I was very excited to arrive home last night and find a rather large package waiting for me from Jennifer at the Rhode Island Historical Society [Link].
Yesterday the PBS series ‘Genealogy Roadshow’ filmed in Providence, Rhode Island at the amazing Public Library, and Sue and I were able to go and join in on the fun. We had little idea on what to expect to see or do while we were there and I have to say we both were very, very happy with what there was to offer.
We were one of the first few people there on the very windy morning. After a short bit, a camera crew came out and filmed a few short bits talking to some of the folks in line, as well as some of the guests that were going to be on the show. After a short while, we did a few staged ‘Walking into the Library’ shots and the led us to a holding area while they finished setting things up and to get us out of the cold.
I should back up a moment; there is a casting process to get onto the show that must be filled out long ahead of time. The information is on their web site and I would imagine at this point that any submissions would be considered for the next season. The producers (or someone on the crew,) reviews the submissions and they pick the most interesting stories they receive. It then seems that they will then choose the cites they film in based on the submissions. For those of us that do show up that day, they do film a few people in line and wandering about the ‘Trade Show’ portion of the hall.
So once they were all set up and let us go ‘free’ we finally got a chance to see what there was. Though the venue was small, they used the available space well and to make it look busier than it really was. The day before they filmed in Boston and I was told it was much busier.
Vendors included, The Rhode Island Historical Society, The Massachusetts Genealogical Council, The Federation of Genealogical Societies, Essex Society Of Genealogists, The Providence Public Library, The Daughters of the American Revolution, Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, The Southern California Genealogical Society, Maureen Taylor – Photo Detective, American-French Genealogical Society, and a group that represented smaller Historical Societies in Rhode Island. There was one other Rhode Island based group there and I realize now that I didn’t get their name but they had many publications of family histories, local history and one on regimental history. I will post as many links as I have below.
We did wonder if there would be any independent genealogist there to ‘ask questions to’ much like you would see on Antiques Roadshow but here, at least in Rhode Island, there were none. The people at the booths however were certainly happy to help in any way shape or form that they could and many had laptops and tablets to look information up. If you do find yourself going to a roadshow, make sure you bring some cash as many of the vendors had publications, quick sheets, and other items to sell. Sue and I did purchase a cookbook from the American-French Genealogical Society.
While we were milling about, I especially had a fun time looking at all of the behind the scenes action from the camera men, production crew, lighting guy, and video village (the place where all the cameras get fed back to so the Director can watch the action) It also turns out that Steve Kaye, the aforementioned Lighting Guy, was someone whom I have not seen in a very long time and we have worked on projects in the past. He was able to show us a few extra behind the scenes items and it was fabulous to re-connect.
If you have made it this far – Bravo and Thank You.
While Sue was chatting with the AFGS, one of the men behind the computer was able to find four generations in the Drouin Collection in a matter of a short time. The Drouin collection is a listing of marriage records in Quebec. These records include parents names and places of birth. Most of this information was entirely new for her tree. To say she was ecstatic is an understatement. This was something that wasn’t even on her research plan radar but now – another set of plans to add.
For me, I have in my collection of family heirlooms two account ledger books from around 1850. We recently learned that they may have been for a department store in of all places… Providence RI. I have family members who lived in the general area – Dighton and Somerset MA, and it was included with a photo album (among other items) from them. The woman I spoke to at the Rhode Island Historical Society was very inquisitive, took down a lot of information on the family tree and who I thought it may have belonged too along with many photographs. She may even be researching it right at this moment. I am hoping she may be able to find information as to why it may have ended up in the hands of my family. In the end (unless she can tell me otherwise,) I plan to donate / loan the ledgers to the society as there is so much history in this book that must be shared. To quote Indy – “It belongs in a museum.”
This also seemed to be my ‘On camera moment’ as in the middle of the conversation I realized there was a microphone boom over my head and the cameraman was pointed our way. My nerves increased but I made it through.
Our tips if you end up going to one of the Genealogy Roadshow events:
- Bring some Cash
- While it worked for us, don’t rely on your online tree alone to get information to those that can help you. I should have printed a family page (or two) to just hand to the researcher at the historical society.
- Bring some water – While I think that the Producers may have had a small ‘Craft Services’ table set up for the guests, it was unclear.
- Don’t expect to be on camera. Go to the Roadshow to meet people and learn about the various groups that are there. If you have an interesting story, the producers will find you.
If you have appeared on the Genealogy Roadshow (or if the producer is reading this,) I would love to learn more about that side of the table, and what those who are cast to appear can expect, and perhaps what they should not expect while going through the process.
Links in this post (in no real order)
American-French Genealogical Society – www.afgs.org
The Rhode Island Historical Society – www.rihs.org
The Massachusetts Genealogical Council – massgencouncil.org
The Federation of Genealogical Societies – www.fgs.org
Essex Society Of Genealogists – www.esog.org
Daughters of the American Revolution – www.dar.org
Massachusetts Society of Genealogists – www.msoginc.org
The Southern California Genealogical Society – www.scgsgenealogy.com
Maureen Taylor – Photo Detective – www.maureentaylor.com
Kaye Lights – www.kayelites.com
Although the week was busy, I still managed to whittle away at a family line and attend the Chelmsford [Massachusetts] Genealogical Society’s Fall Conference.
Early in the week I managed to locate Theadore Marshall – my Father’s – Mother’s – Father – in the Canadian Census records over at the Library and Archives Canada Website [Link]. The main challenge in searching these records was a different spelling of his name – Theadore vs. Theodore.
Searching by Province, District and age however made the finds possible. When possible I like to start with a broad search, then add additional keywords to those found. If you start too narrow, you may miss something such as an alternate spelling or, in the case of the census and ages, someone one year off on their age.
I am guessing at the moment that I may also have found his father in the 1861 census, but this census does not include the family members names. There is only one Peter Marshall in Annapolis, Nova Scotia and the number of household members matches up.
The Conference was quite enjoyable however I was able to attend only the second half.
I arrived just in time for lunch (how fortuitous) which were several different kinds of hearty looking sandwiches and the assorted accouterments. They looked tasty but I did not pre-register for it as I was unsure I was going to be there in the first place. During lunch most milled around the hall, localizing and networking. I officially met two people that I had seen before at the Hudson [NH] Genealogy club.
I also met Jake Fletcher, a Genealogist that specializes in Maritime history and records. We had been introduced earlier in the week via Facebook and we had a quick moment to chat before the last speaker of the day.
Carol McCoy PhD spoke right after lunch. Her talk was entitled ‘Creative Ways to Solve a Genealogy Problem – where to look when they are not in the census or vital records’. It was a rundown of her work with a client and the way that she was able to conclude a persons relationship when the traditional records could not be located.
She spent much time in land records and trying to follow other parts of family to see if she could find anything. She also explored trying to establish the relationships of two other families in the same, but opposite sides of the town in an attempt to develop a connection.
The last speaker was Thomas Toohey and he showed us maps and lots of them. He talked about local atlases, insurance maps, picture maps and land records and many more… Oh, and where to find some of these.
He concluded by showing us the migration of his ancestors from Ireland to Scotland, back to Ireland, to Canada and then to the States.
At the end of the day the organizers had many door prizes to raffle off which was great. One table of ladies made out very well. Prizes ranged from donations from Ancestry.Com, books, a personalized engraved slate, and Genealogist on the Go kits which included a flash drive, white gloves, and a gift card to Dunkin Donuts.
I understand that this conference was just an idea back in January and I applaud all those volunteers who put in time to make this ‘Free’ conference such a success.