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NGS Conference in North Carolina

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Written by Jeanne Rollberg

NGS Conference in North Carolina Offers Family Research and Networking in May

There’s a lot of excitement in the genealogy world related to several recent and upcoming events. In March, AncestryDNA’s Genetic Communities maps showed the beginnings of migration patterns for North American ancestors in DNA clusters for those from about 1750-1850, and it showed us what communities we ourselves may belong to. For an overview, see 770,000 Tubes of Spit Help Map America’s Great Migrations.”  Genetic communities and (many other) family history topics will be woven into the the National Genealogical Society’s Family History Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina from May 10-13.  

Explore the Tar Heel State: Ready, Set, Go!

The conference in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill research triangle offers excellent research opportunities intertwined with social events held at research and museum locations a well as pre-convention opportunities.   

Just in time for the NGS conference, David A. Fryxell’s North Carolina State Research Guide appears in the May-June 2017 Family Tree Magazine. Check out the guide either in print or online, as it includes information related to archives and organizations, publications, state settlement, Native American History, military history, and slave history resources in the state.  State Research Guide: North Carolina – Family Tree Magazine

Exhibits can often further our research as well. Related to topic of race, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences near the convention center will host The Race Exhibit, a project of the American Anthropological Association. And for researchers who are interested in military history, the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh will host the interactive North Carolina and World War I exhibit. (By the way, The North Carolina Genealogical Society’s Society Night is a free event Thursday, May 11 that will be located at the Museum of History, and all exhibits will be available. Mix history with socializing.)

Jumpstart Research in North Carolina: Preparation

Successful genealogy researchers know to prepare research questions and explore local opportunities online to save precious time “on the ground” at upcoming research locations. For those conducting family research in North Carolina, J. Mark Lowe, chair of the NGS 2017 conference, has written “Family History Lives Here: A Story Behind Every Door” in the January–March NGS Magazine. His article highlights resources at the State Archives of North Carolina in Raleigh and the State Library of North Carolina (Government and Heritage Library), also in Raleigh.  He also recommends the North Carolina Digital Collections to begin investigating myriad historic and current topics.

NGS says that for those interested in religious research, there are the Moravian Archives in Winston-Salem (about two hours from Raleigh), and Raleigh’s Shaw University, a historically black institution – the oldest HBCU in the south – that has an important divinity school with associated records at the  G. Franklin Wiggins Library | Shaw University

Duke University in Durham, N.C., also holds unique religious resources such as Latin and Greek manuscripts in the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.

http://library.duke.edu/  The Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem has worthwhile Digital Collections as well as on-site resources.  

Are you interested in politics and literature related to North Carolina? The state has political and literary favorites such as William Jennings Bryan and Thomas Wolfe, who both resided across the state from Raleigh in Asheville. The Louis Round Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill has a collection about Thomas Wolfe that may be explored after prior contact.  And while in North Carolina, you may mine research collections about the three presidents who were born in the state:  Andrew Jackson, James Polk, and Andrew Johnson. North Carolina’s Presidents | NC DNCR  As for Johnson, you can see his birthplace location and associated birth home replica while in Raleigh.

If you will be visiting archives and libraries, be sure to check out days and hours ofresearch, as some will have extended hours related to the conference. On the other hand, some archives/libraries/historical societies have very limited hours/days, and you’ll need to know that, too, in case those are research-mission critical.  You’ll also want to know the rules of research at each library – may photos be taken with mobile devices? May scanners be brought in? Are certain collections off limits or in need of preparation ahead of time?

Taking Advantage of Pre-Convention Planning

If you are attending the convention in person from out of state, it’s especially important to go through the program either by the NGS app or online to determine which sessions seem most vibrant in terms of your interests. Conventions with 10 sessions per hour can feel overwhelming if we don’t “do our homework” to organize at least some schedules ahead of time. Nationally known speakers will present about areas of their expertise.  NGS Conference | PROGRAM – NGS Conference

The categories of sessions can help us see at a glance what’s most important: BCG Skillbuilding, DNA, Research Planning, North Carolina, Historical Context, Working with Records, Tips and Techniques, Military, Records and Repositories, and Methodology are this year’s categories.  

For those not attending the conference who still want to benefit from sessions, NGS will Live Stream 10 lectures, with five being in the Board for Certification of Genealogists Skillbuilding area and five being about DNA problem solving. Details about the streaming arrangements for both members and non-members are available at the PlaybackNGS site.

If we develop research questions and plans, discover the nearby resources, scour the NGS program for key presentations, determine what historical sites to explore in North Carolina, the week “where family history lives” will be a success.


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