Friday, May 23, 2008



The first person I talked to at the conference was Pam Pearson, an NGS Registration Desk volunteer from Kansas. We figured out fairly quickly that there appears to be no connection between our Pearson families, but it’s always nice talking to a person with such a distinguished surname.

I was really impressed by the meeting and banquet facilities, exhibits, scheduling, and the printed materials and CD-Rom syllabus provided by NGS. Speakers were uniformly good, as were the handout materials provided on the syllabus. The organizers must have planned the military track of classes with me in mind (again if you assume they are masters of time and space who have no trouble peering into the future). I attended the following meetings / luncheons:

WEDNESDAY (I arrived at 2:45 PM, and was able to attend one session at 4 PM.)

W129 Civil War Uniforms: Sizing Up Your Ancestor (Buford Suffridge, Jr., DDS, speaker)

Session Synopsis: Dr. Suffridge (orthodontist) is a down-home gentleman from Arkansas with a great drawl and good sense of humor. He can speak on several military topics, and can also do a program on DNA basics for genealogists. The Civil War Uniforms session I attended was a real crowd-pleaser. Dr. Suffridge was dressed in an exact replica of his CW ancestor’s uniform.

Bio sketch of Buford Suffridge: (paste into browser address bar)


T207 When Grandpa Comes Marching Home Again: Analyzing Military Pension Files (Julie Miller, speaker)

Session Synopsis: I do a program on Civil War records, but this program demonstrated to me that it is also possible to do programs on particular types of record. Ms. Miller showed us how to analyze and organize the information provided in a typical Civil War pension file. It seems obvious that similar programs could be done on how to analyze and organize the information found in typical Civil War descriptive rosters and compiled military service records, as well as pension files.

Ms. Miller (she’s from Colorado) is a very well-organized speaker with a pleasant speaking voice and demeanor. I heard her do this talk and one on Alien Registrations, and both were very well done.

Contact info for Julie Miller:

T214 Leavenworth Penitentiary Inmate Case Files, 1895-1952 (Tim Rives & Steve Spence, speakers)

Session Synopsis: This talk was about Leavenworth Penitentiary Inmate Case Files held by the National Archives, Central Plains Region (Kansas City, Missouri). Talk was very well organized, and included a fascinating “What Was He in For?” section during which the speakers showed photographs of men (and several women) incarcerated at Leavenworth (most case files include the familiar front and side mug shots). One gentleman did five years in the Big House for practicing animal husbandry, if you get my drift.

Tim Rives and Steve Spence work at NARA, Central Plains Region. They were a great team, very well-organized, good speaking voices, and great senses of humor. The talk was a real crowd pleaser.

Contact info for Tim Rives:

Contact info for Steve Spence: E-mail:; Telephone: (816) 268-8016

T226 Beyond the Draft Records: World War I Records in the National Archives (Marie V. Melchiori, speaker)

Session Synopsis: This very well attended session focused on military records of WWI held by the National Archives in Washington, DC, and the National Personnel Records Center here in St. Louis. Good coverage of the types of records available for men and women who served in the armed forces during WWI.

Bio sketch of Marie V. Melchiori:

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