What happens at Jamboree...gets put on my blog: The classes!


I started my Jamboree journey off by taking "Elusive Immigrants" with Warren Bittner. This lesson focused on exhaustive research and what exactly that is. Warren shared with us his research on two of his ancestors. The first case study proved fairly easy and the exhaustive research was not as exhausting as the second case study. In the second case study, Warren shared with us his story of  the 3 brothers John, and all of the documents he had to procure in order to try and prove which John was his direct line.

I found Warren to be humorous and educational. He was clear and concise in his presentation, and made it clear just what exhaustive research is and just how exhausting it can be.

After Warren's class, I attended David Lambert's "Using AmericanAncestors.org" so that I could expand my research resources. David too was funny, and the class was much shorter than slated. Though I got to see visuals and hear someone explain to me how best to use this database, I feel that I could have just as easily learned from the syllabus, and should have taken a different class instead. But, live and learn.

For my last class of the day, I took John Schmal's "Research in Central Mexico." This was a very intriguing class for me as I didn't know about the many Native tribes of Mexico. Having lived in the States my whole life, and only having an interest recently in history, I was only familiar with the Native tribes of my own country, and then only vaguely so. The record finding process for research in Mexico is very similar to that in any other country, but John shed some light on historical events, timelines of available records, surnames that were originally from Spain, and more. He seemed very excited and knowledgeable about his subject, and I enjoyed his class.


Bright and early Saturday, I got to enjoy Cath Trindle's two classes on Irish and Scottish research. Though I was already familiar with many of the resources she shared, there were some that I was not. What I really hope she focuses on in future classes are the Scot-Irish, as she had mentioned they have a very involved history and course of research which she did not have time to cover.

Before lunch I enjoyed Tony Burroughs' lecture on the Freedman's Bureau. He explained that this is not just a "black" resource, but also one full of value for "whites." He told of the various records kept by the Freedman's Bureau and what to look for. Tony was entertaining and informative, however, I feel that he should have included materials from his Power Point in the syllabus material. With so much information coming at a fairly quick pace, it would have been very helpful to not have to cram to write so many notes.

After eating, I made the mistake of sitting in on a lecture about editing, designing, and publishing family history books. Though the speaker was engaging, the materials covered were not what I had expected. When I decided to take the class, I thought that I would actually be learning about how to edit, design, and publish a family history. Instead, the presenter showed us a little about how books are produced, told us we should find an editor, and that was when I tuned out. The rest was not pertinent to my endeavors. (By the way, in addition to doing genealogical research, I am an a freelance editor who is more than happy to help you work on your family history project.) I am sure that someone attending this class may have found it informative, but for me and the two people in my party, we felt it was time that would have been better served in a different class...like Lisa Louise Cook's "Google Earth's Virtual Tour of Your Ancestor's Home."

To end my day of educational ventures, I spent two hours with Kerry Bartels of the Riverside Branch of the National Archives Record Administration (NARA). This was another database I wanted to familiarize myself with. Kerry was fun to listen to and really gave some good information on how best to access the volumes of records that are available on the NARA website. For instance, if you search for the keyword "seamen" you will get vastly different results than if you searched for "sailor." It all depends on the name on the document. He shared with us some tips to really make our experience with the NARA website a more rewarding, and less frustrating experience.


By Sunday my brain was numb with exhaustion and information overload. But I trucked right on along and attended some classes. I took Lou Szucs "Court Records" class to begin with. This was a good class that explained the kinds of things that might be found in the courthouse. She shared samples of letters and such, and the information gleaned from such an item. Lou was enjoyable to listen to.

At 10:00 I took Kory Meyerink's "What Could Have Happened" class. This class focused on creating and proving a hypothesis. I felt that even though I "knew" a lot of what Kory presented, it really helped to have it laid out so clearly. I look forward to using his strategies in the near future.

After lunch, I sat in on Thomas MacEntee's "It Is Well With My Soul" which focused on how to find your ancestors amid disaster and misfortune. This was the class that had the best syllabus material. I had to write down virtually nothing (thank you Thomas)! As anyone who has listened to Thomas on Blog Talk Radio, or at a lecture, in a webinar, etc., knows he is entertaining and engaging. It was a great class that I'm glad I took.

Finally, I ended the day, and Jamboree with Tony Burroughs' class on funeral homes and cemeteries. Again, Tony was engaging and knowledgeable, but his syllabus material still did not match his Power Point materials which would have been far more helpful.

There were many other classes I wanted to take, but could not. Fortunately, however, I do have the printed syllabus from Jamboree which contains the information from each of the classes. Though I won't be able to learn everything that was taught, I will at least get a good idea of the materials.

To SCGS and all the lecturers, thank you!


  1. Excellent summaries - soundsl ike you really broadened your knowledge and came away with useful information.

  2. Thank you for the insight into the classes you took and your impressions of them. I really enjoyed the web viewing of Bartel's NARA class and found him to be a riot. I took the editing class you referenced at a previous conference and had similar thoughts about it. Glad you had fun!