Genealogy Overload: Finding Time to Find Your Family

Genealogy of the Lee family of Virginia and Maryland, courtesy of the Library of Congress Print and Photographs Online Catalog.

Okay, so who out there was at the Virtual Conference?  I was!

Once again it was fantastic, and I was very excited to “see” everyone there.  I even had a couple of local friends join in on the fun.  Yay—people nearby who can relive the event with me!  Yes, I can be excitable; it is just one of those things.

I had every intention of spending the weekend on my couch plugged into my laptop, but last minute activities crept into my life.  On Friday I went to a birthday lunch for two of my girlfriends.  That meant a whole day out, and only the evening to spend on the computer.  Saturday was even worse.   I was in a field in Maryland, chasing my boys around and occasionally sneaking peaks at my phone.  That evening the whole family met up with a cousin.  He and his wife were in DC doing research and we met in Old Town Alexandria, Va. for dinner.  We started corresponding online last spring and this was the first time we had ever met!  Then Sunday afternoon was spent at a friend’s house building various items in their garage.

To say that I packed my weekend is an understatement.  I went from telling people “Stay away or else!” to “It’s my weekend, so sure let’s fill it with activities; you all know I can’t say no.” Weak…I am so weak.  Thankfully, because it was a virtual conference, I didn’t need to worry about trying to reschedule activities with my family or missing out on an opportunity to meet a cousin.  I looked at the chat board from my phone, iPad and computer as often as I could and still learned a lot.

I have not viewed all of the video sessions yet, but have watched quite a few. The genealogy tech track has been wonderful.  So many little hints, tips and tricks I am dying to put to good use.  As I have always loved looking at old maps, I particularly liked the presentation on finding historical maps by Lisa Louise Cooke.  The presentation by Thomas McEntee on research logs was serendipitous.  I was lamenting recently to a friend about how I need a better system of research then what I am using now.  The scraps of paper tacked to my corkboard and website clippings on Evernote just are not cutting it.

Over the next couple of weeks I am planning on watching a video a day while the kids are at school.  Yes, I am trying to pace myself so that I don’t end up sitting in my jammies all day getting a crick in my neck going into genealogy overload.  I am sure my family would appreciate it too; after all I do need to feed and take care of them.  They can get cranky when I don’t.

Another one of my favorite parts was reading the discussion boards.  I learned so much and had fun interacting with conference attendees online.  Due to my schedule I wasn’t able to actively participate in the live chats, but I have read all the transcripts.  Wow!  It was so great to hear what everyone likes, doesn’t like and all their hints for successful genealogy research. I feel as if my head is about to explode.

My question for you is this: Is that how people feel after they leave a brick and mortar conference too?   Do you feel like your head will explode if you try and cram one more piece of information into it?  I am so very, very thankful that I was able to download all the presentations and chats.  If I had to remember all that, or write it all down, half of it would have been lost before I ever got back home.

Guess who will be there, again, next time!!

Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va.

Register now for our Winter 2013 Virtual Conference, and save $50 with coupon code WINTERVCEARLY.

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