Thursday, July 28, 2011

Breaking Through Logjams

Ever hit a point where you are stuck in your research and not really sure where to go next?  I’ve learned to trust that new directions will come, but that I have to actively seek out new information and connections for that to happen.  An opportunity to do just that will occur next month. Each summer Jewish genealogists gather for the International Jewish Genealogy Conference.  This year it is in Washington, DC, although many are already planning ahead for next year’s conference in Paris.  I am no exception hoping to meet with a third cousin in Paris who I’ve connected with via e-mail after tracing the family through records from the International Tracing Service.  But first we have one more American conference and DC is a good location as it is home to the National Archives and the Holocaust Museum as well as other resources that I look forward to learning more about. 

I’ve begun to peruse the schedule to figure out what to attend and like many conferences it forces choices between sessions that are often equally appealing.  An excellent film festival accompanies the conference so one could easily attend only films and be quite content. 

A resource center offers many databases that are not normally available without fees and many of my breakthroughs have come at the conference through those resources.  In Chicago an obituary I found gave me information that allowed me to trace a sibling of my great-great grandfather back to Belarus.  At the LA conference the Jewish Chronicle gave me core information on my British and Scottish relatives that subsequently made sense when I gathered one more puzzle piece.  This year I noted that there are several British newspaper archives as well as that very useful Jewish Chronicle to continue my UK search.

The conference also piques my interest in a variety of new areas, continually expanding my knowledge base and sending me off in new directions.  At the last conference I learned how to create search engines that I incorporated into my Shtetlink websites.  I first became interested in learning Russian from a conference workshop a few years ago and later became intrigued with social and political history from a historian’s lecture.  At the last conference I attended a workshop on creating family histories through interviews and committed to doing one in the following year.  With twelve completed between my Jewish Identity & Legacy project and my Radom project, I knocked that one out of the ballpark.  The presenter from last year is now doing a seminar on using visual images as part of family stories, something I know a little about as an artist.  He’s asked to include one of my paintings in his talk so I’ll have to attend that one.

The conference is also a good opportunity to meet with genealogy friends, both old and new.  As I do two Shtetlinks, I frequently am contacted for information by others researching family from those towns.  The conference will allow me to meet several of my correspondents.

For those of us who have had considerable success in our research the challenge is always where to go from here.  The conference is a good way to break through those logjams through meeting with others and learning of new approaches.  I’m not quite sure where this one will lead, but I’ve learned that if one comes to it eager to learn and curious about new information, the unexpected may just happen.  For more information on the conference see 2011 IAJGS Conference.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure that attendance at the conference will give you just the spark you need to decide where to go from here. I can identify with not really being sure where to go next. It's happened often -- but then something always happens.