Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rootstech is fast approaching

Now that Christmas is all done and dusted for another year I can start getting prepared to the next major event - Rootstech 2017.

Those of you who know me will know that I am very interested in DNA, therefore when I heard that CeCe Moore is to be one of the keynote speakers I was thrilled. CeCe describes herself as "an independent professional genetic genealogist and media constultant." Her blog, Your Genetic Genealogist, is one of the "must-read" DNA blogs, and she has worked on many TV series, including Finding Your Roots and the Genealogy Roadshow.

She is playing a major role in genetic genealogy education, as co-founder of the Institute for Genetic Genealogy, via her blog and by her involvement in creating educational resources for the genetic genealogy community.  And she is doing a huge amount connecting people of unknown biological relatives through genetic genealogy.

She has also been involved in a lot of high-profile cases, and I am wondering whether we'll hear about these during her talk. Perhaps she might tell us about the case of Thomas Ray Lippert, who worked at a fertility clinic and replaced many sperm samples with his own.

Or maybe we will hear about amnesiac Benjamin Kyle, who was discovered in 2004 with nasty injuries and no knowledge of who he was. For many years he was homeless and unable to find work because he could not remember his social security number. Many people tried all manner of strategies to find out who he was, but it was not until 2015 that a team led by CeCe could tell him his true identity.

The case of Paul Fronczak was another fascinating mystery CeCe helped solve. He was discovered abandoned as an infant, and police thought he may have been the Fronczak child who had been kidnapped from hospital by a nurse, and so returned him to that family. However his DNA did not match that of other members of the Fronczak family. Eventually CeCe discovered that his real name was Jack and he had a twin sister called Jill. They had both gone missing in mysteriouos circumstances and Jill still has not been found.

Or perhaps we will hear about some other interesting cases in which she has been involved. Whatever she talks about, I'm sure it will be fascinating.

If you haven't already booked, why not have a look at the website and maybe be tempted to go. You won't regret it.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The winning entry for a RootsTech pass

Well there were some terrific entries for my competition, and I've enjoyed reading about your ancestors and what they might have said on social media.  But there can only be one winner, and the prize of a free RootsTech registration valued at US$299 goes to Rosemary McKenzie, from Canberra in Australia.  Her entry is below:

Jane Elizabeth Walsh was my 3x great-grandmother. Born in Ireland around 1805 she arrived in Hobart in 1833 aboard the Edward Colston with 29 other females. Three months later she married Paul Milkins, a conditionally pardoned convict, working in Campbell Town as a constable. They had three children in Tasmania, one died young, and another after moving to Victoria early 1841. Paul’s absolute pardon was awarded in July 1840. They lived in and around the Geelong area and Paul died in 1877. On his death certificate he was listed as a widower, but I have not been able to find any record of Jane’s death between 1841 and 1877.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Win a RootsTech registration

RootsTech 2017 will take place from 8 to 11 February. Each year RootsTech seems to get bigger than the year before, and the 2017 conference promises to continue that tradition.  And I am going to give one person to win a free pass to RootsTech and the Innovator Summit worth $US299.

One of the keynote speakers is LeVar Burton, who stared as Kunta Kinte in the 1977 version of Alex Hayley's Roots, and subsequently went on to play the blind Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was also the host of the long-running children's series Reading Rainbow.

Another keynote will be celebrity chef Buddy Valastro, star of Cake Boss, Kitchen Boss and Buddy's Bakery Rescue, who will also judge a local cake decorating contest. And there will be other keynotes and other fantastic speakers as well.

I am really looking forward to a performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on the Thursday evening entitled Music – It Runs in the Family. This free event will feature the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, including songs from State Fair, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, Oklahoma and The Sound of Music. Listening to this choir is an incredible event, and the acoustics in the Tabernacle ensure that the sound is excellent. Find out more about it here.

If you are thinking about going, or if you have already booked to go, why not enter my competition to win a free pass to RootsTech and the Innovator Summit.  If you have already bought your pass you can still enter, and your money will be refunded and you will be given the new pass.

The pass covers
  • ·        4-day pass to RootsTech 2017
  • ·        Access to the Innovator Summit
  • ·        Over 200 classes, keynote speakers and general sessions
  • ·        Getting Started classes
  • ·        Access to the Expo Hall
  • ·        and great evening events like the Rodgers and Hammerstein performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

The Competition
To win this competition all you have to do is pretend you are one of your ancestors.  Tell me who they are, and write a social media post that person might have made. Send the post to The entry that I think is the best will win the free pass.

All entries must be made by midnight (GMT) on Friday, 25 November (which is 11am Australian Eastern Daylight Savings time and 4pm Thursday 24 November in Pacific Standard Time), and the lucky winner will be announced on Sunday 27 November.

I am a RootsTech 2017 Ambassador and therefore receive a complimentary registration to RootsTech 20171. However I will be paying for my own accomodation and airfare from Australia.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Why I'm looking forward to RootsTech 2017

In February 2017 I will be attending my third RootsTech Conference, and this will be my first as a RootsTech Ambassador. I had great fun at past conferences, so I am eagerly waiting the next one.

The first time I attended was in 2013. It was also my first time in Salt Lake City. Even before I arrived (that is to say, while on the plane) I was meeting new people, and that only ramped up once I got there.

Lisa Alzo and the infamous Thomas MacEntee

I arrived on the Sunday night and the plan was to visit the Family History Library on the Monday, which  I did. But I was walking there with some of my new friends and they informed me that "DearMYRTLE" (Pat Richley-Erickson) was broadcasting one of her "Mondays with Myrt" hangouts from the Library, so I went up to see the action. Each Monday Pat holds a "hangout on air" to talk about anything and everything related to genealogy. A link to her YouTube channel is here if you want to watch any past episodes. Much to my surprise I was invited in to participate for a short time.

The Family History Library

Me outside the Library

Getting ready for "Mondays with Myrt"

I then went down to level B2 of the library, where all the British Isles and Australasian collections are held.  I felt like a kid in a sweetshop!  There were rows and rows of books, all relevant to family history, and rows and rows of drawers containing microfilms of parish registers, wills and all sorts of other things.  Everything could be accessed immediately. I didn't know where to start! If you haven't been there before, I strongly recommend going.

Only a fraction of the books

There were many aisles like this

Before the conference started I took the opportunity to explore around Salt Lake City

The City Creek Center is a
Shopping Mall with an actual
Creek running through it

The Temple

The Temple

The Temple

The Tabernacle - home of the eponymously named choir,
who I got to hear on two occasions
On the Wednesday the conference started. It's held in the Salt Palace Convention Center which is enormous. It covers an area of three city blocks.  The first year I attended RootsTech, the conference was in a smaller corner of the convention centre, but it has since moved to a very much bigger area.

Salt Palace Convention Center

Bloggers were treated to a tour of the Expo Hall before the conference actually started, and then escorted to the hall where the Opening Session and Keynotes were to take place. The highlight of the four keynote speakers that year (for me at least) was David Pogue, a technology columnist and writer, who gave an hysterical talk about the advances in technology, finishing up with his rendition of "I want an iPhone" (to the tune of "I did it my way").

David Pogue

In summary, the 2013 conference was a wonderful experience, and I got to meet so many new people who have since become great friends

Three Aussie meeting THE Cyndi of "Cyndi's List"

Pat Richley-Erickson aka DearMYRTLE

Marie Dougan from Scotland and Audrey Collins
from The National Archives (UK)

Two years later I did it all again.

Once again there was an edition of "Mondays with Myrt" broadcast from the Family History Library, and again I was asked to be a participant,

there were even more new friends to make and to research with at the Family History Library

Self with Roger Moffat, Fran Kitto, Jill Ball and
Rosemary Morgan

Self with Hilary Gadsby (from Wales), Jill Ball and Pauleen
Cass (both from Australia)

Although I briefly met Cyndi Ingle on the previous trip, this
is when I got to know her

and a private tour of the new Family Discovery Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  This year there will be a bigger and better one opening in the Family History Library.

The gentleman standing up is Dick Eastman, of "Eastman's
Online Genealogy Newsletter"

You get an iPad to take around to various "stations"

Each "station" is about something different

Jill Ball (GeniAus) learning about her name

Like at my previous conference, the Bloggers got a tour of the Expo Hall before it opened
The MyHeritage stand - the only time it was so empty

The Ancestry stand

The Demo Theatre

There were free arcade game

More games

Look at the size of the lecture theatre!

and there were several outstanding keynote speakers. Tan Le from Australia was a Vietnamese refugee who came to Australia with her family in 1982. Her achievements are phenomenal (see her Wikipedia page) but at the end of her talk about her family I noticed several people wiping their eyes and I personally felt all choked up.

A.J. Jacobs gave a very funny talk, promoting his upcoming Global Family Reunion. The big message was that we are all cousins, and all family.

Donny Osmond was the other keynote I really enjoyed. I was never an Osmonds fan, but his talk was very interesting.  It included lots of information about his family history, and his family's history in the music business, lots of photos of the Osmonds from the early days, and - of course - a rendition of "Puppy Love".

There were lots of interesting talks and great speakers

Roz McCutcheon talking about Irish Records

Tammy Heaps did a very funny talk on "The Margarine
Moonshiners from Minsk"

Audrey Collins from The National Archives in London
talking on "Scandals in the Family"

If you haven't been reading Michael Lacopo's blog "Hoosier
Daddy" then you'd best catch up with it

and lots of interesting things going on in the Expo Hall.

Cultural Night in the Expo Hall

Jill Ball (GeniAus) interviewing Heather Garnsey and
Martyn Killion from the Society of Australian

Australia was well represented amongst the attendees (and one speaker)

Aussies at RootsTech at the Unlock the Past Stand

and Salt Lake City was once again a major attraction.

City Creek looks gorgeous at night

The Temple is lovely when lit up at night

The view from my room - unusual light conditions

If I have managed to pique your curiosity about RootsTech, why not have a look at the web site here.