Monday, May 17, 2010

Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2010

First, I should apologize for my lack of writing the past few weeks but - four weeks ago I had a "mini-stroke" that affected my right side. I've been busy resting (also known as 'getting frustrated'), getting back to work, and undergoing various medical tests. While my right hand still has not regained the level of fine motor skill that as a right-handed person, I previously enjoyed, it is getting better. I can type/keyboard again, although my handwriting still leaves a lot to be desired and the long term prognosis looks good!

Now, on to better things! My wife Ellen and I attended the Ontario Genealogical Society's Annual Conference this past weekend. This year the conference was hosted by the Toronto branch. Both of us are OGS members although I do most of the research with Ellen's great support.

We have enjoyed participation in OGS Conferences in the past. Typically, the conferences have featured Canadian speakers who have shared their expertise and specialized knowledge. This year's conference, in my view, marked a bit of a departure. As the largest genealogical conference in Canada (I understand that more than 700 genealogists attended this year's conference), OGS Conference 2010 raised the bar by including internationally known speakers Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems and Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, in addition to many others like Dave Obee and Thomas Jones.

Working with some restrictions, we decided to focus on the classes of Lisa Louise Cooke on Saturday and Maureen Taylor on Sunday.

Lisa Louise Cooke

I am a long-term fan and listener of Lisa's Genealogy Gems Podcast, in addition to being a Facebook friend. Lisa offered three classes on Saturday: "Genealogy Podcasts 101: Free Online "Radio Shows" for Researchers," "What You Must Know to Save Your Research from Destruction," and "Tap into Your Inner Private Eye: Tracking Down Living Relatives." Ellen and I attended the first two classes but, much to our regret, we were unable to stay for the third class.

So here is what I took away from Lisa's classes:

1. Ask, ask, ask! It is easy to feel self-sufficient and reliant, even when we are having trouble finding records, documents, or the information we need. Asking librarians, archivists, and experts gets results a lot faster. Genealogists are nice people, always (or least most of the time) willing to help by sharing their winning strategies.

2. You should be spending 30% of your time furthering your genealogy education! Lisa is the host and producer of the the Genealogy Gems Podcast, Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcasts, and hosts the monthly Family Tree Magazine podcast and, if that's not enough, Lisa also has a Genealogy Gems You Tube channel with genealogy videos. I've written before about podcasts and the great benefit they offer to genealogists for as Lisa describes them, they are a genealogy conference, available free, on your computer as internationally recognized speakers share tips and techniques, answer listener questions, and share news for the genealogy community. My skills and practices have absolutely benefited from listening to podcasts! I would add two tips: i) go back and re-listening is often beneficial as well. If you're like me, you might forget a few things and 'refreshers' are always helpful. ii) use the show notes that are produced as a companion to each show. There is usually a huge wealth of additional information (text, links, videos) that are made available. If you are more of a visual learner like me, the show notes are invaluable.

3. Do some thinking now about what you want for your research after you are gone. I haven't ever assumed tat one of my children would suddenly get the urge to take over my research work so thinking about what should happen to it after I'm gone just plain makes good sense. I assumed that some library, archive, or genealogy society would be welcoming my research results with open arms and I hadn't considered the possibility that they might not want it taking up valuable 'real estate' on their shelves. We're conditioned to have a last will and testament ready expressing our wishes for our possessions but what about the research we have invested so much time in! I've got some thinking to do!

Above, Lisa Louise Cooke (centre) was kind enough to pose for a photo with myself and Ellen Louise (Lisa's mother's name). Both Lisa Louise and Ellen Louise are new 'grammas' so there was lots to talk about over lunch!

Next time, my learnings from Maureen Taylor. Time to give my right hand a rest!


  1. Ian - I am so sorry to hear of your "mini stroke" but am glad to know that you are on the road to recovery.

    Unfortunately I couldn't make OGS Toronto this year - but I have answered the "call for papers" for next year and I am hoping to be there in Hamilton!

  2. Thanks, Thomas. I'm really doing quite well. Part of my frustration has been feeling fine but being confined! Look forward to seeing you in Hamilton next year!

  3. Just wanted to send my wishes your way for continued recovery. But I guess it's no use saying "Take it easy" - does not sound like you are the type to slow down much!

  4. Sorry to hear of your health setbacks, but I appreciate your recap of the OGS conference. Can't wait to read more.