The theme of the first full day of the Northwest Genealogy Conference in Arlington was “Gathering Your Family’s Story.” Keynoter Claudia Breland, noted author of four books and at least six more in the works, shared her knowledge, experience and advice about:
- Writing Up Your Research (without using genealogy software). Yes, you really can use your word processing software to write your family’s story!
- Self-Publishing for the Family Historian. You don’t have to be J.K. Rowling to publish a book.
- Finding and Using Historic Newspapers (check out her book “Searching for Your Ancestors in Historic Newspapers“).
In between Claudia’s sessions, the 250+ attendees chose two hour-long sessions from a tantalizing list of topics from Secret Societies (fraternal organizations) and Huguenot Records to Census Strategies and Funeral Homes (where they’re dying to meet you!). I couldn’t resist Daniel Earl’s “Funeral Homes and Family History” class and wasn’t disappointed. He filled the room (literally — it was standing room only) with humor and new awareness of the wealth of information to be gleaned from bills of sale, service programs and funeral cards. The other class I chose was “Using Homestead Records to Tell Your Ancestor’s Story” with Michelle Goodrum, a professional genealogist from Mesa, Arizona. I was amazed at the amount of rich information I can get from a land entry case file from the National Archives for my homesteading ancestors. Definitely on my To Do List!
A new feature offered at the conference was “Ask the Experts,” a limited number of one-on-one consultations with a member of the Puget Sound Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists. I was lucky enough to meet with Janice Lovelace, an expert in early Ohio records. She was able to focus my efforts to find my 2x great grandfather (Thomas Ferbrache, where are you?), give me promising suggestions for new avenues and specific resources to check.
The end of our day included dinner, shopping and a stroll through historic downtown Arlington. Businesses agreed to stay open later to roll out the welcome mat to NWGC attendees. A great day from dawn to dusk.