Tuesday, May 2, 2017

NERGC 2017 in Springfield

Well, I am exhausted. My head is in a whirl. I’ve written a “To Do” list that is one notebook page long for just genealogy projects. And I am anxious to work my way down all of this! What produces all this you might ask? A genealogy conference!

A scene from the exhibit hall
We returned home Sunday evening tired, but happy from the New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) in Springfield, Massachusetts. This was a three-day conference with a side trip to Old Sturbridge Village thrown in. For a genealogist, it is like a child being let loose in a candy shop!

The conference, rather obviously, concentrated on New England research and resources, particularly those in western Massachusetts where it was held. However, there are a lot of classes on various topics and they don’t all restrict themselves to this area. There were classes as well on general research methods, Irish research, writing, DNA and military amongst others.

One presenter, Jennifer Zinck, had agreed to do a workshop on DNA. Shortly after registration opened, she agreed to do a second, as the first one had sold out almost immediately. I attended many classes that talked about writing your family history and others that dealt with various areas of the region. One in particular that I enjoyed by Dave Robison talked about the repositories of western Massachusetts. Although I have no ancestors in those places, mine lived across the border in New York State and created at least a few records across that artificial line. There were New York State resources as well. I didn’t get to attend, but I understand that Jane Wilcox did a wonderful whirlwind tour of the various repositories available throughout New York State giving specific examples of each.

One that created many items on that “To-Do” list of mine was a talk by Michael Strauss on World War I records. I’m not that interested in military, so hadn’t thought much before about the various records that might be available for my grandparents who served in this war. His talk definitely kept my interest and gave me several places to look for records.  Luckily, I had a notebook with me to scribble down all those ideas as they occurred!

This is just a small sampling of the courses that are available in different sessions. One of the best parts for me is the networking. I get to see people that I know only through the virtual world of email lists and Facebook. We get to actually talk with each other and share what we are working on. We get to laugh and joke and hang out with each other.

To attend this conference again, we have to wait two years. It is a bi-annual conference and the location rotates around New England with a few restrictions on locations. The planning committees need to choose a place that has a large enough conference center and enough hotel rooms available nearby to accommodate it. I understand that they can no longer go to Vermont, as there is no place large enough for it. On the flip side it is not quite big enough for some of the bigger conference centers. Therefore, it seems to rotate between cities in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire at the moment.

So where to next? Well pull out your calendars and mark April 3-6, 2019 down. If you don’t have the route plotted out already, pull out the maps and find Manchester, New Hampshire. It’s just a short drive outside of Boston, and if you don’t want to drive in Boston (I certainly don’t), you just take some of the interstate highways around the far, far edge of it. We have our calendars marked already and I hope I’ll see you there! Now I got to get back to work—where are those forms to request records...

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