Atlanta Family History Expo: Day 2 Recap

After getting about 10 hours of straight, uninterrupted sleep in my king-sized bed (if you have little kids, you can appreciate the significance of this), I woke up ready to attend another day of classes.  I was definitely more alert and well-rested than the previous day!

I took a chance and left some of my stuff in the car this time around.  My shoulders thanked me for it.  I really wanted to take pictures, but I was there by myself and for some reason I felt really weird about pulling my huge Nikon out and flashing away.  I wish that I had done it anyway. 🙁

I met a lot of neat people between classes and during lunch, most from the Atlanta area. I didn’t run into anyone else from the Savannah area, but that didn’t surprise me since it was quite a drive.

As much as I enjoyed my classes from the first day, I liked the ones the second day even better. Here are the ones I chose.  (and it was very hard to choose since there were 11 classes being offered every session!):

  1. Breaking Down Brick Walls With Location Based Genealogy, taught by Bernie Gracy.  What a phenomenal class.  He has a new website, Ancestral Hunt, which is still in beta testing.  It is a way of uploading data on entire neighborhoods or cemeteries and being able to see how these people interacted and were often related to each other. It is a place to collaborate with other people who are researching the same areas.  He gave a great example from his own research about how he used location-based genealogy to find out where his ancestors lived in Italy.
  2. Twitter, It’s Not Just “What I Had For Breakfast” Anymore, taught by Thomas MacEntee.  I took his social media class the day before, but I really felt like I needed the complete Twitter class.  I had signed up for an account months ago, but had yet to really use it.  I can understand Facebook, but Twitter was a mystery to me.  The hashtags and following were confusing.  I’m glad to say that I now understand the ins and outs of Twitter and how I can use it in my genealogy research.
  3. An Introduction to, taught by Bernie Gracy.  Many of the people who attended his first session returned for the second.  While the first session was geared towards how to use location-based research, this one was specific to the site Ancestral Hunt.  Standing room only again.  They had to move him to a larger room for his last class.
  4. The DAR Library for All: Near or Far, Member or Not, taught by Jennifer Dondero. She worked for the DAR before starting her own company and is very knowledgeable.  Since I am in the process of filling out my DAR paperwork, I was very interested in seeing what things I may have missed on the website.  I also found out that she does NARA research and I’m considering hiring her to find my John Edwards Civil War pension records, which I have been trying to find for the past 10 years.
  5. A Ton of Thompsons? A Bounty of Browns? – Researching the Common Surname, taught by Deborah Campisano.  Those common names often turn into a brick wall.  I have a few of them – John Robertson, Francis Lee, Thomas Woods.  It definitely makes it hard to pick them out of a crowd.  This class showed some techniques for how to single them out.  One of the record groups that I really haven’t used is tax records.  I think that I need to look into that one.

When the classes were over, there was a closing keynote speech and then prize drawings.  Do you think I won anything?  Nope.  I was really hoping for the week of research in Salt Lake City – as was everyone else!  That’s okay though, I bought a few books and some back magazine issues which I’m very excited about reading.  I also came home with a nerdy T-shirt which says “I’ve lost my census”.  Yes, I’m a geek. 🙂

So, all in all my trip was a great experience!  I have no regrets about going – even though I had to spend 9 hours in the car this weekend (after driving to Kansas and back earlier this week.)  I think that I’m going to stay home for a while, though.

A few of the things I want to remember for next time:

  1. Bring snacks and drinks!
  2. Bring a friend!  I felt like everyone else came with someone.
  3. Get a hotel room the night before so that I can be awake during my classes.
  4. Take pictures and don’t feel weird about it!
  5. Print the syllabus beforehand.
  6. Make sure that my phone and computer are fully charged.

I feel like I’ve had a nice practice run for the upcoming NGS conference in Charleston next year.  Now I’m no longer a conference newbie. 🙂

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