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Spring Conference 2019

The 21st Annual Spring Conference was held On March 9, 2019 on the lower level of the St. Joseph County Public Library. When the doors opened at 10:00, a good crowd of attendees was ready to get started! After picking up a folder at Registration, including the days schedule, handouts for the lectures, information on coming events and a door prize tickets, it was off to the Humphries Room for free coffee, juice and doughnuts and to visit the exhibitors and vendors.

Vendors included longtime favorite John Palmer. In addition to his historical maps, John had a selection of books, genealogical charts and family trees. A new vendor, Lime Green Arts, offered a variety of hand made jewelry, including a selection of customized items using your vintage or family photographs. James Beidler (our speaker) and Peter DeKever were available to sell and sign their books. The remainder of the displays in the vendor area did not offer material for sale, but did offer a great variety of community, historical and lineage information. Lineage societies included John Auten Camp of the Sons of Union Volunteers and Arsinoe Martin Circle of the Ladies of the GAR for attendees with Civil Was ancestors. The Daughters of the American Revolution were also on hand to answer question about the organization and help with applications for membership. If your ancestors came from Germany, the Palantines to America booth was a great place to get help with research questions. For general information and local history, attendees could visit booths for the History Museum (South Bend), the 4H Genealogy program, Forever Learning, Civil Rights , Heritage Center, Mishawaka Museum, the St Joseph County Archives, St Joseph County Public Library, Mishawaka Penn Harris Public Library, and of course, the South Bend Area Genealogical Society.

After an hour of browsing the exhibitors, it was time to head for Colfax Auditorium. The session started with door prizes and a few brief announcements, including the awarding of the 2018 Oak Tree award to Vicky Rydzynski in recognition both for her years of service to the Society, and the importance of the Archives to our genealogical society. Then it was time to settle in to hear James Beidler talk about Using Historical Newspapers in Print, Microfilm, Online.

There was plenty of time before the afternoon session to grab some lunch, revisit the vendor area and maybe buy a couple raffle tickets for some very nice prizes. The Rockne Room was set up as a computer learning lab where SJCPL staff were available to help with individual research and demonstrate the on-line data bases available on the SJCPL website. Many of those databases are available to search at home with your library card. Attendees could also visit the digital media lab Studio 304 for a guided tour. This area includes high resolution scanners for pictures, slides and negatives and to convert VHS and cassette tapes. There is even a private studio to prepare and narrate a video show of your latest research trip.

The Conference ended with the afternoon session Headlines to Bylines: Using All the Newspaper in your Genealogy, followed by the awarding of the raffle prizes. Hope you won one of the great prizes! The handouts from the Conference speaker can be found in the Members Section of the website.

In the evening, we had our inaugural ‘Dinner with the Speaker’. Fourteen attendees joined James Beidler at Weiss’ Gasthaus for some authentic German food. Jim mingled with the group, allowing everyone to ask questions and share stories. Once dinners were ordered and drinks were served, Jim gave a brief talk on Genealogy’s Lighter Side. A perfect end to a very long but satisfying genealogy day!

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