I had to remind myself that a 4-day national conference is a marathon, not a sprint. Slow down.  Get more rest.  Try not to completely fry my brain.

The classes I took were all very informative. I feel motivated to tackle some of my brick wall ancestors by doing some more in-depth research and looking at the facts from a different angle. I’m also very interested in becoming certified now.

The number of products available on the market was almost overwhelming.  Better than being “under”-whelmed though – wouldn’t you agree?  Every single time I walked through the exhibit hall, I came across something that I had missed before.

Here are the classes I took on days 3 and 4 (in case you’re interested):

  • Reporting the Facts : Record As You Go, by Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL
  • The Genealogical Proof Standard: What It Is and What It Is Not, by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS (A lot of letters behind his name, don’t you agree?  He’s a very good speaker.)
  • Kinship Determination: Are They Really My Ancestors?, by Kay Haviland Freilich, CG, CGL
  • Turning Information Into Biographical Events: How to Build Historical Content, by John Philip Coletta, PhD
  • Framing the Problem for Field and Overseas Research, by David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA
  • The General Session for Saturday morning was a speech by Jay Verkler, President and CEO of FamilySearch entitled “What’s New”.  The second portion was a very interesting program by Senator Glenn F. McConnell, The Hunley: Where Science and History Come Together to Tell Time. I really wish that I had more time to spend in Charleston, because I would definitely make it out to see the Hunley.
  • The Jones Jinx: Tracing Common Surnames, given by Thomas W. Jones (see above for all of his letters. :))
  • Identity Crisis: Right Name, Wrong Man? Wrong Man, Right Name?, by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA
  • The County Courthouse: Your “Truck in the Attic”, by John Philip Coletta, PhD

Besides the great classes, it was really nice to get to know some other geneabloggers “in real life”. (As opposed to “in social media life”.) I really want to thank FamilySearch for getting us together the night before the conference started.  There was always someone to sit with in each session – and we were a lively bunch!  Some of us even got together for dinner again on Friday night – and had quite the adventure when we realized the restaurant we were meeting at had closed the year before.  You’re never going to live that down, Liz. 🙂

On Friday, Ellie and I were interviewed by the PBS crew that came through the exhibit hall.

Have you ever been interviewed by a camera crew before?

When the lady approached us, I thought “No way!”, but what came out of my mouth was “Sure”.  I’m not sure how that happened.

It was like a deer in the headlights after that.  I don’t know what I said, but I babbled a LOT.  And I don’t think that I ever actually looked into the camera.  And I’m sure that there must have been something stuck in my teeth.  Or my nose.  Or maybe I had some toilet paper on my shoe.  🙂

And when it was all over, I realized that there were so many things that I wish I had mentioned!!

Like the fact that I blog.  And that I like to use our family history in our homeschooling studies.  Really, anything remotely interesting, because I don’t think I said anything that made any sense at all.  That’s the beauty of editing though.  I’m hoping that they can pull out one small phrase I said that they can use.  So, this is just a warning that if you watch that PBS show and see me on it, I really cannot be held accountable for whatever I may have said.

Well, it’s time for me to get some rest, before I start on a couple of days of cross-country driving and research.  I’ll let you know what I find.

Wish more of you would have been at NGS!  Maybe we’ll get to meet up next time.

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This week we’re looking at the 1899 Sears & Roebuck Catalog.  They are available on and I’ve been having a lot of fun paging through them.

One of the major events of 1898 was the Spanish-American War.  That was reflected by many items in this year’s catalog which pertained to that war.  Here is one of them:

Notice some of the toys available.  A “Remember the Maine” toy bank, and a “Rough Riders Chime Toy”.   I especially liked the artillery bank.  It really shoots the money into the bank!

There were still many items geared towards the Alaskan adventurer also:

Here is some of the fashionable clothing available to women in 1899.  Those bows on the bottom row are humongous!!!

And for the men:

This catalog even included a page full of sample fabrics for the men’s clothing.

I loved the variety of hats available too.  You could be a farmer, a cowboy, a banker, a soldier, or a golfer and they had you covered.

I didn’t forget the children!  Yes, that is a little boy in a “kilt suit” in the large picture.

I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I read this ad for the “Waist Front Distender”.  It claims that “a full bust makes your waist look small.”  I’m sure it does, but I think the shape of these women looks a bit odd, don’t you?

And this product, the “Frost King and Queen” seems ridiculous. “No one ever need have a cold if they wear one of these vests”.  They are essentially wearing  “Sham Wows!”. 🙂  I could totally see this made into a late night infomercial.

Can you imagine taking a shower with a “shower bath yoke”?  Me neither.

How about a vapor bath?  These look kind of interesting.

Here is a peek at some of the different hair products that were available at this time period.

And some more miracle medicines.  These always make me smile.  I wonder how well some of them may have worked.  I especially liked the “Mexican headache Cure”.

Sears seriously had it all.  You name it and they offered it.  You could even buy gravestones.  Do you recognize any of your ancestors’ gravestones here?

Some of the most exciting new things offered were the moving pictures!!

Look at some of the exciting things you would watch!

Both the moving pictures and the graphophone (below) were marketed towards people who wanted to make a bunch of money by traveling around and offering shows or lectures.

The other big thing was the “Magic Lantern” which was a slide machine.  It also offered lectures on various subjects:

I wonder if any of my ancestors attended lectures or shows and what their first impression of them was. It must have been exciting!

And here is one of the big ticket items for this time period.  The sewing machine.  Notice that the ad for it is IN COLOR. Do any of you have antique sewing machines from your ancestors?  They sure made them beautifully, didn’t they?

And I’ll leave you with this neat invention – the Pianissimo Pedal.  New musicians could practice the piano “with no annoying results to others”.

Well, that’s it for 1899.  Join me next week when we going shopping in 1900.

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Day One was all excitement.  I took tons of pictures.  I met lots of people. I entered tons of raffles (still waiting to hear that I won a trip to Salt Lake or something equally amazing.  I can dream, can’t I?)

I forgot to post this yesterday.  We met DearMyrtle in her booth and requested a picture. 🙂

Day Two was a bit different.  I didn’t take any pictures.  I barely tweeted (the connection in that building is horrendous).  I didn’t browse at the booths quite as much.

I did however take some amazing classes.

I had high hopes for my first class, the BCG Certification Seminar, and it did not disappoint.  I have been considering certification for a while, but wasn’t sure if it was within my reach quite yet.  Instead of becoming discouraged or intimidated at the thought of the very in-depth certification process, I actually left the seminar feeling motivated to do it.  I’m definitely not an expert and still have a lot to learn, but doesn’t everyone?  My family tree is very diverse, which has allowed me to become familiar with many different types of records.  I’ve been obsessed with genealogy for over ten years and have done research both online and in various courthouses, cemeteries, and libraries.  I am going to make it a goal to get started on the certification process, even if it takes me a couple of years to complete it all.

My second class was Analyzing Deeds and Wills: I See What it Says, but What Does it Mean?, given my Elizabeth Shown Mills. Does she ever give a bad lecture?  I highly doubt it.  🙂 It was, as expected, a great class.  What I liked the most was the fact that it focused on analyzing the records.  I like hearing about repositories and new technology and such, but I really enjoy hearing about case studies and seeing what minute details can be used to piece together our ancestors’ lives.  She created a fictional will and deed based on common things she has found over the years in her research.  If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, jump at it.

We did some walking around during lunch, but for some reason I didn’t whip out the camera.  I promise to remedy that tomorrow and give you all a look at the exhibit hall.  Cameras aren’t allowed in the lectures, so I can’t do much there.

The next class I took, What Exactly is a Reasonably Exhaustive Search, given by Laura Murphy DeGrazia, was absolutely packed.  I think that everyone wanted to know when to throw in the towel with their research.  My assumption is that more people showed up than had “signed up” for the class, because it easily could have been held in a larger room.  I actually sent Ellie out to the couches outside the hall so that someone else could use her chair.

Lastly, I attended In the Wilderness and On the Battlefields With Your Civil War Ancestor, by Sharon Tate Moody.  I have at least ten ancestors who served on both sides of the war, and I have pension records for all but one of them.  I have pulled out most of the important information on enlistment dates, birth and death, residence, children, wounds, etc., but I have never taken the time to find out the history of their regiments and followed where they actually marched and fought during the war.  This class made me want to get out there and find out more about their experiences, so that I can paint a better picture of what their life was like during this time.

After hanging out with Cherie at Panera for a bit, we headed back to the hotel and called it an early night.  I hope that I can get caught up on my sleep a bit so that I’m a bit more chipper in the morning. 🙂

And since I have no other pictures to share from today, I’ll leave you with a few more from my sightseeing in Charleston.



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We were up bright and early for our first day of the Conference.  I felt like a kid on the first day of school.  Excited. Sleep deprived.

We checked in the day before, but we still wanted to be early.  It must be the military training in our former lives, because we can’t be late for anything. 🙂

We stopped at Starbucks for a pick-me-up (raspberry mochas are my coffee of choice) and then we found ourselves a seat in the hall and ended up finding Greta and Linda.  It’s nice to see people you know. 🙂

The opening of the session started with the Charleston Police Pipes & Drums Band.  I just did the Highland Games in Savannah last weekend, but I can never get enough of bagpipes – or kilts.  There must be some Scottish ancestry in there somewhere.  I’ll trace those Robertsons yet!!

David S. Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, was the first speaker.  I was very happy to learn about the plans for reorganization of the NARA and their intent to become more customer-friendly.  Everyone was of course excited to hear about the 1940 census, which will be released on their site on April 2, 2012.  The countdown for that has been going on for quite some time.

The second speaker was Buzzy Jackson, author of Shaking the Family Tree.  I really enjoyed her presentation – and it was obvious that everyone else there did also.  She was a very dynamic speaker with a great sense of humor and a genuine talent for interacting with the audience.  I was really impressed and decided that I just had to have her book.  I’ll get to that later though…

In case you hadn’t heard yet, it was announced that the 2013 NGS Conference will be held in Las Vegas!   Sounds like fun to me!

Next, there were a couple of drawings for some amazing prizes – free conference registration for next year and time in Salt Lake City. I know this will come as a shock, but I didn’t win.  I can dream.  Liz’s friend learned a lesson though.  Her name was called and she wasn’t there to accept the prize and missed out!!!!  How disappointing. 🙁

I was a bit disappointed that my phone service (and most everyone else’s) seems to have died just about the time the opening sessions wrapped up.  After that, it was pretty much gone until we left the convention center.  I had such high hopes of becoming competent using Twitter during the conference, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

I took three classes during the day.  It was really difficult to pick which ones to attend, because so many of them looked so interesting.  I ended up choosing:

Finding Fathers: Bridging the Generation Gap with Elizabeth Shown Mills

Teasing the Silent Woman with Barbara Vines Little

Solving Genealogical Problems by Isolating Errors in Records with Henry B. Hoff

The Exhibit Hall was almost overwhelming.  There are so many great products and services out there.  I’m hoping to highlight some of them in a separate post.

I am happy to say that I finally got my Flip Pal scanner.  I’ve been wanting one since last Fall and can’t wait to put it to use!

Here we are with DearMyrtle.  She is so nice. We’re such GeneaGroupies. 🙂

The NGS has a Conference Challenge, where you have to take pictures of a list of things and then turn them in by Saturday and the most innovative entry will be selected to win free registration to next year’s conference.  We started on the challenge today by stopping this unsuspecting gentleman in a kilt and getting our picture taken with him.  I wonder how many times he posed for a picture today.  I think he’ll probably be in pants tomorrow….


Here is Ellie, with Louise St. Denis who had the most ribbons we could find.

We also managed to find Buzzy Jackson at the end of the day and bought her book, which she was gracious enough to autograph for us. 🙂  (That has nothing to do with the NGS challenge though – we just thought she was cool so we looked for her).

One of the other challenges was to get a picture of yourself at dinner with another genealogist.  That gave Cherie and I an excuse to stop and eat some dinner on the way back to the hotel.  I promise that we ate something to go along with those drinks!!


Well, it’s time for me to get some sleep.  If I don’t get caught up soon, no amount of coffee will get me up in the morning – and I don’t want to miss any of my classes tomorrow!!

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Eating out at a Southern BBQ would have been great in itself.  Real macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, and of course lots of meat. 🙂

Spending an evening eating BBQ while mingling with fellow geneabloggers and speaking with the folks at FamilySearch was even better!

Ellie, Cherie from Have You Seen My Roots? and I sat with Paul Nauta, the FamilySearch Public Affairs Manager.

Among other things, we talked about the fact that his daughter loves to do indexing for Family Search and he gave me the great idea to put Ellie to work on indexing!  She’s almost 12 now and fully capable of doing just about anything on the her laptop (as are most 12 year olds, right?).  I think that I’m going to download the indexing program to her laptop so she can work on it whenever she wants.

Since this year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War and we’re meeting here in Charleston where the first shots were fired, FamilySearch released hundreds of millions of records pertaining to the Civil War.  I personally have a number of ancestors who served on both sides of the conflict, so I’m excited to see what I’ll find.

I was also interested to hear about next year’s RootsTech Conference, which will be held February 2-4.   I would LOVE to attend!!  We’ll see if I can pull it off.

Everyone we met was really great.  If I were alone, there is no way I would have asked for pictures, but there’s strength in numbers, right? Cherie whipped her camera out and we ended up with some great pics.

Here we are with Dick Eastman of, well I probably don’t need to tell you his website, do I? 🙂

And here I am with Ellie and my friend Liz from My Tapley Tree and its Branches. She’s so much fun!  We met each other at the Atlanta Family History Expo last year and have since connected online through our blogs.

And here we are with Michael J. Hall (Deputy C.G.O.).  He was so nice and we had great times talking about our military careers.

Besides getting to meet the very friendly staff of FamilySearch, we also got to mingle with each other.   It was so nice to meet everyone before the conference started, so that we have familiar faces to find in the crowd throughout this week.

From left to right Ginger from Genealogy by Ginger, Yours Truly, Liz Tapley-Matthews from My Tapley Tree and its Branches, Linda McCauley from Documenting the Details.  The front row from is Great Koehl from Greta’s Genealogy Bog, Cherie from Have You Seen My Roots? and Ellie.

It was so nice to meet other bloggers in person.  We are in fact all REAL people. 🙂



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