September 29 to October 3 – The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) held their annual conference at The Ben Franklin Place in Nepean Ontario, with themes of England and Wales and Methodology Research.
Friday started with concurrent workshops in both morning and afternoon sessions. In the morning I attended “The Manorial System and How to Use Manorial Records” with Celia Heritage and after lunch break, at the nearby Royal Oak, I attended “Maps and Mapping” with James F.S. Thomson (Associated with the Toronto Branch of OGS) where I learned a ton about where to find old maps and what fun things I can do with them! Both workshops were excellent with detailed handouts of resources to follow up on.
The conference opened with keynote talk by Glenn Wright called “Another Bloody Englishman! Britannia in Red Serge, 1873-1920” which was an interesting history of the North West Mounted Police which had strong ties to England.
Saturday, Session 1 Plenary by Celia Heritage “Beyond All Reasonable Doubt” followed by a coffee break with delicious snacks and a visit to the Marketplace where I perused old maps, books and postcards. Throughout the day, I attended “Buried Treasures: The Parish Chest” with Paul Milner – which was fantastic and is based on Paul’s publication of the same name. “Researching in English and Welsh Records Offices” with Celia Heritage was a very useful hour spent mostly discussing how to prepare yourself for a visit to the repositories and get the most out of your time. The lecture was ‘homework’ heavy, stressing the importance of looking at research guides available on the repository’s website and that also FamilySearch.org had incredibly useful research guides for most areas in the world. The last panel of the days that I attended was “Occupational, Guild and Freedman Records” with Paul Milner.
Sunday’s panels were: “Using Death Records to Break Down Brick Walls” with Celia Heritage, “The English Probate System” with Paul Milner and “I’ve Lost My Ancestor Before 1837” with Celia Heritage.
The Plenary talk to end the weekend was given by Paul Milner entitled “My God, Nobody Told Me!” was poignant and touching and a wonderful way to end a genealogical conference, challenging everyone to share their findings with family and write histories before the knowledge is lost.
Saturday and Sunday ran two tracks of lectures, so I haven’t listed everything from the schedule. All of the lectures were recorded which have been edited and made available in the Members section of the BIFHSGO website along with their respective handouts – with the exception of Friday’s 4 workshops. I encourage anyone interested to become a member – the lectures are all fantastic!
Every session I attended was full of relevant information, interesting and entertaining, and very often inspirational. I came home with so much information on how and where to find materials to search, I wanted to search all the things as soon as possible. It was a genealogical candy store overload!
With access to a research center and well-stocked market place, there were always things to see and do during breaks. I came away with a sweetly priced AncestryDNA kit and some old detailed maps of Dublin and Manchester. I was a little slow to GlobalGenealogy ‘s vendor table that had the books on ancestral occupations, where the “Textiles” copies sold out.
Biggest Take-Aways that everyone stressed:
- Not everything is on-line – despite the millions of records being uploaded daily on numerous on-line repositories, it is the tip of the iceberg of what is actually archived.
- Be Methodical in your research – planning and recording documentation and sources.
- Read research guides for every resource you plan to access in order to have a full understanding of what the materials are that you’re searching for as well as available coverage.
- Compile and Share your findings.
I’m looking forward to the BIFHSGO Conference 2018 Themed: Scotland!