Monday, November 4, 2013

Motivation Monday: 2013 Texas State Genealogical Society Conference

I returned home yesterday from three brain-busting days at the Texas State Genealogical Society annual conference, held this year in Round Rock, which was an easy 15-minute drive from my 85-year-old parents' new home in Austin. 

So much useful information packed into so little time; my mind is 'bout to 'splode!  Since I am the Coordinator of Archives and Special Services at my library, and our archival collections include county records, I decided to attend a lot of sessions pertaining to that topic (since my employer did give me the time to attend the conference Thursday and Friday).  Here are just some of the sessions I attended (with descriptions taken from the conference speakers web page):

Susan Ball: Sinners and Saints: Genealogical Finds in Civil and Criminal Court Records -
Drawing on her abstracting work with the Tom Green County Court Docket, Susan discussed information that can be found in court records about ancestors and their activities.

Teri Flack: Unearth Your Ancestors Using Land and Property Records - While land records primarily prove ownership and transfer of real property, they also can provide the evidence needed to prove family relationships. Using case studies and original documents, this lecture provided an array of tools researchers can use to solve problems with land records.

Teri also presented on Overlooked and Underused Courthouse Records.  Most genealogists are familiar with the birth, marriage and death records found at the local courthouse, but they may not have thought to investigate the variety of other records located there. These records may establish births, marriages, and deaths when those specific vital records do not exist. This presentation showed what records to look for, how to locate them, and what to expect when you find them.

Lisa Louise Cooke, Get the Scoop on your Family History with Newspapers - I attended this session because we also have old issues of the Stephenville Empire-Tribune on microfilm, and many genealogists who visit our library use these as well as the county records.  I'll talk more about this session in tomorrow's post.

I also attended five sessions (four of which were on Saturday) by featured speaker Thomas W. Jones:

Special Problems II: Identifying Female Ancestors – Strategies for identifying wives and mothers in the absence of marriage records; laws regulating females’ land ownership, inheritance, and other rights that may yield genealogical evidence concerning them; tracking men to learn about women.  I have a few "brick wall" women in my family trees, and hopefully these ideas will help.

The Jones Jinx: Tracing Common Surnames  – This case study explained how missing, erroneous, and altered records were overcome to identify the parents of an orphan named Jones.  I learned research strategies I can use to solve my own common-surname problems (Smith, Jones, Moore, etc.).

Five Ways to Prove Who Your Ancestor Was – Case studies illustrated five ways—some (the last two listed) reliable and others (the first three listed) not—that genealogists “prove” an ancestor’s identity:
  • using information provided by others; 
  • using a single source; 
  • following a chain of evidence; 
  • correlating evidence from multiple sources; and 
  • weighing conflicting evidence. 
I also learned how to use the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).

Problem Solving with Probate – This session described the wealth of records created to distribute property after someone’s death and demonstrated how to use such records to identify and trace ancestors - definitely related to our county records at work.

Solutions for Missing and Scarce Records - I  learned strategies for overcoming research barriers caused by lost or destroyed records, poor record-keeping, or a simple lack of records.

I also attended two "round table" discussion sessions on Thursday evening.  TSGS Webmaster and incoming Director for Development Randy Whited led the Social Media Open Forum, where pages versus groups and privacy issues in Facebook was a big concern. TSGS incoming President John Wylie led a discussion on Ethics in Your Family History.  Topics included copyright, plagiarism, publishing personal information on living people or potentially embarrassing information on deceased relatives, and other issues family historians must address.

John Wylie's Ethics round table - photo courtesy Crystal Calbreath and the Texas State Genealogical Society

More to come tomorrow!

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. I'm still suffering from "Brain Overload" - Now, where do I find That Ancestor.