So … last week I attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) for the first time. I’d been wanting to attend an institute for a while, but timing was always an issue, so with some hesitation, I signed up for SLIG this year. I’d gotten fairly familiar with Salt Lake after a couple of visits to RootsTech, but wanting something that went a little deeper than a broadly themed conference, I opted for SLIG. I sighed a little in exasperation that it was so soon after the holidays, when all I was really craving was some routine. But having committed myself in advance, I went.
One observation I’ve made is that committed genealogists are some of the smartest people I’ve met … every bit as bright as my classmates were at Georgetown Law School. I took the Legal Concepts course with Judy Russell at SLIG, and the historical legal research to which we were exposed, which included a trip to the University of Utah law library, was probably more challenging than a lot of the more contemporary research I did as a law student. I enjoyed learning about the various sources available for legal research in the 19th century and earlier … and gaining an understanding of how useful they can be in genealogy (also, the view from the law library was lovely). Understanding the legal framework in which our ancestors lived helps us to know both what kind of records to look for and what those records might mean. I think this course helped me more with the former. It also drove home to me the incredible access to legal resources I have in Austin — from the University of Texas law library, to the state law library, to the state archives — and made me realize I should make more use of them. Because pretty much none of my ancestry is grounded in Texas, I’ve tended to overlook the potential access to non-Texas resources I might find at these places.
I did finally manage to get to the Family History Library for a short while on the last day. However, as is my routine in Salt Lake, I did not carve out enough time for library work. The Saturday following SLIG was dedicated to that in the schedule, but I needed (and wanted) to get home. Unfortunately, I also got sick in the final days and arrived home not feeling well. Apparently, there is something known as the “SLIG crud,” and I can now call myself a veteran of that after my first year. I wore a facemask in class on the last day and on the plane home, to keep others from sharing in my illness. I rarely get sick, but when I do it’s often because I’ve been on a crowded flight or at a conference with lots of people, so in some ways, this wasn’t that surprising, despite my nightly downing of EmergenC starting the second day I was there.
Despite the illness, which is lingering, I’m glad to have gone. It was challenging, but I like a good challenge. The illness will pass. And it was good to meet so many enthusiastic and committed genealogists who share my excitement about this work. Most of them have been at it for longer than I have and have engaged in more serious training, so it was enlightening for me to have a chance to talk with some of them. Also, it snowed almost every day, unsurprisingly, which was a refreshing change from Austin. It was worth it to stay out of a routine for a bit longer. Now, though, I’m planning to be home for a good, long while. I might even get some research done.