Saturday, March 3, 2018

RootsTech 2018 - Day 3

Day 3 of RootsTech started with Scott Hamilton, Olympic gold medalist, giving a key note talk on the challenges he has faced in his life and how his family supported him. He discussed being adopted, having several bouts with cancer, losing his mother to cancer, losing his father while he was away announcing an Olympics, being with his coach the day before he died, his marriage and two biological children, serving in Haiti in disaster relief, and adopting two Haitian children. After his talk, representatives from FamilySearch provided Scott with a history of his adopted family and some of the interesting stories associated with them. Later, he was informed that FamilySearch had researched his biological family and will be reuniting them later this week. It was an incredible story.


Additionally we heard from the producer of Relative Race, Dan Debenham. This is season 3 and their 90 minute premier will be airing this Sunday at 7:00 pm Mountain Time on BYUTV. You can watch it on if you don't have BYUTV on your provider. If you haven't heard of this show, I describe it as being similar to Amazing Race but their destinations are relatives they have not known. The challenge is that, as they cross the country, they are not allowed to use any technology other than old flip phones and paper maps. In the past, they have reunited adoptees with their biological family members, found long lost relatives, and introduced contestants to unknown relatives. They had a Q&A session with two of the teams, Red and Green. If you are interested in being a team on future seasons you can apply at During the Q&A session we were told there would be a significant twist and that you should watch Team Blue during the premier.

Relative Race Producer Dan Debenham during the Q&A session

FindMyPast discussed many of their new collections. Their US Marriage collection now contains over 280 million records and another 100 records will be added this year, making the total number of names over 400 million. They are continuing to work on adding records to their US Catholic archives by adding 200 New York parishes this week and will continue to roll out areas including Cincinnati, Baltimore and other diocese over the rest of this year. They are also continuing to add records to their Scotland, Ireland and England Catholic collections. FindMyPast also announced the release of a combined tree in partnership with FamilySearch. This combined tree can be found at

One of the sessions I attended was Beyond Subscriptions - 25 Free Genealogy Websites. This presentation talked about some of the top sites to consider when doing your research. Their top picks for initial research were FamilySearch, Cyndi's List, US Genweb and World Genweb. They also discussed libraries and recommended starting your research with the collections at Allen County Public Library and Midwest Genealogy Center. They also reminded us to discover the collections at the local libraries and universities. Cemetery sites, such as BillionGraves, FindAGrave and a variety of state cemetery projects can provide a wealth of information on your ancestors. Military records can be found at a variety of sites including Preserve the Pensions (War of 1812), and the Patriot and Grave Index from the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).

The number of online searchable books has increased greatly over the last couple years. Some of the recommended sites include the Digital Public Library of America, Internet Archive, and FamilySearch Family History Books. Passenger lists for the majority of immigrants can be found at Castle Garden (1820-1892) and Ellis Island (1892-1954). They also suggested a few ethnic sites including AfriGeneas, JewishGen, and Native Web Genealogy.

The last class I attended was by The Family History Guide. The Family History Guide is a non-profit 501.3c organization. It's resources are free and will always remain free. The site is available in multiple languages and is a great resource for researchers. They are an official training partner for FamilySearch and provide in depth tutorials for FamilySearch, Ancestry, MyHeritage and FindMyPast. You can even track your progress on each of the training modules. There are many age appropriate family history activities included that can help you encourage your children to participate in research. Another great part of the site is the Countries tab. This tab includes hints and links to site that have information on how to research each country. It even goes to the county level in the US.

This was another great day of learning at RootsTech. Tomorrow is Family Discovery Day and many more classes. I hope you are all taking these tips and finding new research ideas.

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