Where You Should Sit at a Genealogy Conference

no changing classroomsThis spring we’ve got some great conferences coming up in the U.S., like #RootsTech2013 in Salt Lake and the National Genealogical Society conference in Las Vegas, as well as events in Fairfax (VA), Wausau (WI), Manchester (NH), Cincinnati (OH), the Houston area, and Southern California. So here’s my question, just for fun: where do you sit when you go to conferences?

Studies of college classrooms show that students who sit toward the front of the room and catch the teacher’s eye are more likely to pay attention, which can translate into a better learning experience. Now, that caught my eye, because a better learning experience is what we all want out of conferences.

The report goes on to say that students who sit in front and make eye contact establish a better rapport with teachers and are more likely to be more engaged in the learning process. Of course, a conference isn’t the same as a college class. The instructor isn’t grading you. But presenters are human too, and they appreciate an engaged audience. In any sort of presentation, there is always an energy that flows back and forth between audience and presenter. Both you and the instructor will benefit from rapport and engagement.

Here are my tips for getting the most out of your experience:

  • Arrive at the lecture as early as possible so you can get a seat where you’ll be able to see and hear everything clearly.
  • Read the class syllabus ahead of time so you’ll be familiar with the material going into the presentation.
  • Print out the syllabus (or have it handy on your iPad or tablet) so you don’t waste time writing down ideas and links that have already been written for you.
  • Keep your attention on the speaker, but jot down any additional ideas the speaker shares that aren’t in the syllabus–as well as any ideas you hope to apply to your own research.

Here’s a final tip that comes from the study report on where you sit. One interviewee for this article says that, “In lecture, students’ attention tends to bottom out about 30 minutes into class, which is just when faculty are getting to the most important information.” She goes on to say that sitting closer to the instructor will help you stay focused during that critical time. The takeaway: 30 minutes into any lecture, if your attention starts to wander, challenge yourself to write down the key concept you learned up to that point, and one key question you hope will be answered. And then re-focus on listening intently for the answer.

Check out my upcoming live presentations.   See you in class!

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 185 Is Now Available

In the newly-published and FREE Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 185, Lisa celebrates family history writing with inspiring stories, her unique spin on the “marketing value” of family history blogs and a chance to win a FREE year of Premium membership!

This month, all of us here at Genealogy Gems are celebrating reaching a milestone 1000 blog posts on our website! In a special segment, several Genealogy Gems listeners and readers share THEIR adventures and successes with family history blogging–and Lisa shares some spot-on “why blog?” comments from a marketing perspective.

Continuing our celebration of family history writing–in all its forms–we welcome George Ella Lyon, the poet laureate of Kentucky, to talk to us about a poetry initiative she started that’s all about family identity. Her “Where I’m From” writing prompt has reached around the world–and now we bring it to you!

Listen to that segment, write your own poem and call in to read it on Lisa’s voicemail ((925) 272-4021) by the end of this year. You could win  a 1-year Genealogy Gems Premium website subscription! Be sure to leave your name, phone number, and email address (your phone and email will be kept private and NOT played on the show). One lucky winner will be randomly selected on December 31, 2015.

Also in the Genealogy Gems podcast episode 185, you’ll find fabulous new online resources–millions of marriage records and some great new materials coming from the U.S. National Archives. Diahan Southard joins the show with a segment on understanding your DNA ethnicity results. So tune in and check us out! You can listen click here to listen from your web browser or mobile device. OR enjoy the perks and convenience of using the exclusive Genealogy Gems app, available for iPhone/iPad and Android.

GGP thanks for sharingWant to encourage a friend or relative to write a “Where I’m From” poem of their own? Want to help a genie buddy or your society members get inspired to blog? Why not share this free podcast with them? Thank you! You are a gem!Genealogy Gems Newsletter Sign Up

Why Abraham Lincoln is a Genealogy Gem: 150 Years Ago Today

We just celebrated the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s now famous speech at the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery, a national

Battery B East Hill cemetary Gettysburg

Battery B, East Cemetery Hill, Gettysburg, Pa, from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views. Wikimedia Commons Image.

cemetery created at the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

Presidents give a lot of speeches–and most are never remembered. But the Gettysburg Address, as it came to be known, was immediately appreciated as something special. The press described it as “a perfect gem…unexpected in its verbal perfection and beauty.”

150 years ago today The Caledonian newspaper reprinted the entire speech. (Don’t stop there: you can read high-resolution digital versions of all five of Lincoln’s handwritten copies of the address and learn all kinds of things about the Address at the Google Cultural Institute.

The Gettysburg Address is part of the genealogy of every American whose ancestors lived through the Civil War. Few were unaffected by the War, whether they lived in the North, South or further West. Certainly its tensions and outcomes shaped the nation’s economy, social mores and more for decades to come.

Life-shaping battles and other events–and responses to them like the Gettysburg Address–appear in newspapers. That’s why I love teaching genealogists about using newspapers, and why I wrote the book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. The “daily news” of the past tells us what people were doing and saying and why.

The Genealogist's Google Toolbox Second editionIf you’re wondering what the Google Cultural Institute (GCI) is, you’re not alone. It’s a less-heralded but really important part of what Google offers. The GCI is a Google effort launched in 2011 to “make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generations.” (From GCI FAQ.) As of mid-2013, over 6 million photos, videos and documents are on the site, including all kinds of international cultural materials. If you haven’t explored the many Google tools helpful to genealogists, I suggest you read my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. Either of these books will make a great holiday gift to yourself–and your research!

Disaster Preparedness for Genealogists Part 2: Duplicate the Past

hurry_with_the_medical_kit_300_clr_8472In celebration of National Preparedness Month in the United States, I’m running a four-part post on securing your family history archive and research against disasters. Last week I talked about assessing and prioritizing your original family artifacts, photographs and documents. This week’s tip:

DUPLICATE THE PAST. There’s no true substitute for an original family Bible, but if it’s lost, you at least want to have a copy. Scan your original photos, documents, and other flat artifacts—including the important pages of that Bible. While you could carefully use a flatbed scanner, consider a portable scanner or a mobile scanning app like Genius Scan or Scanner Pro.

Next, photograph dimensional family artifacts like artwork, handicrafts, clothing, military and school memorabilia, etc. Use a regular digital camera or the camera on your phone or tablet/iPad. Make sure you label the photos by using the metadata fields in digital files or by printing them out and captioning them in an album. Consider using the Heirloom Inventory Kit developed by the folks at Family Tree Magazine to create an archival record of your artifacts with images, stories and more.

Next week, we’ll tackle a third topic: preserving original documents, photos and heirlooms.

Find Your Confederate Civil War Soldiers

Confederate Fold 3

For the month of April, Fold3 is offering free access to its Confederate Civil War collections of more than 19 million records. Many of these are from the National Archives’ War Department Collection of Confederate Records: Confederate Compiled Service Records, Confederate citizens’ files and Confederate Casualty Reports. Whether you’re looking for specific Confederate Civil War soldiers or you’re just interested in history, these records are fascinating!

For example, there are compiled service records for “Galvanized Yankees,” or Confederate prisoners-of-war who obtained a release by enlisting in the Union army. Many of these files have the soldier’s declaration of “Volunteer Enlistment” and an oath of allegiance to the United States. You have to wonder what each man was thinking and feeling as he signed these papers. How did his Union enlistment go? How did his family and community react? If he survived the war, how was his life afterward affected by that choice? There are stories behind every record–and Civil War records are some of the most compelling.

You’ll also find other interesting records in this collection, many created post-war: the Confederate Amnesty Papers, Confederate Navy Subject File, papers relating to the Civil War Subversion Investigations, and files of the Southern Claims Commission.

 

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