I’m getting excited for our road trip next week to the National Genealogical Society annual conference, May 13-16 in St. Charles, Mo., right outside of St. Louis.
I love the chance conferences give to meet folks in our Family Tree Magazine genealogy community and to catch up with magazine contributors. I hope you’ll come by booth 618 in the exhibit hall, where we’ll be teaming up with these genealogy experts offering free, short Outside the Box sessions:
- Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems
- Chart Chick Janet Hovorka
- Family Tree German Genealogy Guide author James M. Beidler
- Diahan Southard of Your DNA Guide
Here’s the Outside the Box schedule for NGS 2015:
On the way to NGS, I’ll also be able to wave to my alma mater in St. Louis. My five years as a St. Louisan happened long before I was working in genealogy, but among the local history lessons that stick out in my mind are:
- the Great Divorce, Aug. 22, 1876, when St. Louis City separated from St. Louis County to become an independent city, primarily over taxation issues. That history has an impact on genealogical research, which you can learn more about here.
- May 21, 1804, St. Charles served as the embarkation point for explorers Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and their intrepid Corps of Discovery
- the 1904 World’s Fair, officially the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, is a major point of historical pride in St. Louis. The city’s beautiful Forest Park and several features within it are relics of the fair.
If you have St. Louis, St. Charles or Missouri ancestors, you’ll want to take the opportunity to research while at the conference. Many of the following resources also have helpful information online, in case you have to sit this one out:
- The St. Louis Public Library, located in downtown St. Louis, was the site of a “Genealogy Roadshow” season 2 episode. This library also has a great genealogy collection as well as an online obituary search and family histories listing.
- The National Genealogical Society circulating library is in the St. Louis County Library, as is the library of the St. Louis Genealogical Society. The county library also has the Julius K. Hunter and Friends African-American Research Collection.
- The Missouri History Museum library is right across the street from Forest Park (the museum itself is in a separate location within Forest Park, so make sure you’re headed to the right place). The collections focus on St. Louis but also cover Missouri. You’ll find a searchable Genealogy and Local History Index on the website; if you can’t visit, you can request photocopies by mail.
- The National Archives’ National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), which holds many 20th-century military records as well as federal civilian records for those whose employment ended after 1951, also is nearby. Note that this facility lost many military records in a fire in 1973. You must schedule an appointment to research here; start on this page by clicking the links for the years of the records you want to view. (Fun fact: For my first job out of college, I visited the NPRC at its former location to interview someone for a tech article. I had no idea of the genealogical significance of the place I was visiting.)
- The Missouri State Archives is up the road in Jefferson City. Get an overview of the collections and on-site research requirements here.
- The State Historical Society of Missouri has research centers around the state including on the campus of the University of Missouri St. Louis. Staff advises you contact the center you plan to visit in advance, to make sure the manuscript collection you want to use is available.
- On the Missouri Digital Heritage website—a frequent repeater on Family Tree Magazine’s annual 101 Best Websites listing—you can search indexes and records from many of the above and other historical repositories. Records include birth and death records, census databases, county histories, fire insurance maps, state penitentiary records and much more.
I hope to see you there!