Sunday, April 8, 2012

Houston Family History Expo Recap

This weekend was the Houston Family History Expo. I wasn't available for the Friday afternoon/evening portion of it, but I did attend all day Saturday. Here is my recap:

I got to the conference hotel early for registration. I chatted with Sue Kaufman, who heads the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research and is also the president of the Texas State Genealogical Society. I also had nice conversations with dedicated FamilySearch volunteer extraordinaire Fran Ellsworth and Mark Olsen of MyHeritage.

The first session I attended was "Researching North and South Carolina" with Arlene Eakle. My own research is in Buncombe County, North Carolina. Arlene's talk focused on records about 100 years earlier than where I've stopped with my Jones line, so I got an idea of what to expect when I move my line further back.

Session two on my list was "How to Plan and Organize a Family History Book" with Biff and Nancy Barnes of Stories to Tell Books. This presentation was very helpful to me because it provided steps to developing a family history book. The Barnes' provided good examples and had one particular chart that was very valuable to me. I appreciate that this was a *real* genealogy session taught by vendors. At many conferences, genealogy vendors lead sessions that are more like product commercials. The Stories to Tell crew does not do that, for which I am thankful.

There was a break at lunch, so I found Lisa Alzo and we had a nice catch-up chat. Big conference where everyone is rushing around don't afford this opportunity so it was good to have time to visit. I also had a nice chat with Michelle Goodrum and Lisa Louise Cooke.

"Prussia or Germany?" with Barbara Bell was the third session I attended. I have significant German ancestry and I don't know as much about the region's history as I should, so I figured this was a good place to start. The best takeaway from this session was an animated timeline map of the history of Prussia's borders and just how fluid they were as the years passed. No wonder I'm confused about the area!

The last session I attended was "Immigrant Cluster Communities: Past, Present and Future" with Lisa Alzo. I enjoy Lisa's presentations because she always incorporates her own family history into them. She gave some good advice and tips I can use in my own search for my Austrian great-grandmother's immigration to Pennsylvania.

After the Expo was over, I gave Lisa Alzo a ride back to where she was staying with family in Houston. Before we got there, we made a pit stop for dinner at Goode's BBQ. If you ever come to Houston, I'll take you there, too.

Overall, I enjoyed my first Houston Family History Expo experience. Attendance was lower due to the Good Friday and Easter holidays (both widely observed here). Hopefully we get a chance at a next year on a non-holiday weekend and it will be bigger.

Two more Family History Expos are coming up in the near future: Oklahoma Family History Expo on April 11 and Albuquerque Family History Expo on April 13 and 14.

[Disclosure: I was an official blogger at the Houston Family History Expo. I received a complimentary registration. -- A]


  1. Thanks, Amy! It is always great to see you.

  2. Stories to Tell offers editing -- exactly what I have been thinking I need for the "cousin written" manuscript I am wrestling with. I would have never found them on my own ! I am taking one cousin's detailed old fashioned (boring) family tree of names, merging other cousins's facts, including another cousins library of photos, merging clippings, and working in my interest of including history of the various locations. Your blog has been an inspiration as I try and turn this all into interesting prose for the younger generations.

  3. Joneses in Buncombe? The ones out of Rutherford County? (Not that I'm looking for cousins, or anything, of course..., sez this descendant of the Yancey-Mitchell Buchanans whose ancestors include a Buchanan-Jones couple...)