Well, wasn't I a lucky girl to spend Saturday last at a workshop with Thomas MacEntee in Carlsbad, CA, hosted by the North San Diego County Genealogical Society? Yes! Got to chat with Thomas a moment before the presentation - and that's always nice - as we compared notes on Palm Springs. But the big guns started firing in the meeting room just after as Thomas proved his rep as a wonderful speaker.
I could post about 20 tips a day from his four topic presentation and not be done in a month or two, it was that packed with information! But the thing of it that I appreciated most is the way he organized everything into a handout with web sites and resources such that you only needed to take a note or two if you had a thought about your own research. He's one of the best, and this coming from a woman who made a living as a corporate trainer for the Fortune 50 and later a college prof. Smooth and graceful is he.
OK, so here goes with a couple of small items that blew me away, in no particular order. And sorry, Thomas, if I'm putting my words in your mouth... yuck.
1. No guilt, no scolding. So we all didn't start citing our sources from day one, and we didn't keep a research log. Who did? Just start as soon as you can and do it in a way that makes you happy and is useful to you ... so that you don't find yourself looking it up again. And if you do have to look it up again, no guilt, no worries, and especially no scolding!
2. Search collateral lines. Collateral lines are those folks not in your direct line of ancestry. We hunt for stuff about them so we can, selfishly, know more about our direct ancestors. Hadn't thought of it that way, but now that I have, can't wait to go back and look some more. This could be very interesting.
3. Privacy: no body had any, ever. Hadn't thought about this either and maybe you'll have to wait to hear Thomas when he comes to your town to really understand what he said, but here's my version. Today we think we're losing privacy. In reality, I can see now that I have way more privacy than my folks did in little Frostburg in Western Maryland, a town in which everyone did really know everyone's business, and couldn't wait to tell everyone else! There are connections there with church, work, and social groups, all with records of some sort. And local newspapers too! Gotta love those:)
4. Timelines. I love timelines. Always have. Did not know there were web sites to do all the heavy lifting for me. That's nice.
5. Chicago! Because Thomas lives in Chicago he knows a ton about the resources there and was super generous in sharing them as his presentation went on, a smattering here and a dollop there. I especially enjoy that because I have direct line people who lived there I want to track down. As he went along I could see how rich the online resources are for the Windy City and could imagine that there would be equally rich resources for other cities of any size. Framing my ancestors in even more of the history of the time and place enriches their story... and keeps me interested.
And those juicy morsels are just from the first topic! See what I mean about not enough time here for all he shared! So "thank you" Thomas for a truly entertaining and professional day.
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