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26 February 2010

What We Missed and How Technology Saved the Day

The California Genealogical Society presented a full-day program last Saturday, February 20, 2010, in honor of Black History Month and at the last minute the whole thing was threatened with cancellation, or at least a significant postponement. In his article CGS February Meeting a History Maker, our featured speaker, blogger and new board member, Craig Manson, explained what happened and how my two favorite geek-members, Thomas MacEntee and Kathy Watson, came to the rescue. Using WebEx and with only a couple of minor glitches, Craig was able to present his two talks from his home office in Carmichael, California with Past-President Jane Knowles Lindsey at her laptop control center at the library in Oakland.

Since I wasn't able to attend I've gathered some feedback from some of those present to give you an accurate accounting of the day.

The morning started with expertise from three long-time friends and colleagues from the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (AAGSNC). Past-President Juliet Culliver Crutchfield, Ed.D., Electra Kimble Price and Jackie Stewart fielded questions from the audience.

Lorna Wallace reports: 
The panel of members of AAGSNC did something unexpected in that they started right out asking the audience what questions they had – there never was a "lecture" as such. That way none of the attendees were left at the end without hearing what puzzled them. The open format also allowed people in the audience, who had a lot of pertinent experience, to easily contribute their personal stories as examples.

One of our new board members, Jeffrey Vaillant, had these comments:
The use of the Webex tool was an exciting new adventure that brought the presenter's voice and on-screen power point presentation in the room for all to experience. The technology has been around for some years so its use at CGS was a potential step into the 21st century. 
The morning three person panel was terrific as each shared insights into their genealogy quest. A lesson learned was solid genealogy practices apply to any ethnic research along with an understanding of that culture.

Vernester Sheeler sent accolades:
One word Fabulous!!  The CGS’s Black History program was wonderful. There were a couple of minor technical glitches but once resolved the session was great. Craig is a gifted and engaging presenter. He shared valuable tips, and tools to broaden my research. My employer uses WebEx for most of our project meetings however this was my first time to use it for something I value and enjoy!

Panelists Juliet Crutchfield, Electra Price and Jackie Stewart

Special thanks to everyone who helped make this a successful program.

Photographs courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey, Nicka Smith and Vernester Sheeler.