Tuesday afternoon was so much fun. I was invited to a preview of the new Family Discovery Experience before it officially opens to the public the following morning, timed to coincide with RootsTech.
The Family Discovery Experience is located on the ground floor (or 1st floor for my American Friends – anyway, it’s the one you first walk into) of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The previous Family Discovery Center (note the slightly different name) in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building was so popular that they couldn’t accommodate all the people who wanted to come.
When you go in you get given a special iPad and you log into your FamilySearch account. These accounts are free to create, and are needed if you are going to put your family tree onto the Family Search Family tree. You will get most from this experience if you have entered your tree.
You then go round each station and dock your iPad into the station so it can personalise the experience for you. Most of the stations consist of large touchscreen showing a particular facet of you and your heritage.
|Docking Station for the iPad|
The first stop I made was Where I Come From which showed a map with the routes your ancestors took to get to where you were born. Since all mine came to Australia from England, Ireland or Scotland it was pretty self-evident. Interesting the different routes it seems to think they took to get there!
You can see a break down of where your ancestors came from, but that is only as accurate as your tree is complete. You can see that it says I have 9% Australian, but since I have no indigenous ancestors this represents people for whom I haven’t entered any parents.
You can see “vintage photos” of locations your ancestors may have come from. The only picture in the UK was one of London, though there were lots of European photos and American photos, but my family were never in those places.
One of the stations was My Time Machine which allowed you to select an ancestor from your tree on FamilySearch and see events in their life. Those events were mainly their births, deaths an births of children, but you could also see events that were happening in the world, like the introduction of disposable nappies (diapers), the start of World War I or the invention of penicillin. The final set of timeline events related to the church, such as the completion of the Tabernacle.
There was another section with a green screen where you could place yourself against a location in the world and have your photo taken.
There were booths for recording yourself or a group of people either telling a story or being interviewed, and the Picture my Heritage station similar to the one that had been in the previous centre. Here you could “put” your face on an image of a person from a different time. It wouldn’t work for me, so here are some other people’s images that I have permission to use.
But for me the most fun part of the day was the My Famous Relatives station. Based on your tree it worked out who you were related to. For example, apparently I am a 13th cousin once removed of former US President Warren G Harding, an 11th cousin 3 times removed of Thomas Edison, and a 9th cousin 5 times removed of Joseph Smith (1st President of the LDS church).
|Myko Clelland from findmypast|
|Myko controlling the station|
But it also compared you to other people who had recently been in the center. A large number of those who came in knew each other and it was great fun to discover that I was related to some of the people I knew there. Pat Richley-Erickson (aka DearMyrtle) and I are 12th cousins, Renee Zamora and I are 11th cousins once removed and Peggy Clements and I are 10th cousins once removed. Helen Smith and I are both related to President Harding and Philo T Farnsworth, but are not related to each other.