Monday, May 13, 2013

My Impressions of the NGS 2013 Conference

I’m back from the NGS 2013 Conference!

It’s been 24 hours since my return home and I’m still on a “genealogical high”. It was an exhilarating experience and my mind is full with all manner of information and details.

From the moment my husband Michael and I arrived Tuesday afternoon at the LVH Hotel and Casino where the Conference took place to when we left Sunday afternoon, I felt like I was home, among my own kind – me and about 2000 other genealogists and family historians.

I met attendees from Canada, like Ruth Blair of The Passionate Genealogist and Louise St-Denis of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. (Louise and I are both originally from Timmins, Ontario, Canada. It was a lot of fun reminiscing with her about our old home town.) I also met people from all over the US, from California, Colorado, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Here is my by-the-number summary of the Conference.

Thirteen Sessions
I planned on attending twelve sessions, but added an extra one (“Cloud Genealogy” with Shamele Jordon) once I was at the Conference.

Ten Books
As well as purchasing magazines, booklets and miscellaneous items from the exhibitors and vendors, I bought ten books (including Mastering Genealogical Proof, graciously signed by Thomas W. Jones, The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, by Val D. Greenwood, First Metis Families of Quebec 1622-1748 (Vol. 1), compiled by Gail Morin, and The Forts of New France in Northeast America 1600-1763, by Marc Picard).

Six Tips
These are some of the best (paraphrased) tips I picked up during the lectures.

1. Don’t make genealogy harder than it is.
2. Don’t assume; keep an open mind.
3. Don’t blindly trust what you read (not even things written by experts, says Elizabeth Shown Mills).
4. Consider the whole record or document, not just the portion of interest.
5. Work systematically and efficiently.
6. If you can’t get to the records or documents you need (say, because of distance), find someone reliable who can.

Five Photos
A selection of photos that my husband took during the Conference:

Entrance to the Exhibit Hall
Entrance to the Exhibit Hall

Randy Seaver and Yvonne Demoskoff
Randy Seaver (of GeneaMusings) and me

Mariachi Los Bravos
Mariachi Los Bravos, who performed after the Opening Session

Randy Seaver on the left and Leland Meitzler
Randy Seaver and Leland Meitzler (of GenealogyBlog)

Dick Eastman's Saturday night dinner
Dick Eastman (top right) with some of his guests at his Saturday night dinner

Four Speakers
It wasn’t possible to meet and chat with all the speakers during the Conference, but I had the chance to ask questions and say how much I enjoyed the presentations of four of them: Elizabeth Shown Mills, Thomas W. Jones, Judy G. Russell and Warren Bittner.

Two Best Moments
Even though I got a lot out of all the sessions, I got the most from “Planning “Reasonably Exhaustive” Research" and "Proof Arguments".

It was reassuring to hear Thomas W. Jones explain that it’s not necessary to use an infinite number of sources in order to carry out ‘reasonably exhaustive’ research, as long as all likely relevant or potential sources are used to answer our question or reach our goal.

I also appreciated how Warren Bittner took a step-by-step approach to show how to use logic and common sense when writing a proof argument. (It’s a lot easier than I thought it could be and now I’m looking forward to trying my hand at writing proof arguments.)

One Door Prize
Michael won a door prize during Dick Eastman’s (Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter)  Saturday night dinner: an iPad Mini! Thanks, Dick, for such a generous prize and for hosting a great dinner.

But, what I‘ll remember most about my first NGS conference is
  • meeting people who share my interest in genealogy,
  • attending lectures given by genealogy experts,
  • learning techniques, methods and skills, and
  • feeling validated as a genealogist – even though I don’t have CG after my name.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.


  1. Yvonne, nice review of the conference! Sounds like it was worthwhile and a good time. I'm going to have to look in to the proof arguments. Thanks for sharing.

  2. It was definitely worthwhile, Kathryn! There's nothing like hearing your genealogy heroes share their knowledge in person and mixing with other like-minded people.