Episode 24 Transcript

Welcome to the Genealogy News from Geneatopia

I’m Patty Roy, also known as Dinah Larkham in Second Life

Today is Sunday, February 9, 2014 and this is Episode 24
The RootsTech conference was held February 6 – 8 in Salt Lake City

The day before the conference on February 5th was the Innovator Summit.

The keynote speaker for the innovator Summit was Chris Darcy from BMC Software. He wears sensors that provide data about his current state of being. He’s always monitoring himself. He even had his entire genome sequenced and monitors changes in his DNA to make adjustments in his lifestyle.

His presentation was called “Facebook for the Dead.” Today people will live beyond their death. Darcy records his vital information on a Google calendar that will be accessible long after he dies. He urges everyone to think about what data will remain after they are gone and to look into the terms of service for the companies we use for social networking.

There are resources that you can use to preserve the past such as eterni.me so you can be remembered forever. The description for the web site states:

A team of engineers, designers and business people at MIT EDP tries to defeat death by preserving your memories into an intelligent avatar that can interact with your close ones after you pass away.
Another thing from the Innovator Summit is from FindMyPast. They are interested in looking to partner with other tech organizations to provide a developer platform for access to information held in their databases. They are continually evaluating how to use the data.


No on to the conference.

This was the fourth annual RootsTech.

It started out with a keynote from Dennis Brimhall, the CEO of FamilySearch International. He mentioned there are people at the conference from 32 countries with 150,000 people joining online. There are 622 live locations, family history fairs, genealogy societies, and Family History Centers being held as locations for watching the conference. Last year there were only 16 locations.

He said there are new memory tools for putting photos and memories online. It’s a social network to bring families together like a “Facebook for the dead.”

Next, he talked about FamilySearch.

Many people don’t have Internet access so FamilySearch has put together a book called My Family to write down stories and insert photos. 1.7 million copies in 21 languages have been printed. Later on someone can go online to enter the information.

You will be able to enter information into FamilySearch using a cell phone, not a smart phone. FamilySearch will build a texting app so people with those types of phones can create their family tree.

Jack Starling, a pirate who goes by the name Captain Jack, joined Dennis Brimhall on the stage. He announced, “Dead men tell no tales but their obituaries do.” Obituaries are locked away like pirate treasure. Everyone can help unlock the treasure trove of family information found in obituaries by indexing. There will be millions of obituaries on FamilySearch.org that will need indexing.

FamilySearch has signed agreements with some unspecified databases to publish searchable obituaries with more to come. FamilySearch needs indexers to make this information easily accessible. This is their project for this year that they would like indexers to focus on it.

Last year one billion records were indexed by volunteers. Although that’s impressive, all the records are not close to being indexed. FamilySearch is fighting against time, floods, and neglect to digitize the records. Preserving all these records could take 300 years the way things are being done now. Partnerships are very important to FamilySearch to decrease the time it takes to digitize records. Hopefully it will take 20 to 30 years to get all records online with partnerships.

An example of getting thing done faster is the partnership with the National Civil Registration in Guatemala. They are providing the camera crews to digitize the birth, marriage, and death records. FamilySearch will host and index the records. Each organization could not get the records online alone. This is why partnerships are important to FamilySearch.

Everyone needs to be involved to get all these records online. FamilySearch is doing this with partners. Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage. There are over 30 certified partners such as Ancestral Quest, Legacy Family Tree, and RootsMagic and over 100 developers

He demonstrated Family Map, it shows a map with pins representing where your ancestors lived. You can click on a pin to see information about that ancestor.

Next he demonstrated Puzzilla, which shows the descendency of someone, showing where it stops and where more records are needed to fill in the branches. Now you know what needs to be worked on.


Joshua Taylor from FindMyPast.com and the FGS president presented the keynote speaker Analiese van den Belt, his boss. She is the CEO of D. C. Thompson Family History which is the company that owns FindMyPast as while as some other genealogy related web sites.

Before Joshua Taylor left the stage he mentioned next year’s RootsTech will be a combination of RootsTech and the FGS Conference and it will be held in Salt Lake Feb. 11 – 15, 2015

Analiese van den Belt believes the genealogy industry is growing and more people are becoming involved with genealogy. Digital makes it easier to find what we’re looking for and share it with more people who share our interest.

Analiese met someone in Scotland whose mother had Alzheimer’s and that woman realized the only way to communicate with her mother was to drive around Scotland and look for her mother’s ancestors

Next the talk was about what needs to be done. Historical records are the backbone of the genealogy industry and they create the stories. Records need to be taken to the consumer. These records can come alive with pictures. More content such as newspaper articles is needed to tell stories.

Mobile is growing and FindMyPast is launching 3 new apps. Very soon they will be launching an API for developers so more programs can be written to access records at FindMyPast.

Partnerships are important; one company can’t do it alone.

FindMyPast has partnered with the British Library and with Enclann has largest irish collection

FindMyPast helps to digitize records with FamilySearch.

Another partnership is with Imperial War Museum (digital memorial for First World War) and that is about user participation. The project will digitize and present 8 million people who were involved in the war. Users contribute souvenirs so they’re loved ones won’t be forgotten.

The Imperial War Museum brings together libraries, archives and personal stories in one place. They need help to link all the documents together and add more to each life story.

The next keynote was Ree Drummond who is known as the Pioneer Woman. She has a cooking show on the Food Network, has written many cookbooks and children’s books and has a blog where she posts recipes and pictures. She spoke about her husband’s family and the book she was given about the family history when she first got married.

She encouraged everyone to use blogging as a journal and to save pictures. You never know where it will take you. Ree started out blogging and look where it took her.


Keynote Day 2

Judy Russell talked about oral history and how it needs to be preserved for genealogists. Using 5 steps of the genealogical proof standard you can prove the stories passed down. Oral family histories can be lost within three generations.

Stories are purposely and accurately handed down and we must verify and document to pass on to generations after us. Also we need include our own stories.

Next Ori Soen, Chief Marketing Officer at MyHeritage took the stage. He mentioned that they have added 2 billion historical records as a result of their partnership with FamilySerch. He introduced Dr. Spencer Wells from The Genographic Project.

Dr. Wells talked about that with DNA we can trace the present back into the past. Maps can be created to show our origins and the pattern of settlement for the human population that started in Africa.

The Genogrpahic Project is also working on supporting indigenous people who are loosing their culture.


The first keynote for day 3 was Todd Hansen from the TV program Story Trek, which airs on BYU and you can watch it online at BYUtv.org. The show is a reality TV show that presents stories from every day people. Everyone has a story to tell and you should be telling yours by taking pictures and videos of your life.

The second keynote for day 3 brought tears to many people It was presented by Stephanie Nielson. She was in a plane crash where over 80% of her body was burned. During her recovery she started a blog and wrote a book about it that is called “Heaven Is Here.”


The conference is a place for announcements. An announcement already mentioned is the new obituary collection that FamilySearch would like indexers to concentrate on.

Another big announcement was the free access LDS members will have to Ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and MyHeritage from their own homes. Non LDS members can go to a Family History Center to access these commercial sites for free. MyHeritage will be free sometime later in 2014. LDS members will be contacted by email to sign up for the free access. This is as a result of the partnerships FamilySearch has with these companies.

FamilySearch announced the winner of the RootsTech 2014 Developer Challenge and that was Saving Memories Forever. Its an app for iOS and Android devices that lets you record stories that get passed down in families and new stories. The stories are stored at the SavingMemoriesForever.com web site so you can share them with friends and family on the web site.

The prize was $2,000 cash and a Dell laptop computer as well as recognition at the conference.

The second place winner was Find-A-Record. Find-A-Record lets you search for record collections. You enter a place and date to search for available record collections. Currently they have indexed collections at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.

Third place winner was PhotoFaceMatch. PhotoFaceMatch uses facial recognition technology to determine the name of a person in a photograph. You need a photograph that you know who it is and the software uses that photograph to determine if the person can be found in other photographs.


PERSI is now available at FindMyPast with a new interface. You need to subscribe to FindMyPast to use the updated PERSI. There is an older version of PERSI at HeritageQuest which you may be able to access from home if your public library subscribes to it.

PERSI, the PERiodical Source Index, is a subject index for genealogy and local history periodicals located at the Allen County Pubic Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It’s a great resource for genealogists. You can search the index to find articles. Then you can find a library where the article is located or request a copy from the Allen County library for a small fee.

With the new PERSI you can search by name, place, or keyword and each search result links to a bibliographic reference that links to WorldCat so you can see where the periodical is located and request a copy.

Curt Witcher, the Genealogy Center Manager at Allen County Public Library, estimates that by NOT using PERSI you are missing 1/3 of the available material.

FindMyPast announced an app for the iPhone called Capture. The Capture app allows FindMyPast subscribers to record audio, upload photos, and store notes. Audio can be used to record relatives as they tell stories about their lives. You can create, sync, and update media from where ever you are. You can write and add notes to your family tree anytime from anywhere.


RootsMagic has released its app for Android. The app is identical to the iOS version that was previously released. If you don’t use RootsMagic, you can download the free version of the desktop program and convert your data to use with the app. You can find the app on the Google Play store and the Amazon appstore.


Some other new things –

Rootspoint is a social networking program to draw people into a conversation about their relatives who are found in the U.S. 1940 census. They have other searchable collections such as censuses from the UK and some other collections.

AncestorCloud was at the conference. They have a new service where you store all you documents and photos in the cloud. You let certain people access certain documents that you have placed at AncestorCloud. You can connect with other genealogists and see what they’re sharing. It’s a genealogy social network. The beta site should be ready in a few weeks for people to try.

MagiCensus Deluxe version 4 was released and it’s now FamilySearch certified. This is software that runs on Windows. With it you can extract census data using the forms in the program. Once entered you can track a family using the census. The new release contains over 160 census forms from 15 countries. The program costs $49.99.

StoryLava is an online platform where you can record stories on storyboards and upload photos to share with family. It lets you organize your life story on an interactive storyboard. The new release has interactive storyboards that give context to the stories with timelines, geographic mapping and online collaboration. There is a free version and the Pro version is $29.99 per year.

Next is a scoop maybe, I couldn’t confirm it but on Twitter there were some who tweeted than AncestryDNA will be getting a chromosome browser. This will allow you to compare your DNA matches with others and see the amount of DNA you share with someone else.

If you missed RootsTech, you can find the keynotes and streamed sessions at RootsTech.org and you can find video highlights and interviews from FamilySearch at their YouTube page.

If you want to visually see all the tweets posted on Twitter for RoostTech go to Caroline Pointer’s Rebel Mouse page at rebelmouse.com/rootstech

If you want to read more about it, I’ll have some links in the show notes and Randy Seaver has links to all blog post about RootsTech at his blog in a posting titled RootsTech 2014 Genealogy Blog Compendium. And I’ll have a link to that blog post.

And that’s it for this episode

If you use Flipboard on your phone or tablet, be sure to check out the Geneatopia magazine by searching for genealogy or Geneatopia in Flipboard.

You can send email to geneatopia@gmail.com

You can find links to things mentioned in this show in the show notes at Geneatopia.com. This is episode 24.
Thanks for listening


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