After the 2013 OGS Conference: A New To-Do List

Last week’s OGS Conference in Cincinnati was in my opinion one of their very best. There was a good variety of topics and lectures presented by excellent speakers. I came home armed with new ideas and information, re-energized and ready to try out some new research plans and techniques. I started a Things-To-Do-When-I-Get-Home list  and added to it as I sat in lectures and talked with other genealogists. That’s right. Not all research ideas and information come from lectures. Many come from networking with other genealogists.

Below are half a dozen things I want to investigate and try out:

1. Search on-line for ortsfamilienbüchers. These are wonderful compiled books that consist of vital and genealogical information for a certain time period in a specific area or town in Germany. I have already used one of these books in my German Müller research and know how helpful they can be. My great-grandfather Jacob Müller/Miller was from Bierbach and I copied the book Einwohner von Bierbach bis 1830 by Hans Cappel from a Family History Library microfilm. This compilation gives genealogical information about the families in the town of Bierbach from 1304-1974. That’s a pretty good span of years and books like these could be great sources of information for my other lines.

I learned from Ernest Thode that there are many of these books out there. I think my best chance at research in the ortsfamilienbücher will be through the Family History Library. Maybe they have microfilmed and digitized the ortsfamilienbücher for the specific town I am researching. If one has been microfilmed I can always order the film. I found it helpful to do a search for familienbuch on or to search by the town name. Another good website for ortsfamilienbücher is . For this type of research you really need to know the name of your German ancestor’s home town.

2. Try my hand at on-line German newspaper research. I am hooked on American newspaper research but I did not realize that many German and German-language newspapers are also on-line.

Using my Ernest Thode lecture handouts as a guide, I spent several hours this week checking out German newspaper websites. I found quite a few German newspapers but the language is a problem. I know very little German but I can read just enough Gothic German script to recognize names in church records and what event was going on in the church. Basically I can read the vital information–birth/baptisms, marriages and death/burials. I have problems with the translation if the minister elaborated on the event.

3. Map my German ancestors’ towns on maps of various years. Germany is a complicated place to research because before 1871 it consisted of separate kingdoms whose boundaries changed a lot. That means that your ancestor’s town may have been in several governing districts over the years. To research your German ancestor it is vital to know what governing district and parish the records were kept in.

Warren Bittner pointed out that by determining what governing districts your ancestor’s town was in over the years and knowing the boundary changes can lead you to the correct places to research. I have collected a few copies of old German maps and marking the exact locations of towns on them should help determine what governing districts they were in various years. Warren has gathered an amazing amount of information about his German ancestors, although he said it took him seven trips to Germany to gather the information. What is amazing is that his ancestors were almost neighbors to my Müllers in Bavaria.

I do believe that with a little work I will be able to figure this German research out.

4. Add information to the Mercer County page on the Family Search Wiki. Yes there is a Mercer County page on and they are asking volunteers to add information to it. These county pages are to be research guides and I plan to add some research information as well as information about Mercer County churches.

5. Create timelines for my brick walls. One of my friends created a great timeline for his problem ancestor, with hopes of solving some research problems. It looks like a good way to organize information and view the details at a glance. He created his timeline in Word. I work with Word a lot but I must say that I have been missing their table feature. Some of my genealogy software may also be able to create a timeline.

6. Look into publishing my family history on Roots, or the new FamilySearch’s Family Tree. But first I need to upgrade to Roots Magic 6.

Genealogical conferences are worthwhile and fun and I am excited that I get to attend two conferences this year. The second conference is the 2013 FGS Conference to be held in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 21-24 August. The Federation of Genealogical Societies sponsors a national conference annually and this year’s theme is Journey Through Generations. The 2013 FGS conference is also within driving distance, actually close enough that I can drive back and forth each day. Fortunately both conferences fit into my work schedule.

There is always something new to learn at a genealogy conference–new methodology, new resources, new technology or maybe a new and different way to look at an old problem. I know there will be knowledgeable speakers, a wide variety of session topics, workshops, and a large exhibit area at FGS 2013. Plus there are many opportunities to ask questions of other researchers and sometimes the speakers. People from all over the country will be in Fort Wayne for the conference, giving attendees the opportunity to ask research questions about other areas of the country. Maybe I’ll see you there!





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    • Doug on May 3, 2013 at 8:59 am
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    Karen, thank you for the OGS Conference review. Your to-do list is a great way to recap what was an obviously fantastic learning experience at the conference. I’ve looked at the OGS conference offerings the past few years and it has moved up on my list of conferences to try to attend in the future. FGS is on my calendar this year too. Looking forward to learning much from the presenters in Fort Wayne – and some (hopefully) successful research at the ACPL.

    1. I think you would enjoy an OGS conference. They are quite good and now longer (2 1/2 days). I always enjoy the conferences in Fort Wayne. We are fortunate to have the ACPL and the Grand Wayne Convention Center nearby. Good luck with your research there.

  1. Apparently this conference is held at other locations in the country as well? Is it the same speakers, or local variations on the theme? My cousin in Calif. is planning on attending what she calls a “sister” conference in a few weeks or months. Obviously it won’t be the Ohio conference out there, so it must be a state to state “sisterhood”?

    1. The annual Ohio Genealogical Society Conference [OGS] is held in a different location in Ohio each year, rotating in the areas of Toledo, Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland. Many state societies have a yearly conference but they are independent of each other. There is no state to state sisterhood. The national societies, NGS [National Genealogical Society] and FGS [Federation of Genealogical Societies], have annual conferences, too. NGS is in the spring and FGS in late summer. Their conferences are held in different areas of the country each year. Last year NGS was in Cincinnati and this year in Las Vegas. Last year FGS was in Birmingham and this year in Fort Wayne. Speakers at the conferences vary from year to year and although a conference has a theme there is always a wide variety of topics to cover many aspects of genealogical research and history.

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