Published May 23, 2017

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Three PA genealogists in NC – from left, Sydney F. Cruice Dixon, Frank Southcott and James M. Beidler

Give me a choice between text and a live phone call, I’ll text you every time since a text you can just send – whereas a call can often lead to “phone tag,”

If you give me a choice between text and e-mail, I’ll e-mail because I learned the “home keys” many years ago and that’s a whole lot easier on my too-big fingers.

But if you give me the option of an in-person meeting vs. an e-mail exchange, I’ll take the meeting every time unless logistics make that impossible.

Which is probably why you’ll see me at most conferences of the National Genealogical Society and Federation of Genealogical Societies, even when I’m not on the main program or having a new item to promote.

And there was so much at the National Genealogical Society conference earlier this month in Raleigh, NC, that made me glad to make the trip.

Of course, it’s great connecting with Family Tree Magazine editor Diane Haddad and this was one of several recent times I had the opportunity to be part of an exhibit hall presentation space headlined by Lisa Louise Cooke of “Genealogy Gems Podcast” fame.

I also think I learned a bunch about DNA and genealogy just by having my booth next to “Your DNA Guide” Diahan Southard, who has parlayed her science background to become one of the elite DNA educators in this rapidly expanding segment of genealogy (Not only that, she can do one heck of a cartwheel down the exhibit hall aisle in less-serious moments!).

And when the redoubtable Craig Roberts Scott, military records expert and publisher of Heritage Books, comes by your booth with a book he’s hand-selected for you, well, you buy it (Scott knows my interests and projects and therefore knew that a book with social history on Pennsylvania Germans taken from their newspapers would be irresistible).

There was also time while classes were in session to visit with Douglas Kennard, a Brigham Young University graduate who has turned a student project into something much more.

His website Historic Journals, found at the URL www.hjournals.com, offers a free membership option as a place to collaborate in the transcription of family documents such as journals and letters, with several sharing options ranging from private to public.

To access the site right now, a free FamilySearch.org log-in is necessary but Kennard expects to go live shortly with a direct log-in.

The site has a modestly priced premium plan that includes further genealogical tools and databases.

I also had a great time helping Tom Phelps with a genealogical brick wall of us. The most striking thing about that meeting wasn’t genealogical, though.

Phelps was the spitting image of my first boss in my first career in newspapers so many years ago, I man (now long deceased) who got me off to a good start in the working world.

There are no coincidences, are there?