19 February 2010

Julie Miller, CPE (Conference Planner Extraordinare)

Kudos to our own Julie Miller, who, as National Conference Chair for the 2010 NGS Family History Conference has put together a fresh, internationally-focussed compilation of lectures over four days that will set your genealogical course for the next many months of research.

The NGS conference takes place April 28-May 1 in Salt Lake City. Only a few times over the span of several years do we Westerners get a chance to be within driving distance of a national conference. And folks, this is Salt Lake City! And, at the risk of reciting a lame cliche, “I hear there’s a pretty good library there.”

The only bad news is, the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, located next door to the Library, is already full up (no surprise there). The Radisson is the central conference hotel.

The conference will be held in the Salt Palace Convention Center, in the back side, located a short distance from the hotel, only a few steps from your room! If you’ve been to conferences in the past in Salt Lake City, you know we’ve had to walk clear down the block and around the corner and walk another loooong block to the entrance to the Salt Palace, but this year, it’s a much shorter walk.

The Family History Library has extended its research hours until 11PM, with shuttle buses offering rides from the Library back to three of the designated conference hotels (Radisson, Shiloh, and Crystal Inn), all the more reason to stay at one of these hotels. This eliminates walking late at night, although I’ve never been worried about unsavory characters on the streets of the Mormon City.

There is lots of information about the conference, including the conference program at www.ngsgenealogy.org, at Conferences and Events.

So get a carpool together, update your genealogy database, grab your credit card to load up your FHL research card for making copies and CDs, and register for the conference. In case I didn’t mention it, it’s within driving distance!

Or, do the Duff Method of travel: take the train. Amtrak leaves Denver early in the morning, clickety-clacks through the scenic mountains of Colorado and plains of Utah, arriving in Salt Lake City in time to make it to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. And then, on the way back home, you can spend all your time entering your new data into your genealogy program. Or, more to my liking, catching up on your sleep.

Either way, it’s a good year to be a Westerner.

Genealogy Lobby Day at the Capitol

Thursday, Feb 18th, Corinne Knasinski, Sandy Johansen, Kimberly Smith and Bobbi King met in the basement of the Capitol to plan their Lobby Day activities. By 11 AM they were up on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Capitol, knocking on and opening doors to the offices of the Colorado state senators and house representatives.

That day, there were third readings of several bills on the floor, (the last reading of a bill before it comes up for vote), so we were not surprised that few legislators were personally in their offices but were hard at work elsewhere. We talked to legislative aides, a few interns, and left the handout on the desks of absent legislators. We did get a chance to talk to three legislataors: Sen. Bob Bacon of Larimer County (Ft. Collins; he said he knows about the Larimer County Genealogical Society); Sen. Betty Boyd of Lakewood (Bobbi and Sandy are her constituents, so she paid lots of attention to us); and we briefly met Sen. Evie Hudak (Westminster and Arvada) out in the hall.

We were very encouraged and excited by the positive reception of our “Hi, We’re Genealogists” introductions of ourselves. One legislative aide admitted that he had to do some genealogy for his representative, looking up the tartan for imprinting for the Christmas cards. One aide told us her aunt is a reference librarian in Trinidad, and that she understands the kinds of research we do from hearing about her aunt’s work. One young man belatedly confessed he had been on Ancestry.com, but couldn’t figure out how to find anything. (I didn’t tell him, neither can I!). As we walked the halls, a couple of people waved back to us in recognition, so we thought we must have gained some memorable impact.

Corinne prepared an exceptionally nice handout. An in-color one-pager, with the story on the backside of the Boulder Jane Doe story, which was very eye-catching and of recent vintage. The front side had our task force name as a header, with our two co-ordinators’ contact information, with text of our goals and intentions. She used a heavier-weight paper, one that handles well and will stand out among a pile of papers, and it was just such a professionally high-standard product, it was a pleasure to hand out.

The halls of the government were a busy place that day. Lots of men and women in dark suits, lobbyists collaring the legislators as they emerged from offices and the voting floor and gathering them in small groups throughout the corridors. The afternoon was devoted to committee hearings and meetings, so we were not surprised that we met few representatives in person.

We finished our work shortly after noon, had lunch in the cafeteria, did a wrap-up until about 1 P M, then we left the capitol.

We all agreed this was a fantastic place to be : the stained glass windows, the busts (bronze, not cleaved), historic plaques, polished staircases, sober-looking black-suited men and women of apparent purpose, all surrounded by Colorado history fairly exuding from the silent walls. Young conservatively-dressed men and women who were likely the future lawmakers of Colorado were talking earnestly into cell phones as they sat cross-legged tucked into hallway crevasses. They contrasted sharply with the noisy elementary school kids whose voices echoed off the marble walls, and the teenagers who mounted the stairs tenuously as they paid more attention to their cell phones than where their chaperones were headed.

As we four parted ways, we declared the day a success, as we found our bearings and prepared the way for future Lobby Days.