Find My Ancestor Blog
12Feb/110

RootsTech 2011 – Day Two!

Friday was such an amazing day at the RootsTech Conference! To start off the day, I attended the Keynote presentation given by Curt Witcher. This presentation was unbelievable! He was so energetic and fun. Or course since this conference is about technology with genealogy, he was talking about many of the advantages and resources that have become available over the years. He also focused a large portion of his presentation on talking about how younger genealogists are the future. They are going to be the ones who are going to develop new technology, apps, websites etc. for us to use. It's the young people who know how to use the current technology and instinctively pick up on the new things that emerge almost daily. One of the points that he made that really stuck out to me was "we need to look at change and think - opportunity!". I completely agree with that! I love learning about new technology and think that others should too. I understand that many are not as excited as I am to learn and use new technology, but one thing I always tell people is that if you never try, you will never learn. One reason why I know so much about using computers and other gadgets is because I am not afraid to just play with them. For the most part, technology created specifically for others to use and play with is made to be user-friendly. Many people sometimes think they would break it if they push a button or click something wrong, but I think that is the best way to learn how to use something. Reading manuals just frustrates me so I pull it out of the box and just start playing. I think many people would be surprised at how fast they learn is they would just play with it and experiment. I also attended Lisa Louise Cooke's class on How to Create a Podcast. For those of you who don't know, Lisa has a number of different podcasts she produces including the Genealogy Gems Podcast. I have been interested in learning how to create a podcast for quite some time now, but I have not yet ventured out there and done it. After the exhibit hall and classes ended for the day, many people made their way over to the Family History Library for an evening of food, a showing of Who Do You Think You Are and of course research! Normally the library closes at 9pm but last night they wanted to give researches a little extra time to break down those brick walls and digitize as much microfilm as they could, so therefore the library was open until midnight! I'm not even sure the last time the library stayed open that late! The showing of Who Do You Think You Are was great. With so many genealogists there it was fun to laugh at many of the documents that were shown. Tim McGraw was shown document after document taking him back one generation at a time in his ancestry. I personally think it is funny because it makes it look so easy, but we always have to remember that research for these episodes took many many hours and difficult research. Below is a little video clip of some of the party at the Family History Library.

19Aug/101

In the Right Place at the Right Time

Isn't it funny how sometimes we are in the right place at the right time?

The other day during lunch I decided to head over to the local bookstore. I go there quite frequently on my lunch hour to see if they ever get any new genealogy books that would be good to read. Unfortunately this bookstore does not have a great selection of genealogy books. I am also ways asking them why they don't get a better selection. They don't even have Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History by Megan Smolenyak. I think that book needs to be in every library and bookstore for those who are just beginning their family history. To prove my point, they could have easily sold a copy of it to a genealogy newbie that day.

When I was there looking to see if they had any new books in their collection, which they didn't, I decided I would look just a few feet away on another shelf where some of the writing books are located. Along with many other bloggers, I would like to improve my writing skills and learn new techniques to improve my writing and make it more interesting. As I was standing just a few feet away from the genealogy section, a man walked up to one of the customer support desks and asked where the genealogy section was. The employee pointed this gentleman over to where the books were located. As the gentleman approached the books he started to look through the small collection and browsed through a couple of them. Still standing there just a few feet away from him I couldn't help but ask him if he was looking for something specific. I also wanted to become acquainted with another fellow genealogist.

We started talking and he said he was just starting his family research and that he was looking for resources on where to find his Italian ancestry. I hardly have any knowledge of Italian history or resources where to find Italian documents. I asked him if he has looked into any genealogy blogs about Italy. He looked a little surprised when I mentioned this. I told him there were hundreds of genealogy blogs out there and each one had its special niche. I recommended him going to the GeneaBloggers website to find some blogs that might help him find resources as well as others researching their Italian roots.

As we were talking about GeneaBloggers he mentioned he had just barely subscribed to Ancestry.com and looked around on there. He also mentioned how expensive Ancestry.com was I immediately remembered how the latest issue of Family Tree Magazine had an article 101 Best Free Websites for Tracing Your Roots. I took him over to the magazine section of the store, pulled it off the shelf and showed him the article. I told him about some of the more well-known websites like Cyndi's List, WorldGenWeb, and FamilySearch that could help with his Italian research.

It was really cool being able to meet this gentleman and the coincidence it was to be there in the genealogy section at the right time to be albe to meet him and help him get a head start on his genealogy research.

15Jun/106

Review of Jamboree 2010






The Southern California Genealogical Societies Annual Jamboree has now ended. This was my first time attending Jamboree, and I must say it was a blast!!

I have never met so many so many people blogging about genealogy all at the same time and place. I am not sure exactly how many GeneaBloggers we had there, but there were a lot! I was able to see many who I had already met at previous conferences, and I met a lot who I have seen and follow their blogs, but never met in person.

Friday when I first arrived I met up with Amy Coffin of the We Tree Blog, Holly Hansen of Family History Expos, and Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers. They were sitting near the hotel lobby all on their laptops just typing away. I had met all three of them for the first time at the Mesa Family History Expo in January 2010.

There wasn't an opening keynote speaker like they usually have at all the other conferences I have been to, so that was a little different but nothing heart-breaking. After registration I walked around the exhibit hall to see what kind of new booths were available that I haven't seen at any other conferences. Some of my other blog posts go into a little more about the exhibit hall.

The first class I attended was Lisa Louise Cooke's titled "What You Must Know To Save Your Research From Destruction". Without reading the syllabus to see exactly what this class was about I assumed it was going to have ideas and ways to make your genealogy archival safe from disaster and aging. Rather, Lisa talked about the importance of coming up with a Genealogy Materials Directive and making donations with a Deed of Gift. You can download Lisa's form from Genealogy Gems. Click on the link on the left hand side that says Directive for OGS

That evening a group of GeneaBloggers who didn't attend the Friday Night Banquet, My Genealogy Now and Then, featuring Chris Haley, got together and went to a really good Greek restaurant across the street from the hotel and had a great time visiting and getting to know each other better. 

At dinner I met Gini Webb from Ginisology and her husband Steve. I sat by them at dinner and we got to know each other better. Gini and I have know each other for a little while because of our two blogs, but had never met in person until now, so it was really great to finally meet her and become good friends. I also sat next to Steve Danko from Steve's Genealogy Blog whom I had never met until then. Cheryl Palmer from Heritage Happens who is another great friend I finally met was sitting next to him. Other bloggers who joined us were Becky Wiseman from Kinexxions, Susan Kitchens from Family Oral History, Randy Seaver and his wife Linda from Genea-Musings, Susi Pentico from Susi's Chatty Performances, and a couple others who I did not get a chance to meet and visit with.

After dinner we went back to the hotel lobby and visited with one another as well as a few other bloggers. Tami Glatz from Relatively Curious, Kathryn Doyle from California Ancestors, and the famous footnoteMaven. I have been looking forward to seeing footnoteMaven for quite some time. She is such a fun and sweet lady! It will be a lot of fun talking to her and all the others who I have now finally met in person. Late that night as we were all sitting near the lobby, Elyse Doerflinger from Elyse's Genealogy Blog showed up and brought a lot of life to the party! Elyse was not able to attend the conference on Friday because she was at her graduation!! Congrats Elyse!

Saturday morning started off with a great breakfast at the restaurant there in the hotel with Gini and Steve, Cheryl, Elyse, and I. There we were able to again visit and have more fun.

After breakfast, Gini, Steve, Cheryl, and I went to the Blogger's Summit Part 1 where Thomas MacEntee, Stephen Danko, Elyse Doerflinger, and Randy Seaver were on the panel of bloggers discussing what a blog is for those who were not familiar with them, how to set one up, how to make posts, and most importantly what the benefits of having a genealogy blog are.

Right after Part 1 and before Part 2, all of the GeneaBloggers who were around got together for a big group photo. It was pretty crazy trying to get everyone in the picture because there were probably a dozen cameras and as soon as we would take one picture another blogger would walk in and join us so then another picture had to be taken. Sorry if my photo (provided by Gini Webb) does not have you in it!

At one o'clock on Saturday Lisa Louise Cooke had a live recording of the Genealogy Gems Podcast. It was a lot of fun being able to to see the recording of that. Her guests on the show were Suzanne Adams of Ancestry.com, the Photo Detective Maureen Taylor, and Chris Haley.

Suzanne Adams talked about some of the process she went through doing research for Who Do You Think You Are. Can you imagine what it would have been like to help with the research for those celebrities? That would be such a great opportunity to help with that.

Maureen Taylor talked about her new book called The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation. This book is really neat! I was able to purchase a copy of the book at Jamboree and have started reading through the amazing stories of the people who lived during the Revolutionary War. Each story includes a photograph of the person. The book will be available later this month. You can pre-order a copy through Amazon.com

Chris Haley was her last guest on the episode. Chris is the nephew of Alex Haley who is the author of the book Roots. Chris is a genealogist himself as well as a perfumer. During the podcast Lisa asked him if he would sing a song for the audience. 

On Sunday morning Gini, Cheryl, and I went to Geoff Rasmussen's class titles "Timelines and Chronologies: Secrects of Genealogical Success". I have attended a couple of Geoff's classes at previous conferences, but none of them have been about the Legacy Software. I had never even seen Legacy in action until this class. I must say, I found it to be a very cool software. There are many great features I liked about it that aren't found in other genealogy softwares. The main purpose of his class of course was to demo and emphasize the importance in timelines in your research. Most of the time we look at Family Group Records and Pedigree Charts, but those won't give us information as to where other important events took place to tell us where to look for records. I thought it was pretty cool. I am going to have to play around with Legacy and check out it's other features.

Geoff also did a demo on two other softwares called AniMap and Centenia. Both programs I had never heard of but they are a must for every genealogist! Have you ever had an experience where you were looking for a record in a specific county during a certain time frame? Then, after searching for what seems like forever you find out that at the time record was created is  wasn't the same county or even state that it is today? You didn't even know the boundaries had changed? AniMap and Centenia can help you figure out boundaries of the places you search for. I will be posting a later blog entry about AniMap in more detail after I play with it for a while.

People started to filter out throughout the day on Sunday as they were heading home. Jamboree was such a fun conference and it was great to be able to meet all of the GeneaBloggers who I had not met before and to be able to see all the friends who I have met at other conferences. If you have never been to Jamboree, I highly recommend it for next year. I will definitely be there!!

2Jun/101

"Who Do You Think You Are" Review

Recently I finished the book "Who Do You Think You Are" by Megan Smolenyak. 

At first, many people thought the book was just a text version of the TV show that was on NBC this past spring, but in fact, it is a beginners guide to genealogy.

Even though the book is only about 200 pages, I was very surprised at the amount of detail that was included. Writing a "how to" book on genealogy can be very difficult because there are SO many things that can be covered making the book into a number of volumes. But like I said, I was very happy to see the topics that were covered and the amount of detail that she covered. Of course, if you are wanting to go more in depth on the topics she covers, there are a lot of books, websites, blogs, and other resources.

The book includes chapters on preparing for you research, online research, and the importance of passing on and sharing what you find with others. She describes some of the most used and popular records such as birth, marriage, death, census, military, and immigration/emigration. 

One of my favorite things about the book is that Megan included a lot of websites, both free and paid, to find the records she was describing. I am always excited to find new websites I can search for records or information about a particular topic.

As I was reading the book I kept telling my parents what a great book it is for someone who is just getting started in genealogy. As soon as I finished it my mother started reading it so maybe me talking about it sparked a little interest in her!

Click here to learn more about Who Do You Think You Are. If you are interested in learning more about Megan Smolenyak, visit her website Honoring Our Ancestors website.