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Rootstech 2013, part 2

March 29, 2013

Read part 1 here

Rootstech Day 3 was exhausting for me!  I was there bright and early for the keynote at 8:30, went to a full day of classes plus the youth classes the Church had arranged, then finally met DH and my parents for dinner and a concert in the Tabernacle with the Orchestra at Temple Square before returning home nearly 14 hours after first leaving it.  I am not used to days like that!  My stay-at-home mom existence is considerably calmer.  But I had a great day.

I knew A would be tied up in classes and devotionals until 7:30 p.m. so he stayed home in the morning to collect the Scouting for Food bags with his scout troop as a bit of a break before meeting me at the Salt Palace at 11:00.  He’s not used to being gone from home all day either.  Before the keynote I had a nice chat with a guy from St. Louis who sat next to me and is a fellow lover of office supplies.  David Pogue, technology columnist for the New York Times, was the first keynote speaker and was so funny, I had tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard.  I highly recommend watching his presentation on the Rootstech.org website.  I learned a lot about Web 2.0, disruptive technology, and who knew you could play your iphone like an ocarina?  He’s also an accomplished musician with music degrees from Yale and left us with two songs on the Steinway about calling tech support and his classic, “I want an iiiiiiiiiiphone.”  What a fabulous start to the day!

I met up with A and gave him my laptop to take to another lab on “Online Genealogy for the Absolute Beginner” while I went to a devotional with Elder Foster of the Seventy.  It’s always nice to hear from general authorities of the Church at genealogy conferences to remind us of the spiritual reasons behind this work.

For lunch, A wanted to go clear over to City Creek so we got in our exercise for the day, as if climbing stairs in the Salt Palace was not enough.  Then we perused the expo hall which was really amazing, but just so big!  I never felt like I saw all there was to see.

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We took a photo in front of the BillionGraves website for their contest, but gave up on some of the other contest entries.  We were tired!  We collected our free blank fan charts from the Chartmasters booth (I gave mine to C) and then sat for a while.  Of course by the time I looked at my watch, we were late for the 1:45 class and couldn’t get into the one we wanted, so went to hear Michael J. Hall talk about “Names, Dates, and Places: Now What?”  which was really interesting.

There was a big emphasis on photos and stories at Rootstech this year and I know many people who don’t consider themselves genealogists, but are really great at keeping track of photos and current family stories.  Personally, I love names, dates, and places, and combing through microfilm and old books looking for them.  I guess the messages I got out of Rootstech as a whole and this class in particular was that those are a starting place.  We need to take the documents and records we find, figure out what they tell us, figure out what stories are there so we get a more complete picture of our ancestors.

Bro. Hall used the example of his 3rd great-grandfather’s Civil War military record which listed him as a deserter, which completely offended Bro. Hall who had served honorably as a US Marine himself.  He ignored that line for years while doing other research, but finally decided there had to be a story there because obviously this man wasn’t shot as deserters generally were, or else he, Bro. Hall, wouldn’t be here today telling us this story.  Researching beyond the information on that one document lead him to discover the amazing life that his great-grandfather lead.  The sometimes dry names, dates, and places are only one part of our work.  Stories and photos are only one part of it.  We need to collect all the puzzle pieces to complete the picture of our ancestors’ lives.

In the very first keynote, Elder Brimhall asked, “What would our great-great-grandchildren wish we would have done?”  We have so much technology available, literally at our fingertips–how can we use it to benefit those who will come after us?  And how can we use it to pull in the next generation?

Apparently the next generation is already into genealogy at our house:  On Monday afternoon while I was trying to get back to my normal everyday homeschool mom life, I heard D out in the living room trying to coax his 3-year-old brother onto his back.  “Do you want to go play Rootstech, E?”  “Get on my back and we’ll go play Rootstech.”  As they passed by me in the kitchen, E riding piggyback, D said, “We’re on our way to Rootstech, Mom.”  If it’s important to me, it’s important to them.  That was a WOW! moment for me.

Jyl Pattee talked about WOW! moments in her Friday keynote.  Here are some of the, if not necessarily WOW! moments, things that excited me or inspired me at Rootstech 2013:

  • Sitting with my oldest son and over 1000 other youth, feeling the Spirit, as we listened to youth talk about amazing things they’re doing with family history.
  • Feeling the full force of the Tabernacle organ Thursday night (yes, it’s feeling as much as hearing!)
  • FamilySearch Indexing is this close to indexing 1 BILLION records!  That is amazing!
  • The next big indexing project will be a partnership between Ancestry and FamilySearch to index 140 million probate record images and indexes from 1800-1930.  WOW! What a help that will be for family history research.
  • FamilySearch will soon get a facelift and be much more inviting.
  • 6700 people attended Rootstech + almost 2000 youth, over 10,000 people watched streaming sessions online, and 4000 others were participating in local family history fairs around the world in 16 locations with certain sessions streamed from Salt Lake so over 21,000 got to participate in one way or another.  Next year FamilySearch wants to increase that to 120,000 with some 600 locations around the world where people can gather and participate.  WOW!!!
  • Elder Brimhall’s keynote inspired me to keep up on this blog!  My great-grandchildren will thank me for documenting our lives.
  • I should probably get on the ball and update my two family history blogs while I’m at it.  They’ve been rather dormant lately.
  • If I do that, I will join Geneabloggers.  They seem to have a lot of fun!  Not to mention it would give me more people to look forward to seeing at conferences such as Rootstech.  I always come home wishing I had talked to more people.
  • I am inspired to be more scholarly in my research and more organized which can only mean good things.  I don’t get a lot of time to research with a 3-year-old around so I need to make the most of the time I have.
  • Two new-to-me websites: History Pin and What Was There.  They are similar sites wherein you can upload old photos, match them to an address’s Google Street View, resize them, and then fade from the past to the present and back again.  I wish I had more of my own historical photographs to upload, but both sites are fascinating to explore.
  • I still have 8 more classes to watch on the Rootstech website and all the speakers’ notes in the syllabus to go over.  I’m sure there will many more things that will excite or inspire me.

My biggest WOW! actually came this Wednesday afternoon while we were watching Laura Prescott’s talk on searching online for your ancestors.  Rather than cover the well known genealogy sites, she led us through a number of sites you might not think of when researching ancestors including the Library of Congress website (which I’ve used extensively for homeschool before but not genealogy) and specifically a collection called American Memory with photos, documents, letters, and all kinds of other treasures that can be used to add color and detail to your family tree, including maps!

Now I love old maps, so when she said that, I immediately jumped on loc.gov and searched for maps of Maine.  I quickly found an 1857 map of Lincoln County where we’re researching Goodwins on DH’s line.  As I zoomed in on Dresden, I started to see people’s names and realized this wasn’t just a topographical map, but also a map of property owners.  We’re related to half of Dresden and I already knew who was living in the Pownalborough Courthouse at the time, but realized I did NOT know where my ancestors lived up in Newburgh, so I downloaded the Penobscot County map.  These are quite huge!

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 5.59.42 PM

When I found Newburgh which is the orange square on the very bottom of the map, I zoomed in to the cemetery where we found my 3rd great-grandfather’s grave in and lo and behold, his farm was right next to it!   George King, there you are!

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 6.29.52 PM

WOW!!!  What a thrill!  That right there was worth the price of admission (as I like to say.)  And now I’m thinking it’s silly that I’ve never delved too much into land records before.  There’s still so much to learn!

And I want to go back to Maine . . .

A took some copious notes during a few of his classes and devotionals.  Perusing them, I saw this: “Be serious about your research, but have fun doing it!”

What great advice to end with. I can’t wait for next year!

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