Friday, April 28, 2017

Genie Rockstars

Mary Tedesco
Can you feel the excitement?

Names like MacEntee, Cooke, Alzo, Taylor, Russell, Berry, Tedesco.

These are just a few of the current genealogy rock stars.

Would I sleep out on a sidewalk with a wrist band for tickets to see them? I plead the fifth on that. But when I come to a genealogy conference like NERGC, I'm thrilled when one of the geni-rock stars on my list will be speaking or giving a workshop. I choose my workshops usually based on topic, but its all the more better if one of my favorites is leading it.

Opening day at NERGC I was able to see both Thomas MacEntee and Mary Tedesco. That's a day well spent in my genealogy book.

Mary was the opening keynote to welcome everyone to NERGC. I am like everyone else in my admiration of Mary and her specialty in Italian research as well has her work on Genealogy Roadshow. And she's damn pretty, guys. What I also like about Mary is what a real, down to earth person she is. An example of that is when I contacted her via her webpage,, several months ago to find out about booking her for a speaking engagement  with my local DAR chapter in Windsor, CT. Mary answered back within 24 hours and was so gracious and asked what a good time to call me to discuss further would be. She called exactly when she said she would and we discussed what might work best for our chapter and state. Mary has a soft side for DAR and works with her own local chapter and was willing to donate some of her time if our state chapter would like to hold some kind of research day that she could participate in for part of her own membership goals. I was thrilled she was so willing to work with us. Unfortunately, not to throw anyone under the bus here, but my state Chapter is not as forward thinking as I had hoped and I didn't want Mary to keep open a date for us while this all was worked out. I was disappointed and somewhat embarrassed at the lack of enthusiasm on my state end, but Mary was very nice about it and I feel she secretly knew what I was dealing with when trying to "think outside the box" when it comes to the DAR. Lovely ladies to be around, but very difficult to get something new approved.

Thomas MacEntee
Thomas MacEntee is a force of nature, I swear. And he's damn pretty, guys. He exudes a light and energy I am sure he is not even completely aware of. It's like the nerds finally have someone cool who wants to be their friend. How awesome is that? Whether its his coiffed mohawk, his sparkly bedazzled kicks, or his famous blogger beads...this guy know how to remind us all that genealogy can be some kick-ass fun. Thomas was the keynote at the luncheon I attended this weekend and he talked about privacy. He brought up examples as to how while we think our privacy is so incredibly invaded due to the Internet age, back in the day of our ancestors, newspapers were reporting on everything from when and where you were checking into a hotel, to what illness you were currently suffering from. Privacy is subjective. Having daughters in their early 20's, I couldn't agree more with Thomas when he said that Millennials have a different relationship with privacy and are willing to give up some of that privacy for the benefits that it can bring as far as information, services and convenience. My girls put a lot of their life out on social media, do all their banking, their travel, their research and their relationships online...and nothing an old bitty like me will change that mind set. In fact, I've embraced much of it myself.

I don't plan to give a day by day analysis of my time at NERGC because there are plenty of other bloggers who do that kind of thing much better than I ever could. But I do bring up these two speakers specifically because I have been following their work for several years and want you all to know that they, along with many others I could name, are models for all of us to follow in not only their methods...but their ENERGY. Intelligent, informative, well spoken, classically lovely and personable Mary and business savvy, realistic-minded, talented, warm, funny and adorable Thomas are the new faces of genealogy.

They are the rock stars to all of us on the road to genealogy. Rock on.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

NERGC weekend - Geeks unite

The process of researching is hardly a lonely road. I've met many people over these past 20 years in my research and through genealogy events. Many have come to be very good and dear friends to me. I've said this blog is primarily for my children and descendants to read so they will know some of our family stories. And that is true.  But I think it is important for them to understand what genealogy is for me and how it has become such a big part of my world. It is, in itself, one of my stories.

This weekend I am attending NERGC--The New England Regional Genealogical Consortium Conference in Springfield, Massachusetts. As I pack up my genie gear for a conference, my grown daughters just roll their eyes and say, "Another one? Didn't you just go to one of those things?"

Listen, I tell them. I don't run marathons. I don't shop. I don't knit. I don't scrapbook. I do genealogy. This is what I love. This is my hobby, and this is what I feel truly alive doing. It is a perfect compliment to my daily life. I love being a mother and a wife and a Community TV  Executive Director. But genealogy is something just for me, and something I never tire of.

So what's the difference between one conference and the next? Lots, for heaven's sake!

I attended RootsTech in February and while it was absolutely my Nirvana...a conference like NERGC is so much more manageable. Smaller workshops, more access to talk with speakers here, and more time to meet new people.
Highlights so far:

Wednesday, Pre-Conference Day
There were lots of options on this day, a Librarian Day, DNA Day, Tech Day and more. I chose the Tech Day (no surprise from those who know me).

What I really enjoyed about this day was that we had four workshops all in the same room. There was a break for lunch, but you basically hung out with the same people all day long. It's a great way to make new friends on the first day (pre-day, really).

Jennifer Baldwin gave me hope with her presentation about Project Management that I could finally get organized. I've been wanting to write the story of one of my ancestors, David Edgar Chase, for a while now. Not only did Jen talk about programs like Trello and Podio that I could use for something like this...she was honest in saying if you are not consistant in using a new program will never become a habit. And once it is a habit, you will start to use it for the rest of your projects. I left that workshop inspired that I could actually, finally get organized to pull this story together!

Lisa Alzo is always a favorite speaker of mine. I've attended many of her webinars, and have seen her speak at RootsTech and Jamboree. I feel like she and I could be best friends (I mean that in a non-stalker way, Lisa). She thinks like I do in her methods, in her humor and how she expresses her ideas, and I get affirmation of that each time I hear her. It makes attending her workshops very enjoyable. At NERGC she presented on E-Books and Publishing. It was great! Jen gave me the tools to organize my project and Lisa showed how publishing has come a long way and that it is something I can totally do --and do it well. Two huge things off my list of tools I need to write this story.

A workshop on Pinterest, in all honesty, was a little too basic for me. Not the speaker's fault by any means. This was geared towards very beginner pinners, which I am not. But I did like the examples she had of building a story about your ancestor using Pinterest.

The final workshop was about free resources for genealogy. Dayna Jacobs was very funny knowing it was the last workshop of the day and we would all be a bit sleepy and our brains overflowing with a day of geek goodies. She wove in genealogy of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs into her presentation just to interject some lightheartedness. It worked. We all stayed engaged and awake for her very resourceful talk. Many of the resources I knew about, but there were definitely some new ones for me, such as a list of genealogy Podcasts. I've just discovered Podcasts and I love them! Listening to genealogy stuff when I'm cooking dinner? Heck yeah. Alexa, play Genealogy Gems.

Official Day one highlights I will talk about more tomorrow. But as I sit in this workshop about finding your relatives in death records, I feel new ideas flowing into my brain which I will sort out later with a glass of wine, in my hotel, while I look over my notes.

That, to me, is a great way to spend a day.