Thursday, February 26, 2015

It’s All About the Learning – So Many Choices!

Being the planner that I am, I prepared pink sheets for each day of RootsTech/FGS. They included my first and second choices for each session as well as reminders of morning, luncheon, and evening events that I wanted to attend (all filled out before arriving in Salt Lake City). I also had the RootsTech app and the FGS app (although the FGS app was a bit glitchy for me as I could not get it to close – don’t know if it was the app or my mobile but I did find myself relying on the RootsTech app which would close). Then I picked up my registration materials and had to check my card against what I had signed up and paid for – also a few glitches there, but hey that happens and the administrative people were very helpful in making corrections and reprinting.

Why the pink sheets? Well I could easily find them in my RootsTech Conference Guide or my Bullet Journal. I made a few quick notes on them (not on substance but on presentation or vibe) about each of the sessions or events I attended. By the end of each day, the pink sheets were well-worn but it worked for me (I guess I am a bit old school and new school tech-wise). What did you use and how did it work for you?

The RootsTech Opening Session was brilliant and thanks to my early morning tour (you can read about that in yesterday’s blog post) us Geneabloggers, FGS and RootsTech Ambassadors had reserved seats in the front center section (thanks RootsTech folks – that was a nice touch!). Others have written about Tan Le and her talk – my only comment – if you haven’t seen it yet, watch it – what an amazing story and what a heartfelt presentation. Really, stop reading this post (but please come back) and watch it!

Okay, thanks for coming back – onward. The introductory remarks by Dennis Brimhall were excellent. I was impressed with the numbers (shown on bright slides, meant to dazzle us and they did). More impressive were three specific items he discussed.

And RootsTech begins!

The letter he read from Darris Williams was a good reminder that we are not going to “find it all” in one place or even with one subscription or company. By using records and information from Ancestry, FindmyPast, MyHeritage and FamilySearch – Darris was able to put together his family’s history and connect to a larger family. I was thrilled to hear this story because I met Darris the previous day and learned he has a one-name study (Colt) and is a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies. Darris’ story of discovery reminds us of the importance of looking beyond our own family to make those connections to our bigger family. By studying and gathering data, images, information and stories on all the Colts (and placing his data on the FamilySearch Tree) he is adding value and sharing his research with the larger genealogy community. It is all about doing the work, making the connections, and sharing the results – brilliant!

with all the tweets it must have been trending!
The discovery center was unveiled and shown to us in a playful and entertaining way (can I just say that Dennis Brimhall is so relaxed now with a few RootsTech conferences under his belt that it was fun to watch this - oh, and I want to be a pirate). He introduced the “museum of me” concept (and wouldn't we all want one!) with the ability to learn the meaning, origin and migration associated with our surname. Hey – that guy is stealing my session – no – wait, I definitely need to use this as an example in my session on surname research and one-name studies, better take some photos! The discovery center is live in Salt Lake City and will be coming to a city near you in the future (happy to hear that Seattle, Washington will be one of the pilot locations).

It is fun but also informative - a good way
to meet people where they are and get them started.

Definitely a WOW factor!

The meaning and origin of a surname - brilliant!

Where will your "museum of me" be located?
The news that Ancestry and FamilySearch were working together to bring the Mexican vital records online with images and indexing in 2015 was a wonderful example of each company sharing its strengths and joining as a team, all for the greater good of the genealogy community. My first thought on hearing the news was that this type of record set will make it much easier for anyone doing research and much easier to work on a one-name study with Mexican roots. Since the Guild of One-Name Studies is a worldwide group, we want to encourage those with an interest in their Mexican roots (whether located in Mexico or the Southwest USA States or elsewhere in the world) to study their surnames and start one-name studies.

Excellent news - thanks Ancestry and FamilySearch
It's all about collaboration!

I love it when people and companies work together
we get so much more done - teamwork!
After the opening session – it was time to check the pink sheet for the day! Below is a list of the sessions I attended on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  I chose these sessions because I wanted to expand my knowledge base about record sets and ethnic groups that are important to use with my own family research and/or would be helpful to use with the USA membership of the Guild of One-Name Studies. There were a few sessions that I could not attend due to timing conflicts – but they are on my list for future attendance. These include Native American, African American, Jewish, and Hispanic records and research (I would love to see tracks on this type of research at future RootsTech conferences).

21st Century Italian Genealogy with Michael Cassara
Irish Records – Beyond the Obvious with Rosalind McCutcheon
The Best Scandinavian Websites with Anita Olsen

Impossible Immigrant! Exhausting Research to Find an Ancestor’s Origins with Warren Bittner
Who Does That? An Introduction to One-Name (Surname) Studies with Tessa Keough (shameless plug!)

Beyond the Census: The Nonpopulation Schedules with Deena Coutant
Manuscripts and More with Pamela Boyer Sayre
School Daze – Finding the School Records of Our Ancestors with Peggy Lauritzen 

Be Our Guest, Be Our Guest, Be Our Guest!
I also made a point to attend sessions taught by new-to-me speakers. We often get the opportunity to hear Thomas MacEntee, Judy Russell, Thomas Jones and Lisa Louise Cooke. They are well known speakers and are in demand at statewide, regional and national conferences, as well as online webinars. Since I was at RootsTech/FGS and there were all those choices, I wanted the opportunity to hear other speakers and less well known topics, so I made a point to search out these focused presentations. I took lots of notes and learned the basics as well as how to find and use specific record sets highlighted in these talks. Beyond that, I was able to appreciate not only the substance but also the style of each of the speakers and that was a good learning experience.

Denna showed me how to solider on even with allergies, Pamela quickly recovered and showed a sense of humor with the glitches she experienced with her projector/computer combo, Peggy had such a relaxed and entertaining way about her (that can only come from really knowing your material) that she made it look effortless. The amount of information (websites, ideas, strategies) shared by Michael, Rosalind, Anita and Warren as they each addressed specific groups (let’s hear it for the Italians, Irish & Scandinavians!) as well as those always hard to find immigrants (or at least on the censuses I am researching) was wonderful. My only concern is when I will find the time to dive deep into all those genealogy finds.

As you can see, I did not attend every opening or closing session or schedule myself back-to-back with sessions, or attend sessions only with RootsTech or FGS. I definitely took the time to visit with other attendees, watched some Demo Theatre sessions and Out of the Box sessions, did not overload my schedule, gave myself time to check out the Exhibit Hall for a short bit each day, and stopped for meals and shopping (thank you Macys for having Ellen Tracy on sale!). No worries on getting my walking in as these sessions were all over the Salt Palace.

When we attend a statewide, regional or national conference, let's get outside our comfort zone and learn something (an ethnic group or record set) that we are unfamiliar with. Water that genealogy tree and watch it grow! 

Courtesy of ID-10064502
Thanks RootsTech and FGS for providing all of us who attended (in person or virtually) that opportunity.

Did you attend the Thursday, Friday and Saturday sessions? How did you spend your time? What sessions did you go to? What did you learn? Why not share your experiences (either comment below or tell us in your blog).

Tomorrow – What I learned being a first time presenter and my final thoughts on a VERY BIG conference.

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