19 December 2011

NGS Family History Conference Lecture CD ROMS (Another Great Christmas Gift Idea!)

Over the past two years, I have listened to over 100 CD ROMs of lectures recorded at the recent NGS Family History Conferences. My reasons for listening to the lectures on CD ROM have varied, but the benefits are the same. Most of the genealogy research and analytical skills I have learned since retiring in 2004 have come from reading the NGS Quarterly, NGS Magazine, and listening to these lectures on CD ROM.

For many years NGS has been audio recording conference presentations for the speakers who give us permission. Since I was president of NGS from 2007 through 2010, even though I attended the annual Family History Conference each year, I was too busy during the conference to actually sit and enjoy more than one or two live lectures. So, I would check the speakers and topics I most wanted to hear and I would purchase ten to twenty CD ROMs at the end of the conference.

I think the $12 cost of each CD ROM is reasonable considering you do not incur the travel expenses to attend conference. The recording company, JAMB Tapes, Inc., in St. Louis, Missouri, brings all the equipment to the conference to record eight to ten simultaneous lectures each hour. They maintain the NGS CD ROM archive and process all pre-conference and post-conference orders. The price for each CD ROM also includes a royalty paid to the speaker and a small administrative fee to NGS to maintain the records and process the checks to the speakers.

In 2011, I was the conference chair for the 2011 NGS Family History Conference in Charleston, South Carolina. For two years prior to the conference, I traveled at least once a quarter by car from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to Charleston to work on the conference details with the host society committee and representatives from the conference hotel and convention center. The trip was ninety miles each way, giving me an opportunity to listen to at least three lectures per round trip.

Now that my NGS responsibilities are on the wane, one of my goals is to apply for BCG certification. I have found the BCG Lecture Track and the BCG Certification Seminar to be very instructive in helping me to understand the skill level I need to achieve to become certified. I feel that each lecture I have heard given by a Board Certified genealogist has helped move me closer to my goal. Although I have begun to work on the BCG requirements I am “not yet on the clock.” You can learn more about requirements for certification at http://www.bcgcertification.org.

If you are not interested in certification, there is still much to learn from listening to the lectures on CD ROM. For example, I just spent two days at the National Archives in Washington, DC, looking at War of 1812 pensions and bounty land applications. Although I have made many trips to the National Archives, two lectures from the 2011 NGS Family History Conference in Charleston gave me the background I needed to explore those records: “War of 1812 Records in the National Archives” given by Marie Varrelman Melchiori, CG, CGL, and  “Bounty Land Records at NARA” given by Claire Bettag, CG, CGL.

In October I also took a weeklong research trip in Missouri and Illinois to research my mother’s German ancestors. I had been to some of the county courthouses more than a dozen years ago, but on this trip I broadened my research of probate records to include the review of inventories, subsequent land divisions, and wills of siblings, which gave me much more information and a different perspective on the family. In one case I determined my great-great-great-grandmother had a son with a different surname, which I believe indicates she had been married before. So with this new information, I need to do additional research to determine which husband was the father of my great-great-grandmother. In the past two years, I have made progress with two “brick walls” by finding another marriage for one of my female ancestors. Some of the lectures I have listened to about probate records include “Speaking from the Grave: Exploring Probate Files” given by Sharon Tate Moody, CG, in Charleston and “Problem Solving with Probate” given by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, at the 2009 Family History Conference in Raleigh.

So, if you have encountered brick walls and are stuck on your family research, I suggest you check the inventory of National Genealogical Society CD ROMs at http://www.jamb-Inc.com.  Click on the NGS tab to find audio recordings of lectures from the last five NGS Family History Conferences (2008‒2011).  If you see a lecture title that causes you to say, “I don’t know very much about how to research those records,” then I suggest you order a couple of CD ROMs and see if they expand your thinking about how to solve your research problems.

If you prefer to read the information rather than hear it, NGS also has a number of wonderful educational courses (http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/educational_courses). I personally like the CDROMs because they help fill the available time when I am in the car. One of the things I most like about genealogy is that the more I learn about my ancestors, the more I want to know.

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