Thursday, December 5, 2019
The Top 10 Genealogical Opportunities of 2019
Looking back over the year 2019, I thought I would post my choices for the 10 best genealogical opportunities of this year. I didn't put them in any order but I did spend some time in serious thought considering what I should list. Here I go with the list but not in any particular order:
1. The continued growth and usefulness of the FamilySearch.org Ordinances Ready app.
Granted, this program is only available to certain members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but the benefits of this program or app extend well beyond its primary purpose. If effect, the program finds areas in the FamilySearch Family Tree that need research and cleaning up. I am sure this was not the original intent of the program or app, but it turns out to be a highly efficiently was to find those areas of the Family Tree needing attention. This benefits all the users of the Family Tree. Like many tools, their ultimate usage goes beyond their original design.
I put this choice first because overall the app has had the biggest impact on the way I approach my constant research in all my family lines.
2. RootsTech Salt Lake City 2019 and RootsTech London 2019.
I loved being back in person at RootsTech 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Extending the reach of RootsTech to London seemed like a gamble. One of the most prominent England-based conferences, Who Do You Think You Are Live, had closed its doors in 2017. The attendance at the Who Do You Think You Are Live Conference was about 15,000 people and my guess is that the numbers were just not enough to cover the cost of the venue. However, with FamilySearch as the main sponsor, the RootsTech London 2019 is off to a good start with a total attendance of 9,727. See "RootsTech London 2019 in Review." Personally, I am looking forward to attending RootsTech Salt Lake City 2020 in just a few short weeks.
3. The new developments and features added to the MyHeritage.com website including, but not limited to, the new Health feature and other new features and updates to the website.
One of the big media attractions in the commercial world is the annual Apple product announcements, usually in the Fall of each year. For genealogists who are aware of what is going on in the area of technology and product development, one highlight of the RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah has been the announcements made by MyHeritage.com. In the last two years, the announcements at RootsTech have been supplemented by the MyHeritage LIVE Conferences held first in Oslo, Norway and this year, 2019, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. You can read a recap here: "MyHeritage LIVE 2019 Recap." The MyHeritage LIVE 2020 Conference will be held in Israel.
4. The impressive number of original source documents digitized during the year.
I have yet to find a way to calculate the total number of genealogically important documents that have been digitized so far in 2019, but the number is likely in the billions of records. Although the number of paper records is also growing, digital records are appearing online in millions each week. For example, the records available on one website, MyHeritage.com, regularly increase by 100 million and is presently over 10.2 billion. Numbers aren't everything, but having so many records available online has certainly decreased my personal need to travel to libraries and archives and to view microfilm.
5. The tremendous increase in online genealogical classes, webinars, and conference presentations.
Some of the major conferences, such as the MyHeritage LIVE 2019 Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and RootsTech 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah have expanded their attendance by making all or part of their conferences available online. In the case of MyHeritage, all of the MyHeritage LIVE 2019 presentations are free online on the Education.MyHeritage.com website. Another example is the Brigham Young University Family History Library's YouTube Channel. There are currently 472 free videos on a multitude of subjects available. This list could go on and on. All you have to do is do an online search for genealogy and videos or presentations.
6. The increase in genealogical research opportunities in non-genealogy specific websites.
A leader among the websites that are accumulating a huge number of genealogically important digitized documents that are not specifically identified as "genealogy" is the Internet Archive or Archive.org with over 22 million free digitized books and publications plus millions of other items. There is literally more than any one person could comprehend with all of the online resources.
7. The advances in electronic technology that facilitates genealogical research.
Having all of the digital information online is not much use to a person who is technologically challenged. I got into a conversation with a friend the other day about a lost check he had written. I suggested he get online and see if the check had cleared his bank. He replies that he did not know how to do that and in any event did not have a computer that he could use to get online. OK, so ignoring or failing to utilize the online genealogical resources is not an excuse. Don't complain to me, as some have recently to me when you are not willing to do the online work to find all these resources.
8. Free online classes from local public libraries.
I have been relearning doing online videos, particularly for The Family History Guide and a few of my own. I have been discovering the huge number of free online classes for learning the new software such as Adobe Premiere Pro and other such complicated programs available from my local public library. These online classes are high-level learning opportunities for anyone who wants to spend the time to learn. Also, don't forget the flood of information about genealogy and almost any other subject on YouTube.com.
9. The insight obtained from DNA tests.
As genealogists, we cannot ignore DNA tests. Putting aside all the privacy concerns and related issues, genealogical DNA testing is opening up a whole new avenue for accurate and verifiable discoveries. As I pointed out, there are a large number of basic to advanced classes online and many of those are about DNA and genealogy.
10. Last, but by no means, the least, is The Family History Guide itself.
The Family History Guide has been evolving steadily over the past year. Bob Taylor, one of the principal innovators keeps a running list of all the changes to the website. You can see the list of all the changes on the website at https://thefhguide.com/whats-new.html. The list is impressive. If you don't do anything else this next year, make a resolution to read and study The Family History Guide and your own genealogical knowledge will measurably increase.
Looking forward to all the opportunities of 2020.