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.