Sunday, August 14, 2016

IAJGS 2016 - Seattle

Attendees at the "Blogger Breakfast" Banai Feldstein, Emily Garber, Judy Russell (conference banquet speaker), Steve Jaron, Mary-Jane Roth.  Missing from the photo, Lara Diamond and Janice Seller

     I started this blog by saying that it would include my adventures in genealogy, so I thought I'd post a bit about my week at the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies (IAJGS) annual conference in Seattle.  This is my fourth conference (Paris, Boston, and Salt Lake City), and I thought that I might find fewer sessions of interest and have some time to walk around the neighborhood.  I was wrong.  There were so many intriguing presentations that I couldn't get to everything.  Most days started at 7:30 AM and ended about 10PM.  In the few spaces where I wasn't going to a presentation, I met with folks that I had corresponded with about shared research, or new folks whose shared interests had become apparent in discussions during presentations we had both attended.

I was interested in several of the "tracks"; Hungary, Ukraine, DNA research,  research techniques so there were many things to choose from.  New at this conference was a detailed session on the requirements to become a Certified Genealogist.  That is something that I will probably explore further.  There was also a workshop on writing your family stories that gave me some good ideas.  Several presentations about Hungarian research gave me a way forward towards finding out more about my Hungarian grandfather, which is exciting.

At the Ukraine Special Interest Group meeting I gave a short presentation about a document acquisition and translations project I am working on, and as a result I found more people willing to work on the difficult translations of some of the documents.  That was a real win for me, too.  Other presentations highlighted new records that have been located and will be available for the area where my Lieberman great grandparents lived.

I did have time to visit the exhibitors hall as well.  I bought two more FTDNA kits (on sale!) and worked with the folks there to answer some questions I had on the kits I manage. DNA research is a new area and I find it complex, but the presentations during the conference really helped me to structure the problems that I want to solve, so that the DNA results can provide answers.

In addition to the regular presentations there was an extensive selection of Jewish themed short films running all during the conference.  I didn't get to see many, but I was a volunteer monitor for a film about the Jews of Cuba that was a new area for me.  There was also a showing of "Woman in Gold", a feature length film about a woman who goes to court to recover art looted by the Nazis from her family.  The lawyer who won the case, Randy Schoenberg, is now a genealogist and spoke after the film.  We also had a live theater presentation of the play "Door to Door" by the Seattle Jewish Theater  Group.

A nice addition to my conference experience this year was a "Blogger's Breakfast" arranged by fellow blogger Emily Garber.  We gathered at 6:30AM (!) in a hotel restaurant and spent a pleasant hour or so discussing what we had learned at the conference.  It was an opportunity for me to get to know some folks whose blogs I have learned from.  I hope that this becomes a regular feature where we can share blogging approaches and genealogy tips.

All in all, this was another excellent conference.  The organization was splendid and the selection of speakers and events appealed to the novice and seasoned attendees.  I'm already looking forward to "Next year in Orlando!"