My Adventures at RootsTech – The Midway Point


Friday was another early start. Friday was the very first African American Day at RootsTech. The Keynotes started off with an announcement from Findmypast. They have updated the US Marriage Collection. It is the largest collection of US marriages ever published. There are nearly 70 million records available online.



Findmypast have partnered with Twile who have created a family history infographic. All you have to do is upload your gedcom to the Twile website. It is free.



The last announcement from Findmypast was the Catholic Heritage Archive. They are digitizing the records from the Archdioceses of New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. There will eventually be Catholic records from Ireland included in this database.



The Keynote speaker today was LeVar Burton and everyone wanted to hear him speak. We weren’t disappointed. His keynote was eloquent and emotional. He had the audience in tears. You could feel the power of his passion in the room. His Mother was a huge influence in his life and when FamilySearch presented him with his Mother’s family history he was visibly moved.




The Ambassadors has an opportunity to interview him but his keynote will not be available online due to contract restrictions.

The Innovators Showdown Finals were held right after the General Session on Friday. The winner was OldNews USA. Second place went to QromaTag and third place went to Canada’s own Double Match Triangulator. The People’s Choice was Kindex.

The lecture I attended today was “Go Paperless: Digitize & Streamline Your Research” with Janine Adams and Brooks Duncan. Janine Adams writes the Organize Your Family History blog and Brooks Duncan is from British Columbia and dealt with the technical side. It was a very interesting lecture and I am starting to get things in place to get some of my family history digitized. I will not go completely paperless as I like to be able to touch and read documents. I have difficulty reading some digitized documents.


In the Evening it was the Culture Celebration: Celebrate Your Heritage in the Expo Hall. It was open to 7 pm and the place was filled with music from many different countries around the world. I went to the Genealogy Gems booth and watched Journaling and Scrapbooking with Amie Tennant. Got some great tips from this one. You can watch some of the demo hall lectures on the Genealogy Gems Podcast Facebook page.


Friday night was the MyHeritage After Party and I had heard great things from people who had attended last year. It did not disappoint. This party was a lot of fun. They had games to play in order to win tickets for the door prizes. Things like bouncing pencils into cups and using a straw to pile up bolts one of top of the other just to name a few. Some of these were really hard and after a few tries they gave you a ticket for trying. If you did it you got extra tickets. There was karaoke and they had some wonderful mock cocktails. There was a picture booth where we could have a little fun with props and when we were leaving they gave us a neck cushion for the plane ride home.

I spent most of Thursday and Friday walking around the Expo Hall. I knew that there were a lot of attendees expected for Family Discovery Day and that the Expo Hall would be busy. I was able to wander and talk to vendors about their products and ask questions. I will talk about the Expo Hall in another post.

Friday Live Streaming Sessions

© 2017 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved

My Adventures at RootsTech – The Official Start!


The first official day of RootsTech started very early for the RootsTech Ambassadors. Before the Keynote we had a tour of the marketplace. It was lovely view everything before it was full of genealogists and family historians wanting to learn about the new and latest offerings as well as visiting vendors with whom they are familiar.



Next was the Keynote session featuring Drew and Jonathan Scott aka the Property Brothers. The first Keynote speaker was Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International. He shared the importance of family food traditions. This was a theme of this year’s conference. The importance of family food traditions and how they are connected to your family history. Steve shared the importance of the Rocky Road fudge his Mother made every Christmas and how it is now being passed down to the next generation.



FamilySearch have a new section on their website where you can download and share family food traditions. You can even add a special family recipe. What are your family food traditions?


Jonathan Wing from FamilySearch came on stage to share his family stories. He is originally from Ontario Canada so got a large cheer from the Canadian’s in the audience. His story travelled the world but then don’t do most of our family stories. They shared that FamilySearch had the largest collection of Chinese records outside of China.


FamilySearch have heard us. You can upload your gedcom and no one can change your information. It can be a read only file.



Drew and Jonathan Scott are high energy and very charismatic. They shared their family stories from Alberta and British Columbia. Their family trips to Scotland and other places around the world. Their parents encouraged curiosity. This comes through with the interests they shared with us. You can see the importance of their family history in the stories they shared. Particularly with Jonathan and his finesse playing the bag pipes. My Dad played the pipes so I learned an appreciation early on. Their Mother came from Ontario and they remembered her high school cheer, which they duly performed for the Ambassadors who were interviewing them after the show.




One of the Ambassadors that I got to meet was Lara Diamond. She lectures on Jewish genealogy and had a live streamed lecture at RootsTech. You can view it on their website. She writes the “Lara’s Jewnealogy” blog. I recommend it for anyone doing Jewish or Eastern European research.


This year RootsTech added a Getting Started stream for those just beginning this wonderful journey.


I did my first lab this year, well two of them actually. You paid extra and it was held in the computer lab. They were between one and two hours long. The first one I did was on Thursday and was called “How to edit digital photos using free editing software.” I am technically challenged and need a little help getting started with some programs. This one used Pic Monkey and I found myself getting very comfortable with the basic steps and now am ready to go in and try it on my own. Things change so quickly in technology that sometimes it is hard to keep up with all the changes. These labs help.



Thursday ended with the incredibly moving performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III and guest soloist Dallyn Vail Bayles at the Conference Center at Temple Square. We heard music from Carousel, Sound of Music, The King and I and other memorable Rodgers and Hammerstein productions.

You can watch Thursday’s live streaming on the RootsTech website.

© 2017 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved

My Adventures at RootsTech – The Kick-off – Innovator Summit


Wednesday was the Innovator Summit. This was the technological side of the conference. The Keynote Speaker was Liz Wiseman and she was a fantastic speaker. She was inspirational. The main takeaway from her keynote was “a rookie moment.” A rookie moment is a time when you are doing something brand new and have no experience with the project. You take baby steps and ask lots of questions so your knowledge base grows and you gain your experience. Is there a job/project where you didn’t know what you were doing but you jumped in anyway and succeeded? Liz had us share a rookie moment with the person beside us. The person beside me was a chap from Vancouver BC who was there to do research on an idea he has for a future Innovator Summit.

Liz Wiseman provided questions to answer to help us focus on those moments. Rookie moments provide a feeling of discomfort in us which is a catalyst to help us grow. She encouraged us to throw away our notes and to ask naïve questions. Ask the questions of a toddler – Why? How? Who says? We need to surf with the amateurs and learn something new.


You can watch Liz Wiseman’s keynote on the RootsTech website.


The next session was Innovation and Industry Trends. This was the expert panel discussion. The panel consisted of Ben Bennett; Craig Bott, Grow Utah; Heather Holmes, TapGenes; Nick Jones, JRNL, Inc; Robert Kehrer, FamilySearch.



The principles to keep in mind are: differentiate; build products that people want; don’t reinvent the wheel; and sharing is caring.


TapGenes, last year’s winner of the Innovator Showdown, have a new app called Genivity which connects health and health care costs. It helps people balance both issues.



Robert Kehrer from FamilySearch said that there will be a greater need for indexers in the future. New items that are coming are fuzzy search advancements and process innovation.



Next it was the Innovator Showdown semi-finals. The semi-finalists were: JoyFlips a photo archiver for your devices; Cuzins app; Crowd Sourced Indexing – CSI a transcription project management tools for societies and user groups; Kindex which gathers records into a single digital archives where you can transcribe, tag records and eventually share it; Roots Finder app which makes it easy to share and expand your family history with other family members; Champollion 2.0 manages archival or ancient documents; Emberall is a mobile app that will help you record, organize, store and share life stories; Canada’s own Double Match Triangulator which combines two different chromosome browser results to give you the Double Match Triangulator information; QuormaTag allows you to add a date, location and people that are found in a digital picture; OldNews USA uses the Library of Congress Chronicling America collection. It create suggestions on where you may find some information. When you view the page the search term is highlighted. The app automatically zooms into the next match. It seemed like the judges had a hard decision to make.


The next session I attended was a panel discussion entitled: How will DNA Continue to Disrupt Our Industry? The panel were CeCe Moore, Angie Bush, and Dr. Scott Woodward. Now people go straight to DNA before doing the paper research. DNA tells us things the paper trail can’t. DNA can help those who do not have access to their genealogy. Everyone will find an end to the paper trail but the DNA trail will go on. There is still a huge demand and need for DNA educational resources. We have been carrying the DNA markers from our family tree for 1000 years. The more people you have triangulating a common ancestor the better. Ideally what we want to do is map out the chromosomes of the DNA matches and be told exactly who the common ancestor is but we are not able to do that – yet!


My last session of the day was: Organizing your Genealogy Files and Correspondence with Drew Smith. The room filled up quickly and he started the presentation but five minutes into it they found a larger room and we moved there to finish up the session. Design your own systems for organizing but there are some basic principles. The main one is to keep it simple. Paper, computer files, binders or a combination of any of them – it is up to you. When organizing your binder organize by first name then chronologically. Once you decide on your filing system it will still continue to evolve and change.



Wednesday night was the RootsTech Welcome Party. It was great fun and the finalists of the Innovator Showdown were announced. They were: Champollion 2.0; Double Match Triangulator; Emberall; Kindex; OldNews USA.


You can view Wednesday live streaming on the RootsTech website.

© 2017 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved

My Adventures at RootsTech – The Preamble

Whew! RootsTech was a whirlwind! I was attending RootsTech not only as an attendee but for the first time I had the great pleasure of being a RootsTech Ambassador.

There was a great group of Canadians attending RootsTech this year. I know there were some I didn’t get to meet in person but I was following them on social media.



I arrived on Sunday evening which provided a fairly slow start to a very busy week. Monday and Tuesday was spent visiting the Family History Library. I had a research plan so knew exactly what I was looking for which helped me focus. Each item was completed in my plan but I didn’t find everything I was hoping to which can happen when doing research.
Monday night was the British Commonwealth dinner. We met at the Blue Lemon and it was a very large group of people from around the world. Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada and other countries were represented. It was a great time.


Commonwealth Bloggers Dinner


Tuesday at lunch we met at the Blue Lemon again but this time it was for Geneabloggers and DearMYRTLE was our hostess. This was another large group and we had a great time catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.



Tuesday afternoon was a tour of the Discovery Center at the Family History Library. This is a wonderful interactive family history center. You are given a tablet to take with you and attach each discovery station. You signed in with your FamilySearch account or with your name and email. I used my name and email. There were places where you took pictures in the fashion of your ancestors but you didn’t have to dress up, you stood in front of a screen chose your style of dress and hit the button to take a picture. It was a little difficult to use your hands to touch the screen button but you soon got the idea. There was a section where you went into a sound proof booth to record an interview. It was just you and they had larger rooms for couples and families. They provided questions or you could do it free style.



Other options were taking a picture in the homeland of your ancestors, putting in an ancestors name and year of birth and being shown a timeline for their life.  Since I had provided my email I presumed that I would receive the interview and pictures from the Discovery Center but that didn’t happen. Those that signed in with their FamilySearch account did receive the creations of their visit. I had a great time at the Discovery Center and would recommend a visit. Just remember to sign in with your FamilySearch account.



Tuesday night was the RootsTech Media Dinner for the Ambassadors. This is where I got to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. I decided I was going to make sure I sat at a table where I didn’t know anyone. I met Nicole Dyer and Diana Elder. My other dinner companion was Marie Cappart who is a genealogist from Belgium. There was a large group of FamilySearch people who were instrumental in organizing RootsTech. Thank you for all your hard work.


© 2017 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved

#RootsTech – Famicity Press Release


This is a press release I received because I’m a RootsTech Ambassador


San Diego, California – Jan. 21, 2017: Even with today’s digitally connected, social media-centric world, staying in touch with your family can actually be more difficult than ever. Famicity changes this. Famicity is a social network platform that allows you to share cherished family memories–from the distant past to the present–simply and privately, with all your relatives. It’s a living record of your family at your fingertips, and it’s coming to Kickstarter.

A SOCIAL NETWORK FOR YOUR FAMILY Famicity is designed for the collection of family memories. There are no feed clogging ads, political articles, or otherwise superfluous posts like on Facebook and other networks. Famicity is also designed to protect, manage, and continue your family’s legacy, no matter where you are in the world. You can share photos, videos, and precious moments with your entire family with privacy and a peace of mind.

YOUR LEGACY AT YOUR FINGERTIPS With Famicity — write, share, organize and preserve the legacy of your family. It starts with an inviteonly family tree, creating a central location for your family’s history in the form of a timeline. Only family members can see your photos, videos, news, as well as have access to comment on those posts. It’s the perfect tool for those who want to share and enjoy their history with one another, a next-generation family photo album where relatives across the world can gather and share memories. Unlike a regular photo album, which can be so easy to lose and damage, your memories are safe in the cloud and are easy to share with distant family members. The family tree provides each family member with a timeline that helps you capture precious moments of a person’s life from his/her birth to the present. Each and every member of the family can feel included, tell their story and easily pass it down to future generations.

Memories of prior family generations are captured in old photos, notes and letters which are then uploaded to Famicity. This gives families the opportunity to share memorable stories chronologically. Famicity makes it easy for all to be family historians.

Not only is it easy to use, it is also private. The memories you share on Famicity are not shared with the public, and can only be accessed by family members allowed to see them, avoiding many of the problems that can come with posting cherished memories on other sites.


❏ Private. Only the family you invite can participate.

❏ Safe. Famicity won’t get lost or damaged like traditional photo albums.

❏ History. An easy space to store the entirety of your family’s history.

❏ Simple. Anyone in your family can use Famicity, from the very old to the very young.

❏ Easy to use. Everyone can participate and share albums, videos, documents and voice recordings.

❏ Social Network Family Feed. Get all the latest news of your family members on your feed.

KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN Famicity launched a Kickstarter campaign on January 30th, 2017 to raise funds to expand the beta development of the site and bring it to full production. People who donate early will be the one of the site’s first users and can avail of 2 year Premium Memberships starting at approximately $51 (€48)


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