Congress 2015: Navel-gazing

Congress 2015Having reviewed some of the talks I attended at Congress 2015, it’s time to turn to a little personal navel-gazing. Decades of working as a senior administrator means I can’t help myself when it comes to assessing what went well and what wasn’t so successful. How else to improve one’s own performance in any sphere?

It’s always tricky when preparing papers for any seminar to know what the audience expects to hear as there’s inevitably a range of knowledge, experience and aspirations. Then there’s the slides,timing and not wanting to cause death by power-point. I gave two presentations at Congress – this is my own assessment of how they went. Others may well differ.

The marriage of family and local history

marriage local and family historyThere was so much more I’d have liked to include but I whittled away until I felt I had sufficient to tell the story sensibly. While the paper I submitted to the proceedings provided the nuts and bolts of the tools and techniques I’d used, I wanted the presentation on Murphy’s Creek to illustrate how these might come together to tell the story of a place through the marriage of local and family history.

I was pleased with how this talk went as it seemed to be well received by many in the audience. Certainly quite a few people came up to me that day, and later, to comment on what they’d got from it. It was also a pleasure to meet two people from towns near Murphy’s Creek.

The downside was that my little sound snippet on the image of an old barn (the property of Mr Horrocks, mentioned in the extract) refused to work even though it had been fine when I’d tested it multiple times at home…of course.

I have included it here: 

You can hear Annie talking to local historian Cameron about the social life in Murphy’s Creek in the early 20th century.

Here too is a graphic which I decided to exclude because (1) it wasn’t necessary and (2) it was too busy. Thanks to Alex from Family Tree Frog blog who introduced me to the mind-mapping tool, Coggle. You never know, someone might find the framework useful.

Mindmapping1

Harness the power of blogging for your One Place Study (OPS).

Grassroots research revolution

A grassroots research revolution is taking place to change the history of ordinary people. Image from Shutterstock.com

This topic suffered a little from confusion over its title in each program (online, app, printed) .…despite the convenor’s best attempts to sort it out. My fault for not noticing sooner and my apologies to those who thought they were getting a talk about blogging per se. Hopefully the paper in the proceedings will make it clearer.

My retrospective assessment is that I hadn’t achieved the depth I’d have liked with this presentation. Perhaps in this case I’d whittled and edited too much. Again the intention was to demonstrate how blogging could be used for a one place study, or indeed your own research. I wanted to highlight the issues I’d encountered in this type of blog – mainly time, and ambivalence about which blog to use. I hope those with an interest in the topic will explore the different styles used by the other OPS blogs I mentioned as well. In retrospect I could also have added some slides showing some of the stories on my two OPS blogs.

Those who are keen can look at my OPS blogs here: East Clare Emigrants and From Dorfprozelten to Australia

Travelling in our time machine. Image from Shutterstock.com

Travelling in our time machine. Image from Shutterstock.com

Although speakers had a target time of 35 minutes for each presentation, leaving time for questions, I was surprised to finish this talk in 30 minutes. The upside is that it left time for lots of Q&A to involve the audience. Nick Reddan’s question of “why blog, not publish a book?” was pertinent…my response: depends on the project and what you want to achieve. I was really pleased to see the lively dynamic in the Q&A session which lasted 15 minutes and also allowed my geneablogger mates to offer their five bob’s worth too ….thanks genimates! Twitter tells me my quotable quote was “bloggers are part of a gang“…in a good way of course since we support and encourage each other.

The technology was a little frustrating – a problem shared by others – with the screens so far forward and the remote forward-back buttons in different places in the different rooms. I also learned not to wear an outfit with a cowl neckline…something to add to Paul Milner’s “don’t” list.

Thanks to everyone who attended and who offered questions or opinions on what I’d said.

My two papers and the slides are now on this blog under the Presentations tab. 

I’ve also added the (different) papers and slides on the East Clare and Dorfprozelten emigrants which I presented at Congress 2006 in Darwin.

Please note: these papers and slides are copyrighted to me. I’d appreciate it if anyone wants to refer to them, that they acknowledge my work.

Congress 2015: Inspirational Keynotes

Congress 2015One of the challenges of any conference is the selection of competing topics when inevitably we want to listen to at least two of the choices, if not more.

Perhaps that’s why Keynotes are so appealing – not only are the presentations by experts in their field but we don’t have to pick and choose.

I’m going to stick my neck out and make a couple of “Top of the Pops” Keynote picks from Congress 2015. My choice of these is based on how much a talk engages me and makes me think about big-picture issues or new strategies, rather than just about learning new techniques and tools. Others will have different selection criteria and a different response to the speaker’s content.

Mathew Trinca: Opening Keynote

For my money, Mathew Trinca’s Opening Keynote hit the spot for the start of Congress. Migration research is a passion of mine so the story of his own family’s migration within the broader span of history totally captured my imagination.

Mathew used his son’s growing understanding of his place within the family, and ultimately the community, as a template. He enjoined us to look at the dynamic between our personal, family and social history and broaden our own historical understanding. We need to understand “the clay between the joins (of our families and trees); and connecting to a wider understanding of history gives validity and meaning to what we do.”

My favourite quote from his talk: “migration is a journey of the mind as much of the body”. How very true this is for our migrating families, even more so perhaps for those early immigrants who never expected, or were able, to return “home”.

For further reading he recommended Romulus My Father by Raimond Gata and Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War by Joan Beaumont.

Have you looked at the National Museum’s 100 Defining Moments of our Nation’s History? Do you agree? What would you add from a personal perspective?

Josh Taylor: Connecting across past, present and future.

What an engaging talk Josh gave us about the joys of family history and how children can be bitten by the genie-bug. He won lots of points by telling us that “grandmas are great” as there were plenty of grandmas in the audience all too willing to agree with him!

He challenged us to include the younger generations in our enthusiasm for genealogy and family history. It’s about more than data: how do we share a rich family experience. We need to attract new members to our societies by diverse means: word of mouth, website, community outreach, social media and email.

Josh reminded us that not everyone suffered from the genealogy addiction: some were curious, others casual explorers or frequent explorers.

Quoteable quotes:  You will never find everything: It’s okay to be discouraged but you need to keep going. There is always another way.

Remember only 15% of available documents are online right now.

Twitter is an opportunity for 145 characters of your words to be left for your descendants.

Richard Reid: if you ever go across the sea to Ireland

Honestly, I could listen to Richard talk all day….you’ve heard me say before that he’s my history hero. Why? Yes, he’s an engaging and informative speaker but it’s more than that. Ever since I first read any of his research publications it is his “everyman” approach to history that totally appeals to me. He digs beneath the surface of “the great and the good” to uncover the story of the ordinary people lost to the grand span of traditional history.

Richard asked “how do you understand what it means to live through the Famine?” Similarly in a later talk he asked how can we understand the impact of WWI on families. Surely we can only gain these insights by reading as widely as we can around the subjects.

He reminded us that for the post-Famine emigrants from Donegal the people told their own tales of life when they were brought across to the UK from Ireland to report to the Select Committee on the Destitution of Ireland. I had read these over the years, but never realised the people had not been interviewed in situ: imagine how they felt when they arrived in the big city from the small settlements or clachans of Donegal.

Richard made the point that it is a furphy to think that all emigrants changed their ages on arrival. His Tipperary study showed that 98% tallied with the data from the baptismal registers. For those not familiar with his studies, this was the breakdown of Irish migration: 21% families; 4% couples; husband or wife 2%; alone 44%; widow/widower 6%; relatives in Australia 17%.

Michael McKernan: Writing War on the Home Front

Although I’ve read some of his work, I’d never hear Michael McKernan present and I found this keynote totally absorbing. He highlighted the transition to a greater interest in the “ordinary soldier” – a change from the cannon fodder of previous war.

Who could forget the pathos of the family who wrote personalised poetry every year for 30 years in memory of their son who was killed?

Or those who could not afford the fee the government charged families to engrave on their headstones? I had known this and it always outrages me that, despite the loss and sacrifice of their sons/husbands/brothers, relatives were once again imposed on to pay for their gravestone memorials.

Quotable quote: we need to avoid thinking of them as “just numbers”. We should never lose sight of the grief for each soldier – it was always personal and tragic and had consequences.

I truly think we were well-served by the Congress committee’s selection of keynotes in 2015. There were so many great offerings and these reflect my own interests…other delegates will have different choices.

Dare I do it?

Tonight I had a glitch with GeniAus’s Hangout on Air for which the topic was an enquiry from Sharon from Gathering Dust blog re how we each handle our filing/”piling” system.

Perhaps the gods were laughing,as after the first minutes I was inaudible to anyone and my screen dump didn’t work. In the end I left to hangout with living family members who dropped by unexpectedly.

family-history-back-to-basicsHowever I think Sharon’s enquiry has a lot of merit and fits with my aspirations to get back to basics. I am much more confident of my old-style filing system which lets me readily (mostly!) find documents, whereas my digital filing is more like Topsy – it just grewed. At this point it’s worth reiterating that I have been researching for nearly 30 years, long before the digital era hence a partial-explanation of the Topsy system.

Hard copy system

I have long had multiple A4 arch-lever folders categorised by family name, and sometimes by generation. Within each folder I have the documents sourced by topic eg church, land, civic, certificates, military. This means that I have only one “cluster” of information to peruse if I want to locate a document. Generally this involves minimal disruption and has worked well over many years.

It also allows me to have folders for what have become my one place studies on Dorfprozelten and Clare. Dorfprozelten info is mostly filed by family as there is a limited number of them, while Clare is by topic. General research has its own tab/folder.

The only problem with this system is the increasing number of bookcases, and filing, required.

Digital filing system

This is where I start to come to grief more often than with hard copies. Once again I have all my families in one folder “111 Family History” which places it at the top of my file directories. Within that folder I have sub-folders by surname and in particular cases, by place or research topic. If the information regarding place is specific to one family I file under that name.

With women I file under married name, post-marriage, and by family of origin/maiden name prior to marriage.

Screen dump filing system

I haven’t been in the practice of naming the files consistently and this is one thing I want to remedy. I do use the surname, first name and content/source concept (again, generally rather than consistently).

In the past I was in the habit of filing photographs, including those of documents in archives/libraries, under my Photographs folder by name/place etc. I don’t believe this is working any more and that I need to move research photos to the family history folder which relates. In this way I have them all “together”. Nor have I been good about adding metadata but have been slowly adding this over time and with more knowledge under my belt thanks to a RootsTech lab class, hopefully I’ll get better. I need to remember that slow and steady wins the race rather than hustle, bustle.

Cluster Research (FANs) and One Place Studies (OPS)

This is where I can really get in a tangle. Even before I signed up to a One Place Study, I had been collecting all relevant names from whichever parish register/document I’d been looking at for my family. I’ve found it all too easy for this to get messy. It’s also why I find genealogy programs restrictive but perhaps I need to have another go with an open mind. I’m presently exploring Family Historian, RootsMagic and Heredis as my long-time Aussie program, Relatively Yours, seems to be on the way out which is a great shame as it has always offered an innovative idea of family.

In the past I’ve entered the OPS data into an Excel workbook which is saved under the family name, or the place, depending on which is relevant. This lets me sort the data into family clusters in a separate spreadsheet while maintaining the original in time sequence. I make a practice of entering surnames/family names in a separate column from first names which makes sorting more reliable and effective.

Brickbats

DunceI’ve been slack about consistent naming of files and I haven’t had an overall plan before launching into naming files.

I’ve separated photos I’ve taken of documents from my other research documents on that family (in some/many cases). Quite honestly I have way too many photos of all types!

My Downloads folder has become a default documents folder and needs a major spring clean and the relocation of sub-folders to their correct place.

The filing keeps on piling up until it annoys the hell out of me and I have to clear the decks – often before I travel!

bouquetBouquets

I’ve kept my hard copy files according to a pretty coherent system. This applies in particular to my Kunkel family files because this is how I ordered them when writing my book. Within the Kunkel Book folder I have the family documents subdivided by the first generation. I have the photo folder following the same system. However, as you can see, I still have some wayward files.Family History Book screen dump

With my East Clare discoveries on Trove I’ve been more consistent with my file naming conventions, using SURNAME, First Name, article reference. This may be because I’ve been doing these more recently. If I source photos elsewhere I add a code which indicates the repository eg QSA, JOL, SLQ.

I did manage to keep my Kunkel research documents in a coherent fashion which made it possible to publish the family history and organise two reunions, for which I set up my own database. (some positivity is needed here!) However, even here you can see that some wayward files have escaped from their proper place.

 WHERE TO?

Slow downGeniAus has given us hope and affirmation that there’s no one right way to process our family history (though she was a bit harsh on the cat!). However with the deluge of digital information I can’t avoid the conclusion that the data is now the master and I’m the slave….I need to reverse that process if it’s not to drown me out. What is quite illogical is that I’ve actually got worse since I’ve retired and had more time available…go figure!

I think Jill is absolutely spot-on when she says we have to choose a system which suits us – without that we will constantly self-sabotage.

Without a doubt I need to SLOW DOWN, take time, and be consistent.

 MIND MAPPING

mind-maps-for-genealogy-cover-smallThanks to a tip in the Hangout from Alex of Family Tree Frog blog, I’ve been playing with a new program called Coggle which I find quite intuitive to use. Her mention of this is timely as it fits with my long-term interest (but inaction), and the book I bought at RootsTech on Mindmapping for Genealogists. I’m playing with Coggle to mindmap how I’ve set out my Congress presentation on the marriage of family and local history.

 C’mon I’ve hung myself out to dry here….Do be brave and tell me: Am I alone in the schmozzle of filing/piling that I have? Are you totally organised and neatly systematic?

 

 

 

 

Exploring the Expo Hall at RootsTech/FGS

A quiet Expo Hall...for now.

A quiet Expo Hall…for now.

I’ve done the serious and the sightseeing… now it’s time for a quick synopsis of my explorations of the Expo Hall.

Last week I mentioned how the bloggers had a privileged tour of the Hall before Thursday’s Keynote Speeches. From then on it was busy, busy. I had looked at many of the companies’ websites, prepared a checklist, and highlighted a map of booths I didn’t want to miss and that worked well.

Find My Past and the Irish

I confess I didn’t spend time listening to the mini-presentations in the Expo Hall as there never seemed to be enough time. I do have membership with most of the big geneaproviders so have a good idea of where they’re at. However I did come along to hear the Find My Past speaker telling us what they were planning for Irish records, and let me tell you, they will have us dancing jigs when they arrive. I’ve been with FMP since way back, and totally enamoured of their recent Friday releases. It’s plain they don’t intend letting their game down.

DSC_3031

Here is a copy of the slide which they showed listing upcoming Irish resources in coming months (and yes, I did ask permission to use it). Just imagine what might be in there for the Irish diaspora.

Loved their badges with Kiss me, my ancestors were Irish/English/Scottish/Immigrants etc.

Quirky but enlightening

DSC_2927 crop

Nancy Douglas from WriteMeaning.

Nancy Douglas from WriteMeaning.

I had Write Meaning on my checklist and was lucky enough to find Nancy Douglas free, thanks to a mistake I made with scheduling. Nancy gave me a specific piece of text to handwrite in cursive, plus a couple of images to draw (I am so not an artist). She then analysed my writing and drawings using her experience as a certified handwriting analyst. Initially I was a bit nervous but the experience was very positive, though with a couple of family surprises. It was well worth my $US20 investment. The business also offers the opportunity to have your ancestor’s writing analysed which I think would be both fun and helpful – just need to find something I am certain they personally wrote…for those who could write.

Thanks Nancy for a fascinating interview.

Education

DSC_2949

Tahitia McCabe who was representing the Uni of Strathclyde.

I wanted to look at three stands: Board for Certification of Genealogists, the University of Strathclyde, and the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. I know friends who are doing NIGS units but no one so far who’s doing Strathclyde’s program. At present I’m not in a position to commit to any of these – family obligations – but I will be giving them some serious thought.

I was also interested in the Association of Personal Historians – another to consider.

DNA

I decided to purchase an Ancestry DNA kit while I was in the Expo Hall and have returned it, as I believe we can’t yet get them opin Oz. Apparently the results will be ready in 6-8 weeks. It will be interesting to see how it compares with my Family Tree DNA tests. I hope it was worth the sacrifice of not buying that nice coat from Macy’s <smile>.

You can read what I wrote about my RootsTech/FGS genetic genealogy learning here on the Worldwide Genealogy blog.

StoryWorth

Hope and team from Story Worth.

Hope and team from StoryWorth.

Of course I’ve already mentioned StoryWorth and what a pleasure it was to meet the team, especially Hope with whom I’d been in email contact. I’ve got my other half signed up with their program. I think it’s an easy way to get answers to questions in bite-sized chunks.

Books and resources

Foolishly I didn't write down this young lady's name, though I did ask if I could publish her photo.

We had a good chat with Laura and I got her permission to use this photo. Thanks Laura!

I promised myself “no books”, after all I’m trying to declutter, but there were a few I couldn’t resist. I bought Zapping the Grandma Gap (Janet Hovorka), Mind Maps for Genealogy (Ron Arons), and Maureen Taylor’s Family Photo Detective. I could have bought the latter as an e-book but my photo books are among my most-used resources so I went for a hard copy.

I just had to check out Eneclann which publishes great Irish books and CDs, more and more of which are available as downloadable e-books once purchased.

Genimates

Lisa Louisa Cooke from Genealogy Gems was on my visiting list and she kindly agreed to be photographed with me. I had already been to a couple of sessions she presented.

Of course I had to visit with Alan and Alona at Unlock the Past Cruises.

Flying the flag at Unlock the Past Cruises.

Flying the flag at Unlock the Past Cruises.

The Media Hub was in the midst of the Expo activity and there always seemed to be a genimate to wave to. Thanks Thomas MacEntee for my fab ribbons!

And the (free) Soda Fountain had great lemonade to wet one’s whistle, and was always popular.

Fun

DSC_3128 editOne of the American traditions, which doesn’t happen in Australia, is the supply of ribbons and buttons to add to one’s bling. It might look a bit silly from the outside but is good fun.

The Geneabloggers’ beads, provided in 2015 by Dear MYRTLE and Cousin Russ, got comments from lots of people and made it easy to identify fellow bloggers. I was surprised how small a drop we were in the ocean of attendees. I was tickled to bits when a coincidental conversation revealed the lady had read my Worldwide Genealogy post thanks to Randy Seaver’s Best of the Geneablogs 18-24 January 2015.

The Aussies contributed their own bling to the event with people taking Aussie stickers, koalas, tourist pins, and pens/keyrings with Aboriginal patterns. The recipients were really surprised and enjoyed sharing a bit of Down Under.

All over, red rover

That’s a wrap from me for Roots Tech. There’s so much more I could share but other commitments are calling. Don’t forget to check out the RootsTech Video Archive and consider purchasing a couple of FGS audio recordings (click through the 51 options). I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Randy Seaver, blogger extraordinaire at Genea-Musings, is keeping, and updating, a consolidated list of all blog posts relating to this record-breaking event. Thanks Randy for making it so much easier for us all to check our people’s experiences and learn from them.

It was such a lot of fun, especially catching up with my genimates, and meeting new ones.

Incidental Sightseeing Part 2: Salt Lake City

After my intense post this morning on ethics, genealogists and conferences, I hope you enjoy the light relief from my about-town photos of Salt Lake City.

The Zions First National Bank is such a pretty building. I'd have liked a better shot, but time was short and traffic was tricky.

The Zions First National Bank is such a pretty building. I’d have liked a better shot, but time was short and traffic was tricky.

This awning on a semi-derelict building near the Hilton Hotel kept catching my eye.

Check out the faces framing the awning.

Check out the faces framing the awning.

They make 'em big in the USA.

They make ’em big in the USA. My friend Sharn is dwarfed by this Ford 150.

We had a lovely meal at PF Chang's and met up with Linda Robbins and hubby.

We had a lovely meal at PF Chang’s and met up with Linda Robbins and hubby. Linda writes at http://hollingsworthrobbinsfamilytree.blogspot.com.au/

Salt Lake Temple in Temple Square.

Salt Lake Temple in Temple Square.

Collage of mountain scenery.

Collage of mountain scenery.

I made these two collages with Pic Collage, having been shown it by my new friend Laurie from Confuse the Dead (and also an FGS Ambassador). Thanks Laurie, it was as easy as you said, and good fun as well. I now have it on the iPad and the smart phone.

Socialising in Salt Lake.

Socialising in Salt Lake was interspersed with serious research and learning.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little detour from serious genealogy.

 

Ethics, Genealogists and Conferences

Ethics and equity and the principles of justice do not change with the calendar.
(DH Lawrence) from http://www.brainyquote.com/

family-history-back-to-basicsSometimes we need to be reminded that this genealogical passion of ours isn’t just about vacuuming up as many names, dates and data as we can track down, wherever we find them. We are also obligated to act responsibly, with respect for family (especially living family), ownership of information, and with accountability to those who share their expertise with us.

With the upcoming AFFHO Congress in Canberra, all attendees need to become mindful and informed of ethical standards which should guide our family history research and how we disseminate it. Let’s get back to basics with these issues.

One of the earliest sessions I attended at FGS/RootsTech was one entitled The Ethical Genealogist, by highly regarded speaker Judy Russell – click to see an interview with her by James Tanner of Genealogy’s Star blog. (Although her session wasn’t video-taped, you can purchase the audio-recording here for $US10).

I’d never heard Judy speak before, though I follow the wisdom she shares on her blog, The Legal Genealogist. Only minutes into the presentation it was obvious that her excellent reputation was entirely deserved…she’s an engaging and informative speaker. Aussie genealogists who are planning on taking the 11th Unlock the Past Cruise from New Zealand to Australia will have the joy of hearing her present.

Anyway, back to my theme. Straight up Judy mentioned that it was okay to take photos for social media (at least that’s what I wrote down). Blind Freddy could work out that she didn’t mean take snaps of every single one of her slides and share the whole content. What’s happened subsequently, for her and other speakers, has caused something of firestorm which is pertinent to any conference we attend, whether wearing our genealogy hats or others.

Image purchased from Shutterstock.com

Image purchased from Shutterstock.com

Judy captured the essence of ethics in the playground rules we learnt in kindergarten:

  • tell the truth
  • play nice
  • don’t tell tales.

I’m not going to elaborate on these here – I think they’re pretty self- evident though Judy’s nuanced discussion of them certainly wasn’t elementary. However, when in the 21st century, with the avalanche of interest in genealogy some of these golden rules seem to have been lost.

I’ve mentioned before in my blog posts, that we should always, always ASK for permission to use someone else’s content, research or images. We should always, always ACKNOWLEDGE the other person’s research (whatever form it takes). I’ve certainly had photos from my website siphoned off and attached to family trees, without either of these happening, despite the copyright notice across the photo.

Image created in Microsoft Office Word.

Image created by Pauleen Cass in Microsoft Office Word.

Just recently, I also found a blog post I’d written (of which I was rather proud) for World Wide Genealogy, “happily” conjoined with a genea-product promotion on LinkedIn. I was NOT a happy camper because in my opinion it inferred that the post belonged to the product-owner. Carelessness or contrivance? Only weeks later the same thing happened with other genimates’ posts. Needless to say this was not a booth I visited in the Expo Hall at RootsTech – the product may be useful but I voted with my feet, and my wallet! Mind you, if the same person had been working I’d have been tempted to shame-job them by visiting.

stop-is-it-yours-ask-acknowledge

Image created with keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

It seems to me that too many of us are getting so absorbed with a belief in entitlement, with the justification that “I’m just sharing”, that we happily forget it’s not actually ours to share, and furthermore when we’ve signed up for programs we’ve specifically stated we will not abuse our membership in this way. These presentations, papers, slides, photos do NOT belong to us. After all if a person works making a chair, for example, we don’t think it’s okay to simply walk off with it and share it with our mates. Why? Because it’s the person’s income stream and also it’s THEFT. Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s no defence.

391 ethical dilemmasBack in February 2015 on the 4th Unlock the Past cruise, Jill Ball aka GeniAus hosted an Ethics Panel which was very interesting. One of the questions was around photographing every slide in a presenter’s talk. The panel was universal in believing this was a breach of their copyright. We have regularly bemoaned that we didn’t tape this session.

There have been some excellent posts written post-RootsTech, which ought to be high on our compulsory reading list.

Credit and Copyright by Judy Russell

Copyright and the Genealogy Lecture by Judy Russell

More Genealogy Copyright Issues by Michael Leclerc on the Mocavo blog.

Genealogy’s Star: James Tanner regularly posts on similar issues, based on his legal experience.

You can read the AFFHO Ethics standards here.

For further reading you might want to look at the following sites referenced by Judy Russell as providing standards for genealogists:

Board for Certification of Genealogists– Standards

Association of Professional Genealogists – Ethics

Thanks Judy Russell for your knowledge, commitment and discernment in raising our performance standards as genealogists and family historians.

Incidental Sightseeing Part 1: Salt Lake City

When you have less than a week to fit in four conference days, three visits to the Family History Library, and lots of socialising, there’s not much time left for actual sightseeing. I notched up some distance to-ing and fro-ing and along the way took shots that caught my eye. Here are some of them. My SLR is playing up at present so I took these with my phone camera.

View from my hotel room - isn't it pretty?

View from my hotel room – isn’t it pretty?

One of the entrances to the City Creek shopping mall...just up the road.

One of the entrances to the City Creek shopping mall…just up the road.

The creek which runs through the shopping complex.

The creek which runs through the shopping complex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just love fairy lights when it's wintertime overseas. These were a mix of white and yellow.

I just love fairy lights when it’s wintertime overseas. These were a mix of white and yellow.

Looks like it belongs in France to me.

Looks like it belongs in France to me.

Now THAT's an Apple shop!

Now THAT’s an Apple shop!

Abravnel Hall, Centre for the Arts. I liked the sun on the red art work and the rather Expo-ish street art.

Abravnel Hall, Centre for the Arts. I liked the sun on the red art work and the rather Expo-ish street art.

The impressive entry to the Salt Palace Convention Centre - site of RootsTech and FGS.

The impressive entry to the Salt Palace Convention Centre – site of RootsTech and FGS.

Liked this quirky construction.

Liked this quirky construction framed by the mountains.

I was surprised how quiet the streets were in SLC. You can see the Trax arriving in the centre of the road.

I was surprised how quiet the streets were in SLC. You can see the Trax arriving in the centre of the road.

Do join me for Part 2 of my Incidental Sightseeing tomorrow.

Congress 2015 meets RootsTech/FGS

DSC_2845My genimate Jill Ball (GeniAus) was generous enough to invite me to participate in an interview with Congress 2015 speaker, Josh Taylor at the combined RootsTech/FGS conference in Salt Lake City. It was my first experience of being interviewed, and interviewing, in a proper sound booth so that was fun…and slightly intimidating at first. Jill will be sharing the Josh Taylor video on her blog in the near future, so I won’t share any spoiler info with you.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the interview Jill and I did at RootsTech.

Josh Taylor’s RootsTech presentation: Tech tools

However, I did want to whet your enthusiasm further for Congress by sharing Josh’s online RT/FGS conference presentation about “30 pieces of tech I can’t live without”. I wonder how many of them you use and what you (and I) will try after viewing the video?

One of the things I like about the blogisphere is the sharing of tools, tips and techniques we use for our genealogy – so many of Josh’s tips were among my favourite tech tools. Having said that, there were quite a few other tools I want to try: mood board, flipboard, reddit, trello, some WordPress widgets, snag it and Archive Grid. Oh, and wouldn’t a Hovercam be nice <smile>, As Josh says himself, you have to choose the ones that work for you. I especially enjoyed his comment about why you save five minutes in a library – I could certainly relate to that <hint – about the 8 minute mark>.Tegxedo cloud

What I particularly like about listening to Josh is that he’s so passionate about his family history and he “gets” what we’re on about. I was also impressed that he mentioned JSTOR, which we can access through the National Library of Australia with our library cards – make sure you allow time in Canberra to visit the Library.

Sharing the learning online

RootsTech has some of the presentations online here and more are expected in coming days.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies has their recorded sessions available to purchase for $US10 which I think is a pretty good bargain. I’ve downloaded a couple I didn’t get to and two I did: one on long-distance membership, something of great relevance to me, and a genetic genealogy one I thought was very helpful. More about the latter on my Worldwide Genealogy post today.

Join us at Congress 2015

Congress 2015So if you’ve been feeling left out when following the Twitter, FB and G+ feeds of the 15 Aussies who went to what Jill calls “the greatest (genie) show on earth”, there’s still plenty of opportunity for you to get a taste of the experience. And of course, since you’ll be coming to Congress 2015 in just over a month, there’s lots more ahead for you, including enthusiastic keynote speaker Josh Taylor.

Jill Ball has stocked up on blogger beads for the Aussie bloggers so there’ll be plenty of fun in store, as well as all that learning.

Don’t forget you can read about all our expert speakers through their interviews on this blog and my fellow official bloggers Jill Ball and Shauna Hicks.

We’re looking forward to meeting you at Congress and renewing friendships with those we’ve met elsewhere.

 

Reviewing RootsTech 2015: The highlights

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As I sit in the lounge at LA Brisbane airport waiting for the Qantas “bus”, it seems quite surreal to think of all that has happened in the short space of a week. Let me see if I can capture the highlights for you.

MOST EMOTIONAL

Hands down this was the keynote by Vietnamese-Aussie expat, Tan Le, a former Young Australian of the Year. Her speech was a testament to the resilience and courage of her family. She spoke so evocatively of her life’s transitions and challenges and the strength and influence of family. It was also a powerful testimony to the value our refugees have brought to Australia. Her talk should be compulsory viewing in schools (and parliaments!) around the country.The live stream is here now.  You can now click here for an extract.

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On a personal note it was such a privilege to be part of her official photograph with the bloggers and ambassadors. I think she was pretty pleased to see some among Aussies among the crowd.

BIGGER THAN TEXAS

I enjoyed meeting up with Hope from StoryWorth as we'd been in touch before the conference. StoryWorth won the Innovation Challenge at RootsTech, and that's a big cheque you see behind us.

I enjoyed meeting up with Hope from StoryWorth as we’d been in touch before the conference. StoryWorth won the Innovation Challenge at RootsTech, and that’s a big cheque you see behind us.

Being a blogger as RootsTech is such a treat…we had a couple of great opportunities. One of them was being given a back-stage tour of the Expo Hall on the Opening Day, before it was open to the public. It was fantastic to have the chance to get your bearings before the cross arrived. A comment was made that RootsTech should be RootsTexas as it was now bigger even than Texas!

Imagine a conference where on one day there’s 20,000 attendees! That was the final day, family day, when the place was huge! It was also the only day I felt somewhat overwhelmed by the crowds….after all that’s about 20% of Darwin’s population in one place!

BUCKET LIST TICK

DSC_2781I guess every genealogist has a visit to the Salt Lake Family History Library on their bucket list, so it felt quite an achievement to get there. Despite spending two full days there and playing hooky from Saturday’s keynote (which I’m told was excellent) I didn’t get beyond the British floor B2. It was wonderful to be able to work through  the books I had on my list and see what I might have missed.

LOTS OF LEARNING

I made a deliberate choice to prioritise genetic genealogy talks and I now feel that I’m more confident in my understanding than I was before. Whether that holds true when I get immersed in my results remains to be seen. My commitment was demonstrated by buying an Ancestry DNA kit rather than a rather nice coat that caught my eye at Macy’s. It was a lot easier to do the test in the States and MAY give me different matches than I’ve got from my Family Tree DNA tests.

I was impressed by the professionalism, skill and knowledge of all the speakers…they were all in the 4 or 5 star range with one exception.

GENEABLOGGERS and TECH

We bloggers are so much part of each other’s genealogy lives it was surprising to see how small a drop we were in the ocean of attendees at the combined FGS RootsTech conference. However it was a quick point of connection as we recognised people from our virtual worlds. Thanks to DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ we were all bedecked in red and white beads which made recognition easier. Not to mention that the one and only Thomas MacEntee who bedecked us all with an array of ribbons.

Not all the Geneabloggers at RootsTech but a representative sample with keynote speaker . Not sure who took the photo, but thank you!

Not all the Geneabloggers at RootsTech but a representative sample with keynote speaker AJ Jacobs (on the right) . Not sure who took the photo, but thank you! As far as I know we gave each other permission to use photos at will.

Thanks to the wizardry of the RootsTech app it was easy to compare presentations and speakers – though a lot harder to get down to just one choice per session. I was annoyed that I dropped the ball with one session thinking it started on the hour, not the half hour. I used the app comprehensively to locate vendors, choose talks, and assess each talk.

INTERVIEW NEWBIE

It was a whole new experience to be in the media den, being interviewed by Jill Ball aka GeniAus along with Hilary from the UK and Tas from Sydney.

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Thanks Sharn for being out photographer outside the glass room.

Straight after that Jill and I interviewed Josh Taylor who will be speaking at Congress 2015 in Canberra. We’ll let you know when the link is online.

I really admire Jill for her courage on her first trip to RootsTech in 2011 and then going solo in the media room. You’re a trail-blazer Jill, and inspire us all.

AND THE FUN

Needless to say the week of socialising was also a ton of fun from the Commonwealth dinner on Tuesday night to the Saturday night get-together at Dear Myrtle‘s home,  where Myrt also gave us some Hangout on Air tips. Thanks to Myrt and family who made the evening, and RootsTech, so special.

Dear Myrt party hangout

A great gathering of Geneabloggers at Dear Myrtle’s home as a conference finale.

Genealogy Heaven

imageIt’s hard to believe I’m already half way through my weimageek of genealogy heaven in Salt Lake City. It’s already been so much fun meeting with Aussie geneabloggers, face-to-face meetings with overseas bloggers, social events and great learning experiences.

If that all sounds like too much fun and frivolity rest assured I spent some serious time in the genealogical holy grail, the Family History Library. Given I’ve been reading microfilms in Brisbane or Darwin that wasn’t my primary focus. Instead I opted to prepare a long list of the books held in the library, many of which can’t be found in Australia and which can’t be ordered in through the local family history centre.  With a wish list a mile long I photographed relevant segments of the books which I can digest at my leisure. I was particularly pleased to be able to read Gillespie’s book on researching Irish Local History.

I did take the opportunity to read the microfilm for the Griffith Valuation Revision Books for Courtown Harbour in my pursuit of the Callaghans who I wrote about recently. I’ll post about that in due course but not until I get home.image

I had a brief fishing expedition for one of Mr Cassmob’s ancestors in County Carlow, but the time wasn’t productive and I gave it up. We tend to think (live in hope?) that the release of the digitised Irish parish registers will solve our problems. I think we may be mistaken. This one was so faint as to be totally illegible in the relevant period. I may give it another go one day but it won’t be a quick process.

On Tuesday evening we had a Commonwealth group dinner organised by GeniAus which was great fun and I was able to have a long chat with Tessa Keogh, Hilary Gadsby, Ruth Blair, and Rosemary Morgan (sorry I can’t get links to work on the iPad so see below). There is a real sense of community among the group and such a pleasure to meet in person. Just as exciting was meeting Randy Seaver and Angel Linda in the foyer of the Hilton…isn’t the virtual world an exciting place?!

Yesterday was the start of the FGS Conference and today RootsTech commenced. My schedule has been packed and I can honestly say every speaker has been excellent. More on that anon.

You can read about my genimates on these blogs:

GeniAus: http://geniaus.blogspot.com.au

Tessa Keogh: http://www.geneabloggers.com/introduce-tessa-keoug/

Hilary Gadsby: http://genemeet.blogspot.com

Rosemary Morgan: http://londonrootsresearch.blogspot.com

Ruth Blair: http://blog.familyhistorysearches.com

Randy Seaver: http://www.geneamusings.com

Would you trust this woman? A mug shot among the microfilm stacks.

Would you trust this woman? A mug shot among the microfilm stacks.