Friday, June 5, 2015

The Joys of Shopping at a Conference

One of my favorite parts of going to any conference is to visit the exhibitors. They sometimes have nice gifts to entice people to visit and shop.

Yes, shop. Vendors have goods to sell.  At any genealogy convention, there are speakers who are also vendors and vendors who sponsor speakers - the difference in being whether the speakers "are" the product or are pitching someone else's product.

Genealogy conferences are one of the last bastions of places where people come and sell these things called "books." I don't mean e-books like on my Kindle, but these big, bulky things made out of paper. You see, many genealogists are nuts about books made of paper, and sometimes these books contain information only available in paper books.

Well, I broke down and bought a few books, including one that I have wanted for a while, "Ukrainian Genealogy" by John D. Pihach. I got to actually peruse a copy before buying, which has deterred me from buying what is a pretty expensive little paperback.

Why, you may wonder, am I interested in a book on anything Ukrainian?  Well, you would never know it from this blog by anything that I have posted to date, but I am 3/4 Eastern European  My mother's maternal grandparents came to the U.S. from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, from the region of Galician, and were known in this country as Ruthenian and spoke Ukrainian.  And this is possibly the top book in terms of looking for Ukrainian immigrant records in the U.S. and Europe, notwithstanding that it was printed in 2007.

One of the more frustrating things about these general genealogy conferences is that despite the fact that Eastern Europeans came to the U.S. by the millions in between 1880 and 1914, most conferences only have a single introductory session on our issues, and maybe a few on Jewish genealogy which includes some Eastern European records.  

American genealogy has been driven for a century and a half by people like my wife Cynthia, whose ancestors founded this country. Due to historical patterns and language issues, most people focus on ancestry that traces back to the British Isles. For everyone else, we need to find specialty groups and conferences.

So when I see a cool Eastern European book, I make an excited sound and begin to examine it. And when I see one as important as this one that I haven't already bought, it has no choice but to come to Oakland.