Catching up – RootsTech

It has been a long time since I did any real blogging. There has been a lot going on but things are finally getting back to normal. Not blogging does not mean I haven’t been doing all things genealogy! So I’m going to start with my first genealogy adventure this year and then blog about the rest later.

This year I got to tick something off my genealogy bucket list by going to RootsTech for the first time. This was very exciting and was done last minute although my very clever friend had booked a hotel room a year in advance just in case. I had attended through live streaming and reading blog posts but this year I was there in person.


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Travelling in February can be iffy but thankfully the weather gods gave us good travelling weather. Salt Lake City is beautiful and they were having a warmer and dryer winter than usual so this meant that I was in my spring clothes even though it was -25C at home. It could be sacrilege to say this as a Canadian but it was better than Florida in February!


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This was a joint conference with RootsTech and FGS and we had signed up for both conferences. We went to register and the line ups were not bad. There were a few glitches with our registration but that was soon sorted out. As we were wandering the halls of the Salt Palace Convention Center to familiarize ourselves with the layout we ran into some friends and did a little catching up.


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Tuesday night we had a Commonwealth Bloggers dinner that was set up by Jill Ball from Australia. She is a regular at RootsTech and an Official Blogger. We had people there from Australia, England, Wales, Scotland, New Zealand and Canada. We even had a honourary Commonwealth attendee from the States. It was so much fun to meet all the people behind the blogs I have been reading for so long. The chat and company was great fun. There was about 18 of us and we managed to chat with almost everyone.


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Wednesday was the first full day of the FGS conference. I went to the opening session and then to the Family History Library for a few hours before meeting up with Nancy for lunch. One of the unfortunate things about signing up late was that we couldn’t get into any of the sponsored lunches. Still there are some great restaurants in the area and we tried them out. Then we went to the afternoon sessions.

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There was an evening social entitled “Behind the Scenes: Family History & Television.” It was a panel discussion and was very interesting. The panelists had worked on: Who Do You Think You Are? (US), Finding Your Roots and Genealogy Roadshow (US).


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Thursday was the first day of RootsTech. It started with a Blogger breakfast event hosted by Findmypast. Josh Taylor and Annelies van den Belt provided information on what was new at Findmypast. I got to meet up with a lot of bloggers that I had met at previous conferences as well as meet new ones. Thanks to DearMyrtle I also got my blogger beads!


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The opening session for RootsTech was next and it featured FamilySearch, My Heritage and the featured speaker was Tan Le. Tan Le was a wonderful speaker and had the audience in tears. She spoke of her family’s escape from Vietnam to Australia and their life in Australia.

Then it was time for the lectures and touring the Expo Hall. I attended: Organization for the Genealogist; Basic Genetic Genealogy; Reopen Your Genealogy Cold Case; Dirty Family Photos and Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy. The last one was live streamed. I am fairly new to genetic genealogy and the Getting Started lecture was very easy to understand.


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In between the lectures and wandering the Expo Hall I would stop by the Demo Theatre where demos were presented every 20 minutes. There were big comfy leather couches and they gave out draw tickets and chocolate before each presentation. It was a great place to go if your feet were giving out. I learned a lot from the Demo Theatre and when I attended Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Google Toolbox Update I won her recently updated book of the same name! Wonderful addition to my genealogy library!

Other Demos and Expo Hall presentations I attended were: Heirloom Roadshow; Your Perfect Photo Organizing Practices; Ten Steps to Complete a Life Story; Preserve Family Photos; Preserve Family Photos on a Budget and Basic Genetic Genealogy. These were the ones I marked in the RootsTech app to watch but I ended up watching many more.

I loved the RootsTech app. It was on my iPad and had my schedule and handouts on it so I could check things very quickly. I had connected with friends so we could arrange times to meet and if one lecture was full I could quickly see if there was another I was interested in attending. There were maps in case I got lost. The map of the Expo Hall was great because I could find the vendors I wanted to visit. The internet wasn’t needed to view the app which was good since it was hard to get on the internet at the convention centre.

On Friday the opening session keynotes were Josh Taylor and  Laura and Jenna Bush. Their stories were fun and interesting. The mother daughter dynamic worked very well on stage. It was easy and relaxed. Although I have never seen so much security at a genealogy conference.

The lectures on this day included Lost Cousins Down Under which I attended because I wanted to hear Jill Ball speak plus I have Aussie connections. She did not disappoint. Other lectures included Using Online Radio as a Platform to Encourage Interest and Participation in Genealogy and Lesser Known Sources for Birth, Marriage and Death in the British Isles.


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The day ended with Culture Night in the Expo Hall. It was called: Culture Night: Celebrate Your Heritage. They had performers from many different countries and people in period and cultural dress walking around the Expo Hall. The Pipe and Drum band spoke to me because my Dad used to play the pipes when I was little and belonged to a Pipe and Drum band. I will admit it I love the bagpipes!


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Saturday was the last day of the conference and it felt like a very early start for the opening session but I wasn’t going to miss this one because the featured speaker was Donny Osmond. Donny shared his family stories and his family history journey. A.J. Jacobs was speaking about the Global Family Reunion that took place the first weekend of June in New York.


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There were thousands of people there on Saturday. RootsTech broke a record for the largest conference attendance around 20,000. It made it difficult to get around and I couldn’t get into two lectures despite being there half an hour before they started. Unfortunately neither of them were being lived streamed or audio recorded. I wanted to attend: Using Microsoft Word for Writing Family History and Microsoft Excel A Little Known Genealogy Tool but was not able to get in. The ones I did attend were Treasures in the Attic: Digitize & Preserve and The War Memorial Reconstructing a Community.

I am glad I went to RootsTech. I have always wanted to go. Conferences are a great way to learn new things, meet new people and network. You never know you might even meet a cousin!

©2015 – Blair Archival Research

National Genealogical Society Conference in Richmond Virginia. Are you ready? #NGS2014gen


It is so exciting, in a week we will all be in Richmond Virginia at the National Genealogical Society Conference.

If you have ancestors from the area you may already have your research plans in place. I hope so as there are a lot of repositories in the area to help you with your research. You can find a list of the repositories and information you will need to know here.

The conference hotels booked up very quickly and others were added on. The good news is that NGS have set up a bus shuttle service to get us from our hotels to the convention center. This is a great service and will make things easier for many of us who didn’t get into the Marriott. You can find out about the schedule here.

If you wake up late and don’t have a chance to get breakfast or you didn’t get a chance to sign up for one of the wonderful luncheons then you will have to find something to eat during the conference. The organizers have thought of everything by providing a list of food services in the Greater Richmond Convention Center and the Marriott. They have provided locations and hours. You can find out where they are here.

See you in Richmond!

©2014 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

National Genealogical Society Conference Richmond #NGS2014gen


Since the NGS conference is only a week away I have started getting everything organized for the trip. It is sometimes hard to know what to bring and you want to travel fairly light. Getting organized for a trip can be a little stressful.

An advanced look at the weather suggests temperatures in the mid-70s range. Now this is advanced weather forecasting and things can change. So the Girl Guide motto “Be Prepared” comes into play here. An umbrella is always a must just in case it decides to rain. Since we will be inside a lot of the time the main thing we need to remember is convention center air conditioning. Bring a sweater, wrap or something in case the lecture rooms are chilly or you get the seat by the draft.

It is now time to focus on the technology you are going to bring. Is your technology suitcase going to be bigger than your regular suitcase or smaller? Don’t forget power cords, chargers and any other cables you may require for your devices. Also, don’t forget passwords you will need for the websites/apps you use.

If you are using Wi-Fi then make sure your virus protection software is up to date. At the same time make sure your operating software is up to date.

Do you have apps on your devices for note taking or do you still like to do it with pencil and paper? Be prepared for either choice.

A water bottle to fill up at the water stations is a great thing to have with you. This way you don’t have to keep buying water in bottles and it is always with you. At the same time what about snacks? A little something to help with the energy drain around 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon. A bag of pretzels in the room and a small baggie to put a few in every day.

The main item you need to bring with you is a comfortable pair of shoes. In fact bringing a couple of pairs might be better so you don’t wear the same pair every day.

Start writing your lists now so that you don’t forget anything.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for things to bring with you to conference?

©2014 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

National Genealogical Society Conference App #NGS2014gen


The National Genealogical Society have made it very easy for us to be organized during this conference. They have the NGS Mobile App. Have you downloaded it yet? If not, why not?

The app is a brilliant tool to help with everything. First download the app to your device. I have it on my iPad and my iPod. Sometimes it is easier to check my smaller iPod than dig out the iPad. You can sync the app over several devices.

One of the most important things to do is to create your own schedule for the lectures you want to attend. I will admit I have more than one in a few slots. I just couldn’t make up my mind but I will do that closer to the lecture. Add everything into your schedule including your lunches, society events and if you have arranged to meet up with friends.

As of April 22nd you can even link the syllabus material for each lecture. How wonderful is that! No more digging to find copies or scrolling through the PDF to find the right lecture.

Do you have friends going to the conference? Did you know the app has a section that lists all the attendees and then you can do a friend request and add them to your friends list? Did you know you could also share your schedule with them? If you are looking for someone this will be an easier way to find them.

There is a section that lists the exhibitors. You can mark each one you want to go and see. You may decide to add that to your schedule. Do you want to purchase the latest BCG manual? Add that to your schedule.

Do you follow Twitter? You can easily do that with the built-in Twitter feed in the app. You can see what everyone is saying about the conference in real time.

I love the NGS app and every few days have been going in to add new things and see what else I can find. It makes it much easier to navigate the conference. If you have a mobile device you need to get the app.

You can find out more about here and there is a short video tutorial.

©2014 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

The Spring Speaking Tour is Complete

It has been a very busy spring for speaking engagements. It started in April with a full day workshop at Heritage Mississauga where I presented “Irish Research from a Far” and “Taking Your Irish Ancestors Back over the Pond.” Before I finished the day they had booked me again for October when the subject will be Scottish research.

The next week I was at the Ontario Genealogical Society Region III Annual Meeting in Cambridge. My topic there was “Why Can’t I find it Online? Other resources to help you with your research.”

A couple of days later I presented “A Brick Wall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project” at the monthly meeting for the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

Then it was a little time for me, well sort of, because I attended the National Genealogical Society Conference in Las Vegas. I was an official blogger and we had a great time. Since we were so close to Salt Lake City we took the opportunity to go and do some research in the Family History Library for a few days. A few days wasn’t long enough.

The week after I got home I presented “I Want to Research my Family History – Where do I Start?” at the Milton Senior Activity Centre.

Jane Watt representing Halton Peel Branch Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2013

The following week I was off to the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference where I presented “Scottish Research from a Far,” “Maiden Aunts of the Twentieth Century: A forgotten generation of women” and “A Brick Wall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project.”

Brooke Skelton representing Waterloo Region Branch Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2013

Last week was my last lecture of the spring speaking tour. I presented “Why Can’t I find it Online? Other resources to help you with your research” at the Quinte Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society in Trenton Ontario.

Quinte Branch OGS Trenton Ontario at the Quinte West Public Library

Now that summer is here I am already booking for the fall speaking tour. I will be presenting a full day Scottish workshop at Heritage Mississauga in October and in November I will be at the Hamilton Branch OGS General Meeting and the topic will be “The Genealogy GPS: How the Genealogical Proof Standard can help your research.”

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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