Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Day Four ~ SCGS Jamboree Wrap Up

Here are my thoughts on the last day of Jamboree, and my thoughts about the entire conference…
We woke up extra early to attend the breakfast sponsored by the New England Historic Genealogical Conference.   Rhonda McClure spoke about the interesting and humorous genealogy patrons she has worked with at the reference desk on the fourth floor of the NEHG library.  These stories were interesting to me since they were so varied, everything from ethnic genealogy question to research stumpers.  I know Rhonda from the library, but I have never heard her speak before.

Perhaps Vincent and I were the only New Englanders at the breakfast?  We had fun meeting everyone at our table, all native Californians with New England roots.  Some even had New Hampshire ancestors.  Most interesting was the blind researcher who sat next to Vincent.  I never want to hear anyone ever complain about microfilm, reading manuscripts, or illegible handwriting again after talking about genealogy with this gentleman.  I can’t imagine the difficulties he encounters every day doing the most simple research tasks.  Yet here he was smiling enjoying family history.  What an inspiration!

As for disabilities, I have a walking disability (leg brace) and I found Jamboree easy to navigate.  I took frequent breaks (there were half hour breaks between sessions), and there was plenty of sitting during lectures for "get off your feet" time.  I needed an ECV (as Disney calls them "electronic convenience vehicles") for Disneyland the day before we headed to Burbank, but I didn't need on for Jamboree. I know many attendees had wheelchairs and power chairs, and fortunately Jamboree is all one level, although there are many doors between the buildings which can be difficult without those large buttons to open them automatically (no buttons at this venue).  I've been to many multi-level conferences, and the stairs can be a difficulty, and elevators can become over crowded between sessions. I didn't see any lines for elevators this week.  There were no sign language interpreters.  

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Southern California Genealogy Society, it was “Celebrate the 60s Day”.  There were many attendees wearing colorful tie-died T-shirts, and lots of hippies with flowers in their hair wandering the halls.  I also saw a few miniskirts, sheath dresses, and go go boots.

Next I attended a writing class “How to Write a Personal History that Captures Your Interesting Life” by author Dawn Thurston.  She had some great ideas on using expository writing to make boring genealogy reports come to life as stories anyone, even non-relatives, would enjoy reading.  Some of her ideas might help my blogging.  Dawn’s syllabus was an excellent writing guide, and included a list of great books she thought had some nice examples of interesting and engaging writing.  I hadn’t read any of the books on the list (yet!)

Major serendipity!  I ran into this writing class late and took an empty seat next to a complete stranger.  He turned and said “Heather!” and introduced himself as one of Vincent’s business associates (and genealogy buff) from the Burbank area.  Vincent had told him we would be at Jamboree, and he attended Saturday and Sunday.  I hope he had a great experience, too!

Since it was the last day, we wandered the expo hall again and made some last minute book purchases, picked up brochures and business cards and schmoozed with vendors.  There were several ethnic associations I don’t see at New England conferences, such as Hispanic, Japanese and Korean associations.  Unfortunately the Hispanic groups at Jamboree had a slant towards Mexican, Central American and South American culture and heritage and didn’t include Spain and Portugal. 

We ended the day with Leland Meitzler’s lecture on “Your Ancestor’s Migration through Canals, Rivers and Waterways.”  I was disappointed that he covered rivers, coasts and migrations west but ran out of time just before the canal information.  I have ancestors who financed the construction of the Middlesex Canal, traveled New England canal systems, and migrated to cities in New England to work in the mills powered by the water in man-made canal systems.  Maybe I can catch this talk by Leland again at a different conference.

One personal observation:  the front end of the conference was loaded with the “Big” speakers, such as John Colletta, Judy Russell, Steve Morse, and Maurice Gleeson.  I noticed that the pickings for Sunday classes only had one talk by Steve Morse no other big draw lecturers, and that the attendance was definitely sparser. 

I missed the last session to meet up with a first cousin, who gave us a quick tour of the Burbank area before we had to get to the airport to take the “Red Eye” home to Boston.    It was a whirlwind four days in Burbank between DNA Day, Jamboree, blogger reunions, meeting close and distant cousins,  hanging out with some of my favorite genealogy speakers, overloads of genealogy information and lack of sleep. 

When can I do it all again?

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Copyright © 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Sunday is always a bit sparse - some people leave early because of flights and not wanting to stay another night and others leave because of Samford, which is probably where all the big names disappeared to. It is really hard to be a speaker on a Sunday and have the room pretty empty - but that's how it goes. And on one hand, it kinda takes the edge off of a complicated talk and can make it into more of a conversation.

    And remember - there is always next year!

    1. Thanks for the explanation, Elyse. I felt badly for those speakers who had only a handful of people in their rooms.