OGS Annual Conference: My Top Ten

Hamilton Spectator Photo

  1. A British Home Child Special Interest Group (SIG) was chartered by the executive. I attended the organizational meeting and am excited about this new group as one of my great-grandfathers was a British Home Child.
  2. Numerous references to what was referred to by one speaker as “environmental genealogy”, that is, what society was like around our ancestors. I plan to try to enhance my research with more of this kind of information.
  3. Dave Obee pointed to the Federation of Eastern European History Societies (FEEFHS) maps collection. These will be a great help in researching the history and geography around my paternal ancestors in Russia/Ukraine.
  4. The records in parish chests (in England) are being digitized in great numbers and more and more are coming online. The parish chest was typically a heavy wooden lockable chest that contained all the documents central to the running of a Church of England parish. These would include records of baptisms, marriages, deaths; the manorial survey; records of the poor law administration, other ecclesiatical records. These can be very helpful in adding to the information included in your family history.
  5. While Attestation Papers for those who served in WWI are available online at Library and Archives Canada, they will also provide complete WWI military files for a fee. I have a great-uncle who served and hope to arrange to get a copy of his file next time I’m in Ottawa.
  6. I attended a very interesting talk on emigration of Scots given by Ruth Blair and I am searching for leads on my maternal great-grandmother who came as a single woman in 1899 and married my great-grandfather shortly thereafter. I have not been able to find a passenger listing for her trip to Canada and I got some new resources for that search.
  7. At the end of the conference, a big announcement regarding the partnership between the Ontario Genealogical Society and The National Institute for Genealogical Studies was announced.  Details regarding the new benefits accruing to memebers and the two organizations will be announced over the next few months, but free registration in the course Social Media for the Wise Genealogist was offered to all OGS members! Also, OGS branches will be able to make use of the NIGS Live Meeting technology for branch meetings and other activities.
  8. Dave Obee‘s talk More Than Just Names and Dates provided some solid rationale for “environmental genealogy” as mentioned in 2 above. His background as a journalist demonstrated the power of enhancing our genealogical research with context, stories, and an enhanced understanding of the forces that influenced our ancestors lives. He suggested some excellent resources for this kind of research and this has prompted me to seroiusly consider setting up a wiki or some other kind of online presence to capture and communicate my family history.
  9. The Market Place at the conference is an excellent source of new information, books, maps, software and other things. I picked up an autographed copy of Brenda Dougall Merriman’s Genealogy in Ontario:  Searching the Records (Fourth Edition) and a used copy of The Little Immigrants:  The Orphans Who Came to Canada by Kenneth Bagnall, one of the earlier books (1980) about Home Children.
  10. Life Gems Personal Histories was also at the Market Place. Christine Cowley has put together a book and workbook to help capture stories and memories to pass on to the people you love, to ensure that these aren’t lost. From her website:

“I am intrigued to think how little most of us talk about ourselves with the people closest to us,” says Cowley. “I finally realized that what people need is a really simple and fun way to do that.”

With busy lives it’s hard to find time to chat or write down family stories, and revelations or deeply felt emotions are often never shared. Some things are just too hard to say. The result is that great stories and sentiments are lost.

“As individuals we are the only ones who can talk about who we are, what we think and why we do or did things a particular way,” says Cowley. “I was always told that my grandmother Eva, who died when my father was a child, had a similar personality to mine. Maybe that was another way for my parents to say, ‘She doesn’t get it from me!’ but given the unconventional life my grandmother chose, I feel proud to have her genes. What I wouldn’t give to have just a few lines she might have written about herself.” 

I picked up a copy of the book/workbook set and look forward to using it myself and possibly with some family members. 

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