Some of the Things We Learned at RootsTech 2014

What a great turnout for the first ever Red Deer Rootstech Family History Conference.  We estimate that 200 people attended.  Thank you to all those who came and all those who volunteered their time to make the event possible.  We are grateful to FamilySearch for providing the videos.  What a fabulous lunch!

Here are some notes from the final session:

Theme of Conference –   Connecting families:  past, present, and future – plus Every Family Has a Story Discover Yours  –  Gathering and preserving family stories

In our comments we tried to avoid sessions that were shared in video sessions

Denis Brimhall CEO of Familysearch in his opening keynote talked about 4 things:

  1. Power of stories – what would our grandchildren wish we had done?  We need to gather and record the stories of our lives.  Pictures and stories are the key to getting more people involved in Family History.  Newly named Memories link – documents also – familysearch provides a safe and secure space
  2. has been revised to make it easier to navigate (drop down menus added) and easier to collect photos and stories – this section has been renamed Memories.
    1. 150000 people have so far uploaded over 2 million photos and stories – and now also documents such as pdf files and FH images.  
    2. Need to think of Memories like Facebook for the dead!  
    3. FamilySearch is working on how to get information into familysearch via the cell phone – so a texting app is under development
    4. Saw  demo of a tablet app for FamilySearch
  3. Record Collections
  • Captain Jack Starling made an menacing appearance to announce that – Dead Men Tell No Tales – when pushed for more information he added that Their Obituaries Do!
  • Many stories are locked away in printed papers – so FamilySearch is setting out to Index Obituaries – so that millions of them are searchable and available.
  • Dennis cautioned us to make sure that we read the instructions when indexing obituaries – there is a little more to them than a simple census!
  •  FamilySearch has signed agreements to allow 100s of millions of obituaries online.
  • People enjoy indexing them as there is a story there, and they contain names and photos.
  • There are now over 1 billion indexed records at FamilySearch with 150000 to 230000 people indexing – it varies from time to time .
  • What is Indexing? transcribing information from images so that information can be searched
  • New indexing website already released – integrated into
  • A New indexing tool will be released in 2014 to make things simpler – already being tested – that will allow you to index using just a web browser – on desktops, laptops or tablets
  • As a result of indexing new collections of millions of records are regularly – almost weekly – being added to FamilySearch – which is available for free
  • FamilySearch is working on 400 year records from India.  This is part of a a battle against time and the loss of records as recent floods, fires, tornados and negligence
  • There are 5.3 billion records now available at FamilySearch mostly from the Americas and Western Europe – but there are 10 billion more available.
  • FamilySearch currently has about 250 camera crews around the world gathering new digital images of records .
  • At our current rate this would take 300 years to Index – or 11 generations.
  • Solution? Partnerships – working together with others e.g. Guatemala where familysearch is partnering with the government. FamilySearch would like to reduce 300 years to one generation and believes that this can be done through partnerships.

4.  Partnerships – developing new partnerships to go with the ones already announced with and

  • announced the free publis availability in FH Centres of enhanced versions of,, and – the local FH Centres are at Red Deer, Olds and Rocky Mountain House – how to find a FHC? Go to Familysearch and use the tool to find a FH Centre
  • Familysearch also has over 30 certified partners like RootsMagic, Ancestral Quest and Legacy Family Tree.
  • And partnerships with over 100 developers as well as societies like NEHGS and FGS.
  • 1 + 1 = 5

FindMyPast (FMP)

Shared a WW 1 project jointly with Imperial War Museum and FindMyPast project –

FMP also announced new collections now available -such as India Office collection from British library released last week e.g. typist marrying a soldier

  • FMP partnership with the British Library – check the  British & Ireland Newspaper Archive 1710 – 1950 – 8 million newspaper articles
  • FMP has the largest collection of Irish records –  – almost 100 mill – full BMD & prison records
  • Researchers in Ireland are short of census records due to calamities and often use census substitutes – FMP has one I hadn’t heard of – Irish dog licences
  • 23 million records from Petty Sessions in Ireland
  • Try the Metropolitan Police Habitual Criminals collection – complete with pictures
  • FMP is about to re-design their site – changes everywhere!

Didn’t get to a session on new collections coming to  – but know that they are continually adding new collections – to find out what is new at – click on the Search menu and go to the bottom to Card Catalog – then click on Sort By and select Date Added – new collections appear first!

Searching strategies at FamilySearch – Linda – see article next week

Keynote sessions  by Judy Russell – known as the legal genealogist

Her presentation was inspired by a quote by NARA archivist, Aaron Holt.

“It only takes three generations to lose a piece of oral family history. … It must be purposely and accurately repeated over and over again through the generations to be preserved for a genealogist today.” Russell illustrated this with stories from her family history

  • what people believed
  • what actually happened
  • discrepency not unusual because we are not passing on our family history in deliberate ways – purposely and accurately – repetition is necessary
  • We are losing precious pieces of our own family history because our family stories are not being repeated purposely and accurately through even 3 generations
  • Not the first ones to have this problem – not asking questions – not passing on the answers – this has been true through all history

Watched part of the keynote video – Judy suggested that we follow:

Genealogical Proof Standard

1.  Reasonably exhaustive  search

2.  Complete Source Citation

3.  Analysis and correlation of evidence

4.  Resolution of conflicts in data

5. Soundly reasoned written conclusion

Presentation : What must not change as we do Family History – David Rencher – FamilySearch chief genealogical officer, who spoke to the topic, “With Dramatically Changing Technologies – what must not change!” (from Ancestry Insider 12 Feb 2014)  Rencher expressed his love for technology but gave the warning: with the advancement of technology we must be careful. There are things about genealogy that remain unchanged. Indeed, they must not change.

One involves the use of DNA. “DNA testing should augment, but never replace sound genealogical research,” Rencher said.

Another is citations provided by online record publishers. … I think we have to expect to take the citations provided online and fix them up to be complete.

Access to records online doesn’t always replace the need to access the originals. Sometimes filming or publication messed up the record..

He warned us that looking at a digital index is not good enough. Always consult the original (or an image of it). …

Online trees have made it infinitelyy easier to incorporate information from one tree to extend the pedigree of another. “The inexperienced researcher simply misidentifies the wrong candidate as soon as they spot a record with the name of the correct spouse or a closely associated name,” said Rencher. “Before you merge, examine the evidence and analyze the possibilities.” He said, “Online pedigrees are no more trustworthy than those in print.”…

… leave a lasting legacy of quality research,” said Rencer

If you want more from rootstech go to where you can access videos of several sessions.

Personal comment:

we have the opportunity to do the best FH ever  – We have the programs, the technology, the resources and access to more records than at any time in the history of the world – – and can have fun doing it

Begin right away to preserve your stories and photos

Move on to gather, record and preserve your family history for as many generations as you can – make sure you also include the source for the information

Video – Every Family Has a Story Discover Yours – 2min 42 sec

Go have fun – enjoy that special feeling as we get to know our ancestors

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