What’s In My Bag 2

Pretty soon we’ll be heading out to Las Vegas for the NGS 2013 Family History Conference. I gotta’ be honest, this is my first national genealogy conference. The excitement level for me is quite high. Add to that, I’m a planner. I like lists. In fact, my husband calls me “The Lister.” I should have a cape to go with that; it’s a title I carry proudly. So, my tendencies toward a Type-A personality get the best of me, and I’ve already started working on my “what to pack” list.




There are a few essentials for me that go in the bag first.

Sunblock. Yep, it gets position one. Allow me to explain with my DNA profile: 43% British Isles; 25% Eastern European; 23% Central European and 9% Scandinavian. The sun and I do not necessarily get along; and I certainly cannot leave home without it. Especially not when I’m going to the desert southwest. I’ll be a lobster as soon as I step off the plane (note, I did not say as soon as I step outside. Pretty sure I don’t actually have to go outside – my skin is just aware that I’m now in a different climate and starts to burn.)

Digital voice recorder. I cannot live without this thing.

Shorts, flip flops and tank tops.  I live in the Rocky Mountains, and my house sits at nearly 11,000 feet in elevation. What does that have to do with my trip to Vegas? Well, I live in snow about seven months out of the year. When I travel to someplace without snow, I want to live it up. Flip flops. Not to mention I’ll be spending some time at the pool before the conference starts.

My little camera. I have a fantastic big camera, which I love, and typically use for everything from birthday parties to headstones. But, I’m not going to lug it around the conference. Here’s my second confession: I do not have a camera in my phone. At all. So my little Panasonic Lumix digital camera is coming with me, for sure. There are too many great things to see, too many people I cannot wait to meet in person, and I cannot be without a method for preserving those moments.

My running sneakers. Yep, I still call them sneakers. I’m looking ahead at a week worth of standing, walking, and generally being on the go for several hours each day. You can bet I’ll have comfy shoes on.

Aspirin. It goes with the hours-on-end thing.

My conference guide. If you are a member of NGS, you should have received one of these publications with the last issue of the NGS Quarterly in 2012. I love little things like this. Inside it lists for me the daily schedules (remember my thing about lists?), a description of the different tracks, even the menu for the ProGen Study Groups Breakfast I’ll be attending on Thursday, May 9.

My must-hit list of presentations. This is separate, ‘cause, again, I like lists. I’ve been pouring over the schedule for several weeks, and have identified a few of the sessions I really want to see, and a couple that I absolutely MUST see.

Here’s a sampling:

  • May 8: Birdie Monk Holsclaw Memorial Lecture “Impossible Immigrant! I Know Everything About the Man, Except Where He Came From”; presented by Warren Bittner, CG. This is a must for me, as the title exactly describes my problem with my biggest brickwall, Oscar F. Brown.
  • May 10: “Migration West of the Missisippi” presented by David Dilts, AG. Since my focus area for my personal and professional research really is in the west, I love that I have the opportunity to see some presentations on the geography out here. Thanks to the fact that the conference is being held in Nevada, I have a few opportunities for geographically specific sessions, and this is one of them. It’s on my “really want to see” list.
  • May 10: “Solving Historical and Family Mysteries with DNA” with Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak. Um, yea. It’s Megan Smolenyak and DNA. This is a must. Standing in line for this one.
  • May 11: “Baker’s Dozen Steps to Writing Research Reports” with Elissa Scalise Powell, CG. Another “really want to see” presentation. The idea of making research report’s some kind of a list is appealing.
  • May 11: “From Blackstone to Statutes at Large – How Knowing the Law Makes Us Better Genealogists”, presented by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG. Yes. That sounds fascinating. I have been anxious to see Ms. Russell speak for some time; this goes on my “must see” list.


"Certainly an incomplete list," you’re thinking. Well, it’s just a sampling, because my list is really long and I didn’t want to bore you. All the other usual things like my laptop, business cards, and my toothbrush are on there, too.

I’m curious what is on everybody else’s lists. Do you even have a list? Or, are all genealogists slightly Type-A as I suspect, and you are nodding your head in agreement, because you have lists?


Ride the Big Shot with IDG at #NGS2013


The last thing on my list – and this is another must do – is to find someone to ride the “Big Shot” on top of the Stratosphere with me, because my pirate cronies have already told me they won’t do it. I would really love to ride on “Insanity”, but I’m an inch too short (and here I thought my days of being denied a thrill because of my inability to gain momentum vertically were over!).

So, any taker’s for the “Big Shot”? Drop me a line.


Big Shot image credit: Francis Grange at  http://travel.ca.msn.com/united-states/photogallery.aspx?cp-documentid=22287698&page=6


About Jen Baldwin

Genealogist and Family Historian, Jen Baldwin, is the owner of Ancestral Journeys, specializing in the Rocky Mountain Corridor. She writes for a variety of publications, speaks regionally on genealogy related topics; and maintains Conference Keeper, a website designed to compile family history related events around the world. You can connect with Jen on her at http://ancestraljourneys.weebly.com/ . Jen is the Director of Operations for The In-Depth Genealogist.

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2 thoughts on “What’s In My Bag

  • Mariann Regan

    Jen, you are going to have such a fantastic time! The presentations you’ve listed sound great, of course. And you are so right about the sunblock! I have exactly the same kind of skin you do, and as I recall, Las Vegas is not strong on trees or shade. I’ve been there only once, in 2004, in July, and it was way into the 100s. When it got down to the 90s, in the evenings, people took molasses-slow strolls along the strip. But that sun!

    People who are good with lists are especially tuned-up to enjoy conferences. That’s what I think!

  • Christine M.

    You’ll love hearing Judy Russell speak! I got to hear her talk on DNA at The Genealogy Event in NYC & she was fantastic!