Share #52Stories from your personal history cards from RootsTech

These cards were part of the gifts we received at the FamilySearch media dinner on Tuesday night at RootsTech. They are a great idea.’




They have questions written on both sides of the card and by answering these questions you begin writing your personal story.

The question may be something simple like “What is your occupation?” You can answer simply or you can expand on it and it leads you to think about other jobs you have had. There are quite a few of us who have had several occupations during our working career.



Then there is the question “Do you remember how your elementary school smelled? Or where your desk was in 3rd grade? Share some school memories.” This will end up going beyond elementary school. It could even lead to you digging out some old school pictures and report cards that will bring back more memories.


These questions are just the start. “What do you look forward to every summer? People, places, things, events, food, hobbies, traditions?” This will be different for all of us. It could involve your family and extended family and lead to talking to cousins, aunts and uncles to find out more. Each of us will have a slightly different memory of the same event.

These small cards with questions on them can lead you down memory lane and to new adventures.

© 2017 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved

2017 Ontario Genealogical Society Conference in Ottawa



This year the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference is being held in Ottawa. There is the added excitement of the Sesquicentennial of the Confederation of Canada. The conference is being held from June 16th to 18th at Algonquin College. There are already 383 people registered.

There are lodgings available at the college residence. These are filling up fast so now is the time to make your reservations.

Come a little early or stay a little later to enjoy the city and festivities.

There are tours available on Thursday. The Library and Archives Canada tour is sold out but you can still attend the Canadian War Museum and Ottawa Public Library tours. Sign up early to avoid disappointment.

The British Pub night is already sold out.

On Friday there are workshops being presented in the morning and afternoon. I am presenting “From Canada to Ireland: Researching Here and There” and it is sponsored by the OGS Irish Special Interest Group.

If you are interested in preserving your photographs there is a workshop entitled: “A Snap in Time, A Shot for the Future: History of Photographic Process and Preserving Your Photograph” presented by Kyla Ubbink CAPC

The workshop entitled “Think Like a Genealogist: Creative Research Techniques to Help You Follow the Right Ancestral Trail” is already sold out.

The Keynote Lecture on Friday night will be presented by David Obee.

Saturday and Sunday have four lectures per session. On Saturday the Opening Plenary Lecture is being presented by Danielle Manning. The Banquet Address is being presented by D. Joshua Taylor who is also presenting the Closing Plenary Lecture on Sunday.

A new event this year is called “Using Ancestry Day.” Crista Cowan and Anna Swayne will be coming to OGS to present five lectures on Monday. It is a  full day offering.

Won’t you please consider joining us in Ottawa the third weekend of June for a fun filled family history weekend!


© 2017 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved

The Expo Hall at RootsTech

The Expo Hall was huge! I am still not sure I covered the entire breadth of it during the conference. As an Ambassador we got to go into the Expo Hall for a tour before the Keynote Sessions on Thursday. The Expo Hall was still under construction and they only had a few hours left but when 10 o’clock rolled around they were ready to open!



It was nice to see the Expo Hall before the people arrived. It allowed for an uninterrupted view of the space. We didn’t get to spend long but were able to take some pictures. There were some lovely displays.



The Sponsors were all front and centre. You had Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage and of course FamilySearch. FamilySearch had booths throughout the Expo Hall. The front booths were the ones that had seating and talks about using the websites. They were always busy. Ancestry had a big sale on DNA kits and you saw a lot of folks wandering around with large bags filled with kits. I would think there are a lot of requests going out right now to family members to take a test. Mine have done theirs and I have received notification that they have been received by Ancestry. Now we wait. Cue the Final Jeopardy theme.




FamilySearch had different booths around the Expo Hall. A unique one was the “We Hear You” booth. There was a car and you got into it and recorded a story or whatever you wanted. The theme was “the best conversations happen in the car.” It was a unique way to get people to share information.












Call My Relative was another FamilySearch booth. Here you could record a quick conversation with a loved one. I never found out if it was for anywhere in the world but you went into a green call box to make the call.



Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems booth was all set up and ready for the demos. You didn’t have to be an attendee as Lisa streamed most of them live via Periscope. You can watch some of them on her website.



The Demo Theatre is a great place to sit down and rest your feet while learning something new. Even better if you could get one of the comfy seats. There were a wide variety of speakers promoting their products during the conference.



They brought a little bit of the Antiques Roadshow to RootsTech. You could bring a family heirloom or photo and have an expert look at it.



This was a wonderful display set up by Kindex the winner of the People’s Choice in the Innovators Showdown. Rescue your records!



There were small and large booths around the expo hall.


This was the display for Pictures & Stories Inc. They will help you create a book of your life. It made me think of the big red book they used on the television show This is Your Life. This was a stop for many photographs and selfies.



The world’s largest genealogy chart was on display and attracted a lot of attention. It was in an area where you could have your genealogy chart printed off.


The Expo Hall was usually busy. You had to pick your times to speak to vendors. Family Discovery Day, Saturday, was the busiest.



I am not sure I made it all the way around the Expo Hall but I did meet a lot of vendors and learned something new so that is a good thing. The Expo Hall is something you need to go around several times a day to make sure you have covered it. I would take different turns out of the media hub to make sure I covered as much as I could. The Innovator Alley was interesting as all the entrants had booths where they were explaining their ideas. While in this area I also found WordPress which is a format a lot of bloggers use, me included, and it was nice to get the chance to talk to someone about the software.



The Expo Hall is something I plan out every time I have gone to RootsTech or any conference for that matter. I go through the RootsTech app and read the vendor descriptions. I star the familiar ones I want to visit first. Then I go back and learn more about the other vendors and choose the ones I want to visit. It was fun and everyone was having a good time.


© 2017 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved

Genealogy Serendipity Out of the Blue via Email!

A little background information first. In 1999 I started researching the life of Lady Diana Taylour. She lived in Oakville from 1936-1957 and someone felt that her grave deserved a flag on Remembrance Day. They couldn’t find the proof required by the Town, could I help. Well I found an obituary that provided the information the Town required. But…It caught my imagination. I couldn’t let this lady go. There was something about the obituary that had me wanting to know more.

It took me nearly 10 years but I finally found the real Lady Diana Taylour. In 2012 I wrote about it on my blog. It is a three part series. Part One, Part Two, Part Three

While I was doing this research on Lady Diana Taylour I had never seen a picture of her. I commented on this in the last post of the series.

Well image my surprise last week when on International Women’s Day I opened an email from a lady who was collaterally related to Lady Diana Taylour! She had found my blog posts! In the email she included a picture of Lady Diana Taylour taken in the 1940s. It is hard to make out the year it might be 1943. This is the first time I have ever laid eyes on the lady who captivated my life for so long! She was wearing her khaki green uniform as I had been told by many people she wore constantly. She looked familiar to me and it is how I imagined her to look.

I have permission to share the picture here with you so here is the moment when I finally put a face to the Lady Diana Taylour.


Lady Diana Taylour


© 2017 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved

My Adventures at RootsTech – The Final Hurrah



The last day of RootsTech is always a busy one because of Family Discovery Day and it is also sad because it is almost over. The Keynote Speakers today were CeCe Moore and Buddy Valastro aka “The Cake Boss.”


Before each of the Keynote sessions started Jason Hewlett would come on stage to warm up the audience. He was fantastic and so much fun. Music and laughter woke up the audience who had to be ready for the opening cheer. On Saturday he introduced us to the Genea-gecko. I guess every living thing has an interest in where they came from.



Ancestry started the session with an announcement about how AncestryDNA will be going beyond ethnicity to find community. They are going to use the information from DNA to try and create communities and see where the people may have originated. They will add historic and political information to explain why there may have been mass migration in recent times.



CeCe Moore was next and she didn’t disappoint. If you have never heard CeCe speak then check out her session on the RootsTech Saturday Sessions page. She talked about how our genealogy is coming alive through DNA and how our experience and those of our ancestors will always be found in our DNA. My main take away was that now people are starting their family history journey by doing a DNA test and then following the paper trail. This is a reversal of how it used to be done.

Did you ever set foot in a country and feel like you were home? CeCe said that there is a connection between a biological relative and an ancestral location. She believes that DNA passes down genetic memories of places, personal choices and creative ideas. She spoke of how DNA has brought forgiveness and healing to families. It is important to know the roots your family installed in you to make you who you are today. Looking ahead in DNA CeCe believes that in 10 years we will be able to reverse engineer our ancestors DNA. We will be able to see what they looked like.




Up next was Buddy Valastro and he spoke about the ancestral journeys of his family, how they arrived from Italy, went back and then came back to America. He talked about how the family dinner table was a time to share your day and family stories. I remember this as part of my childhood but it seems to be disappearing in today’s busy world.


Buddy also spoke on one of the themes of RootsTech and that was family food traditions. Passing on family recipes is an important part of our family history.  He has never forgotten where he came from and that has helped him build his business and raise his family.


Partial line up to view the Cake Competition entries


Buddy Valastro had an extra job at RootsTech as he was a judge for the Cake Competition. There were four categories: Wedding, Birthday, Holiday and Graduation. There were three finalists and one grand prize in each category. There was also a People’s Choice. The Deseret News has an article about the winners.


The lab I attended today was “Create Genealogy Videos and Images Quickly for Free with Spark.” I have had this app on my iPad for a while but didn’t know how to use it so this helped me focus and now I am looking to create my first video. Maybe I will do it with photos from RootsTech and post it online? Shannon Combs-Bennett was the lecturer and she had people in the room to help if we got stuck. Again this hands on lab helped me get comfortable with a new program and that is always a good thing.



Family Discovery Day is a very busy day at RootsTech. There are special events and sessions on for the Members of the LDS Church and it is fun to watch the children enjoying family history. Some were on a treasure hunt and wanted pictures with some of us who had long ribbons on our badges. We were all busy collection them from each other and vendors during the conference. One person was unbeatable. Still some of us had to start adding them down the side or going so long then starting again at the top behind the first row. Here is a shot of mine. I couldn’t get it all in the picture.


You can view the Saturday live streaming on the RootsTech website.

© 2017 Blair Archival Research – All Rights Reserved

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