Thursday, March 1, 2018

RootsTech 2018 - Day 1

Day one of RootsTech 2018 is over. It seems like much more than one day, mainly because they crammed so much into the first day. And also because I was up and out by 4:30 am (6:30 am EST) when it was snowing.

Salt Lake City at 4:30 am

Today I volunteered as a badge scanner and helped people find their classes. We had to make sure everyone that entered the classes had the right registration. Generally that went well. But since I was busy working I really didn't get to see that many classes.

The first class I was in was FamilySearch Mobile Apps. The speaker, Todd Powell, talked about the Memories and FamilyTree apps. Currently, about 95% of the activities people do on the FamilySerch webpage can be done on these apps. The FamilyTree app has the capability to search for records and add sources, as well as editing and adding people to your tree. Todd went step-by-step through the process of using the FamilyTree app for many of the most common activities. Additionally, they had an update to the app just for RootsTech. This upgrade allowed the users to find peeople  registered for RootsTech who were related to you.

The second class I attended was How Can FamilySearch Help You with Nordic Research. Even though I don't have any Nordic ancestors, I found this class very interesting. Many of the tips they shared can be used for research in other countries. The speaker for this session was Whitney Peterson. She went through the stats for each Nordic country and told the attendees how many record sets and numbers of individuals for each country were available to search currently. The number of collections continues to grow as new record sets get added. She talked about the census and church records and how they are used to enhance your research. She also explained how to use the Wiki to get more information about each record set. She mentioned the there is a Learn More link on each record set description and that this link goes directly to a Wiki page that provides important details on how to use that set of records.

The last class I attended was Finding Elusive Records at FamilySearch. This class was totally full with about 700 people in attendance. We had to turn people awaay at the door. The good thing is that this class will be taught 2 more times this week, so people who missed it have a chance to catch it later. Robert Kehrer was the speaker at this class. He discussed how to find records that are not currently indexed. He also informed us that 25% of all the records are only found by searching the Catalog. Another tip that he mentioned was using the batch numbers to find ancestores who lived in the same locations for several generations. A good explanaition for using batch numers can be found on the Wiki.

Finding Elusive Records at FamilySearch class

The last event today was the General Session hosted by Steve Rockwod from FamilySearch. The main theme of this session was Discover - Gather - Connect. He talked about when we discover our commonalities we begin to treat others differently, meaning we see them in a different light and see how similar we all are. App functions, such as Map My Ancestors, shows us that we are the product of ancestors from many diverse places. DNA shows us how many traits we have in common with others and provides a basis for understanding our ethnicity. Virtual reality will soon allow us to walk the neighborhoods of our ancestors and, using historic photos, see how they lived. He suggested that we focus on the one and that everyone deserves to be remembered because we all matter. Did you realize that 33% of the world's population is lacking documentation that will allow the next generation to learn about them? Many areas of the world still rely on oral histories, but many of the people who remember those histories are dying and the remaining are forgetting them.

The topic of innovations in DNA testing is an important part of remembering our ancestors. The databases of genetic information continue to grow but some regions are under represented. Non-genealogists are purchasing more kits but failing to connect them to trees. However, some of these non-genealogists are catching the bug and beginning to add their trees to aid in researching their families. As more and more DNA samples are analyzed it makes it easier to pinpoint ancestors based on segment analysis and link them to records. It was estimated that 100 million DNA kits being added to online databases was only a few years in the future.

When asked about predictions of new innovations, the discussion panel mentioned items such as the rapid increase in online records, the blending of DNA and documents for research to verify information in trees, and the large number of partnerships that would help advance record access. For example, the Internet Archives is working to archive the digital memories and is looking for ways to increase the archiving of personal data including photographs and other records directly from individuals.

There is just so much happening in the genealogy world that we need to keep up with. Each of us tends to become specialized because there is no way we can know everything. However, conferences like RootsTech allow us to get the exposure to these new ideas and maybe even find ways to bring these ideas to reality. Well, now that it is after 1:00 am EST, I guess I should be getting to bed. Tomorrow is another early day.

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