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.