Sunday, October 22, 2017

Chance to win a free RootsTech pass

UPDATE: The winner of the free RootsTech pass was Julie Wood

As a RootsTech Ambassador, I get to give away a free pass for RootsTech 2018, valued at $279. If you win and have already registered for the conference, your registration fee will be refunded.

The conference will take place in Salt Lake City from 28 February to 3 March. The pass gives access to
  • Over 300 classes
  • Keynote / General sessions
  • RootsTech classes
  • Innovation Showcase
  • Expo hall
  • Evening events

This 4-Day Pass DOES NOT include airfare, hotel or the coverage of any other expenses.

In order to go into the draw to win you must send an email to with the answer to the question below:

Who am I?
  1. I was born in 1819 in Kensington in London.
  2. My father, Edward, had died before I was less than a year old.
  3. I married my first cousin.
  4. I had nine children.
  5. I lived into the 20th century.

All correct entries received by the closing date of 12 noon, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on Sunday 5th of November, will go into a draw and one lucky person will win the RootsTech pass.

The winner will be notified by email by Tuesday 7th of November at the latest. One entry per person.

Disclaimer: As a Rootstech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

NSW & ACT Conference in Orange

Recently more than 300 people trekked out to Orange in the mid-west of NSW for the annual family history conference.  This year it was hosted by the Orange City Library, aided by the Orange Family History Group. The hosts of this event were so friendly and welcoming that it was an absolute stand-out feature of the conference.

In a break from tradition, some long workshops were held on the Friday. A few were only one hour long, but several were two hours, a couple were three hours and one was five hours long.  We hadn't known this when we signed up, so it did eat into the time we had available to look at the Family Fair. 

One of the workshops I did was "Eat Your History" with Jacqui Newling of Sydney Living Museums (formerly known as the Historic Houses Trust).  We started by talking about food memories, and then looked at some old recipes from books in the houses managed by Sydney Living Museums, and discussed the differences from recipes and menu items we see today.  Then we got to try out a recipes.  But first we had to make our own butter, which was to be used in our cooking.  Then we made a soufflĂ© omelette, and we had to beat our egg whites in the same way that had been done by the girls at the house named Meroogal in Nowra: namely, by beating it with a knife on a dinner plate!  The end result was served with some jam, and tasted very nice!

Egg whites in the process of
being beaten

Omelette being cooked

The finished product

The class

The conference theme was "Your Family Story: Telling, Recording & Preserving" and the talks mostly fitted into this theme. The keynote speaker on Sunday was the very tall (6'4") actor William McInnes, who told us lots of stories of his family. The other speakers included Gail Davis from State Archives of NSW, Perry McIntyre, Jacqui Newling (who also gave a lecture as well as running the workshop) and Shauna Hicks, amongst others.

William McInnes with Lorraine Henshaw,
who is taller than me (but not much)
As usual, there was a Meet & Greet and a Conference Dinner, which were both great chances to catch up with old friends.

After the conference closed at lunchtime on Sunday there was a chance to visit local historic house "Duntryleague", which had been the home to the Dalton family, and now is home to the local golf club.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Time to start thinking about RootsTech 2018

Next year will be my fourth RootsTech Conference.  The fact that I have attended so many times, given the expense of flying there from Australia, will give you some idea of how worthwhile I think the RootsTech Conferences are. In fact here is my post anticipating the last conference explaining why I was looking forward to attending RootsTech 2017. As it turned out, the conference didn't disappoint.  The Keynote talk by LeVar Burton was one of the most moving things I have ever experienced, and I don't think a single person who attended it would disagree with me. Here is my report on that session. 

RootsTech Expo Hall, 2017

This year's theme is "Connect. Belong" and there will be a few changes. Firstly, and most excitingly, the main conference will now run for four days from 28 February to 3 March. Previously the Innovator Summit and some sessions connected to it were on the Wednesday, with the Conference proper starting on the Thursday.  Now there will be an Innovator Showcase, where invaluable technologies for genealogists that have been nominated by genealogists themselves will be highlighted.  Read more in the press release about these changes. 

The next change is that the Expo Hall will now be open from 6pm to 8pm on Wednesday night. This will be a great opportunity to look at the hall while not missing any of the sessions.

The first of the keynote speakers, Scott Hamilton, has already been announced.  He is a figure skater and Olympic gold medalist. And schedule of talks has already been published, though it is subject to change. The biggest problem with it is that with over 300 sessions you can't attend everything. Last conference there were large numbers of DNA talks, and the next conference looks set to exceed them.  Like everything, there are talks for all levels with all sorts of different aspects of DNA research being covered.

But if you are not interested in DNA, there are still plenty of other sessions to pique your interest.  These include technology talks and talks about recording your family story amongst all sorts of other talks.

As I am from Australia, with English and Irish ancestry, I am not very interested in the talks relating to US genealogy. But that isn't a problem, as there are also talks relating to England, Ireland and Scotland.  As I mentioned before, the only problem is that I won't be able to attend all the talks I am interested in.

As well as the formally scheduled classes there are always other sessions in the expo hall, especially the sessions given by the major players like FamilySearch, Ancestry, Findmypast and MyHeritage. These can be incredibly worthwhile so don't forget to see what they have on.

But don't just take my word for it. Amy Ohms Archibald has written a  blog post about why she keeps attending RootsTech.

Early bird registrations for $169 are currently open here, but that is scheduled to end on 13 October and the price will go up.  Register for the event here.

Disclaimer: As a Rootstech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and dinners and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my return airfares from Australia and pay for my accommodation and meals.