(This post was written over the course of two time frames: as I departed Las Vegas after the conclusion of my experience at the NGS 2013 Family History Conference; and upon my return, about seven days after the conference.)
Leaving Las Vegas, is of course, bittersweet. It has been a week filled with amazing moments. The friendships discovered and cultivated; the educational sessions with incredible speakers and light bulb inspirations, the vast array of networking, “getting-to-know-you-ing” and simply being in a room filled with other people who have a shared passion for one thing.
Telling the story.
And telling it well.
Genealogy is an as much science as it is art. It is that rare combination of analytic's creativity, imagination; all culminating in a life remembered. For those of us who are attempting to do this for a living, it was a reminder of that passion, it was inspiration to continue on. For those of us who simply love the thrill of the hunt, it was an opportunity to learn new skills, refresh on techniques. For those of us who speak to the audience or promote products in the vendor hall, it was a chance to share new ideas, to influence, to create conversation and gain a broader following.
Which one am I? All of them.
As an “Official Blogger” for this conference, I made every attempt possible to experience as much as I could. I missed a few things. I missed the great majority of demos presented by vendors. I missed some of the “must see” sessions that everyone was talking about. I missed sleeping, leisurely meals with colleagues and friends and some of the more typical Vegas activities. Instead, I spent my time conducting interviews, with people I thought our readers would want to hear from. I did my best to get to every corner of the vendor hall; every booth. I jotted down ideas, inspirations, and brainstorming moments as much as possible. I walked… and walked… and walked. In fact, according to my pedometer, I walked over 38,300 steps in five days. That averages out to over 1.5 miles per day, just within the confines of the conference center. I drank coffee. Lots of it.
Over the course of the next several months, I plan on continuing to blog about my adventures in Las Vegas. The conference may be over, but the learning is just beginning. I have notes to review, syllabus’ to re-read, follow-up interviews to conduct. I am excited for what the future will bring in this field, and I am excited about the people who are walking into that future together. Most importantly, I need to go through the steps to apply all of this wonderful information. I woke every morning with one goal: be a sponge. Soak up as much as possible. Make the most of this opportunity.
One thing that I was able to immediately implement was the general idea that was presented by D. Joshua Taylor in his session on geographical profiling; "Borders and Boundaries: Creating Locality Profiles for Research." Anybody who has read my blog posts either here or on Ancestral Breezes should have clued in that I really have an ongoing love affair with maps, so anything geographically related was a "must see" for me. Josh suggested that you start your geographical profile before you even look at one census record for a human being; gather all those wonderful archives, libraries, data bases and other sites into one accumulative document. That should be step one in your research plan; and I was eating it up. His process included identifying the following: maps, a historical sketch/timeline which includes major events in the area as well as nationally; information on records; and the "other" category, which included examples such as churches, cemeteries and historical societies.
My brain immediately connected the dots between this concept and a piece of advice I received from another well-known genealogist, J. Mark Lowe. He told us in his "Striking It 'Rich,' with a Great Genealogical Career: A Guide for Professional Researchers" session to find specific data sets in our specialty area and really absorb them. Own the microfilm. Write, post, speak and present them more often and better than anyone else. Create a need for your expertise.
Since my specialty area also happens to be a geographical location, these two pieces came together nicely. I am currently engaged in creating a massive geographical profile for the Rocky Mountain Corridor, and when its done, it will be fabulous. It will be a time-consuming and lengthy project to even get it truly started, but as it grows, this Excel spreadsheet is going to make my life so much easier. I am happily referring to it as my "geographical profile on steroids." I use the word "done," but just as our family tree's, I doubt this will ever be really complete. It is something that will grow with me as my career progresses.
I will be posting again soon about the conference, as will Terri O'Connell. Watch for this series to include interview highlights, personal learning's and a newly gained appreciation for the "genea-celebrities."