Day 2 at NERGC began with the “Evidence Analysis” workshop by Barbara Mathews. Barbara started by giving us a list of useful books, all of which I happily have in my genealogical library, that explain the terms used for evidence and sources. We also got a sneak peak at the new terms Tom Jones has put in his new book out in just a few weeks (have you pre-ordered yours yet?). She then discussed the importance of evaluating each source and the information found therein.
Next came my favorite part, discussing case studies. First we looked at one on straightforward information. This would be something such as looking at the parentage of your parent, where all of the documents match. Nice and simple, but you still want to write up a proof argument on it. Next we looked at one involving conflicting evidence, involving inferred relationships on early census records and secondary information from a death certificate. Worksheets such as census comparison charts helped us figure out who a person’s parents were.
Last she gave us a lot of documents to establish the correct parentage of Charles Goodrich. This was published in multiple printed genealogies, with differing results. We were put into groups and asked to come up with an answer and a reason why. I am happy to say I came up with the correct answer! It showed the importance of always going beyond printed genealogies to sources such as probate and vital records. When writing out a proof argument it is important that we not hide these types of conflicts, but instead discuss them and why we reached our conclusion. And as always, footnote, footnote, footnote.
After the workshop, I wandered to the blogger area in the expo center, which was sadly deserted. I then looked around the exhibits a bit and finally purchased The Journey Takers after about three years of meaning to, and There’s a Map on My Lap!: All About Maps (Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library), which is a great introduction to maps for children. I also got an amazing deal on the 2004 APG conference syllabus and the 2011 NGS conference syllabus. I can’t wait to read through them. Then I went to volunteer experience #1, collecting tickets for lunch.
My first afternoon workshop was “Should you believe your eyes? Sizing up Sources & Information” by Laura Murphy DeGrazia. The answer to this, of course, is no. It is important to look at who the informant is, the condition of the material, the purpose of the document, the context and procedure it was created with, the completeness of the information and the creator’s conventions, aka always read the introductory material, for each source you find. Once you have done this, you can compare and contrast all of the data you have and reconsider the relevance of each piece. I also volunteered for this session to check name badges and collect evaluation sheets. I highly recommend this very easy volunteer position, as you help conference organizers by doing a little extra work at a session you would attend anyway and you get entered to win some awesome prizes.
In what turned out to be my last workshop of the day, I went to “Digging Up the Dirt on Your Farmer” by Lori Thornton. Here I met Madaleine Laird, a new blogger who you should definitely check out! Lori gave us a multitude of sources to find information on your farmer. She is the one person who has more farmers in her family tree than I do (my ancestry has a random gardener and day laborers in it). Always look at the agricultural census if it is available, as well as tax, land and patent records.
After this I was pretty fried. I was going to go to the poster sessions, but an hour of standing wasn’t looking so good, so instead I came back to the hotel for a quick nap, which turned into my waking up halfway through the blogging special interest group I had planned to attend. At that point my husband and I went to grab dinner and then came back to relax and watch HGTV. Only one more day left at the conference!