Well, that was crazy! I’ve been a little ho, hum about attending RootsTech this year. Too many distractions to be fully committed to the conference. But I’m local, so I showed up, and I’m glad I did.
First of all, the schedule is all new this year and I love it. Wednesday is usually the Innovators Summit and there’s a catered lunch and it’s not as heavily attended as the rest of the week.
This year, they started the General RootsTech sessions on Wednesday and then at 4 pm they held an Innovation Showcase (which I missed in person, but was able to partially catch on Facebook live-sweet). The Expo Hall then opened from 6-8 pm.
Because the RootsTech track classes started a day early, and the Expo Hall and Cafeteria/Dining area didn’t open until 6 pm, the Convention Center was more packed than I’ve ever seen it. There was no place to go except classes and it was fun to see classes so well attended and feed off the excitement and energy of the speakers and participants.
I used the lunch break to say hi to old friends and meet some “virtual” friends in person. It was great fun. If you haven’t already downloaded handouts for this year’s RootsTech, read this blog with links to the app or URL (where you can do it from the comfort of your home computer).
Another new feature at RootsTech this year was they scan your badge before you can enter any classroom. It barely slowed down entry at all-although the lines to get into classrooms were intimidating and I was always surprised to see seats still available after seeing the masses lined up to get in.
Classes I attended
First, I attended British Geographic Resources: an Introduction, taught by Tahitia McCabe of the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. I’ll add the free sites she recommended to this website and after I use them I’ll upload a couple of YouTube videos to highlight what I like.
She shared sites from England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland (most were free) you can use to research the places your ancestors lived and add depth to your family history. I can’t say enough about this whole concept of the depth our research gains by understanding what life was like for any given ancestor. Her handout has most of the free sites and is worth downloading. She was a great presenter and the University of Strathclyde has a free, online genealogy course if you’re interested.
Next, I attended my husband’s class, Using MyHeritage to Drive Genealogical Discovery, by Mike Mansfield and Uri Gonen. Mike explained that to get the most value out of a subscription at MyHeritage, instead of just using the records, if you’ll build or upload a tree, the site automatically searches all their records, trees, and over 500,000 genealogical books for possible matches to your ancestors, which they then show you. So with a tree, you can put their site to work for you. And DNA, either tested with MyHeritage or uploaded from another tester to your MyHeritage account, allows you to see DNA matches and more.
Then Uri announced a partnership that’s in beta testing now. This partnership allows LDS users at FamilySearch to download a portion of their FamilySearch tree to MyHeritage (this tree will always be separate from other trees you build on your MyHeritage site). Here’s an image of the “perimeter tree” that you can import.
MyHeritage will provide you all the smart matches, record matches, book matches, DNA matches, etc for this tree, you can accept or decline them, then leave the tree as is OR sync it with FamilySearch and it will upload the changes to your FamilySearch tree. If, after you’ve made changes and synced to FS, someone at FamilySearch makes changes you don’t like, and you sync your tree again, MyHeritage will show you all the new changes that have been made and you can opt, one by one, to accept or decline these changes before this newest sync takes effect (FamilySearch has a one-world-tree system where other people can change the shared tree). Anyway, this is in beta. RootsTech attendees can stop by the MyHeritage booth and ask to be beta testers. They’ve already had a lot of feedback. They have more announcements in the works but this is the only public announcement for now. Read the MyHeritage blog for a better explanation of this new offer.
The last class I attended was Downsizing with Family History in Mind, taught by Andrew Lee and Devon Noel Lee of Family History Fanatics. This was a fun class I decided to take because I’m the family member with most of the family history mementos and I’m in the process of digitizing and then deciding what I’ll keep and what I’ll give to other family members. I really liked their philosophy of deciding if something is genealogical gold or just genealogical chrome plastic (shiny but not as valuable).
Genealogical gold items might meet one or more of these criteria:
- Highly Sentimental
I have a lot of items that are both Original and Unique but are not Highly Sentimental to me and that’s why I’m planning to take photos of them or digitize them in some way and then give them to another family member who will appreciate owning them more than I do. They consider genealogical chrome plastic items to be things like the endless photocopies we accumulate, records that are readily available online, or items of limited sentimental value.
Family History Fanatics is offering #NotAtRootsTech viewers the same sales discounts as #RootsTech participants, so check out their current offers and subscribe to their YouTube channel for free tutorials on preservation, scrapbooking, DNA, and more.
Classes I missed out on
Well, there are too many to number, so, like #NotAtRootsTech people, I’ll be downloading handouts and trying to catch some Facebook LiveStream, but…
one class that caught my eye was right across the hall. The lines were insanely long for The Search for Anna Hansen: Finding German Records taught by Daniel Jones of FamilySearch. I spoke with a woman who attended this class and she loved it. If you have German ancestry, be sure to download this handout. If it doesn’t make sense, I’d call the Family History Library and ask to speak to someone in the German wing and see if they can fill in the gaps for you.
Whether you’re at #RootsTech or #NotAtRootsTech, best with your research!