Sunday, August 4, 2013

Family History Expos 10th Anniversary in Colorado Springs

Scenes from the Aug. 2-3 Family History Expo in Colorado Springs, CO
10th Anniversary Edition

After spending the month of July in the hospital recovering from major surgery, my husband Larry was happy to accompany me to the 10th Anniversary Edition of Holly Hansen's Family History Expo in Colorado Springs, CO last Friday and Saturday. And I was thrilled that he could join me in this our 5th FHExpo in as many years.

We were welcomed with hugs as we greeted dear friends that we've made from previous Expos. And we were delighted to attend classes by experts in the Family History world. Larry was limited in the time he could spend in classes and rested throughout most of the two days we were at the Hotel Elegante.

James Tanner opened the Expo with an enlightening Keynote Address in which he shared his Top Ten Techniques for research:

1. Use the tools available (tablets, smartphones, computers, etc)
2. Search for every ancestor, not just the ones we like
3. Move beyond user submitted trees and copying pedigrees
4. Do the the dates and ages add up?
5. Look at the bigger picture; where and when did your ancestors live?
6. Look in newspapers and other sources.
7. Keep a record of all the places you look.
8. Cite your sources
9. Acquire new skills; attend conference, engage in socializing
10. Organize and share your results

I attended a class on the Flip-Pal scanner. I've used mine to scan thousands of photos, but always learn something new from the experts. I learned that I need to download the newer version of the software when I finish writing this blog post!

The third class I attended was given by Bradley Monson on effective Google searches. I was happy to know of a link he shared at

Bradley Monson's wife Sharon presented a good class on the Top Ten Online Catches in which she exposed us to sites such as the National Archives, State Archives, County Record Inventories, College Libraries and others that are often overlooked by the casual researcher. Sharon is developing a new business that will offer ways for us to do smarter research. A book is forthcoming and this site will be "live" in October:

My favorite class session was given by James Tanner and was called "How to Ask for Help". Here are some of his tips:

1. Don't get overwhelmed
2. Prepare before you arrive
3. Once you arrive, be sure to ask for help. If the person you ask doesn't know, ask to be guided to someone who might know the answer. In a Library, not everyone knows everything!
4. Don't expect volunteers or staff to do your research for you. But it helps if you have a cheerful countenance.
5. Follow the advice of the person you ask.
6. If you ask for help, be ready to tell the whole story. Tell them where you've already looked. Know when and where: what time period and in what county or part of the county.
7. Don't give up!

James added a second part to his class in which he shared information with us about using local history books in our research, using online books, visiting libraries. My favorite quote from this session was "Libraries are like vacuum cleaners. They pick up a lot of stuff!"

James Tanner also presented to a packed audience a class on the Family Search Research Wiki. Following that class I attended another class given by Sharon Monson which informed us of the effectiveness of using the Family Search Catalog. And again I took in a class taught by James Tanner (if he was teaching a class, I was there!) on the FamilySearch Family Tree. I was happy to learn more about the structure of the Family Tree and how it is set up to eliminate duplicates as we "go on down the road".

It was great fun to meet Jen Baldwin, a fellow Colorado Genea-Blogger, who is a professional in the field. Even though I maintain about 6 or 7 blogs, I can always use a good dose of motivation and I got that from Jen's presentation!

The time we spent at the Family History Expo was so rewarding this year. We were ready for a weekend "get-away", a change of scenery from hospitals and nursing homes, time to visit with cousin Sharon Landers Koleber, fellow Canon City residents Becky Booher, Phyllis Pollard, Mickey Wells, and the Directors of our local FamilySearch Center Ken and Lureen Orchard and Expo friends Ruby Coleman, James Tanner, Holly Hansen and a Colorado Springs Vendor friend. Yes, we have to get out of town to have time to visit with the locals!

With an Early-Bird Registration fee of $59/person, this was the bargain of the year for us and anyone else interested in learning more about family history research or anyone just looking for a chance to talk to others about their family history. We're anxious for next year's conference and are grateful to Holly Hansen for giving us this wonderful opportunity to hone our skills and fellowship with like-minded family historians.

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