This morning I arrived at 7:00 A.M. to volunteer at the Registration area and found out that I won a prize in the Volunteer Raffle! I won a copy of Historical Timeline: The New England States, which was provided by Mass Researchers of Upton, MA. Thank you for the wonderful prize. I’m always happy to win something but this will be especially useful for me. I love timelines!
After helping out for a while, I was to meet a friend for breakfast. She had to run off to get materials for a last minute presenter change, but the rest of us who had been planning to meet with her had breakfast together anyway. It turns out that one of her friends grew up in Digby, Nova Scotia, a place that is on my “must visit” list. My second lucky happening of the day!
Opening session, “Millhand Migrations to 19th Century Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts,” was presented by my ProGen 13 mentor, Sandra McLean Clunies. Sandy is an amazing speaker. She is organized, pulled together, relaxed, natural, and FUNNY! I just love her. I was so happy to be able to help her as much as I could with getting her things put together after the presentation. The talk gave some background on the role of mills in the Industrial Revolution and then provided case studies of three individuals. What amazing, and sometimes tragic, stories came out of the mill towns. We learned of the Pemberton Mill collapse, which was one of the worst industrial accidents in American history. The five-story building had been filled with heavy equipment, which caused the collapse. Many were trapped in the rubble. Someone accidentally kicked over a lantern and started a huge fire. More than 100 people who had been trapped ended up dying in the fire.
Nora Galvin presented “Special Schedules of the United States Census: Embroidery on your Family Tapestry.” This talk reviewed special census schedules including mortality, social statistics, agriculture, industry and manufacturing, and other schedules such as Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent. Nora did a great job of reviewing each of these types of schedules and pointing out things that people might not know or may not have thought about recently. Prior to 1870, a person listed on the mortality schedule could not be readily placed with their family. However, in 1870, the mortality census listed the number of the family as given in the second column of Schedule 1. This made it possible to ensure that the person on the mortality schedule was indeed the person of interest. In 1880, the mortality census began to ask where the disease was contracted. The government had begun to take an interest in these sorts of things and it was a step to begin trying to figure out how to help people. Some of the items listed may seem quite “off” to us, such as the referral to people as idiots or stupid, but that is how it was then.
“What Exactly is a “Reasonably Exhaustive” Search?” was jam-packed before I arrived! I was lucky to find a seat. Laura Murphy DeGrazia, C.G., gave a very well-planned and presented talk about the criteria of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) that requires a reasonably exhaustive search. She reviewed standards 5, 19, and 32. Through the use of a case study, Laura was able to demonstrate why a reasonably exhaustive search is necessary and also what constitutes meeting this criteria. She encouraged the use of multiple sources and the writing of a proof summary. After sitting through this talk, I felt like ProGen and the Boston University Genealogical Certificate Program had both done their jobs. I understood everything that she talked about. I could tell that there were some who were glossing over. I suspect there are those who were thinking that they would never be doing the things that Laura said. I think I was one of those people several years ago. What a difference a few years can make!
I had heard that F. Warren Bittner was a must-see, so I made my way to his “Complex Evidence: What it is? How It Works? Why It Matters?” talk. The large conference room was also very crowded well before the start time. Warren started out with a brief explanation about the Genealogical Proof Standard and evidence evaluation standards. He did a review of original vs. derivative, primary vs. secondary information, and direct vs. indirect evidence. He then presented a case study about his great-grandmother, Minnie Mary Bahre, from New York. The case study was extremely well-developed and just as well-presented. It was riddled with examples of conflicting evidence. Warren wrapped up all of the evidence and tied together indirect evidence in a proof summary to create a strong case. Very nice presentation.
The day wrapped up with the Society Fair, followed by the opening of the Expo Hall. I walked around and visited booths, collected my ribbons, and joined the Connecticut Professional Genealogists Council. I was approached by a member of DAR from my state and asked why I had not yet done my application. She had kept my paperwork because she knew I’d be back and she wants me to help with a particular chapter. I guess I’ll have to get that application done. While I’m at it, I mind as well get my BCG portfolio done. I got a nice, shiny ribbon that says “On the Clock.” I am truly eligible for a ribbon that says “still on the clock,” but thankfully they don’t have any of those so I won’t have to do a walk of shame! I spent a while looking at portfolios belonging to Ruy Cardoso and Judy G. Russell. Both were very well done. I will return tomorrow to peruse a couple more if I can. I think I am out of excuses. It’s time to “get ‘er done!”
For now, it is time for bed. I have to be back at the conference hall at 7:00 A.M. for more time at the registration desk and my evening won’t end until 9:30 after leading the DNA Research Special Interest Group. I’d better get some sleep while I can!