Thursday, February 4, 2016

RootsTech, Day 1

(Note that you can see my entire RootsTech 2016 collection here.) 

Day 1 of RootsTech is over, and I'm exhausted--but in a good way.  I've met so many genealogy people (particularly from the blogging world) for the first time in person which has been wonderful.

I'd spent all day Monday in the Family History Library where I worked down my list of documents I needed.  It was a productive but exhausting day.  But I decided to do something non-genealogy related while I was in Utah:

On Tuesday evening, I saw Israel Pickholtz talk, thanks to the Utah Jewish Genealogical Society.  Educational and entertaining as always.

Wednesday started with a behind-the-scenes tour of some of the incredible storage and preservation efforts ongoing here.  They are restoring and digitizing many types of audio and video media going back to the 1890s.  The improved audio quality of some of the samples was impressive--and the range of media types that are dealt with is wide-ranging.  The preservation efforts of documents and books was incredible to see--apparently washing books with water is a good thing!
Preserving and restoring a document
Then I met up with some friends (Tammy of Treelines and Brooke of Reclaim the Records) and we headed to the FamilySearch Executive Town Hall.
FamilySearch is being made faster and more stable.  They are increasing partnerships; half of their online content came from partners.  This year alone, FamilySearch itself added half a billion records, and they also added another 2.5 billion records from partners this year.

FamilySearch wants to increase partnerships; if you have ideas, bring them on!
DNA Panel
Next I attended a DNA panel.  The experts discussed where is DNA taking genealogy.  They say that there is a tremendous amount of data available from DNA testing which can really help people where the paper trail starts to end.  DNA can give solid ideas and hints of where to look next--and major improvements for this are coming in next 2-3 years.

Genome sequencing has gone way down in cost.  But as more people's DNA is collected, there are ethical considerations that become more and more important. Businesses that deal with family data have to deal with who owns the data--the person who has been tested or the company?  What use can be made of the data by the company?  There may be huge issues with new European privacy laws--will fewer Europeans test?  We are in a transitional period to see how this will plan out.

Rorey Cathcart's Talk
Rorey Cathcart spoke about how to overcome brick walls. She researches for Genealogy Roadshow and wanted everyone to understand that the show has no special access to records above and beyond what the general public does.  They look at people around the person of interest to try to find more information.

She stressed being a skeptic and digging deeper into original records.  There are many sources out there that people ignore that are of great genealogical interest.  Newspapers, land records, probate records.

Her talk was very American-focused. Not as helpful if your brick walls are in Europe as are mine, but it was still quite interesting.

I then chatted with Carol Petranek of the Kensington (Maryland) Family History Center and Todd Knowles of the Knowles Collection.  This is a collection of hundreds of thousands of Jewish names extracted from a variety of documents.  Definitely worth checking out to see if your family is there--and it also includes family relationships.

And then off to the Media Dinner.  Thanks to the organizers for getting me kosher food.  Yay!  They talked about the scope of the conference:
RootsTech By the Numbers
This conference is truly huge.  The number of people is beyond comprehension.  I've been very impressed!

Then onto a meet up for NextGen Genealogists.  So nice to meet up with some of the younger genealogists out there!

I'll wind down with a graphic of my FitBit stats from Wednesday--showing why I'm exhausted and why genealogy conferences are good for your health:
Stay tuned for more from the rest of the week!

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Feel free to follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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