Monday, March 4, 2019

Wrapping Up RootsTech 2019

RootsTech is officially over. The last two days (Friday and Saturday) were a bit of a whirlwind. 

Friday

Early that morning I attended the MyHeritage Friends breakfast. It's always a fun opportunity to learn about some new features and announcements (including some news ahead of the keynote). The big news is that MyHeritage will donate another 5000 DNA kits to help adoptees and their families reunite. You can apply for a DNA kit on www.dnaquest.org. 

I then attended the power hour hosted by my company, American Ancestors. The session was "Breaking Down Genealogical Brick Walls: Strategies for Success" I thought it was a great session and was well attended. Lots of great tips on how to use records on extended family, associates, and neighbors to bust down those pesky brick walls. 

Later I attended the American Ancestors luncheon where my colleague Claire Vail, Director of Creative  and Digital Strategy, discussed the Mayflower web site. The site has a lot of great features to learn about the passengers and connect with others who are also descendants. We will have more activities leading up to Mayflower 400. 

I had an interview later that day with the RootsTech crew team. They were filming several of the speakers and ambassadors to speak on who they are, why they come to RootsTech, give some tips and tricks, etc. I can't wait to share it when it's ready. It was a cool experience - felt like a movie star. I'm a bit short so I had to get up on some egg crates so you can see me. 

I went to the keynote to see Saroo Brierley. He had an amazing story on how he found his family in India years later. I need to check out the movie "Lion" for sure and catch up on more of his story again. 

Later that day I attended a lecture for my colleague, David Allen Lambert. He talked about the different archives and web resources of New England. It was a fabulous lecture with a lot of great resources on how to discover more about your New England roots. 

Saturday
I started the day with another power hour by my colleagues. It discussed more about what we do. We have a wide range of services including our web team, our genealogist services (including consultations, ask a genealogist, etc.), photocopy service, research services, etc.

I then added a lecture by my friend Debra Dudek called "Tracing Female Ancestors in WWI Military and Non Combatant Records". This lecture had a lot of great resources and Debra is a fun speaker to listen to, especially with her ferret impersonation of going through records. I definitely have a lot of great ideas to help track the women in my family that were involved with the war effort.

The last keynote was with Jake Shimabukuro. He can really play the ukulele! He led the audience in a sing-a-long of "Bohemian Rhapsody". I'm sad I missed that part as I had to dash off to the 23andMe luncheon. I'll be catching up on the live stream for sure.

The 23andMe luncheon had a presentation on some of the features you can do with the web site. More health reports and the interface has changed slightly. I know I need to dig in more with the map feature that they have. The maze they had in the Expo Hall was pretty interesting - lots of different things you can see with your data.

I went back one more time to the Expo Hall to go explore more of the vendors. I had a nice chat with the woman at the Bureau of Land Management booth and they discussed they were updating their GLO web site. I can't wait for the updates. I use this site regularly to help people discover their homesteading ancestors.

It was also fun catching up with others and talking about the non-profit I'm on the board for called The NextGen Genealogy Network. We have an upcoming scholarship deadline on March 15th and can't wait to read all of the essays.

I gave my final lecture that afternoon on Roman Catholic church records and it was well received. I still can't believe I had two sessions at RootsTech my first time lecturing. I'm honored for this privilege and can't wait to come back again.

I hope you enjoyed my reporting of RootsTech. Most of my updates can be found on my Twitter account. I will continue to update Facebook and Instagram over the next few days.

What was your favorite part about RootsTech?

Here are some additional pictures from my trip.


















Friday, March 1, 2019

Day 2 Recap of RootsTech 2019

RootsTech 2019 is speeding by so fast. Yesterday was a very full day.

Ancestry sponsored the keynote session. Some of the key features that were rolled out are tags for DNA as well as incorporating newspapers.com into search results using OCR software. The star celebrity for the keynote was Patricia Heaton. She shared a lot of stories about her family. I really enjoyed seeing the reveal with all of the different Catholic records that were found on her family. It was a nice tie-in to my lecture later that day.

Speaking of Catholic records, I lectured for the first time at RootsTech. It was an unforgettable experience (definitely a bucket list item that I had on my resolution list). The attendance was awesome and I received great feedback. I'm lecturing again tomorrow (Saturday) at 3 pm if you missed my first lecture.

Last night I had the honor attend the FamilySearch VIP dinner for the first time. I It was a great networking opportunity to talk with others in the industry and share stories. I talked about my paternal grandfather who was a World War II veteran at our table.

To end off the night, we had our annual NextGen Genealogy Network meetup. We had approximately 50 people coming by. It was one of our largest gatherings. Thank you to everyone who came out and showed your support. We can't wait to do the next meetup at another conference near you.

Update: I also attended the Ancestry luncheon where they showed a video "Railroad Ties" of bringing back people who were descendants of people who fled to freedom during the Underground Railroad. It was a really emotional video.

Here's some pictures from yesterday:








Thursday, February 28, 2019

RootsTech 2019 is Under Way!

RootsTech 2019 kicked off yesterday officially. I love this community of genealogists. You feel the energy of everyone coming together in support of documenting our family histories and helping others find their stories.

I've been here since Monday afternoon prepping for this great event, spending several hours at the Family History Library. Lecture is finished and ready to go and it includes some recent discoveries. I'm lecturing on Roman Catholic Church Records in Room 155B today at 3 pm. I hope you can make it if you're here in Salt Lake City. 

So what's happened already? First, we had the media dinner on Tuesday where ambassadors like myself get ready and network with other genealogists and press. We're pumped up and ready to share our experiences all week long. Yesterday afternoon classes started bright and early at 8 am. The opening session with Steve Rockwood was at 4:30 pm and was fabulous. It was a historic moment to see Martin Luther III, son of Martin Luther King Jr. speak. FamilySearch donated 2 million dollars to the IAAM museum being built in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Here are some pictures from my adventures this week:







Tonight I have the honor to be attending the FamilySearch VIP dinner. It makes me so happy to see how the genealogy community has embraced me as I moved into my full time role as a professional genealogist. 


Thank you all for the warm wishes and hugs and #genieselfies. Don't forget to see me for ribbons and I hope to see many of you at the NextGen meetup tonight. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Welcome to 2019 - A New Beginning

It's officially the first day of the new year, 2019. It's been a whirlwind this past year, particularly over the last few months. Since my last blog post I made a huge change in my life. I quit my current job as an IT analyst and become a professional genealogist at New England Historic Genealogical Society. I'm so excited for this opportunity. I've been working hard to advance in the genealogy industry by lecturing at local events and even my first international conference (Ontario Conference). I was accepted to speak at RootsTech and NERGC in the next few months. I took a position at the end of the summer being an on-call genealogist where I was filling in for other employees at NEHGS that were out. This greatly helped me understand what it means to help other genealogists do their research in a library setting.

I learned in the past year that it's never too late to chase your dreams and that you can get your dream job. I feel I'm making more of a difference in people's lives than I ever did working in the corporate world. It's all about the people and when someone shares their latest discovery and how grateful they feel to be more connected to their family I feel very choked up. This is why I love doing genealogy. It's brought my family closer together since it humanizes our ancestors, let's us see them as people that grow, fall, and just live life. Through my genealogy I have uncovered cousins that my family thought had passed but are still very much with us. I was able to give my grandmother some closure on some family members and what happened to them and who is very much alive and living well.

I expect lots of big things for this year. New lectures, new appearances, learning new skills, and making new friends and connections. I hope to roll out my Wicked History blog series soon (I know it's been a bit delayed). Genealogy On the Road will pop up every now during my travels. I can't wait to share my journey with all of you. Thank you to everyone who believed in me and encouraged my journey.

What are you looking forward to in 2019?