Sunday, January 24, 2016

How I Spent My Spring Vacation

As I mentioned last time, I did accomplish one goal last year: I attended my first genealogy conference, NERGC 2015 in Providence, Rhode Island. It was a lot of fun and I learned plenty. Among others, I got to hear Judy Russell's "No Person Shall ... Gallop Horses In the Streets", Drew Bartley on "Newest Sources for Vermont Research", and two sessions particularly relevant for my maternal grandmother's line, Pauline Cusson's "Navigating Brick Wall Research in French-Canadian Records", and Michael LeClerc's "Researching French-Canadian Ancestors Online." (Unfortunately I did miss the Saturday morning session on DNA Basics on account of having to get a new left front tire put on my car. You can read the painful details on my other blog, Just One Damned Thing After Another.) Along the way, I made the rounds of the Exhibit Hall numerous times; spent way too much on books, magazines, and map CDs; enjoyed a delicious luncheon of Grilled Chicken Di Parma accompanied by Judy Russell's presentation on records access; met a number of current and former NEHGS staff who were friends of my late brother; and generally had a great, though exhausting, time.

Once the conference was over, I headed up the road a piece, to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where a passel of my P.E.I. Murphy relatives settled down in the late 1800s. I located the large Catholic Church cemetery where they were all ostensibly buried, but several hours of trekking around the place failed to turn up any names I recognized. Maybe I just never found the right section – like I said, this a large cemetery. I find it hard to believe none of them had headstones; the Irish Catholics in Newburyport seemed to have a penchant for fancy stones and huge family monuments. Anyway, my feet were so sore by this time (recall that I had just spent three days traipsing around the exhibition hall, not to mention trekking betwen the parking garage, the conference center, and the food court in the mall ) that I headed for my hotel, and rain the next day precluded any more sightseeing in Newburyport.

I did accomplish one more genealogy-related task before heading home; I made a side trip to New Hampshire, where my older brother lives less than an hour from Newburyport, and finally – nearly 10 years after the death of my younger brother the genealogist – retrieved the computer that had belonged to him and which contains the only electronic copies (in many cases, the only copy of any kind) of his files, research reports, publications, and email correspondence. Remarkably, the computer, an ancient eMac, still works! (Though it did insist it was January 1, 1969.) After backing up all the files to a flash drive and to my own computer, I upgraded the eMac's pitiful RAM and antique operating system and replaced the PRAM backup battery, in hopes of facilitating the conversion of the obsolete AppleWorks files to something a little more up-to-date. I have yet to tackle this job, which is not going to be as easy as you might think. (You can read the whole saga, should you be so inclined, on my other blog, at An antique computer and a digital legacy, Lost in translation, and Screwed and unscrewed.)

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