Saturday, April 18, 2015

What did you miss at the 2015 NERGC conference?

Providence, Rhode Island, as seen from our hotel room

For those of you who missed the 2015 NERGC conference in Providence, Rhode Island, all I can say is “Wow!”   At least you are all well rested and don’t have sore feet.  We were busy running around from dawn until well after dusk learning, socializing, and networking.  Here is my list of highlights:

1.  If you leave New Hampshire at 5am you will beat the traffic to Providence, Rhode Island only if you DON’T take Route 128.  

2.  The best part of NERGC is meeting old friends as soon as you step into the hotel lobby.  The first friend I met was Jen Baldwin of Find My Past  and the Ancestral Breezes blog – all the way from Colorado.

3.   The first thing I checked out at the conference center was the query board.  Did you know there was a “Northeastern Smith DNA Project”?   There are over 600 participants and 67 groups in this project, and special interest in descendants of Ulster Presbyterian (Scots Irish) Smiths to New Hampshire.  Contact N. Smith at  

Jennifer Zinck, Yours Truly, Rev. Blackstone
and Marian Pierre-Louis
4. Rev. William Blackstone (1595 – 1675) gave the opening keynote address.   Did you know he was the first settler at Boston, and also an early settler at Providence, Rhode Island?   Read all about him at Wikipedia

5.  The local repositories and archives in Providence and nearby were open extra hours while the NERGC conference was in town.  Smart move with over 900 genealogists in town!
6.  Frugal Yankee genealogists find ways to attend conferences without spending big bucks.  Half of my genealogist friends were doing the following:

                a.  Staying with friends, relatives, and relatives of relatives near Providence

                b.  Commuting by car, train and commuter rail from the Boston area.  One drove four hours to and from upstate, New York arriving in time for the first session at 8:30am and leaving after the last session at 5:45pm. 

                c.  Many folks were packing  food bars, sandwiches and  water bottles for the duration instead of buying the overpriced (and definitely not tasty) cafĂ© sandwiches from the convention center.

                d.  Volunteering and going to the free events, but still sharing the social fun and excitement

7.  Newly minted conference speaker (and blogger) Dave Robison not only gave his first major conference talk (and it was terrific), but on the first day, with just a moment’s notice,  he also filled in for another speaker who couldn’t make it.  So he got to practice his talk twice!  Yay, Dave!

New England "Pirate Expert" David Allen Lambert with Yours Truly

8.  The Acts and Resolves of Massachusetts, which is kept at the Massachusetts State Archives, contains the early records of the laws against piracy in the 1700s.  Was your ancestor a pirate?  I have Thomas Tew of Rhode Island in my family tree, or is it just a myth?  Click here to read more about him,    David Allen Lambert of NEHGS gave a talk about pirates, and he wants to consult with anyone who has researched the Tew family.  You can contact David at the New England Historic Genealogical Society    

9.  There is a definite lack of diversity at NERGC.  There were very few faces of color in the audiences, or among the speakers.  I was happy to see fellow blogger, Cheryl Holley, speaking about Native Americans in New England, and one African American genealogy society in the expo hall.  Where were the other people of color, Hispanics, and religious genealogy societies, attendees and speakers?

10.  A class on Canon law was incredibly interesting, especially since I’m not Roman Catholic, but I've been working on my husband’s Spanish ancestors, and my new son-in-law’s family tree is all Irish, Italian and French Canadian.  If you ever have a chance to take this class by George Findlen, take it!

11.  There is a definite need for a genea-singles mixer or cocktail hour at genealogy conferences. 

The Genealogy Blogger Special Interest Group
12.  Our Genealogy Blogger Special Interest Group was a big success!  Here are six “new to me” New England bloggers:

Jake Fletcher-  Jake Fletcher's Genealogy Project  

Connie Billy of New Jersey – “Genealogy Journeys”

Janice Hamilton and others, from Montreal, Canada

Kate Lowrie   “Kate’s  Kin-nections”, from Massachusetts

Genevive De Haan,  “Massachusetts Backwards”    

Kathleen McCracken, of Virginia “Pine Trees and Pedigrees”   

Best of all!  At the luncheon today, sponsored by the Massachusetts Genealogical Council, Judy Russell challenged everyone to throw a $1 bill on the table to be collected for the "Preserve the Pensions Project".  This project benefits efforts to digitize the pension records from the War of 1812 to be put online, at a cost of 40 cents per page. had pledged to match all donation, and there were about 200 people present.   The Federation of Genealogical Societies would also match all donations, making this a win-win proposition.

What was the final donation?

Well, over $1,300 was collected, making the final donation, after matches, over 20,000 pages!
This is just some of the genealogy bloggers who were at NERGC this week.
Do you recognize these faces?

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Copyright © 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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