Maine Genealogical Society 2015 Annual Conference

I attended the Maine Genealogical Society (MGS) Annual Conference on September 19th, 2015, in Brewer, Maine. I thoroughly enjoyed the conference. The keynote speaker, Michael L. Strauss, AG, did a great job of keeping to his topics and keeping the talk interesting. His keynote was “All in a Day’s Work: Occupational Genealogy Research.”

I have found that adding occupational details to an ancestor’s story makes the account much more interesting. During his keynote address, Mr. Strauss provided details about where to find information and how to incorporate it into your stories. He reminded us to use the non-population schedules that were done between 1820 and 1880. The Manufacture Schedules (1820 & 1850-1880), the Agriculture Schedules (1850-1880), or the Slave Schedules (1850-1860) may provide additional insight into your ancestor’s life, if you are able to find them in one of those schedules. He also mentioned military records, particularly WWI & WWII Draft Registrations, often include occupational details.

Another thing he mentioned that I found interesting were historical movies that showed historical events. For example, when he spoke about the Civil War and the 1863 Draft Riots portrayed in “Gangs of New York.” I had seen “Gangs…” before but didn’t connect it that closely to the 1863 Draft Riots. I need to watch it again….

Michael L. Strauss, AG
via Genealogy Research Network

I attended Mr. Strauss’s talks throughout the day. During “Genealogical Research in the Customs House Records,” Mr. Strauss spoke a lot about various record groups at the National Archives and Records Administration. I found he tossed the various numbers around as if we knew what the various record groups meant. A table of the key record groups would have helped keep me from getting lost. That said, overall, his presentation was interesting, engaging, and chock full of information.

After lunch and the MGS Annual Meeting, Mr. Strauss spoke about “Work Sills of Old: Justice of the Peace (JP) Records.” Through his use of examples, I became amazed at the kinds and types of information that can be gleaned from JP records. He said that many times JP records could be found at historical societies. I definitely need to see if the Scarborough Historical Society has any JP records and what their state is. Mr. Strauss indicated that much of what the JPs did relate to civil marriages; so using JP Records may provide a nugget of information regarding a here-to-for unknown marriage. Definitely, JP records are underutilized by many genealogies. I’m adding them to my list of potential sources.

Drawing of the Masonic Square and Compass.
Masonic Square & Compass
Via Wikimedia

I found his talk on “Secret Societies: Finding Your Ancestors in Fraternal Organizations” particularly interesting. I have a number of ancestors who were Masons and others who were members of other societies. He provided clear and concise suggestions about where to find records. He provided a link to “A Complete List of Fraternal Organizations”  ( that provides the meanings of various acronyms. I’ve added the link to my bookmarks.

The conference had several other, potentially, really interesting talks on Town Records, DNA, and Maine Vital Records. I wish I could have attended them also. Missing some of the presentations is the cost of having multiple tracks at a conference. However, I don’t regret attending any of Mr. Strauss’ talks – He was excellent. The MGS Programs did an excellent job selecting Mr. Strauss; I look forward to hearing him speak again sometime in the future.

I am looking forward to attending again next year when the Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL, is the keynote speaker. I follow Judy’s blog now and look forward to seeing her in person.  I am sure she will have a lot to share.


Social Networking for Genealogy

Title slide for
“Social Networking for Genealogists”
I’ll be giving a presentation on “Social Networking for Genealogy” to the Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society on August 1. This will be the first presentation I have done since moving from Smyrna last year; I am really looking forward to it.
I attended a “Social Networking” presentation a couple years ago (in Georgia) and felt that I could do a much better job than that speaker did. The biggest issue that I had with that presentation was that the speaker talked about his family tree excessively and he didn’t tie his findings to social networking. In other words, he didn’t keep to the topic – an issue I often have with speakers. Anyway, I’ll be talking about some techniques I use and will speak of some of my social networking successes. I will stay on topic and, hopefully, people will enjoy the talk.
I’ll probably post my slides to “Social Networking for Genealogists,” my Pinterest board sometime after the presentation.
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Maine Genealogical Society – 2014 Annual Conference

Maine Genealogical Society – Annual Conference – Review

Maine Genealogical Society
I had the opportunity to attend my first Maine Genealogical
Society (MGS) event last Saturday.  I
joined the MGS about a month after moving to Maine but hadn’t had the
opportunity to attend any of the local events. 
So, I registered to attend the Annual Conference on September 13, 2014 in
Brewer, Maine, as my first event.
I needed to get up early as Brewer is just over two hours
away driving and I wanted to make registration before 8:30 so I wasn’t rushed
for the opening session. I made it there with no problems.  Because it was my first long trip in the new
Jeep, I had the opportunity to try out the Adaptive Cruise Control.  Love it!
After registering, I wandered around the vendor’s area.  Picked up one of the Society’s pins.  You can order them from their website also.  
I was kind of taken aback by the attitude of
a couple of the DAR representatives that were there.  I got the sense that if my wife were to apply
for DAR all the documents and work needed to be done by her and that I couldn’t
do it for her.  Someone, please tell me
I’m wrong in that feeling. I am yet to apply to any lineage society and figured that the DAR, on behalf of my wife, would be one of the first I attempted.  I guess it might be the SAR instead. 
The opening, Keynote address, was by Thomas Jones, PhD,
author of Mastering Genealogical Proof
published by the National Genealogical Society (NGS). I’m a member of the NGS
so I’ve been seeing their promotions for the book and it has been on my list of
“books I’d like to get,” so I purchased a copy at the MGS Annual Conference. 
Thomas Jones, PhD,
The keynote address was “Can a Complex Research Problem be
Solved Solely Online?” The bottom line answer is, as you might expect, “Well,
maybe.”  That said, Dr. Jones’ delivery
was excellent.  He was very personable
and very good at his presentation, being engaging, humorous, and clearly
knowledgeable.  He was clear that not
everything can be found on line but in some cases enough might be findable to
answer the question you have.  He had a
number of really good online resources, some of which I didn’t have
before.  I loved the presentation.
After the keynote address, the conference split into two
tracks. I went next door to listen to Nancy Lecompte speak about Genetic
Genealogy.  The conference technical
folks had some problems isolating the speakers that each of the presenters
would be talking only to their room of attendees. They finally got it
straightened out after a few minutes and the presentations began.
Nancy did a very good job with her presentation. In the fast
changing field of genetic genealogy, she appeared to be up to date, which is a
task in itself, and provided a smooth presentation with information that
supported both individuals with both novice and intermediate level understanding of
DNA Testing.  She provided a link to her slides, which is
something I really appreciate because it means I can pay closer attention to
the speaker and not spend as much time taking notes.  Although I did take quite a few notes at her presentation.
After an okay lunch I had a chance to talk with some folks and make a couple friends.  Then the two training tracks started again.
In both of the sessions I attended presentations by Dr. Thomas Jones.  The first was “Debunking Misleading Records.”
He did an excellent job of showing how to detect, compare, and disprove
misleading or erroneous records.  In my
personal practice, I have taken to keeping all records, even if misleading. I
generally then identify one of the same items as “preferred.” If “prove”
something as misleading, I enter a note concerning why the information is in
error and I mark it private so I don’t accidentally share the error with
The last presentation I attended was “Proved? – Five Ways to
Prove Who Your Ancestor Was (Some Reliable and Others Not Reliable).”  As you might expect three of the ways were
unacceptable, one might be close to okay, but really only one was fully
acceptable because it was the only one that met The Genealogical Proof
Standard.  The approach is to weigh
conflicting evidence and resolve the conflicts using the five cornerstones to
“The Genealogical Proof Standard,”

reasonably exhaustive search,
complete, accurate source citations,
skilled analysis and correlation of the data
resolution of contradictory evidence, and 
a soundly reasoned conclusion.

There was a fairly quick wrap up of the day’s activities, a
short business meeting, and drawings for door prizes.  Needless to say, I didn’t win anything, I
never do, but I stayed to the end.
It looks like the next big thing with the MGS is the Southern Maine Genealogy
to be held May 30th, 2015 in Portland.  I’m looking forward to it. I’m also looking
forward to attending some of my local (Greater Portland) chapter’s meetings
over the next few months.