hours, speakers with national, regional and local recognition… NERGC has it all.

I can tick off a list of reasons why I took 4 days out my own very busy schedule to attend.

First, the opportunity to network with people who I know well, but only via social media: Facebook, Google Communities, Webinars, Google Hangouts on Air, the whole spectrum! I can tell you that it’s one thing to communicate virtually, but there’s nothing like looking across the table with a genealogy friend and sharing a meal or just a cup of coffee.  It’s what I would call a mini-conference.  There were mini-conferences going on all day, every day.

Second, I’d have to count the sessions that were held on all aspects of genealogy, family research and technology.  As a matter of fact, the entire first day was devoted to librarians, teachers and technology.  Not a bad place to be on Wednesday!  And I know that those who attended would agree.

Next, I’d count the individual specialty programs such as the “Ancestor Road Show.” This program is well attended and by reservation only!  A busy time for the NERGC volunteers,

And on the subject of volunteers, there are dozens of devoted genealogists at all levels of knowledge and experience in every field, volunteers who spend hours and hours in the planning and execution of each conference.

The Exhibition Hall was jam packed with representatives from many vendors and societies. The

The coat of arms of the Committee on Heraldry ...

The coat of arms of the Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

genealogy website  MyHeritage was represented as well as the American-French Genealogical Society, Heritage Books, Lisa Louise’s Genealogy Gems, the Gravestone Girls, New England Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, New England Historic Genealogical Society, citation software vendor Evidentia, and many, many more.

So now we all have to wait until April of 2017 for the next NERGC conference which will be held at the MassMutual Center

in Springfield, Mass.

See you there!

Heritage Quest – The New Version

English: Seal of the United States Census Bure...

English: Seal of the United States Census Bureau. The blazon is defined here as: On a shield an open book beneath which is a lamp of knowledge emitting rays above in base two crossed quills. Around the whole a wreath of single leaves, surrounded by an outer band bearing between two stars the words “U.S. Department of Commerce” in the upper portion and “Bureau of the Census” in the lower portion, the lettering concentric with an inner beaded rim and an outer dentilated rim. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll readily admit that I have not been a regular user of Heritage Quest.  As a matter of fact, I would avoid it.  Probably because I didn’t know how best to take advantage of it.  When I did go there, it was usually at the library where I volunteer and occasionally teach or lecture on genealogy research principles.Today, however, I watched a video that introduced me to the new version that has just been released.  I think they hit a home run with this one.  Maybe a grand slam!

The style echos what will be the newest version of Ancestry.com once they release the beta version which some of us have been able to “get friendly with” and provide feedback to Ancestry.  More on that in another post another day.  For now, I just want to encourage everyone to take a look at Heritage Quest and see all the new features.

First, it’s a little more pleasant of an atmosphere.  Maybe, for me, it’s just that it’s a refreshed website.  But the real meat of the upgrade is the collections that you will find there.

Brief rundown: The original 6 data sets are still available but PERSI and the US Serial Set will, for now, redirect you back to the original site.  Census records are now available to 1940 given the collaboration with Ancestry.com.  The census records and other sets will now display images in 256 grey scale or color rather than “bi-tonal” making them easier to read.  You will also be able to save them, download them or e-mail them in a image format.

In addition to US Census Population Schedules, images for US Territories, Military and Naval Forces records, US Indian Census Rolls 1885-1940, Mortality Schedules from 1850 to 1880, the 1880 schedules of Dependent, Delinquent and Defective classes and select Non-Population schedules from 1850 to 1880.

English: A collage of American Revolutionary W...

English: A collage of American Revolutionary War public domain images. Clockwise from top left: Battle of Bunker Hill, Death of Montgomery at Quebec, Battle of Cowpens, “Moonlight Battle”. Interlingua: Un collage de imagines in dominio public super le Guerra de Independentia del Statos Unite. Ab sinistra superior in senso horologic: Battalia de Bunker Hill, morte de Montgomery a Quebec, Battalia de Cowpens, Battalia de Capo St. Vincente. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The complete NARA M804 Revolutionary War pension and bounty land applications with “every name index” of pension apps and applicants. All NARA pension apps are included regardless of page count or genealogical value.

The image viewer appears in either basic of advanced view without the need for any special plug-ins.  Boolean operators are not allowed (AND, OR, AND NOT, etc.) but truncation and wildcards are (Eli?abeth or Sam*).  An exact match option appears when typing begins. You are also allowed to add life events or other family members to refine your search and use double quotation marks for specific phrases (“first edition”),

All documents are downloadable in PDF format.  The site includes several pages of tips and tricks for researchers.

Map of campaigns in the Revolutionary War

Map of campaigns in the Revolutionary War (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Map Guide to the US Census” has been moved to the new interactive MAPS

English: Map of US Census Bureau's geographica...

English: Map of US Census Bureau’s geographical regions Category:Census Bureau images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

section.  The maps have their own tabs, can be saved, printed or e-mailed using a right click for the option menu.

“The Census Book” by William Dollarhide is included in the MAPS section and includes blank census forms. You may be interested in other William Dollarhide books which include “American Migration Routes 1735-1815,” “New  York State Census & Substitutes,” or “Managing a Genealogical Project” among others.  They’re all available at Amazon.com.

 

I’m not familiar enough just yet to expound on the new features or any of the improvements to what has been available for a while.  But it’s certainly worth a look!

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Judy G Russell, JD, CG, CGL “Visits” Western Mass Genealogical Society

If I’ve ever prepared for a monthly meeting of WMGS, it’s this month’s meeting. It will be our 4th virtual meeting, each with an increasing level of technology and the resultant learning curve.

English: British genealogist and heraldist Sir...

English: British genealogist and heraldist Sir Arthur Vicars (1862–1921), Ulster King of Arms and Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve had some high profile guests in virtual environments over the past year interspersed with local genealogists.  For example, Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, was our guest late in our 2013-2014 season.  Big success!  Great program!  We’d love to have her again!

A few months later, our next virtual guest was Dick Eastman, genealogist and publisher of the monthly Eastman’s Online Genealogical Newsletter. You can subscribe to the basic account at no charge with a small fee for the “Plus Edition.” He spent the evening helping our members understand how far MyHeritage has grown and the ins and outs of using it as a research resource.  Very informative and helpful. And he’s right…MyHeritage has grown by leaps and bounds and through that growth is challenges the “big guns” such as Ancestry.com.

Last November, we were challenged to organize our research in 12 months with one project per month by “DearMYRTLE, your friend in genealogy.”  She had 12 challenges with 3 bonus challenges that were handed out at random to 15 WMGS members.  They each took the “hot seat” to be personally challenged by DearMYRTLE to tackle the project they had been handed when they walked in the door.  in addition to her genealogical community, you can visit her public Facebook page.

Keep in mind that these guest presenters were nowhere near our meetings which take place at the Agawam Senior Center in Agawam Massachusetts.  They were each sitting comfy at home while they talked to us in real time and we were able to interact with them.  What a world!

This Wednesday, 4 February 2015, our guest will be Judy G Russell, the Legal Genealogist. I’ve

Judy G Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Judy G Russell, JD, CG, CGL

heard Judy speak many times and I’m always impressed.  She’s a trained attorney and a highly respected genealogist.  You can tell from her post-nominals: JD, CG and CGL.  JD is her law degree, “Doctor of Jurisprudence“.  CG is her designation as a Certified Genealogist, not a small feat!  CGL refers to Certified Genealogical Lecturer, another professional milestone.  I always have told my genealogy research classes that the easiest ancestor to research is a criminal.  Judy is here to prove that concept with “Rogues, Rascals and Rapscallions: The Family Black Sheep.”  Can’t wait for this one!

She’ll be visiting with us via Google+ Hangouts on Air.  Our membership is certainly invited to come to the meeting in person, of course.  But if anyone cannot make it for any reason whatsoever, they can sit at home and actually participate live!  Most of our members belong to our “WMGS Google+ Community” as well as having paid memberships in the Society.  Only paid members will have access to the program after it is archived at YouTube.

If you haven’t experienced a Google+ Hangout or joined a Google+ Community, it’s worth

thetime…there are thousands that cater to nearly every interest.  You should take a look at the technology and the different types of Hangouts: private, one-on-one hangouts, business meetings, applicant interviews, educational broadcasts…all with FREE technology!

If you can be with us Wednesday night, great!  We’d love to have you.

One more thought:  If your in or near New England, please consider attending the New England Regional Genealogical Conference, April 15 – 18 in Providence, Rhode Island.  Get the details here: NERGC.