The Experiences of a #NOTatRootsTech Attendee

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Last year I attended RootsTech and got to experience it all up close and personal. I wasn’t able to go this year but was able to experience RootsTech just the same. RootsTech have always live streamed the opening sessions and some lectures and this makes it possible to feel like you are part of it all.

You don’t get to attend the socials, parties, or other events and you can’t walk the exhibit hall. I still felt very much a part of it all because I was active on Twitter and the app called Periscope.

During the live streaming those of us who couldn’t attend were busy tweeting along with those in attendance. There was a group of us using the hashtag #NOTatRootsTech. I ‘cyber’ met lots of new people and learned many new things.

There were a few glitches. We weren’t allowed to view the keynote of Doris Kearns Goodwin which was unfortunate. The last two live streamed lectures had technical difficulties and previously recorded lectures were used in their place. They did show the recorded version of Peggy Lauritzen’s lecture about researching your female forebears after the conference had finished. This meant that I was still watching RootsTech at 7:30 Saturday night.

We got to live vicariously through our genie buddies selfies, tweets and blog posts. Periscope made an appearance this year. We got to watch Lisa Louise Cooke’s exhibit hall demo lectures live streamed via Periscope. Every time someone I follow on Periscope started live streaming I got a message so I didn’t miss anything. They were even posted on Twitter. If you were watching it in real time you could comment and ask questions.

Amy Johnson Crow showed us bag pipers in the Salt Place and the wind chimes that unfortunately weren’t chiming at the time. There was even a tour of the exhibit hall. All sorts of wild and wonderful things came out of RootsTech through the internet in real time.

I really enjoy RootsTech and am hoping the Canadian dollar improves so I can get there next year. But this is the next best thing and with the help of genie buddies sharing their experiences of RootsTech and participating online it was a great conference.


© 2016 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved



Why Blogging Your Family History Works

While handing out blogging beads at the OGS Conference last year a few people asked me what the beads meant. Some didn’t know what a blog was and after I explained it the next question was why write a blog.


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When I started writing the Passionate Genealogist blog in 2010 I jumped into an unknown entity and just started writing. It was scary at first but it soon became engaging and fun. During the last six years I have written several stories relating to my own family and some local history research. When you write stories about your family history this can be called “cousin bait” by genealogy bloggers. It is a bit like the movie “Field of Dreams” when they say “if you built it they will come” well if you write your family story they will come.

One such story was on my Great Grand Uncle Richard Fenton Toomey. His father moved to Australia in the 1880s and the family joined him in the 1890s. Mrs. Toomey didn’t like it so the children went back but the eldest son Mark stayed. Eventually the other two sons, Walter and Richard, returned to Australia.

Lucky for me a friend of mine lives near where Richard Fenton Toomey had his home in Australia. When we first started writing (we were/are still penpals) she told me that there was a place near her called Toomey Lookout and there was a Toomey Road and Toomey Walk. You can read more about this story here.

“Richard Fenton Toomey – Lest We Forget” was written to remember his service as an ANZAC. Soon I got a few comments on the blog. One from a person who is not related but who knows the area very well. He went on a search to find the house. Another person contacted me and she had a photo of Richard Fenton Toomey in Heliopolis on the morning of 26 April 1916.

This story was first posted in November 2011 and the last comment with new information was posted last fall.

I have written some local history stories about people from my town. The first was an all-consuming part of my life for nearly 10 years, Lady Diana Taylour. I wrote about her and my research to find out more about her life. The other was Richard Shaw Wood who lived in Oakville in the late 1860s early 1870s. Both of these posts have had comments from people connected to them.




This is why family history blogging is a good idea and sometimes called “cousin bait.” It may be that the people who end up helping you are not related but just as interested in the story as you. So expand your horizon and start blogging about your family history.

© 2016 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved

Planning a Genealogy Research Trip to Ireland – Dublin Repositories – Part 2

When I was in Dublin visiting family in October 2015 there was of course time set aside for research. There were six repositories I wanted to visit in Dublin but I wasn’t sure I would get to them all. You can read more about my plan here. The first two posts of my Irish trip here and here.

The next repository I visited was the General Register Office. This is where you can pay €20 and search the indexes all day. You can only order five certificates in one day and either come back or arrange to have them mailed on to you.

My research plan for the GRO wasn’t very big. I was trying to find out more about a particular branch of my Toomey family as I heard a few of their sons were WWI soldiers and I wanted to know more. This was my chance to get the birth, marriage and death information on this family.

Chester Beatty Library Dublin Castle Ireland

Chester Beatty Library Dublin Castle Ireland

The GRO Research room is tucked away in a nondescript corner of Dublin and it can be hard to find. I walked passed it twice. It was a long walk from St. Stephen’s Green to the GRO but I took a detour through the Castle trying to decide which window my collateral ancestor may have looked out of and then wandered through the Chester Beatty Library on my way past. The GRO is not the prettiest place and the office is very neutral. You have a table and chair and access to the indexes. The people are very friendly and helpful.

General Register Office Research Room - Dublin Ireland

General Register Office Research Room – Dublin Ireland

When you find your entry you fill in an order form and leave it at the enquiry window then wait for your name to be called. Once you receive your document then you pay for it. It is €4 per certificate which is not bad considering how much it costs to get some certificates at home and abroad. I only ordered one certificate that didn’t seem to fit.


I then had to revisit the National Archives to check on the wills I ordered and get copies.

National Archives of Ireland

National Archives of Ireland

The last repository I visited in Dublin was the Land Valuation Office on Lower Abbey Street. The Land Valuation Office is located in a regular office tower and is rather nondescript. There were some tables and chairs and you went to a main reception area with your question. You chose a chair and they brought the valuation books to you so you could search them. Here I wanted to find out more about the property my Great Grandparent’s owned called Roebuck Lodge which was in Taney Parish in Dundrum. Found out there were two properties in this area called Roebuck Lodge. Another property of interest was the Toppin land in Buffanagh and the Kelly property Calverstown House in Kildare. I wanted to know if they owned it and how long did they own it. This is the first part of the research. The next step will be the Registry of Deeds but that will have to wait for another trip.

The one repository I didn’t make it to was the Representative Church Body Library of the Church of Ireland. I was close by but didn’t get in the doors. There were lots of family events and visits to make and that was just as important to me. What was I going to say no to – having coffee with my 102 year old Grand Aunt! Yes I did that and she is as spry and quick as ever.  She loves her cappuccino.

During my trip I found all these wonderful records and they are still waiting to be transcribed and entered into my family tree. When I got home there were a few lectures that I presented and client work. The next thing you know it is Christmas and things need to be done for that. Next month I am looking forward to sitting down and revisiting these documents and am hoping that I will find some new information in them which will lead me to my next adventure.

© 2016 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved