Some of us diehard NARA (National Archives & Records Administration) Virtual Genealogy Fair fans have noticed silence this month.
Usually, October is the time when NARA hosts its annual virtual genealogy fair. Given that most organizations have gone to virtual events, I figured NARA would be ahead of the curve, as they’ve hosted this virtual event for the past decade.
Therefore, I was surprised to check the website and discover that the 2020 Fair has been postponed until March 2021.
If you haven’t ever attended this first class event, or you missed a session that you wanted to hear, don’t despair! NARA has links to all of its past Genealogy Fairs on its website.
Note that for the years 2005-2009, the fair was an in-person event. Sessions were not recorded and handouts are not available. The links to those years provide only the program titles and speakers.
For the years 2010, 2011, and 2012, while the talks were not recorded, handouts from each session are posted on the website.
From 2013 through 2019, each session was recorded and handouts are available. The speakers presented a wide variety of topics from year to year – Genealogy Through Navy Deck Logs, Preserving Your Family Records, Where’d They Go? Finding Ancestral Migration Routes, The Best National Archives Records Genealogists Aren’t Using, 19th Century Ancestors in Tax Assessment Records, Federal Records That Help Identify Former Slaves and Slave Owners and Immigrant Records: More Than Just Ship Passenger Arrival Lists.
These are just a sampling (one session chosen from each year) of the excellent talks.
For those who don’t have U.S. ancestry, there are a few sessions on general topics, like how to preserve family heirlooms, that you might want to check out. However, most of the speakers focused on holdings in NARA, so this genealogy fair is quite U.S.-centric.
On the other hand, research is all about the methodology of understanding record sets. Details in U.S. military records, for example, might vary only slightly from details in other countries’ military records, which might make it worthwhile to learn about records sets in which you have little knowledge or experience. You may well be able to apply what you learn about American records to similar records found elsewhere.
So, while we wait for March 2021 and the postponed Virtual Genealogy Fair, now is the time to view past presentations by first-class speakers. I plan to catch up on missed sessions, as we have often been on cruises in October. Not so much this year!!