Sunday, February 9, 2014

Conversation and Food at Genea-Bloggers After-Party

Deep in conversation are (from the left), Sue Maxwell (from Utah), Renee Zamora (from Utah) and Linda Robbins (from Texas):

Two Robbins Ladies at Genea-Bloggers After-Party

The Robbins ladies - Linda Robbins (from Texas) on the left, and Miriam Robbins (from Washington) (with Timo Kracke and Chris Mueller in the background):

Spanish Flavor at Genea-Bloggers After-Party

This photo shows Sonia Meza and Linda Seaver sharing some time together, speaking in Spanish (Linda enjoyed conversing with Sonia, who is a really nice young lady!):

Ladies in Red at Genea-Bloggers After-Party

Here are Sue Maxwell, Carrie Keele and Janet Hovorka wearing different shades of red:

Smiling Faces at Genea-Bloggers After-Party

Standing out in the hallway are (from left) Barry Kline, Janet Hovorka, and Kim Cotton, with Gordon Erickson in the background):

A North American Group at Genea-Bloggers After-Party

Another dinner table - with (from left) Kim Cotton (from California), M. Diane Rogers (from British Columbia), Barry Kline (from Virginia) and Russ Worthington (from New Jersey):

International Flavor of Genea-Bloggers After-Party

The dinner tables changed over time - here are (from left) Daniel Horowitz (born Venezuela, lives in Israel), Sonia Meza (from Spain), Miriam Robbins (from Washington state), Claire Brisson-Banks (from Utah) and Timo Kracke (from Germany):

Genea-Bloggers After-Party Group Shot (Minus 3)

We remembered to take a group photo of the folks still there (Russ, Sonia and Fiona had left by then):

Who can name everybody in the picture?  I'll try later but I have a plane to catch soon.

Goodbye to Salt Lake City! Until Next Year...

Genea-bloggers can't resist gathering together in different locales - we were at Gate B21 at the Salt Lalke City airport on Sunday morning with Chris Mueller, Schelly Dardashti, Miriam Robbins and Ron Arons:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Stephanie Neilson of the NieNie Dialogues - Saturday Keynote #2

Saturday is the third and last day of the RootsTech 2014 Conference.

The second Keynote speaker on Saturday was Stephanie Nielson, who suffered the results of a plane crash that burned her over 80% of her body in 2008.  Here's a photo of Stephanie at the podium:

What a beautiful and strong person she is!  Her talk was the story of her recovery and resuming her life as a wife, a mother of four children, and a noted blogger.  They had another child two years ago, and showed a video of Stephanie loving her baby. 

Stephanie has written a book Heaven is Here.  She was interviewed by several media people in the Media Center, and signed her book for many other people. 

She told us that "It's how we deal with hard times that matters," and "Everyone has a story that needs to be told."

This presentation were inspiring and heartwarming - please watch the RootsTech video when it is available.

Todd Hansen of The Story Trek - Saturday Keynote 1

Saturday is the third and last day of the RootsTech 2014 Conference.

It started with two Keynote speakers - Todd Hansen (of The Story Trek show on BYU TV) and Stephanie Nielson (of the NieNie Dialogues blog).  The Keynotes should be on the website in the next week or so.

Here is a photo of Todd Hansen of stage taking a picture of the audience:

Todd's presentation was about his career - he drops in on people at their homes and films their story.  Then he shows the stories on his TV show on BYU TV.  He showed many short videos of people telling their stories at their door or in the homes. 

Todd did a two-minute monologue on his life and family - working backwards in time from doing this talk to his work to his family to his parents to his grandparents to his immigrant great-grandparents.  That sounds like a good blog topic!

He encouraged us to take pictures and videos of our lives, and tell our stories, one at a time.  Todd noted that "Everyone has an amazing story..." and you are important and need to tell your story."  After all, what will you say when he knocks on your door?

Extreme Genes Podcast/Radio Show - Saturday "New Genealogy Product" Pick

Extreme Genes is my choice for the Saturday "New Genealogy Product" - it sounds interesting, everyone can access it for free, and I like podcast/radio shows.

W. Scott Fisher is the "Radio Roots Sleuth" who has a regular podcast/Radio show called "Extreme Genes Family History Radio:"

The publicity for Extreme Genes says:

"There are millions of people either actively researching or wanting to research their family history.  Extreme Genes keeps you informed on the latest in family history research around the world.  Scott Fisher hosts expert guests and people from around the world with remarkable stories of family history discovery.

"Extreme Genes is America's first nationally syndicated radio show on family history, having rolled out in January 2014 through the well known and respected firm of TalkShowsUSA .com.  We are always adding new affiliates.  The program (including all breaks and national commercials, news, weather, etc., is one hour in length."

On the "Podcast" menu tab is the latest podcast.  The 27th episode featured an interview with David Allen Lambert from the New England Historic Genealogical Society:

Here is a photo of Scott Fisher at his Extreme Genes display in the RootsTech Expo Hall:

And a sign on his display table which I thought was great:

You can hear the current and archived podcasts on the "Podcast" page (  You can hear the podcasts on the iHeartRadio's new Talk Channel, on iTunes, or on Stitcher.  Also, several on-the-air radio stations that carry it.

Media Center Video Booth in Expo Hall

Here is a photo of the Media Center video booth where interviews were videoed continuously, on a schedule, by media folks like DearMYRTLE (seen below talking with Saturday keynoter Stephanie Nielson):

Legacy Family Tree Display in Expo Hall

The Legacy Family Tree software exhibit was busy every time I went by:

RootsMagic Display in Expo Hall

The RootsMagic software exhibit was busy every time I went by:

Evidentia Display and Ed Thompson at Expo Hall

I visited for awhile with Ed Thompson of Evidentia, the genealogy software that helps you work with the Genealogical Proof Standard:

Eagle's Eye View of Expo Hall

I took a photo from the second level looking down at the Expo Hall from the north side of the hall:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dr. Spencer Wells Talks DNA and Genetics - Friday Keynote #2

On Friday, the second Keynote speaker was Dr. Spencer Wells.  He started out with a genealogy puzzle - his name, which was Rush Spencer Wells IV.  His grandmother told him about the Rush male who was his 2nd great-grandfather, a 2nd great-grandmother with the maiden name of Spencer, and four Rush Spencer Wells children followed.  Here is a photo of Spencer Wells on stage:

Dr. Wells then took us on a whirlwind tour of The Human Journey through the eyes of a geneticist.  The two basic questions are about origins and journey - how did the species occupy the earth.  He went through basic DNA genetics, then into mtDNA and Y-DNA, and then showed the two sets of haplogroups that have been determined over the past two decades. 

He also discussed the Genographic Project, which consists of field research, public participation (DNA tests), and the Legacy Fund (85 grants to date for over $2 million).

He finished up by noting that DNA testing is now in the public consciousness, and tests have increased in 8 years from zero to 1 million by the end of 2012, and we will soon have the 2 millionth test performed.  The more people who test, the better the chances are of finding matches with other testers.

Judy G. Russell Wows the Crowd - Friday Keynote #1

Friday is the second day of the RootsTech 2014 Conference in Salt Lake City. 

It started with the two keynote speakers - the first was Judy G. Russell (The Legal Genealogist).

Here is Judy just after coming onstage, and her first slide that set the tone for her presentation:

As Judy noted, Aaron Holt of the National Archives said that "Oral family history can be lost in three generations."  To demonstrate that, Judy asked questions of the audience about what they knew about their parents and grandparents - about 95% couldn't answer the first question, and nobody could answer all five questions.  The first question was "What was your mother's first illness?"

Here's a close up of Judy onstage:

Judy used three examples of how stories are obtained, analyzed and confirmed.  Her first example was the Revolutionary War service of Richard Baker and his loss at the Battle of Trenton in 1776.  The only record of his service and death with the 3rd Virginia regiment is a letter written home by his brother after the battle. 

Judy used this Baker family to demonstrate how family stories, and published genealogies can be wrong, and how to ensure that any story is correct.  She painted a grand picture of the earlier Baker ancestry in Virginia, including a marriage to a Winslow that gave the family a Mayflower ancestor.  Then she discussed how scholarly research disproved quite a bit of it.  That led to the discussion of the Genealogical Proof Standard and how applying the GPS can help prove oral or written history. 

Finally, Judy told the fanciful family story about her great-great-grandfather, Martin Gilbert Cottrell.  Family lore said that he'd been a cowboy in one part of Texas, a rancher in another part, a farmer, a sheriff, a traveling salesman and a preacher.  She was able to find records that document each of those occupations in the different places that demonstrated that it was the same person.

Judy noted that we must find the stories of ancestors, and document them well, so that we can pass those stories to our descendants.  That includes "my story" too.  If we don't, we will lose them in three generations or less.

This was a superb, masterful performance by Judy.  She always speaks clearly and forcefully, which I really appreciate and wish I could emulate. 

Expo Hall Panorama View from Media Center

I made a panorama photograph of the back of the Expo Hall at RootsTech 2014.  Here it is:

Click the picture to embiggen it.

I took this from the Media Center, which is right on the walkway from one side of the photo to the other.  On the far left is the south side of the Expo Hall.  In the just left-of-center area, the easy chairs in the Demo Stage are very comfortable, and there are speakers every 20 minutes or so.  That's Lisa Louise Cooke making a presentation at the podium.  The right side of the photo is the north side of the Expo Hall.  Of course, it is a straight line from one side to the other - the panorama photo makes it look like the walkway is curved. 

Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) Display in Expo Hall

I lucked out and found Elissa Scalise Powell, Thomas W. Jones, and Judy G. Russell in conversation at the Board for Certification of Genealogists display:

Lisa Louise Cooke on the Expo Hall Demo Stage

Lisa Louise Cooke talked about Google Search on the Demo Stage:

Mocavo Display in Expo Hall

The Mocavo team lined up for a group picture:

WikiTree Display in Expo Hall

The WikiTree ladies Eowyn and Tami gave me a T-shirt for taking a selfie with Eowyn (I spoke to Chris Whitten later...):

Saving Memories Forever - Friday "New Genealogy Product" Pick

Saving Memories Forever is my choice for Friday's New Genealogy Product - it's a no-brainer, really, since they won the FamilySearch Developer's Challenge award this year at RootsTech 2014.

Jane and Harvey Baker have created a mobile app and a website that helps families record, share, and save their family stories.  The key to this app is the ability to do voice recordings on a mobile phone or tablet device. 

The website says:

"Saving Memories Forever is a system that consists of an app and a website. The app provides great mobility for interviewing and easy uploading to a secure and private storage on the website. The app also gives you the opportunity to announce your newly recorded story thru Facebook. Listen to your recorded and uploaded stories on the website.  Also use the website to share and “manage” your stories.

"The features of the system are determined by the level of membership.  Saving Memories Forever is available as a Free Membership or as a Premium Subscription."

The website has an excellent description of how to use the site and the app at the Start Here page (  

Here are Harvey and Jane in front of their exhibit this afternoon.

This looks like an excellent opportunity for people interested in recording family stories and saving them for their family and friends to hear.  I will download the app and try it out soon.

Congratulations to Harvey and Jane Baker for bringing this app to fruition and I wish them success with it.

Lisa Alzo made it to RootsTech 2014!

Lisa Alzo had a difficult time getting to Salt Lake City because of weather.  She had to cancel her Thursday talk, but made it to the Friday livestreamed session.  She had to leave today:

Southern California Genealogical Society Display in Expo Hall

Just across the way from the Media Center is the Southern California Genealogical Society display, with Leo Myers, Jane Van Tour and Paula Hinkel:

Genealogy Gems Display in Expo Hall

When I stopped by the Genealogy Gems display, I saw Sunny Morton (who helps Lisa Louise Cooke with the company) and Denise Levenick, so I had to snap their picture.  I saw Lisa only once at her display - and it was mobbed after her iPad presentation:

Jen Baldwin at FindMyPast Display in Expo Hall

Jen Baldwin now works for as the Society Liaison.  I had a great conversation with her about PERSI on FindMyPast - she showed me how to find periodicals on the list.  And the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record is available on PERSI with page images!  I also received some neat maps and nifty buttons from her.  Jen is standing in the photo below in front of the large picture of a church building (with the monuments in front):

Butterfly Kisses Display in Expo Hall

I thought that the Butterfly Kisses exhibit was especially interesting - lots of beautiful photographs, family tree charts and displays available:

Mocavo Display in Expo Hall

The team posed in front of their display in the Expo Hall:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dennis Brimhall and Captain Jack Open RootsTech 2014 - Thursday Keynote Session

This morning was the Keynote talks by Dennis Brimhall of FamilySearch, Annalies van den Belt of FindMyPast and Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman.  Here are some photos:

Dennis discussed FamilySearch initiatives, and introduced Captain Jack Starling who came on and said "Dead men tell no tales...but their obituaries do."  FamilySearch has plans to index tens of millions of obituaries because they contain stories and lots of names.

Annelies van den Belt of DC Thomson - Thursday Keynote #1

Annelies van den Belt is the head of DC Thomson, which includes FindMyPast.  She discussed her own family history by way of introduction, and the FindMyPast vision for the future.  She also announced the new FindMyPast mobile app for iPhones called "Capture."

Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman - Thursday Keynote #2

The second keynote speaker was Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, from Oklahoma, who started blogging eight years ago and now has thousands of readers, and her own cooking show on the Food Network.  A blog success story!  She talked about her own family history, her family, and her life as a celebrity blogger.

Panorama View of Expo Hall from the Front Entrance

My new iPhone 5s has a Panorama mode that I'm just learning to use.  Here is my first attempt at doing a really wide panorama - it's probably 150 feet from one end of the Exhibit Hall to the other:

Click on the photo to embiggen it.

You can see the displays of the four large sponsors and exhibitors -, FindMyPast, My Heritage and FamilySearch.  They are all in a straight row - but the closeness of the camera to MyHeritage makes it look like a curved entry. 

I still haven't explored every aisle.  I seem to get stopped at one or two exhibits each time I venture out to talk to the exhibitors. Exhibit in Expo Hall

I like to take pictures of the major exhibitors at each conference I attend.  Here are some views of the display, which is one of the largest at RootsTech 2014.

They have two of these puce-colored arches to enter the consultation entry to the Ancestry display area.  You can see some of the Ancestry folks in their grayish T-shirts.

Below is a photo of the front of the Ancestry exhibit area that shows the seating area to watch the videos and presentations by Ancestry personnel all day long:

Ancestry All-Star Crista Cowan, who does the great livestreamed videos for Ancestry, modeled this year's Ancestry T-shirt.  Crista is always smiling.  I love talking to her. 

I lucked out and met Kristie Wells, who writes on the blog.  She twisted my arm to do a short video, which may be on their blog in a week or two (if I didn't completely blow it...).

I spoke to Duff Wilson and Rob Lemonnier a bit also about Family Tree Maker.

MyHeritage Exhibit in Expo Hall

Another of the major exhibitors at RootsTech 2014 is MyHeritage.  Here are some photos from around their display area:

The view above is looking toward the entrance to the exhibit hall.  The view below is looking toward the rear of the exhibit hall:

The MyHeritage folks had two semi-circular desks with computers on both sides of them for patrons to use or be shown the features of MyHeritage.  There are also benches for one-on-one consultations and to watch the video shows.

FindMyPast Exhibit in Expo Hall

The large FindMyPast display near the entrance to the Exhibit Hall is a bit different.  Here are some views:

They fashioned the front of the exhibit, facing the exhibit hall entrance, as a church building.  The photo above shows the "Today's Services" for the day at the "Parish Church of St.-Findus-in-the-Past."  Cute, I thought.

The open area  in the photo below is just to the left of the services board seen above and includes a stained-glass window above the front of the "parish church" with a video screen and a seating area:

On the other side of the partition is the area where FindMyPast staff demonstrate their website and help patrons do a little research:

I didn't talk to anyone on this pass by the display because the staff was busy with customers. 

FamilySearch Exhibit in Expo Hall

FamilySearch also has a large exhibit area at the front of the exhibit hall.  Here are some photos of their display:

On one side of the display area is the seating area to watch FamilySearch videos and presentations.

In the photo below, taken from the other side of the display, is a view of the area where FamilySearch staff is helping patrons find results on the computer systems:

Across the aisle from the area above, there is an area with a number of computer sets and patrons can find "fun" things on a number of FamilySearch sites, especially the FamilySearch Family Tree:

The options include access to (migration paths), (descendants from an ancestor), (family crests), (create a fan chart), On This Day in History (, House of Names (, and Genealogy 101 (, a fun trivia game).  For some of the activities, the patron can save the graphic created to a flash drive.

I thought that was a great way to introduce some of the "add-on" tools to create charts and use the Family Tree in creative ways.