Attending SCGS 2011 Jamboree Without Leaving Home

I’m not quite ready for any extensive travel as I continue to recover from last fall’s sudden illness so attending the Southern California Genealogical Society’s (SCGS) 2011 Jamboree was out of the question. The Jamboree has for many years been one of North America’s premiere genealogy conferences, one that I have heard glowing reports about and promised myself that one day I would get to attend.

Yesterday, thanks to a generous sponsorship from RootsMagic, I attended a number of the conference sessions from the comfort of the ‘computer room’ in my home. These sessions, talks by noted speakers in their fields of expertise, were ‘streamed’ or broadcast live over the Internet. Thanks to SCGS and to RootsMagic for this treat!

Genealogists have always been quick to embrace technology with all of the new applications, gadgets and voodoo that it offers. Live ‘streaming’ of conference sessions is just another step in the right direction. It does not and cannot replace the networking and socializing opportunity that live attendance at a conference offers but it can do a lot to further the education of the genealogy community, for both beginner and experienced researchers.

I ‘sat’ in on presentations by Lisa Louise Cooke from the Genealogy Gems podcast, Curt Witcher from the Allen County Public Library, and Kerry Bartels from the U.S. National Archives and Record Administration (NARA). All three presented their material with depth and clarity, providing key points of learning for researchers accompanied by meaningful examples to illustrate their research methods and techniques.

I noticed in particular a thread of research advice that each presenter covered – go beyond the vital record! Don’t be satisfied with the hunt and capture of that elusive death record but see what else was going on in your ancestor’s community that affected their lives. Each of the three presenters illustrated the types of resources and, yes, records available that are often forgotten as we scour repositories and the Internet searching for a surname. From my perspective, this is certainly a sign of a maturing genealogy community.

Clear evidence was provided that the saying “An historian doesn’t have to be a genealogist but a genealogist has to be an historian” can never be forgotten!

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