Thursday, February 09, 2017

My Day At RootsTech - Thursday

Today was my first full day at RootsTech2017 and even though I'm wiped out, it has been a good experience.  From the opening sessions to the break-outs to the exhibitors - this conference has lived up to its billing.  The fact that the weather has been unusually warm for Salt Lake has been a bonus as well.

The opening session focused on Family Traditions and featured Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International.  He put us in the mood to share our stories of family and shared an example from his own family of how a food tradition memory has been passed down from one generation to the next in his family.  At one point, he even had the audience participating in this memory sharing by getting us to turn to one another and share a favorite food memory of our grandmothers.  This was all tied into FamilySearch's push to get people to share their memories and recipes on the site so they will be preserved forever - as well as the family trees.

The Scott Brothers, hosts of HGTV's Property Brothers, were the featured celebrity speakers and they didn't fail to keep the crowd entertained with their stories of their family background.  They really knew quite a bit about their Scottish heritage, and I enjoyed hearing about and seeing the photos from their trips as kids to Scotland to visit castles and other sites associated with their families.  They seemed to have a good understanding of their family history, knowing about certain ancestors and how they lived - which the brothers then tried to associate as to why they each acted and lived the way they do.

I didn't have too bad of a seat to see them, but I didn't get a really good picture of them.  My wife and I enjoy watching their show and now I can say I was in the same zip code with them.  During the opening session, I sat next to an attorney from Wisconsin who had friends in Kokomo, Indiana - so we had a bit to talk about, as well as fellow blogger, Genealogy Jen on my other side.  It was nice to meet new friends.

After the opening session, I followed the crowd over to the Expo Hall to see where all the exhibitors were - all I can say is "wow" - there were quite a few of them.  I wandered around briefly, and caught a glimpse of some Geneablogger royalty at the media row.

Right after this, I caught another glimpse of the Property Brothers, right after they had been interviewed.  These are my best 'celebrity stalking' photos - you can almost make out who they are.

Shortly after these photos, I headed over to the first break out session at 11 a.m.  I chose to attend Kitty Cooper's talk - How to use DNA Triangulation to Confirm Ancestors.  I enjoy reading her blog and since I'm working with my DNA matches at the various sites, this was a good choice for me.  Kitty did not disappoint.  She gave a good talk and pointed the class to how to tell when you have triangulation.  She promised to have her slides available to look at, and I will be referring to them in the future.  She was excited about the Double Match Triangulation Tool that is one of the Innovator Showdown finalists as well.  The class assumed that those in attendance had already done DNA testing and knew the basics.

After her talk, I grabbed a quick sandwich in the Expo Hall and continued to browse and shop with the various vendors.  I skimmed through a lot of them, expecting to go back later for further details.  There was literally something for everyone there - all the major DNA testing companies, software vendors, new tools for scanning and preserving your research, tools for displaying your research, genealogical societies, etc. - you name it, they were there.  When I stopped at the RootsMagic booth, I met a gentleman with the last name of Mendenhall, and I had to ask if he was related to the Quaker Mendenhall line.  Turns out he was, and I gave him my contact card and told him I'd like to share information with him on that line.

My first afternoon session was Dr. Thomas Jones' talk on Writing About and Documenting DNA Test Results.  This was an informative talk that really applied to any written research report. One of the key take-aways for me on this topic was that when he said that writing genealogically means that you must document everything.  That made me think about some of what I'm putting together on this blog and how I need to better cite my sources.

My next afternoon session was with Jen Baldwin on Digging for Details : Getting the Full Story.  I had seen Jen speak before at the Indiana Genealogical Society Conference in Ft. Wayne, and like there, she didn't disappoint with this topic.  She has some interesting family stories and evidence to examine. The main take-away from her talk was that we should treat each document we examine as if it is the only piece of evidence we have on an ancestor - and to really look at every detail to see what other avenues of research that could lead to for a fuller picture.  She also encouraged us to utilize sources such as PERSI and JSTOR, which I definitely need to utilize more. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of Jen while she was speaking.

After that, I decided I would head over to the Family History Library and spend a little time there.  I enjoyed the Discovery Center there, and downloaded some information on family trees through FamilySearch that they said connected me to several famous people, some Presidents and others with the LDS church.  Some of the family lines looked correct, while others might need to be tweaked just a bit.

I browsed upstairs through some of the county books, though I didn't have a real research plan for a trip to the Family History Center.  When I do this again, I will make sure that I have scheduled more time in Salt Lake City so I can research at the library and have an orderly plan of attack.

Overall, I think I learned something from each session, which is the goal of furthering my genealogy education.  In addition, I met a lot of great people today and introduced myself to them, handing them my contact cards and encouraging them to check out my blog and see if we are related.  At the end of the day, I'm tired but excited to further my research and feel that today has energized me and given me some good tips and tools to succeed.

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