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Keeping Watch Over Massachusetts Public Records
Follow-Up to NERGC 2013: Fun, Connections, Success
MGC took on several responsibilities at the 2013 New England Regional Genealogical Conference last week in Manchester, New Hampshire. We ran a discussion on Open Records, we sponsored a luncheon, we put on a special interest group, and we had a booth in the exhibit hall.
Records Access Panel
We had looked forward to having Thomas MacEntee as our panel discussion moderator. From Chicago, Thomas led a discussion on records access at an annual meeting of the Association of Professional Genealogists. We adopted his format which included skits to make it more interesting for the audience. Alas, there were torrential rains in Chicago and the flooding there together with airline computer problems nixed his attendance at NERGC completely. With Thomas's inspired format, we began to panic. Micheal Leclerc, Genealogist and blogger at Mocavo.com, came to our rescue. He was willing to take on the improvisation as well as moderate a discussion afterwards. Our plans could go forward.
Regrouped, we plunged ahead with our Thursday afternoon panel. We started off with our skit. Michael played a newspaper reporter who receives a telephone call from his editor, telling him to get on a story about federal legislation newly introduced by a Congressman. We chuckled as Michael struggled to understand his task. He asked, "City? City what? S. S. D. I.? What is that?"
Michael's first stop was to question the Congressman's staff person played by Sharon Sergeant. An overworked staffperson, she first had to figure out just which bill Michael was discussing. Light dawned just as an upset tax fraud victim knocked on the office door. Played by Polly Kimmitt, the victim recounted how she submitted her tax form but the IRS said it had already been used. More sad details came to light about how long it would take to sort this all out. Polly said she had already talked to the police detective.
With that, Michael came in search of me. I loaded him up with numbers and details on the history of tax fraud in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area. Michael wanted to know what good the SSDI was. For that, I sent him to Richard McCoy who played a calm genealogist. Richard told Michael how the SSDI was used for Department of Defense repatriation efforts, Unclaimed Persons, and the Jane Doe Network.
Our audience had plenty of questions. Richard McCoy's experience in Vermont was that health records are presenting new security issues. Richard suggested we protect ourselves by annually looking at our credit reports and our medical records.
Attendees will find our session in the syllabus on pp. 53-55, Thursday, session T-119.
Laura Prescott's Luncheon Speech
Laura gave us an amusing set of anecdotes about accessing records at county courthouses, libraries, and respositories. She reminded us about differing agendas, requirements, laws, regulations, and applications of regulations. We could all relate to the stories.
Laura also did a great job of coping with an intermittent microphone and difficult room acoustics. She solderied on and should be commended for completing the entire speech under those conditions.
Friday Night's Special Interest Group
Our Friday night SIG was in the Governor's Suite on the twelfth floor. We arrived a half hour early and turned on the television set. The week's staggering events in Boston had been on our minds and in our hearts. We ended up learning about the second suspect's location and could begin to rest our anxieties.
When we got underway, Mary Ellen Grogan, Sharon Sergeant, Polly Kimmitt and I set up a workshop in which we could help attendees find out how to monitor legislation in various New England states. People attending were particularly interested in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, so we got right to work.
Polly also helped someone break down a brick wall. Wicked good research skills that woman has learned in her DOD work.
If anyone has photos of our events, be sure to send them on to us. It was a great conference with plenty of friends to see and topics to learn.