thegenealogygirl


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RootsTech 2019 Ambassador Right Here!

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Earlier this year I was invited to serve as a RootsTech Ambassador for the 2019 RootsTech conference.  Hooray!  I’m so looking forward to this cool experience.

Among other things, I will have the opportunity to host a giveaway, right here on my blog, for a free RootsTech pass.  I love that!  One of my readers will get to experience the joys of RootsTech.

For those of you who have never attended, I invite you to check out the recorded sessions from RootsTech 2018 and see what you think.  Maybe RootsTech is for you!  There is seriously something for everyone there.

 

 

Happy Monday, I hope it’s a week filled with genealogy celebration for each of you!  xoxo

 


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My Top Ten RootsTech 2018 Moments

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Me, RootsTech 2018, posing with my Photo+Story submission

Wow!  Last week was a blur of genealogy goodness at RootsTech.  There were so many awesome moments.  If you were not at RootsTech, but want to enjoy some of the awesomeness, you can view the general sessions and many of the classes for free here.

I made notes of so many fantastic quotes during the general sessions.  I will share those slowly over time.  My favorite keynote address was Scott Hamilton.  His love and respect for his mother was so moving.

One of the main reasons to attend RootsTech is for the classes.  They were great.  Lots of choices about lots of topics.  There was definitely something for everyone.

I loved being there all week long with one of my favorite friends, Catrina.  That definitely made the week the best RootsTech yet.  Even though we were together every day, we failed to take a picture together.  Does anyone else have that problem?  Haha.

Aside from hanging with my pal, there were lots of other amazing moments, here’s a quick recap of my RootsTech Top Ten:

 

10 – I spent a lot more time in the Expo hall this year.  There were so many cool sales, coupons, products, and demos.  I could have happily spent a small fortune for sure!

 

9 – The DNA sales were fantastic!  Living DNA was $49, 23 & Me was $99 for the autosomal + health, Ancestry was $59, and FTDNA was $59 for atDNA and $139 for YDNA.  I may or may not have purchased 7 tests from 4 different vendors…

 

8 – On Wednesday evening I stopped by the Larsen Digital booth and shared with them the short video of Grandpa Costello they digitized for me last year.  I thanked them for helping me discover and preserve this special treasure.  The darling woman running the booth said, “Can you say that again and let me record you?”  I laughed and then agreed.  There really is nothing like being asked to record a video on the spot to promote something.  Of course, watching it after the fact, I realized I am basically a super happy genealogy cartoon character.  😂  Here it is:

 

 

7 – On Friday I attended the BYU Sponsored Lunch.  I ended up sitting next to the head of the BYU Family History department and the Deputy Chief Genealogist for FamilySearch.  Very cool experience!  Next year I will definitely attend another sponsored lunch or two.

 

6 – I skipped class on Friday morning and wandered the Expo hall in relative quiet.  I met Johanne Gervais at the Québec Genealogical Society booth and learned about some awesome resources available to society members.  She also looked at two curious records for me and shared some insight.  I was delighted when she said she hadn’t seen a record quite like that before.  It’s always nice to know that a record you find curious is just as curious as you thought.  😉

 

5 – During my Friday morning Expo hall wanderings, I joined NGS and learned about a few opportunities from the wonderful ladies running the booth.  This was definitely a good thing for me!

 

4 – My first year at RootsTech I met Kit.  We chose a lot of the same classes and both love the front row so we kept sitting by each other.  By the afternoon of the first or second day, I had shared a snack with her and we have been pals ever since.  Kit and her friend Karen travel to RootsTech together each year.  This year Kit and Karen met Grace on the flight to SLC and so our circle of friends grew.  On Friday evening, Kit, Grace and I enjoyed a lovely, long dinner that was super fun!

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Thursday morning – me, Kit, and Grace (who I didn’t realize was in the shot until later, I should have gotten her in closer and with a smile ;))

 

3 – Meeting Diahan Southard on Thursday at her booth.  I thanked her for helping me smash a brick wall and she said, “Can you say that again and let my assistant record you?”  So on Friday, I met Diahan at her booth and we recorded a video together.  Twice in two days!!  What are the odds?  I quit thanking strangers for helping me with my genealogy after that.  😂  But it was a super fun experience!

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Diahan Southard & I on Friday after recording a video together.

 

2 – Finding a VERY important land deed at the FHL on Saturday for a (sort of) end-of-line ancestor that helps tighten up his timeline!  🎉

 

And finally… my top moment at RootsTech 2018 was…

 

 

1 – My Photo+Story Submission won 3rd place!  New Canon Rebel DSLR camera for me!  🎉

 

 

 

Thank you, FamilySearch and RootsTech for a great week of genealogy goodness, learning, friendship, and connections!

xoxo

 

 

 

 

Thinking about RootsTech for next year?  The dates are – February 27-March 2, 2019.  I hope to see you there!

 

 


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RootsTech 2018 – THIS WEEK!

It’s going to be a busy and awesome week for me at RootsTech!  I’m looking forward to a week of genealogy goodness, learning, and research at the Family History Library.

If you can’t be at RootsTech but want some RootsTech goodness, you can watch the live stream sessions from home.  Here is the streaming schedule.

Or, you can check out the recorded sessions from RootsTech 2017 here.

Or, check in with me here and on twitter – @genealogygirl_ – as I share a few things throughout the week.

 

Happy Monday, I hope you learn some amazing new genealogy tidbits this week!

 

xoxo

 


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Preparing for RootsTech 2018 – A Few Tips

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RootsTech 2018 is coming right up.

 

I will be attending once again this year and I can’t wait!  Many of my plans are taken care of, but I’m still working on the two most important items:

1 – Selecting classes to attend and printing the handouts.

2 – Making my FHL research plan for my free time.

Let’s talk a little bit about those two very important items.

 

Class Choice & Handouts

It’s important to carefully look over the RootsTech schedule, you can find it here.  The RootsTech app allows you to create an electronic schedule of classes.  If that works for you, great!

I use the app, but I also make a detailed paper schedule for each day of the week.  Why?

There are so many reasons.  My perspective changes throughout the week.  Sometimes I attend a class that is so incredible, I decide I want to go to every class taught by that teacher during the rest of the week.  And, unfortunately, the opposite has happened.  I attend a class taught by someone and decide to skip any other classes taught by that person.  Sometimes a class is full by the time you get there and you need a backup plan.  And then sometimes a presenter isn’t able to be there for one reason or another, and once again, you need a backup plan.  Sometimes I have selected more than one class on a specific topic, but the first one I attended was so detailed that I decided to change my later plans and learn about another topic of interest to me.  There are lots of reasons you might decide to change your schedule during the week.

I try to choose three classes I am interested in for each session.  I make myself a schedule in Google docs.  I rank my three choices as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice.  Sometimes I add a note to remind myself of what I hope to learn from a specific class, like – “maybe I can learn some tricks that will help me track down John Costello’s immigration records?”  I include all relevant data in my document – classroom, teacher, class title and description, etc.  Here is a sample page from my schedule for last year:

RootsTech 2017 schedule

Notice that I even added information about streaming sessions and times when the class is being offered again during the week.  Those are important factors to consider.

I spend time making my schedule really user-friendly for me.  I print out my schedule for each day, staple it together and then this is the part that works especially well for me – I use a different colored folder for each day.  I use a few large paperclips to paperclip the schedule to the front of the folder.  And then on the inside, I have ALL of the handouts for each of my class choices – 1st-3rd.  I write on them so that I know which handout is for which class.  The handouts are paperclipped together by session, with the first choice class in the front of the stack.

Seems excessive right?

Well, there is plenty of downtime in between classes and while you wait for the general session to start.  I try to always be one class ahead on my final decision.  What does that mean?

Well, while I wait for the general session to start, I look over my three choices for the class after the general session.  I skim the handouts, finalize my decision, make any necessary adjustments to my backup plan (like switching my 2nd and 3rd choices), and then look at the map so I know where I am going after the general session ends.  While I wait for the first class to start, I go through the same process to prepare for the next session.

I love having the printed handout to write on, but I also bring a notebook in case I want to write more than will fit on the handout.

I add one more very important list to my schedule – a list of exhibit hall goals.  That might include things like purchasing DNA kits, getting coupons from specific vendors, meeting someone at their booth, purchasing some specific books, or learning about a new tool, group, or tech item.  Having a list of exhibit hall goals that is printed is really helpful for me so that I don’t forget anything.

 

FHL Research Plan

One of the best parts of being at RootsTech is the opportunity to do some research at the Family History Library.  It’s really important to have a plan for that research time.  And a backup plan, and a second backup plan, and even a third backup plan…

Last year, my top priority was getting a long list of South African probate files.  I had a detailed list of film numbers and reference numbers to help me locate the items quickly.  I had double-checked and finalized that list on Monday.  On Wednesday I was in the library going through those microfilms.  When I got to the 6th probate file, I had some trouble locating the file on the microfilm and went into the FamilySearch catalog to make sure I hadn’t written the microfilm number down incorrectly.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that all 400+ microfilm in that collection were suddenly online and viewable from home when just on Monday they were not!  Thankfully, I had several backup plans and quickly shifted gears.

Just like I like having a physical, printed schedule for each day of RootsTech, I like to have a physical, printed research plan so that I can have it in my hand as I wander the library looking for things.  It’s much easier for me to glance at a piece of paper and make notes on that, check things off, etc, than to have to keep pulling up a list on my phone or on the computers.

I have lots of work to do to get my class schedule and research plan prepared, but it will be so worth it!  The more time I spend preparing, the more I learn during the sessions, and the more I find in the library.  Preparation makes the week even better.

Are you attending RootsTech?  If so, do you have any favorite tips to share?  Happy Monday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery today!

 

 


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Book, Book, & Book – Plus a Wee Glimpse of a Tale of Using Indirect Evidence

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I have loved books for as long as I can remember.  I probably even loved them before that.  When I was a teenager there was a certain book I checked out from the library several times.  I loved it so much that I asked my mom if I could say that I “lost it” and pay the lost book fee so I could keep it.  I was only joking.  Mostly.  You see, it was out of print and I really wanted my own copy.

That is definitely not the only time I have longed for an out of print book.

A few years ago I solved a long-standing brick wall using indirect evidence.  It was a lot of work.  I was nervous to call my conclusion solid.  The whole concept of indirect evidence was new to me.  I didn’t even know that phrase until well after I had drawn my conclusions.

Then I took an excellent class taught by Tom Jones at RootsTech in 2016 and realized I was, in fact, solid.  I had already done the very things he was teaching us, but I was uncertain until I watched him masterfully lay out how to use direct, indirect, and negative evidence.

But before taking that class and learning the phrase “indirect evidence”, I was scouring the web searching for more information to help solidify my conclusions.  I came across the book pictured above – Reminiscences of My Life and Times by, Telesphore Brouillette.

I could find it in only one location in the world – The University of Washington.

Telesphore was the brother of my previous brick wall.  I wanted desperately to get my hands on that book and see if my conclusions were correct.  Would he mention his sister in that 183 page volume and confirm my conclusions?

So onto the genealogy to-do list that book went.  I tried getting inter-library loan privileges, I considered asking my brother to go visit the library (but there is noooooo way he would scan all 183 pages for me), and I thought about going to Seattle myself and scanning away.

But I was definitely more thought than action on this to-do list item.  There were just other projects that were simpler to tackle.

Can any of you relate to that?  😉

Well, this past summer I connected with a newly found cousin, Margaret.  Margaret happens to own a copy of that prized book.  She generously offered to loan it to me to scan.  It arrived on Friday!

❤️  ❤️  ❤️

Can you feel my pure genealogy joy pouring off your screen right now?  Because it is like the mighty Mississippi in both volume and current – lots and lots of joy!

So now I will interrupt my current and equally joyful scanning project (My Grandpa’s journals from his LDS mission to New Zealand in the late 1940s with a recap of his time in the Marine Corps during WWII) so that I can scan and return this precious book to Margaret.

Who needs chocolate when you can have rare books?

Thank you, Margaret!

 

 

Now for a very quick bit about two additional books written by dear genealogy friends.

Last Wednesday I completed reading Kin Types by, Luanne Castle.

kin types

Oh!  Be still my heart and soul.  This slim, but powerfully moving chapbook (44 pages) of poetry, prose, and flash non-fiction is the perfect read for anyone who loves language, history, and genealogy.  You will be drawn into so many different compelling events in Luanne’s family tree.  Please read it and tell your friends about it.  You will love it!

I know exactly who needs to receive a copy of this book from me for Christmas.

Read Luanne’s own words describing the project here, and purchase this lovely book here.

 

In June, I finished reading Pacific Street by, Amy Cohen.

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Why haven’t I told you all about this book sooner?  Life, I suppose.  😉  Amy has created a beautiful historical fiction account of her own grandparent’s early lives.  It is lovely, moving, and so eye-opening.  Amy brings to life the experience of first-generation immigrants in America, of the challenging process for families to save and work to slowly bring everyone safely to America, and the persecution Jewish families have experienced pre-WWII.  It was especially meaningful to me to know that she wove this story using facts.  It felt like being invited into Amy’s home to listen to her tell you all about her Grandparents youth and how they met and I loved every minute of the tale.

You can read Amy’s own words about the project here, and you can purchase her wonderful novel here.

 

 

Ahhhh, books.  My love for you just never ends.  ❤️

 

 

Do you love books like you love air?  What is your favorite?

 

 

ps – Nobody take away my chocolate, please.  I may have been exaggerating a tiny bit about rare books replacing chocolate.  😉

 


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A Special Christmas Gift & the Lesson FamilySearch Taught Me

A Special Christmas Gift

Every year for Christmas I try to give my parents and siblings a meaningful family history gift.  Sometimes it’s simple, sometimes it’s not.  What it always is, is a work of the heart.

This past Christmas, the gift was fairly simple, but definitely meaningful.  And because it was created based on a family treasure found in my grandmother’s archives, I gave this particular gift to my children, my parents and siblings, my uncles and cousins, and my grandmother’s only living sibling.

So what was this special token of our shared heritage?

A slim, 23 page book.

The first 15 pages were a carefully scanned copy of a handwritten personal history recorded by my 2nd great grandmother Susan Kaziah Davis.

Susan is my Grandma’s Grandma.  Susan was born in 1850 in Bath, Somerset, England to Edward George Davis and Sarah Esther Mudd.  Edward and Sarah had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1849.  They continued to live in England for several years.  After Edward’s death in 1863, Sarah and the children worked hard to earn enough money for passage to America and the journey to Utah.  They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on the 3rd of September, 1868, having travelled by wagon train.  This makes Sarah, Susan, and the other children Mormon Pioneers.

At the age of 65, Susan wrote a 15 page personal history.  Later, Susan and her son Claude, my great grandfather, used this handwritten history to write a more complete history of Susan’s life.

The original 15 pages are handwritten by Susan in her beautiful penmanship.  I have that original handwritten history and wanted my whole family to be able to enjoy it.

I used a local printshop that I trust to create the scan.  They scanned it in black and white and printed it on a creamy colored cardstock that was similar to the color of the original paper.  I created 8 additional pages that were added after the history.  The print shop printed them up and bound them with a small spiral binding at the top.  Here is one of the books.

Susan Kaziah Davis book

I tried to keep it almost as simple as I found it.  I added my extra pages after Susan’s own writing.  I wanted my family to be able to discover her life from her own writing, just like I had, when I found this treasure.

In the 8 additional pages, I included a letter from me, a few photos of Susan (reprints of scans), a photo of Susan’s mother Sarah, a lovely family group sheet for Susan, her husband and children, and one for Sarah, Edward and their children.  I also created a relationship chart so that each recipient would know how they are related to Susan.  Here are the 8 pages, in the order found in the book, with names of living people edited out except for mine.

I was very happy with this small gift I was able to share with my family.

The next step for me was a more permanent preservation effort for the handwritten history.

I instantly thought of the free FamilySearch book scanning service at RootsTech.  I had used this service at RootsTech in 2016 and was very happy with the quality of the scan.  The item I scanned that year was a Family Record book kept by Susan’s husband Frederick William Ellis.  Here are two sample pages from that scan:

The book can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog here.  The actual images of the book can be found here.

The scans turned out great!  I was very pleased and thought this was a great way to preserve something for my extended family with little work on my part.  The book is 86 pages long and while I certainly could have scanned them, this saved me lots of time.

Because of my previous experience with the FamilySearch Book Scanning service at RootsTech, I decided Susan’s handwritten history would be one of two books I had scanned at RootsTech 2017.

When I picked up my precious manuscript from the book scanning booth I very nearly walked over to a different booth that accepts donations of family items about early Mormon Pioneers.  I almost donated this small history so it could be preserved and available for all of Susan’s descendants to view in person at the Church History Library.  I had already recreated a physical copy for my family.  I had already had a nice scan created by FamilySearch.  Donating it would ensure it’s preservation.  But some nagging feeling caused me to keep on walking.

After I returned home from RootsTech, I checked for my book to show up in the catalog several times.  Eventually I quit checking and forgot about it until last week when I checked again.  I was very puzzled when I couldn’t find it.  I tried a bunch of tricks and I just wasn’t tracking it down.  So I got extra creative and finally – there it was.  The catalog name isn’t the best – A Brief sketch of the Life & Happenings of Susean (Susan) K. Ellis.  The catalog entry can be found here.  And the images of the scans can be found here.

Here is the first page from that scan:

FS scan of SKD history

I was sooooo disappointed in this scan!  They scanned it in black and white.  And at a low resolution.

Can I just say how glad I am that I did not donate Susan’s precious manuscript?!

After discovering this huge disappointment, I decided to scan the small treasure myself last week.  I used a flatbed scanner and scanned each page at a very high resolution and saved them as a .tiff file.

Here is the first page at about one fourth the size of my scan and saved as a .jpeg.  It looks so much better than the FS scan!

SKD history page 1

So what is the lesson?

 

I don’t know why I experienced such drastic quality differences with the FamilySearch Book Scanning service, but I did.  In the future, I will not waste my time having them scan something so small.  And I will definitely NEVER assume their scan has me covered and donate an item before making sure the scan is the quality I expect.

FamilySearch has earned my trust time and again.  I almost let that well deserved trust cause me to donate an item before it had been properly scanned.  I would have been heartbroken at my unnecessary loss.

I still trust FamilySearch and love their generous, inclusive, and vast efforts to help all people learn about their family’s history.

But I have now learned that my trust has a very important limit.  Everything I consider donating will be properly scanned and saved to various locations before I even talk about making that donation.

 

 

Have you ever used the FamilySearch Book Scanning service?  If so, what was your experience like?

 

Do you like to give family history gifts to your family?  If so, what types of gifts have you given?

 

 

Happy Monday, I hope you are able to properly preserve and share a family treasure very soon!

 

 

ps – I will post my scans and a transcription of Susan’s history in an upcoming post for my extended family to find and enjoy.

 


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RootsTech Videos & A Question

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If you missed RootsTech, you can still soak up some RootsTech goodness!  Below are links to the recorded sessions available on the RootsTech website.  I’m so sad to say that the LeVar Burton session isn’t included.  It was excellent.  Here is a brief recap article.

I am also delighted to say that they still have the 2016 RootsTech videos available.  They don’t normally do that so I’m not sure how long they will be there.  There are several that are worth watching.

And now for my question…

I purchased a few DNA kits while at RootsTech, a few from ancestry and a few from FamilyTreeDNA.  For those of you who have purchased an ancestry DNA kit for a family member, did you activate the kit before you gave it to them?  Is that the only way I am the steward of the account?  That seems logical to me but I’m hoping for a little input from those of you with experience.

 

Happy Wednesday, I hope you make a delightful genealogy discovery today!