Sunday, June 7, 2009

Some Closing Thoughts ...

In summary, I came away with the thought that a sea-change had just taken place in doing genealogy.

We have been given the challenge to "fill in the dash" when we do genealogy from now on. We will have to use, as Jane MacNamara so aptly put it, the "whole-family" approach - it will push us to write the family's history, not to merely record the birth and death dates of a person's life.

Some closing thoughts on the conference -

1. On Friday night, we were introduced to our new patron, The Honourable Vivienne Poy, a Senator in the Canadian Parliament, by OGS President Don Hinchley.

She spoke very eloquently about tracing her roots back though Hong Kong to China and she hopes to bring the same enthusiasm to her new position with the OGS.

She replaces Senator Lorna Milne, who did such great work in bringing the 1911 Canadian Census to the people so that everyone can research their family history.

2. On Friday afternoon, I attended the Irish Palatine workshop in which Hank Jones (right) received the first Eula C. Lapp Award in front of a sell-out crowd from Denis Jones for his work on the Irish Palatines.

I learned that the group is putting together a book of genealogies of the Irish Palatines in Ontario, and Ruth Chernia of the OGS Publications Branch is helping out with the gathering and proofreading of the manuscript.

If you have Irish Palatines in your family, would you please contact her at <>.

3. On Saturday morning, at the awful hour of 8:00 a.m. (we were tired due to a reception after the Opening Ceremonies), we gathered to hear Brian Gilchirst talk about "Pedigree and Progress: Making connections in the digital age from the printed page".

He talked about the progress that has been made in digitizing the information, but said that indexing it is falling behind. Of what use is it to scan and yet not prepare an index so that people can put in their family names to see if there is anything on them?

He also talked about saving our own research in the local archives or library. How many of us make a copy for our local archives or library?

Right after Brian's speech, we had the AGM, and it was supercharged this year with the request for an increase in membership dues.

After much discussion and various amendments, the vote was taken, and it was a "yes" vote for the increase of the basic membership fee to $60.00 from the current $45.00, starting next calendar year.

The OGS also put out a call for people to index the OGS Library, which is going to be digitized and put online.

It will include over 3,000 family genealogies, but they need to be indexed so that they can be searchable online.

If you wish to help, please contact Dr. Fraser Dunford, Executive Director, OGS at <>.

4. On Saturday afternoon, I went to the panel discussion on "From the Printed Page to the Digital Age ... The Professionals' Perspective".

The audience that was there asked many questions of the panel, which included Susanna de Groot, Janice Nickerson, Ruth Burkholder, Tammy Tipler-Priolo, and Brian Gilchist. It was moderated by Sharon Murphy.

It was sponsored by the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists <>.

From the answers they gave, I gather it's quite a lonely life being a genealogist, looking at a computer screen all day long (something like a writer) and how important listserves are so that genealogists can talk over their research problems.

They talked about how the Internet has changed the way they do research, and people are asking different types of questions these days - more away from, "When was he born?", and more towards, "What can you tell me about his life as a grocer in Toronto in the 1850s?"

5. On Saturday night, we went to a local banquet hall to hear Charlotte Gray talk about what it is like being a biographer - which is where genealogy is heading. She is being introduced by Halton-Peel Chairman, Bob Crawford.

She gave us a sound footing of how to research history to write a biography, and she has written many, including one of Alexander Graham Bell.

At present, she is working on the people of the Klondike and she will be at the BIFHSGO conference this September, and at that time will give a talk on Sir John A. Mcdonald and his women!

6. On Sunday, I spent some time at the OGS Publications table to talk to people as they came by and generally got good reviews of the work I do on NewsLeaf and e-NewsLeaf.

All-in-all, another great conference, and well-worth both the fatigue of doing so much, and the sadness of having to say good-bye to old friends and acquaintances for yet another year.