14 November 2010

Fun & Education at the 2010 Atlanta Family History Expo

I finally made it to my first Family History Expo! With a chill in the air, my Friday and Saturday was spent in Duluth, Georgia at the Gwinnett Center. It was a very nice location for the expo: the grounds were very pretty with the colorful fall tree leaves, and the conference building itself was nice and spacious. I received my goodie bag bright and early at registration Friday morning.

View from Gwinnett Center

Then it was on to the opening keynote address by Josh Hanna, Let Your Light Shine on Digital Expectations: Preserving Yesterday's Records for Tomorrow's Researchers. First of all, I like the fact that he was a "youngin." I must admit I felt a little out of place that morning. I was the youngest of all around me (and I'm not that young!). Josh was born in 1971, just two years before me. The gist of his lecture was about how Ancestry.com goes about scanning and digitizing documents for our research pleasure. It was very impressive. One of the quotes he offered that struck me the most was actually a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt at the opening of his Presidential Library: "...a Nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future."

The exhibit hall opened next, and I went through probably a little too quickly. It was terribly crowded, but I managed to get a few brochures and see things I'd like to further explore. The first class I attended was given by David Dilts of the FamilySearch Family History Library, U.S. Vital Records Overview. Then I went to author M. Bridget Cook's Juicy Family History: 25 Ways to Write Compelling True Stories. One of the important things I took from that class was how to incorporate the five senses into your writing.

Since I drove up from home that morning, I took the lunch break to run and check into my hotel. I found more buena vistas from my fourth floor window:

You can even see the expo sign in the upper right corner of this one:

After lunch I attended Tom Underhill's Digital Photography for the Family Historian. He gave great tips on getting good pictures, but what I got was my camera is old and outdated. :-(

Two more classes for the day and then I hurriedly headed to downtown Duluth to visit a couple of cemeteries. They were not for personal family history, so stay tuned to the Southern Graves blog for photos and researched stories.

I was up and raring to go Saturday morning for Bernie Gracy's Breaking Down Brick Walls with Location Based Genealogy. As you might have seen other bloggers mention, this class was so well attended they had to bring in extra chairs to accommodate the eager students. I will admit, this was my favorite class. I actually had EUREKA moments, it made so much sense. I will be implementing this research methodology immediately by getting out from behind my desktop. The Truth Is Out There! I also will be checking out Bernie's new site (it's in beta) AncestralHunt.

I almost forgot! Another thing Bernie mentioned really made me smile -- he suggested that transcribing and researching entire cemeteries to see how people are related is a good example of location based research methodology. Cemeteries are my passion and favorite area of research. My desire to preserve the tombstones as well as the information found on them and within a cemetery as a whole is what inspires Southern Graves. I'm validated! :-)

My next session was the Social Media Q & A. Valerie Craft, Linda McCauley, Drusilla Pair, DearMYRTLE, Tonia Kendrick, Amy Coffin, and FHExpos President Holly Hansen did a fabulous job conducting the session. I honestly didn't have any questions to ask, but was very interested to hear what others desired in the areas of social media. I was not disappointed. Many are eager to join the ride, and I am glad to know that.

Drusilla, Myrt, Tonia, & Amy

Speaking of social media, if you have the inclination, feel free to friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!

Here I will tell you about my one shortcoming while attending the expo. I was way too quiet. This being my first time, and me being quite shy, it was easy to tell myself my specific goal was to "take it all in" and "learn the ropes." Still, I should have opened my mouth and introduced myself to more people. I intend to do a better job of that in the future. I saw people from Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee (in addition to Georgia). I'll never know what connections I might have missed.

Well, that was about the end of my 2010 Atlanta Family History Expo story. I attended one more class, but played a little hooky from the afternoon session. I had four cemeteries in Lawrenceville that I had to explore! :-)

If you ever get a chance to go to a Family History Expo, jump at it. I hope to see you next year!


Tonia said...

Stephanie, I'm so sorry we didn't get a chance to meet! It was a whirlwind couple of days, wasn't it? I'm really impressed that you got some research in while you were there. Great recap!

Apple said...

Doubly sorry I missed it! I suspect my camera would have been classed as outdated too but it still gets the job done. I've been quietly working on recording a local cemetery here and the history of the people behind the stones so I think I would have really enjoyed the location based class. Hopefully there will be another eastern expo next year.

S. Lincecum said...

The back of my program says there will be another expo in Atlanta same time next year, Apple....Tonia, I promise to open my mouth and say hi next time! :-)

Free Genealogy Resources said...

Being in my 20s, I felt a little out of place myself. Also like you, I came home wishing I had opened my mouth more. I'm still kicking myself for not handing out a single one of the business cards I had printed to let people know about my blogs and my research interests. Maybe at the next expo, we shy ladies can hang out together.

S. Lincecum said...

It's a pact! It's a date! I'm counting on it! -- Can you tell I need help in that area? :-)

Family History Expos said...

Thank you for the wonderful recap. Your pictures are fabulous! Especially the tree ones. We're glad to hear you're coming back next year. Please stop by the Expos booth, the bloggers area and anywhere else you may find us and introduce yourself. We'd love to meet you!

Linda McCauley said...

Stephanie, Sorry we didn't meet at Expo - next year for sure. You have a FB friend request.

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