See ya later, Manchester

Given the first two sessions I was starting my morning with, I decided to go for a walk and enjoy the beautiful weather before being cooped up indoors discussing death for a couple of hours.

Manchester is such a wonderful city! Once again I enjoyed roaming the streets. Everything is clean and there are large planters dotted throughout the sidewalks with signs on them  proclaiming Manchester to be a city of walkable neighborhoods.

A woman in the second session was lamenting the fact that she did not purchase a ticket to today’s luncheon, and ended up purchasing mine. As much as I wanted to hear the presentation, the sunshine lured me outside. I gave the Irish pub another try and found them open. Delicious food and Irish music – it was almost as good as being in Ireland.

I’m planning a research trip to PEI next year, so I just had to attend Prince Edward Island Repositories and Records. Melanie McComb sure knows her subject! I’m going home with some great new information and resources to check out.

The final event of the day was the banquet and presentation by D. Joshua Taylor – Family: Links to the Past and Bridges to the Future. If you’ve never heard Josh speak, try to attend one of his lectures if you have the opportunity. He always has interesting family history stories, mostly culled from his own family tree.

I had an amazing weekend and left with new ideas and resolutions for my research. I resolve to:

  • Make a clear research plan
  • Start using timelines
  • Be more mindful of the usefulness of indirect and inferential evidence
  • Be more organized with my research notes

I’m certain I made some of these same resolutions at NERGC 2017. Hopefully I’ll be more successful this time. Regardless, I know I’ll be spending every waking moment during the next few weeks researching!


My second day at NERGC began with a nice breakfast at the hotel followed by a short walk down Elm Street. A VERY short walk! The morning temp was 31F and quite windy. I left my winter coat in my car, and it seemed like too much bother to search the parking garage for my car to get it. The entire walk, I could hear my mother’s voice in my head chastising me for leaving it in the car. I glimpsed some murals down an alleyway, and detoured to check them out. I’m so glad I did!

Once back to the warmth of the hotel, I took a walk through the registration area. As I predicted, there were a bunch more queries added to the board. So many in fact, that they needed to add another board!

The message board only had a few more pinned messages, but I’m guessing that is due to the conference app. I read in one of the updates that more than half of the attendees have downloaded the app.

I did not attend today’s luncheon, so I ventured out into the city. It is amazing how many ethnic restaurants there are in a short radius. Venezuelan, Greek, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Spanish, etc. You definitely won’t go hungry in Manchester! I had intended to have lunch at the Irish pub, but they were having kitchen issues and would be opening late. As my next session would be at 1:45, I ate elsewhere. I chose a Hungarian restaurant, Lala’s Hungarian Pastry. I had a delicious chicken goulash. There was also a huge selection of Hungarian pastries and cookies. I may or may not have bought a small package of assorted cookies to snack on later…

After waddling back from lunch, I headed to the exhibit hall. A lot of people were still at the luncheon or in workshops, so it wasn’t very crowded. There are so many vendors and societies represented. From small, local societies to the big companies like American Ancestors and Ancestry, there is a lot to take in. There are vendors selling just about anything you can think of that is genealogy related. Books, maps, jewelry, family charts, magnets, keychains – everything!

The Gravestone Girls create beautiful artwork from the images found on old New England gravestones.

Tim Firkowski really got into the spirit!

Our Fun Tree had lots of beautiful genealogy related jewelry.

Kelly and Wendy, along with the other volunteers from the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, made sure to let folks know about the benefits of their society.

The day ended with a banquet after which Blaine Bettinger presented The Helen Marley Story. It was a fascinating case study where Blaine identifies his great grandmother’s biological mother utilizing indirect evidence and targeted DNA testing. Genealogists may be the only group of people who can be held spellbound for an hour while someone talks about their research process. Again I had a tableful of interesting dining companions. Between my new friends and Blaine’s great presentation, I was sad when the night ended. C’est la vie. Tomorrow is a new day with new adventures.

NERGC 2019 is underway!

I arrived at the Doubletree in Manchester, NH shortly after 8am having left Little Rhody around 6am. I left my car with the valet, my bag with the front desk, and set out to explore every inch of the conference center. Join me to check it out.

First stop was to check in and get my ‘swag bag’. The bag contained my name tag and meal tickets as well as brochures from different vendors and the daily conference sheets.

The entrance to the conference has tables full of helpful volunteers who can answer just about any questions you can think of. There is also the query board where you can post queries with the hopes of finding someone who can help break down some of your brick walls. Even if you don’t have a query to post, stop by and read through them. Perhaps you’re the one who may have information vital to someone’s research. There is also a message board. So far the messages are from people who are looking for meal tickets or for a place in a sold out workshop.

Don’t be fooled by the pics; there are over 1,000 conference attendees. By Saturday morning, the bits of paper on the query and message boards will be overlapping and fighting for space.

I’ve already met some wonderful people. First timers have an orange dot on their name tags, so I’m trying to be sure to be extra welcoming and to share my conference knowledge. I remember my first conference, a woman gave me a tip. She told me to put my meal tickets and room key behind my name tag in my lanyard so I’d always have them handy and know where they are. I passed that tip on to a newcomer this morning. I hope she finds it as useful as I have.

The opening session with Cyndi Ingle was fantastic. It was titled Genealogy and the Internet – A Match Made in Heaven. For the last 23 years, Cyndi’s List has been the place to go when you’re wondering, “where can I find that? She has compiled an index to over 336,000 online genealogy resources. It is such a valuable research tool.

Next on the agenda was the luncheon with Jennifer Zinck sponsored by the Massachusetts Genealogical Council. The topic was DNA Testing: What Did I Sign Up For? A great presentation that is certainly of interest given how much DNA has been in the news recently. Prior to Jennifer’s presentation, the first annual Shirley M Barnes Records Access Award was presented to Brooke Schreier Ganz of Reclaim the Records. Brooke was unable to attend the conference, but sent in a video thanking MGC for the award. My table companions were delightful and it was nice to finally get the chance to meet my interviewee Carol McCoy in person!

The three lectures I attended today were fun and educational. My favorite was Women’s Suffrage: Their Rights, Roles, and Limitations presented by Michael Strauss. It was a fascinating look at women’s rights throughout history. At one point when discussing historical ages of consent, at what ages girls could become engaged, etc, my mouth dropped open in shock.


NERGC is off to a great start! I’m looking forward to more great lectures tomorrow as well as a visit to the exhibit hall.