Category Archives: Conferences

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.

 

 

 

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.

The Pioneer Valley History Network – Western Massachusetts

I’m promoting this event here on my blog to announce that there will be many interesting presentations from a wide variety of historians and genealogists from around Western Massachusetts and beyond. One of those presenters will be me! I’ll be highlighting the history of Springfield Massachusetts from its founding as a colonial plantation in 1636 to the third largest city in Massachusetts. I’ll feature William Pynchon, a successful businessman, pioneer, diplomat, civic and religious leader who ultimately turned over his New World fortunes to his son, John. My own great grandfather, Deacon Samuel Chapin, was also a high profile figure in this story and worked closely with Pynchon and other figures who caused Springfield to remain an important factor in the growth of the city. More about him in future posts. 

Deacon Samuel Chapin

Deacon Samuel Chapin (1598 – 1675)

Here’s the announcement:

The Pioneer Valley History Network (Western Massachusetts) proudly announces History Camp Pioneer Valley to be held on Saturday, July 30, 2016 at the Kittredge Center at Holyoke Community College. Click for a map.

This will be a gathering of history enthusiasts, high school age and up, for a day of learning and sharing.

Based on the “un-conference” model developed by History Camp Boston, this will be the first event of this kind in the western part of Massachusetts. What is an “un-conference”? In short, it’s a self-organizing conference. People who share a common interest get together and create the framework for the event.

  • The topics that are presented are the ones of interest to the presenters.

  • No committee will “screen” the topics and requesting a time-slot is easy.

  • The sessions that are well-attended are the ones that are of interest to the attendees. Anyone can present.

It’s an incredibly democratic way to gather and share information.

To encourage participation by everyone, this first

“History Camp Pioneer Valley” will have no Conference Fee!

However, participants will be encouraged at the event to make a voluntary contribution to cover the cost of the conference. The goal is to break even – there are no paid staff, no paid speakers, and no one will profit. We anticipate the “break even” point to be $15 – $30 per person, depending upon turnout.

There will also be plenty of opportunity for networking and an exhibit area for selling books and other history-related products. There is no specific theme, but please, no political diatribes or sales pitches for a commercial product or service. Other than that, the sky is the limit.

For more information and register to attend or present, go to:

History Camp – Pioneer Valley

or

Click here to read about the Pioneer Valley History Network

 

 

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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