Friday, 24 April 2009

10th New England Regional Genealogical Conference - Friday pm

Conference sessions resumed after a dedicated hour for the marketplace and either a long lunch break, or the option of one of several hosted lunches.

Her background as a former university lecturer was evident in Donna Walcovy's relaxed approach to her topic "Symbolism on Gravestones." These included skulls, winged skulls, crossed bones used by early Puritan settlers. The sunburst symbol was said to have been popular around the War of 1812; followed by weeping willows; urns; flowers, ferns, vines and wreaths, with a broken flower indicating a child; trees and shafts of wheat; fingers pointing at a book or to heaven (or in one instance the other direction); shaking hands; ships, anchors, chains and flags, human and animal forms; and various symbols used by fraternal societies and the military.

I then ventured into a presentation by Thomas W Jones, one of the most respected Certified Genealogists in the US, on "What is the Standard of Proof in Genealogy?" He reviewed the five components of the standard and illustrated them with four examples. While the presentation was not as entertaining as the previous ones I'd attended he held the audience with the examples, despite it being a challenge to keep track of all the information presented.

Another presentation by Colleen Fitzpatrick, who was substituting for a colleague, was the final one I attended on Friday. "Lying with Wolves: the Misha Defonseca Holocaust Fraud" was the story of a woman who invented a story of wandering through Europe during WW2, and how the truth was discovered. For more of the story Google "Misha Defonseca". The maxim "There's a bit of truth in every story" was amended to add "if you can't find the truth check out the storyteller." The presentation was insightful and compellingly told.

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