Monday, April 21, 2014

RootsTech 2015 Content Committee Issues a Call for Presentations


The RootsTech Content Committee is calling for dynamic presentations for RootsTech 2015 that inform and educate both those seeking to begin and those continuing to discover their family story through technology.  

Presentation submissions will be accepted June 2 to June 27, 2014, through the Call for Presentations portal on RootsTech.org.

Presentations will be accepted for both RootsTech and Innovator Summit.  
  • RootsTech is a three day family history conference offering over two hundred classes for beginners, avid hobbyists and experienced researchers.
  • Innovator Summit starts with a pre-RootsTech event onWednesday, February 11, and is a unique opportunity for software developers, entrepreneurs and technology business leaders to explore and influence technology solutions in the family history industry.  Classes will continue throughout the RootsTech conference.
In 2015, RootsTech and The Federation of Genealogical Societies are teaming up to offer two great conferences in one venue. Speakers interested in presenting at FGS can visit their website for more information about the FGS National Conference and their call for presentations. 
Youth Header

Presentations submissions are requested for all family history and technology skill levels in the following categories:
RootsTech
  • Finding and Organizing: search tactics, resources, specialized tools, methodologies, solutions, metadata, apps and software 
  • Preserving Your Work And Legacy: family trees, digital migration, audio and video solutions 
  • Sharing: social media, tools for collaboration, wikis, crowd sourcing, community building, blogs
  • Stories and Photos: storytelling and interviewing, capturing stories, preserving stories, enhancing stories with photos, photo restoration, movies and presentations, photo editing, oral histories
  • Tools: technology introductions, gadgets, genetic research, DNA, breaking down barriers, 
  • General:  family history topics in general including geographic research, time-period research, inspirations, market trends, research trends, adjacent industries, record types. (Please note, there is still an expectation in this category that technology is a part of the presented topic.)
  • Family Traditions And Lifestyle: cultural arts, handicrafts, food, influential historical events, everyday living standards, social customs, pastimes, artifacts. (Please note there is still an expectation in this category that this knowledge assists the learner in family history and that technology is a part of the presented topic.) 
RootsTech Innovator Summit
  • Developer: standards and API's, mobile app development, social applications, record imaging and visualizations, apps for youth, software and tools that enable the work of family history.
  • Business: funding and investment, startups- success stories and tips, opportunities and market trends, networking and partnerships, insights and entertainment 
For more information, download the complete Call for Presentations document. It includes presentation and evaluation criteria, the submission timeline, and process details.

Questions regarding the RootsTech 2015 call for presentations can be emailed to the Content Committee at info@rootstech.org.

Do you know someone who would be a great presenter for RootsTech 2015? Please share this with them. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fold3 Civil War Collection free until April 30

Hey gang, here's a nifty freebie from Fold3. They are opening up their Civil War Collection for everyone until April 30. This is a great deal, and for much longer than most "free" access we get from genealogy databases.

I've found several of my own ancestors in the Fold3 Civil War Collection.

Here is the info straight from them:

Access the Civil War Collection

To remember the commencement of the Civil War in April 1861, Fold3 invites you to explore all records in its Civil War Collection for free April 14–30.

Explore Civil War documents featuring everything from military records to personal accounts and historic writings. Soldier records include service records, pension index cards, “Widows’ Pension” files, Navy survivors certificates, Army registers, and much more. Other record types include photographs, original war maps, court investigations, slave records, and beyond. Items such as the Lincoln Assassination Papers, Sultana Disaster documents, letters to the Adjutant General and Commission Branch, and the 1860 census are also contained in the Civil War Collection.

Confederate-specific records include Confederate service records, amnesty papers, casualty reports, and citizens files, as well as Confederate Navy subject files and Southern Claims Commission documents.

Join Fold3 in its commemoration of the Civil War. Discover information on famous participants as well as your own Civil War ancestors through documents, photos, and images that capture the experiences and vital information of those involved in America’s deadliest conflict. Then commemorate your ancestors by creating or expanding memorial pages for them on Fold3’s Honor Wall. Get started searching the Civil War Collection here.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Fort Bend County (TX) Library Genealogy Events for April 2014

LIBRARY'S FAMILY-HISTORY CLASSES HELP RESEARCHERS DISCOVER PAST

Have you ever wondered where your ancestors came from?  Are you curious about their military service or medical history? Begin your family-history research at Fort Bend County Libraries' Local History and Genealogy Department at George Memorial Library1001 Golfview in Richmond. Library staff will present two programs in April to help the beginning family-history researcher start their genealogy search.

"Family-History Research: Find Your Ancestors in Deed Records" will take place on April 15, beginning at 10:00 a.m., in the Computer Lab. Learn about the various types of land and property deed records that are available online, on microfilm at the library, or that are filed at the courthouse. Deeds were recorded and kept before other types of records were required. These records may include genealogical information that is not available through other sources, or that may confirm uncertain information, such as names of spouses, children and their spouses, or neighbors.

An introduction to the FamilySearch International Online Genealogy Website will take place on April 22, beginning at 10:00 a.m., in the Computer Lab. This resource contains information compiled by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide for more than 100 years, and is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Those attending this class will learn how to navigate through the FamilySearch website and make the most effective use of the information it provides.


The programs are free and open to the public. Seating is limited, however, and reservations are required. To register online at the library's website (www.fortbend.lib.tx.us), click on "Calendar," select "George Memorial," and find the program. Participants may also register by calling the library's Local History and Genealogy Department at 281-341-2608, or by visiting the department at the library.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Uncle Roy

Uncle Roy was my great-great uncle by marriage. I knew there was a little bit more to the story, but anyone who could tell me the details had already passed. Here is how I found the connection. I wrote it here in case anyone in my family was interested. --A

My immediate family on my dad's side is pretty small and there wasn't much history that trickled down to the kids. Much of what I have--genealogically speaking--is what I've found on my own.

My paternal grandfather (known as Buster to us) was an only child. His parents' siblings had no children either so he had no first cousins.

Buster lost both of his parents while he was in college. He had one grandmother known as Mollie. She was widowed twice before marrying her third husband, John Fraser Sutherland. He was Scottish and worked for a railroad doing masonry-type stuff.

Mollie had a daughter with her first husband. This girl was Buster's mom. Mollie had a daughter with her second husband. This girl was Violet, the same Aunt Violet my family knows.

Aunt Violet had a first marriage that ended in divorce. I don't know much about that. Aunt Violet's second marriage was to Robert Roy Vaughn, who is known in my family as "Uncle Roy."

Uncle Roy and Aunt Violet with their plane.
Why didn't I know they had a plane?

Knowing Buster's history as I do now, I understand why Aunt Violet and Uncle Roy were so important to him. That was all the family he had. Also, I'm pretty sure Violet is the one who convinced Buster and his new bride Doris (my grandma) to leave Oklahoma and start fresh in California.

Time passed and all this branch of my family died. Eventually I got curious about family history and started ordering death certificates. I noticed on Uncle Roy's death certificate, it said his mother's maiden name was Sutherland. Was that a coincidence? Or was he related to his mother-in-law's third husband?

I've tried to answer this question for years, but John Sutherland is a pretty common name. Also, Uncle Roy was in the Merchant Marines, which made tracking him difficult.

Finally, this week I found some online information that led me to the parents of John Fraser Sutherland. That led me to his siblings as well. I checked to see if any of his sisters married someone named Vaughn. Sure enough, Jennie Sutherland married Gus Vaughn. These were Uncle Roy's parents. John Sutherland was his uncle.

Sadly, it appears both of Roy's parents died when he was young. He lived with his grandmother in Winslow, Arizona. Roy also had a sister, Ruth Vaughn Hammerton, who married and lived a long life in the Los Angeles area. Did we know this, family?

So now I know how Uncle Roy fits in the family puzzle. I knew there was a connection, it just took a while to find it. Roy--like Buster--didn't have parents and relied on aunts and uncles for family bonding. He must have visited his uncle John Fraser Sutherland and Buster's grandmother Mollie in Los Angeles and met Violet that way.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Fun with Search Terms

It's been a while, but it's time for another round of "Fun with Search Terms!" People type certain words or phrases into search engines. If the combination is right, my blog turns up in the search results. Sometimes the searches are funny. Sometimes I can provide more information to users, if only they'd comment on my blog. Either way, I enjoy the process. Please note that these searches are anonymous so I don't know who is stumbling on my blog. I just comment in the hope that they find it again.

Now on with the show. Actual search phrases are in bold.

Houston Genealogical Conference
You're probably looking for the Houston FamilySearch Conference on April 26, 2014. This all-day event is FREE and open to the public. Register soon to reserve your seat. The event is in Houston, in the part known as Summerwood. This is my neck of the woods, so if you have any questions about the area, let me know.

cameron parish louisiana courthouse civil war vietnam memorial
My blog came up in the search results because I wrote about my own ancestor's name on that military memorial. I have photos of all the names from all the wars as they were included on that memorial. If you contact me I will send you the photos.

do you have to join geneabloggers to blog your genealogy
Absolutely not. You are free to set up your blog and write about whatever you want without connecting with anyone. Geneabloggers.com is a great website for blogging resources. It also has a fantastic index which connects blogs with readers and peers. I love it, but you don't have to.

cyndi ingle cracked up
I love this one so much. Cyndi Ingle is Cyndi's List, in case you didn't know. I wrote about her FGS 2013 plenary session, "Is Your Genealogy Society Web Site All It's Cracked Up to Be?" but it's funny to think she done snapped.

iota jules menou history
jules menou iota louisiana
jule menou iota la
jules menou iota
You. Are. Killing. Me. All these searches put you on my blog and you never even contacted me? Jules Menou is my people. The Menou family in Lousiana is MINE. There's only one and if it is yours too then why not exchange information?

Notre Dame 1910 yearbook
My great-grandfather is in this book. You can access it through Ancestry.com's U.S. Yearbook Collection (use Notre Dame as the city name in Indiana).

genealogy as therapy
Don't I know it, man. Don't I know it.


Thanks for playing and have a great weekend!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Exploring New Formats for Genealogy Instruction

Wow, my blog post "A Conference Manifesto" for the Genealogy World garnered more interaction than I thought it would. Reading through the comments at all the various places the piece was shared, I am noticing a pattern:

1. I'm not alone. Others are tiring of the back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back lectures that make up a daily genealogy conference schedule. It's not a dislike of the lecture format, but more of a desire for variety of presentations. When you open a conference schedule and see 50 different lectures, it's kind of like 50 kinds of vanilla ice cream. I like vanilla ice cream, I just don't need 50 versions of it.

2. Commenters say they prefer--and often learn more from--interactions with others outside a conference's classroom hours than they do in the lecture sessions. This has been my experience as well. This is not a knock on speakers or the lecture format, rather a plug for the value of group learning.

3. There seems to be a measurable desire for other learning formats to be incorporated alongside lectures into conference programming. Of course, there will be those who don't like changes, but there is now a group just as vocal about exploring other options.

What kind of options are out there? I started looking at conferences for different types of things. Some ideas are already being incorporated in genealogy conferences, but could be tweaked for more success. Others are just new ways we can teach the old tricks and subjects we deem important.

Conference within a conference - It is exactly as it sounds: a smaller day-long event within a larger one, usually where the sessions are tied together by a specific theme. Here's an example I pulled from the cobwebs in my head:

BCG Camp (a hypothetical example of a conference within a genealogy conference)
The Board for Certification of Genealogists holds a day-long mini-conference on one of the days of a national conference. The schedule could go like this:

8:30am-10:00am - Opening keynote of the larger conference. Usually these are huge draws so there's no need to take away from it. Start the camp later.

10:30am-11:30am - Lecture on a key principle like the Genealogical Proof Standard or something. Give attendees an in-depth look at a selected topic with an expert lecturer.

12:00pm-1:30pm - Ticketed BCG lunch with time to socialize and notable speaker. 

2:00pm-3:00pm - Certification Q&A. Certified genealogists answer audience questions. The crowd is taking in information as they would in a lecture, but they're participating in the learning as well. Have the group watch the instructional BCG certification seminar video at home ahead of time so the basic questions are already answered and they bring a variety of new ones.

3:30pm-4:30pm - Problem solving exercise. Present a genealogical problem, divide the class into groups, and give them time to work out their approach to solving the issue. Then gather the class back together, share the groups' processes and reveal the speaker's solution if different. 

Aftersession - Have a meetup or informal social event in the evening so prospective certification candidates meet one another and mingle with CGs. 

See there? A whole day of learning and interaction with only one traditional lecture.

Conference within a conference isn't just for groups. Planners and speakers can also schedule these mini-camps around subjects of interest like military records, Irish genealogy research, etc.

Unconference sessions - Yes, we already have these in genealogy conferences, but they aren't being utilized properly. They're usually only publicized on an exhibit hall white board that folks may or may not see. Why not put unconference topics, times and places right in the conference program with all the other sessions? Planners could request unconferencing topics and facilitators just as they call for speakers. Pick the best ideas and put them in the master schedule.

Here are some ideas for possible FGS unconference topics: How we find speakers/subjects for our genealogy society, fundraising ideas, popular newsletter topics, creative membership drives, your favorite genealogy resources for researching in Texas/Scotland/whatever. Do you think people would attend these unconferences if they were in the program? I do. Put them in the conference program and ask attendees to bring their best ideas and questions. Designate a facilitator and let's create a list of ideas we can take home and share with others.

Interest groups - Wouldn't it be great to meet up with people researching French ancestry? Or RootsMagic users? Or whatever little genealogical niche you desire? I realize it is difficult to cull these ideas and get them into a program many months out but there has to be a way. There just has to be.

Blended learning - This is a trend in K-12 education right now, but there's no reason it can't be an option for genealogy conferences or single society meetings. Students do part of their learning at home (usually an online component), on their own schedule and at their own pace. Then the group comes together to apply what they've learned. It's backwards: lecture/lesson at home, homework/problem solving at school.

Thomas MacEntee envisioned a "flipped lecture" format in a comment on my last blog post. Randy Seaver also proposed an idea where genealogists independently watch video lessons taught by experienced researchers, then coming together in person to discuss the issue and/or apply it to real research situations.

The ideas are there. The interest is there. I think this is something the genealogy community should explore.

MOOCs - Massive Open Online Courses are all the rage right now in the online community. See Coursera for an idea of what's available out there. Discussion is also buzzing in the library community, so--if you read my last post--this should be a genealogy issue in about 5 years.

Why can't the genealogy community get on the MOOC train? Is doesn't have to be a "massive" effort. Maybe we can get FamilySearch on board. Maybe they're already exploring the option. It's jut something to think about.


So what do you think? Are your idea gears going? What would you like to see at genealogy conferences and society meetings?

Do you think the general genealogy public would like other format options alongside lectures? I don't know. Change is funny. And people are funny. I'm not an expert at judging ether one.

I wrote a blog post about how the all-lecture-all-the-time conference format was starting to wear on me. Others agreed across several social media platforms and more enthusiastically than I expected. There is a desire for other learning formats...not to replace the traditional lecture but to accompany it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Fort Bend County (TX) Library Genealogy Events for March 2014


LIBRARY'S FAMILY-HISTORY CLASSES HELP RESEARCHERS DISCOVER PAST

Have you ever wondered where your ancestors came from?  Are you curious about their military service or daily lives? Begin your family-history research at Fort Bend County Libraries' Local History and Genealogy Department at George Memorial Library,

1001 Golfview in Richmond. Library staff will present two programs in March to help the beginning family-history researcher pursue their genealogy search.

Learn how to use the online genealogy resource, HeritageQuest Online, a resource for tracing family histories, on Tuesday, Mach 11, beginning at 10:00 a.m., in the Computer Lab. Discover how this resource can help you get results tracing your family history, and the kind of information it provides. Tips and strategies for a more efficient search will be demonstrated.

The class "Family-History Research: Filling In Your Ancestor's Story" will take place on Tuesday, March 18, beginning at 10:00 a.m., in the Computer Lab. Learn how to find and search archived editions of historic newspapers, local histories, and Google Maps to discover details about the daily lives of people in the past.
            

The programs are free and open to the public. Seating is limited, however, and reservations are required. To register online at the library's website (www.fortbend.lib.tx.us), click on "Calendar," select "George Memorial," and find the program. Participants may also register by calling the library's Local History and Genealogy Department at 281-341-2608, or by visiting the department at the library.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"A Conference Manifesto" for the Genealogy World

"If you want to see where the genealogy field will be in five years, look at what the library field is doing today."  --Me

I get a lot of raised eyebrows and blank stares when I say this. Some people are even offended. I stand by it, however, because this has been my observation as I straddle both worlds.

Genealogists deal in information and research. They want the highest quality, the most current and the most accurate stuff. Guess what? The library field does, too. We all have the same interests and value the same things.

The difference is that both fields incorporate new ideas at different speeds. The issues the library field is talking about right now are what the genealogy field will be talking about down the road. That's not an insult, just an observation.

One of the issues where I've noticed different speeds is conference planning. Trends are changing overall, but they haven't trickled down to the genealogy world yet.

Recently I read a piece that mirrored my current feelings about genealogy conferences. I've grown tired of the standard lecture session format, many of the same subjects covered over and over again, and those horrible connected convention center chairs.

A Conference Manifesto was written by Mary Ellen Bates, one of the premier names in the information world. She speaks of the recent demise of a large conference (Online Information) and the changing ways in which we seek learning experiences. She comments:

"The traditional conference is going away, because it is no longer serving its purpose. We are no longer willing to shuffle zombie-like from one conference session to the next, passively listening to speakers talk about what they know."

Do you feel this way? I'm honestly and sincerely saying that I do. You might not, and that's ok. Keep in mind though that as the library world goes, eventually so will the genealogy world. It's only a matter of time before you tire of the zombie-like shuffle.

Many of Bates' points are spot-on and too important for the genealogy community to ignore. "How can a conference be relevant when its topics were set a year and a half ago?" Even in genealogy where we're used to looking backwards, developments are happening at a rapid pace, but scheduling is not. "Expect more from your speakers." Yes, yes and yes.

My blog post is now at the point where people are forming their rebuttals in their heads. I know conference planning is harder than it looks. The sit-and-stare-at-a-speaker format is still widely accepted and expected. If that's what the registrants desire--and you're sure of it--then by all means keep at it as you see fit. But you better be sure you know what people want because once they stop attending your conference, it's very difficult to get them back.

However, as you can see from Bates' article, the library world is getting tired of this conference format right now. At some point, genealogists will also be weary of this traditional style. The clock has started, conference planners. Be ready when it happens.


Friday, February 14, 2014

A Visit with StoryPress at RootsTech

During RootsTech, I had a nice meeting with the people behind StoryPress. They describe it as a digital Pinterest for stories.

Here is a video of CEO and creator of StoryPress explaining the concept and his motivation behind it:




Story collecting apps and websites are de rigueur now. It seems like everyone has one and I usually don't get excited when someone wants me to review theirs. However, I really liked this one. It was different. It held my attention and made me want to explore others' stories.

There are numerous features to guide users through the process. You are given a template as a story guide.

Questions are provided as audio prompts to get your stories started. You can include photos, video or both in your story. The finished product is like a small movie of a particular story in your family. Imagine having several of these from various family members. Quite a treasure.

(Example of what the story prompt will look like)

Each story can be tagged with various subjects like "travel" or "birthday." These descriptors are provided by StoryPress, so you can't customize your own for surnames and such. They stay within the general subject vein, which is fine for mainstream use. However, hardcore genealogists are going to want more descriptors. When that time comes though, I fully expect the StoryPress crew to be receptive to adding more tags.

Your StoryPress stories can be public or private. The public ones can be searched and browsed by subject. I must admit, it was fun looking at other people's stories. This is a magnificent time-waster for when you're avoiding other things.



I was told StoryPress will be a go on April 1, 2014. At that time it will be free to have an account. You will be able to "like" and comment on others' stories. You will be able to follow your favorite authors. Most importantly, you will be able to record your own family's stories.



I was promised more updates by the StoryPress crew closer to the launch date. I'll keep you posted. Until then, here is another teaser video:







Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Visit With Peoplefinders at RootsTech


Peoplefinders was a new vendor at RootsTech and a new-to-me vendor as well. I love me some records databases, so I went over there to view their wares. I did not tell them I was an Official Blogger, a regular blogger, or that I was a crazy library-type lady who asked odd questions about user experiences searching databases. I wanted the regular sales pitch so I could form my own impression.

The Peoplefinders crew was touting their new website myrelatives.com. It focuses on public records for living people for the most part. There are no secret records. All of this information is available somewhere online. They just collect it and provide it neatly and quickly.

The Peoplefinders employee that was answering my questions used a test name to show me how the site works. The results returned included property records, relationship records (marriage, divorce), vitals (birth, death), censuses and more. Lots more. Names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.

There is also a family tree component where you can build your own tree at the site, just like all the other genealogy records vendors out there

Where is gets interesting is that in myrelatives.com, you can attach records and add people to your tree just like you can do at Ancestry.com. It is but a mere click of the mouse, and a living someone and their public record are part of your family tree.

Now I've seen the messes that result from the click-and-add options for adding people on Ancestry.com family trees. There are trees where a couple has 16 children, 13 of them are the same person just added 13 times because of lazy record attachment. At myrelatives.com, the same situation can happen...but with living people. Anyone can pull your records and add you their family tree. 13 times if they feel like it.

Is there a way to prevent others from adding me to their tree? She didn't know and went to ask. I felt a little uneasy knowing some lazy genealogy yahoo could add me and my public information to their family trees. I accept that the info is out there, I want to prevent it from being gathered if possible. The Peoplefinders person told me I'd have to make a request to have my file suppressed.

Apparently you don't have to be a member of myrelatives.com to construct a family tree. If you build a family tree and your membership lapses do you still have access to your tree? She went off to ask again. The answer is no.

$11.95 per month was the price I was quoted for myrelatives.com. There is also a $24.95 version with more options at peoplefinders.com. I was also told there will eventually be a Peoplefinders Pro edition that will have much more powerful options for finding living people. This one will be contract only.

My initial impression is that myrelatives.com might be an option for novice searchers and those who aren't familiar with public records. This is certainly a large group of those who casually do family history. I'm pretty confident with my own public records searching ability to do without this site for now. It didn't quite hook me in yet.

I did not test peoplefinders.com, so I can't tell you how that was, nor can I discuss Peoplefinder Pro.

Our own data = $$$ now so look for more public records vendors to pop up in the future. If you see Peoplefinders at an exhibit hall, do some test searches and let me know what you think.


The Best Seat in the RootsTech House

If you're looking for me at the vast RootsTech conference, chances are you can find me in the Demo Theater. This is the second year RootsTech has featured the Demo Theater. I like to call it "the best seat in the RootsTech house." Here's why:


The Demo Theater features rows of big couches and chairs arranged in a semi circle around a small stage with a podium and a screen. There are some overflow tables in the back. Those white boxes on the tables are chargers for your electronics. Nice.

Demo Theater sessions last 15 minutes long and feature vendors from the exhibit hall. The presentations run about 10-12 minutes with a few minutes for questions. Each session usually has a live demo of the product or at least a planned sales pitch.

Here is one about search techniques at FamilySearch.org:


Presentations run back to back, so there are no gaps. There is an emcee to keep the conversation going as the vendors switch out. At the beginning of each session, a person comes around with a raffle ticket and a basket of chocolate. Please understand what I just said: someone brings you raffle tickets and chocolate every 15 minutes while you sit in a big comfy chair. And...the vendors come to you.

Now do you see why the Demo Theater is the best seat in the RootsTech house?

I will confess I've spent a great deal of time here during RootsTech. Here are some of the presentations I've seen:

Billion Graves: Billion Graves Basics
Pictureline: How to Digitize Your Photos
MyHeritage: Finding our Ancestors Among Billions of Names...
Treelines: Family Tree Management on Treelines.com
RootsPoint: Connecting Lives
FamilySearch: Effective Search Techniques on FamilySearch.org
findmypast: Discover Your Irish Roots with findmypast

So let me repeat this again: vendors come to you and show you how to use their products while a lady hands out raffle tickets and chocolate. This happens every 15 minutes while you sit in a big comfy chair.

I can't got any further without thanking Backblaze for sponsoring the Demo Theater. Not only did they sponsor it, but they were very active in running the show, answering questions and filling the gaps with conversation when the vendors switched out.

I'd really like to see something like the Demo Theater at more traditional genealogy conferences, but I'm doubtful that would happen as there aren't many big money sponsors and it's something new and different in a field that's slow to change.

For now, I'll continue to enjoy the features and knowledge that come out of Demo Theater. I learned a lot in that area at this conference and hope to do so again at RootsTech 2015.


Friday, February 7, 2014

PERSI 3.0 with Curt Witcher at RootsTech

Friday I attended PERSI 3.0: The Next Generation of the Periodical Source Index led by Curt Witcher, who you may know from his awesomeness at the Allen County Public Library.

PERSI is a great genealogical resource. Recently, it got a new address and some new life breathed into it. For these reasons, I was curious to see the latest PERSI news.

Witcher started by describing the types of periodicals in the index. In this case, periodicals do not include newspapers. Those are serials. Periodicals in PERSI are genealogical journals and publications. They may focus on a certain place, historical era, surname, ethnicity or something else.

Much of the good information found in these articles is missed because the people that are interested in them aren't subscribers of these journals or part of the geographical area. Witcher calls these "orphan articles." He gave an example of an article about the history of a town in Indiana....but it was featured in an Idaho genealogical society journal. How would one ever find out about it if they weren't part of the Idaho society? That's where PERSI comes in.

PERSI is indexed by humans who are information professionals who know about genealogy. This means you'll get excellent, quality results when you search the index. Do you get that same quality in Google Books? Not usually.

When you search PERSI and find an article of interest, you can enter the title of it in WorldCat and see local repositories near you that hold the item.

Where can you get this magical PERSI? It's been around for a while, but hadn't been updated with new items for a few years. Now PERSI is available through findmypast. Yes, you do need to be a subscriber. There is an older version of the PERSI index available at HeritageQuest, but it doesn't have recent updates or all the things that are being added at a rapid pace by findmypast.

Wouldn't it be great if you could access findmypast through your library? They are working toward a library edition right now.

Here's more about the PERSI move to findmypast.

This was a great RootsTech session. I'm glad I attended. I tweeted it heavily. Thanks to all who responded.

RootsTech Expo Hall Sneak Preview

Before the opening keynote and the start of RootsTech, I took a media tour of the Expo Hall. The conference and the exhibits have moved to the other (larger) side of the Salt Palace this year.

MyHeritage (Platimun Sponsor)


Ancestry.com (Platinum Sponsor)


Backblaze (Sponsor of the Demo Theater)


Demo Theater


FamilySearch Phone a Friend Area


FamilySearch Story Recording Area


FamilySearch Photo Memories Area


FamilySearch Indexing Obituaries Initiative


Media Hub


Wide aisles


Free drinks! One of my favorite RootsTech perks!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

FamilySearch Blogger and Media Dinner at RootsTech

Dennis Brimhall, FamilySearch CEO

Wednesday night was the Blogger and Media dinner. This is an annual event where FamilySearch feeds us and shares their latest developments throughout FamilySearch.org.

Dennis Brimhall, FamilySearch CEO, gave the opening remarks. Three years ago, he was new to FamilySearch and family history. On this night, he was right in his element.

Shipley Munson spoke next and gave a quick overview of the RootsTech 2014 by the numbers. 8,000 adults will be attending, along with 4,000 youth and another 1,000 kiddos on a waiting list. Also, many sessions are being live-streamed to tens of thousands more around the globe. It's kind of mind blowing to think about it.

The Developer Challenge finalists were announced by Thom Reed, FamilySearch Partner Marketing Manager. We got to see the three tools in the challenge. The winner of the Developer Challenge will be announced during Friday morning's keynote.

Don Anderson, VP of Patron and Partner Services, discussed FamilySearch's ever-evolving partner relationships. They currently have partnerships with several big names like Ancestry.com and MyHeritage. These partnerships are mutually beneficial. The partners help index records and in turn get access to these records. Look for several more companies of all sizes to partner with FamilySearch in the future.

A couple more announcements were made by Mike Judson, Indexing Workforce and Development Manager. There is (or will be, I can't remember) a new indexing site. It is online based.

FamilySearch is stating that this is the "Year of the Obituary." They will be putting tons of obituaries online at FamilySearch. THEY NEED INDEXERS! You can start indexing obituaries right now so get on it!

If you're a member of the LDS Church, I have good news for you. You will have free access to major FamilySearch partner sites from home. This includes Ancestry.com and others. I'm not in the LDS loop so I don't have specifics. However, it was reiterated that this is happening in the coming year. It is not immediate.

My overall takeaway from this event is that FamilySearch is continuing to foster partnership relationships this year. They want to grow the volunteer indexing sector, and reach out more globally with FamilySearch services.

All in all, it was an entertaining informative event and I'm thankful FamilySearch invited me to be a part of it.

Innovator Summit at RootsTech

I had the pleasure to attend the Innovator Summit portion of RootsTech yesterday. These are sessions and events geared toward the developer end of the tech spectrum.

The day kicked off with an early lunch and keynote by Chris Dancy.


My photo is lousy, but you get the idea that the event was well attended. Dancy is an interesting duck. There's no way to really explain him in words. You just have to see him, hear him and think about what he is saying.

From a genealogical perspective, he discussed life after death. Given our online presences, we don't really "die" after we die because our stuff lives on. He talked about how others will perceive our stuff, how it will be preserved and who will have control over it.

Dancy brought up digital death policies and said Google has a good one. It got me thinking about the genealogy-type companies that house our data. Who gets that when we die? Do these companies have digial death policies? My guess is no.

I sat at a fun table of bloggers and got my official beads from DearMYRTLE.


After lunch, I attended "It All Started at Starbucks--From a Partnering Idea to a Business Success in Three Years." This session was about the beginning of Inflection, which owned Archives.com before Ancestry.com bought it. 

My favorite takeaways from this session had to to with public records statistics. The company started when the founders noticed 30% of all online searches were for people. They studied the types of people searches that were being made and gathered the record sets to meet that need. 

Genealogists are a big group of public records users, but they are not a majority. Knowing this may help genealogy folks understand what makes Archives.com tick and how they fill a need in the global online market.

I also attended "GOV-The Genealogical Gazetteer" led by Timo Kracke. I was fortunate enough to meet Timo in the morning. I finally put two and two together and realized he was teaching this class I wanted to attend. This session focused on the site gov.genealogy.net and the need for distinct place identifiers. Here is his presentation in a nutshell.

The Innovator Summit sessions were well attended. From my point, I think this event was a success and Im glad I was able to be a part of it.