Friday, February 10, 2017

RootsTech 2017 - Day 2

Wow! It was a busy day today. First of all, I am still on Florida time, so when the clock rolled around to 4 am I was ready to go. Since it was still dark out and the convention center wasn't open I did a bit of walking and playing Pokemon Go. There are a lot of Pokestops in and around Temple Square.

The conference opened with Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch talking about how certain foods can bring back memories of events. He told us about how his grandfather would take the grand kids to the A&W Rootbeer stand and how his grandmother made rocky road fudge for special occasions. This has lead FamilySearch to develop a new part of FamilySearch where you can upload your family recipes. It is located at The purpose is to preserve your heritage by sharing your recipes.

Steve Valentine, FamilySearch's director of partnerships, also mentioned how the different online genealogy companies were partnering to bring more information to the public. He said that Ancestry was focusing on increasing the availability of Mexican records, MyHeritage was focusing to bring more Scandanavian records, FindMyPast was focusing on US marriage records, Geneanet was focusing on French records and FamilySearch now has the largest collection of Chinese records online. FamilySearch was also partnering with BYU to improve computer text recognition software and has been able to index 26 million obituaries over the last year.

Steve Rockwood talked about using the collaborative family tree. The tree now has over 1.1 billion linked names and over 700 million attached sources. But, if you are still concerned about the use of a collaborative tree, FamilySearch is maintaining the ability to upload your gedcom file as a read only source. You can upload your gedcom by clicking on Search at the top of the page and then Genealogies. At the bottom of the page is a Submit Tree button that lets you upload your own gedcom file. One thing to notice on the Genealogies page is the data sets that you can search beyond the IGI, Pedigree Resource File and Ancestral File. These include trees from the Guild of One Name Studies, Oral Genealogies, and Community Trees. These are all valuable resources that should be looked at occasionally during your research.

Aaron Godfrey from MyHeritage spoke about MyHeritage's DNA matching and ethnicity results. They believe they have the most accurate ethnicity results of any DNA test. They took DNA samples from over 5,000 individuals with strong ethnic backgrounds from 200 locations to use as their baseline comparisons for their ethnicity results.

The Property Brothers, Jonathan and Drew Scott, talked about their family, their Scottish heritage, and how their HGTV show allows them to help people achieve their dreams. In each of their projects, they try to focus some of their design around a family heirloom or object, this could be a knick-knack or a photo that the family treasures. In that way, they bring a part of the family into the project design.

As always, the keynote speakers did an excellent job of motivating the audience.

I didn't do many classes today but one that I made sure to attend was Kitty Cooper's discussion of DNA Triangulation. She writes a blog at where she talks about genetics and genealogy. She did a great job of making a very technical topic more understandable. There are a couple tools she discussed that help interpret your DNA results. This was actually a very timely presentation and was useful to me and my family today. My wife was contacted by someone who shows as a 1st cousin to my mother-in-law (who just passed last week - we did her DNA for Christmas) and a 2nd cousin for my wife. As you may know, DNA results showing as 1st cousins could also be half siblings. We believe, based on the results, that this new relative is either the child of my wife's grandfather's brother, or the child of her grandfather. We may have  a bit of a problem determining which it is since the person is adopted and doesn't know her heritage. But at least we are able to connect her to many new relatives on her Bielefeld and Wesner lines that we know about.

MyHeritage provided a great sponsored lunch today. They added two new functions to the MyHeritage site. Today they released the Photo Discoveries application. This basically works like their SmartMatching but does it with photos. This was released today and I already had a hit! There is a picture of Hermann Augenstein (1875-1949) that I had never seen before. This new discovery also added 7 new people to my tree. The second application, Consistency Checker, will be released this Saturday. Consistency Checker goes through your MyHeritage trees and alerts you of potential problems such as parents being younger than their children, mother being too young to have children, husband and wife are too far apart in age, etc. Running this application could help make sure your tree is as accurate as possible. One good thing with the Consistency Checker is that you can adjust the configuration to set thresholds for it to alert you with. MyHeritage also talked about the advances in their DNA collection. They already had access to 23andMe DNA and are letting people upload their DNA files from other sites such as Ancestry and FTDNA. Today they announced the hiring of Dr. Yaniv Erlich as Chief Science Officer to lead development and strategy for MyHeritage's DNA program. Look for several improvements and additions to their DNA program in the next few months.

Oh yeah, the event tonight was great. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed a selection of Rogers and Hammerstein pieces at the Conference Center.

Well, I hope this information gives you something to look forward to in the coming weeks. I'll let you know what else I learn tomorrow. Goodnight!

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