Wednesday, October 13, 2010

California Family History Expo Recap, Part 2

Saturday was a busy day, even busier than Friday. I got a later start than I had planned and missed the first class I had wanted to go to but the rest of the day went much more smoothly.  The classes I did take were:

How to Trace the Common Man Through Congressional Records with Arlene Eakle.  I had taken two of her classes the day before and was very impressed and then I took this class and it was just... "mind blowing" might be a cliche but I really can't think of a better way of describing it.  I had been on the fence about taking it until I took her Friday classes.  Even knowing that it would be a high caliber class, I was worried that it would be a little too dry and maybe over my head.  I was so wrong and so glad that I was so wrong.  I sat there listening to her and could literally feel (and it is a great feeling) a whole new world of research opening up to me.  A few months back I found an affidavit that an ancestor of mine gave to Congress and was over the moon.  I realize now that that was just the tip of the iceberg and there are so many new avenues I can take, as well as information to learn.  It also really hit home the fact that so many valuable records aren't available to the general public let alone online or in libraries. 

Putting the Flesh on the Bones with Ron Arons.  Mr. Arons is a masterful storyteller and I found myself captivated by the story of his ancestor who was quite a character (I won't say anymore because it would ruin the class for anyone who hasn't taken it yet).  Through the story, I also learned how to do an in-depth study on a single ancestor to not only flesh them out but to go back further in the line.  The information I gathered in this class has already inspired to me to look at particular brick-wall ancestors and the people and events near to them. 

An Introduction to Ellis Island and Castle Garden with Debbe Hagner.  I think a beginner would really benefit from the class but I found that I already knew a good portion of it.  Some information was new (for instance, did you know it was cheaper to come through Canada than New York?  I didn't.) and the question and answer period after the presentation was very valuable.  I also found myself being reminded of tips and tricks I knew but had forgotten so the class was a great refresher for me.

Think Like An Archivist with Nancy E. Loe.  I couldn't think of a better way to end the Expo than this class.  The insider perspective she gave was really illuminating and educational.  From the joys and travails of discovering, cataloging and deciding what is worth archiving to learning what is and isn't available to the public, the class was excellent. 

Other things worth noting:
  • I got my copy of Professional Genealogy (see part 1 of the recap for more on this)!  Next I need to sign-up for the ProGen study group waiting list
  • I got to meet a second cousin!
  • I got to meet Kathryn Doyle of the California Genealogical Society.  I've been a fan of the Society's blog (authored by Kathryn) for a long and she was so nice and friendly, getting to chat with her was definitely a high point of the Expo for me. 
  • I won a year's subscription to AGES-Online!  Once I start investigating the site, I'll write more about it. 
  • I got to explore Pleasanton and Alameda County.  I've got loads of ancestors from there but never really explored the area outside of Oakland until now.  It was really fun getting to stand on land that my ancestors might have also stood on. 
  • My mother went to two more classes on Saturday for me and enjoyed them!  I don't think she has caught "the bug" but she definitely has a better understanding and appreciation for family history and I'm hopeful that the interest she showing at the Expo will carry on and grow. 
It was a great two days and I cannot wait until next year for the 2011 California Family History Expo.  If you haven't been to one yet, you're really missing out so go check out their calendar of upcoming events and sign-up for one.  Thank you to Family History Expos for coming to Pleasanton and thank you to them for allowing me to be a Blogger of Honor!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary membership to the Expo but no further remuneration.  My mother paid for the classes she attended and I was in no way prompted or compensated for writing this post by anyone connected with Family History Expos, Inc.


  1. Thank you for being a Blogger of Honor! We are so thrilled that you had a good time and found some valuable nuggets of wisdom to help with your genealogy research. Congratulations on the prizes, too! Sounds like a great weekend all around.

    We look forward to seeing you at the 2011 California Family History Expo!

  2. Leah, it was great to meet you at the Expo. It's great to hear that you're on the ProGen waiting list. You'll really enjoy the experience. See you next year! --Amy

  3. Leah,
    Thanks so much for stopping by the CGS Library table and introducing yourself. It was nice to finally meet you. Next time I hope we can spend more time together!


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