Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, October 28, 2022

How to prepare to attend RootsTech 2023 in person

Yes, 2023 registration is now open. There are two ways to attend the conference; in person or online. In person registration is a flat $98 for the three days. There are no special discounts. The three-day, in-person experience is $98. It includes access to the virtual option, and:

  • 180-plus in-person class sessions with Q&As
  • In-person research help at the Family History Library
  • Hands-on sponsor demonstrations in the expo hall
  • Connection with friends and cousins in person
  • Meal options and refreshments

Access to the expo hall in Salt Lake City is free and will include more than 200 exhibitors, product demonstrations and interactions with research specialists.

The online experience will be free. The free online event features:

  • 200-plus new on-demand class sessions and classes
  • Main stage presentations and keynote speakers
  • Chat support and online research consultations
  • Connection with cousins using Relatives at RootsTech and messaging
  • Virtual expo hall

RootsTech 2023 will be held March 2nd to the 4th, 2023 at the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. 

If you are coming to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend the conference for the first time, you need to know that reservations for hotel rooms are already filling up to capacity near to the Salt Palace. Although RootsTech 2023 is in March, it can be cold and windy in Salt Lake City. You should prepare for the chilly weather and as they often say, wear layers. The Salt Palace is not the largest such even center in the country, but you should prepare for a lot of walking. You may want to bring a shoulder bag or small backpack for essentials. 

Also, parking in downtown Salt Lake City is somewhat complicated and can be fairly expensive. There is some parking at the Salt Palace itself, but you will need to get there early to avoid a long line. The is reasonably priced parking but you will end up walking quite a distance to the Salt Palace. 

The FamilySearch Family History Library looks like it is close to the Salt Palace, but it is still a considerable walk from the classes and exhibit area. Salt Lake City has the largest blocks in the West so two blocks is quite a walk. 

I definitely think it is worth the effort to come to a live RootsTech. So, I hope to see you there. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Do you know the names of your grandparents? Your great-grandparents?


An unsurprising poll from indicates the following:
LEHI, Utah -- March 30, 2022 – Today, a new survey from Ancestry®, the leader in family history, found more than half (53%) of Americans can’t name all four grandparents – demonstrating a knowledge gap in key information about more recent family history. Released every 10 years, census records are one of the most valuable ways people can learn about their family’s past, as they provide rich insights into what an ancestor’s life was like at the time. 

Granted this is old news but my own experience confirms this finding and has for many years. My wife and I are grandparents to 34 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They are scattered all over the country and around the world. Other than Zoom meetings, very few of them have any regular direct contact with either of us. Despite our intense interest in genealogy, I am sure that half or more of them would be hard pressed to remember my wife's or my full names as well as the names of their other pair of grandparents. As an editorial comment, if you read the article from, the survey was merely part of an ad campaign for the release of the 1950 U.S. Federal Census. By the way, the census does not always get names correctly recorded and rarely includes the full name of the people surveyed so the census is not much help in knowing anyone's full name. 

I never knew my paternal grandparents. Both of them died before I was born. My maternal grandfather died when I was a teenager and my last remaining grandmother died when I was still quite young and spent her last years with dementia in a care center. It is estimated that about 83% of the U.S. population live in large cites compared to about 64% in 1950. (See U.S. Cities Factsheet). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2022, more than half of the population of the United States is now composed of single adults. (See Unmarried and Single Americans Week: September 18-24, 2022). However, it is interesting that about 16% of the U.S. population lives in a multigenerational family situation, mainly due to economic considerations. (See 3-Generation Families) We live in a neighborhood with large houses, and it is common for the houses to have a separate basement apartment. Due to the economy, it is the rule rather than the exception that we have two or more families living in the same house. But we also have houses occupied solely by one or two single adults. 

Going forward, all these statistics will have a major impact on how genealogy is recorded and analyzed in the future. Another statistic indicates that about 40% of the children born in the United States were born out of wedlock. As a genealogist, I am fully aware of the difficulty of documenting the parentage of people in this category. In recent years, DNA has helped many discover their birth parents, but many others are not able to do so. 

As I have written in the past, genealogists commonly claim that there is a huge interest worldwide in searching out family history or ancestry. It is true that millions of people have taken genealogical DNA tests with the major companies, but very few of these people have taken the next step by discovering who they are related to by researching a family tree. Even those who would seem to have a natural interest due to culture or religion are not aware of their family roots. 

All this means that genealogists have an increasingly greater burden to preserve all the family history we can as fast as we can. Fortunately, we have the online, electronic tools to do so. Stay tuned for more comments about the future of genealogy. 

Could the FamilySearch Family Tree survive a concerted, intentional attack?


The Family Tree is a wiki-based, open, collaborative family tree. By virtue of its design any registered user can add family history information, correct, or change existing information, add source citations, and variety of memories. Much of the controversy about the Family Tree is based on the issue of changes made to existing information. Over time, the Family Tree program has become a valuable, relatively easy to use, and functional venue for genealogical data but problems arise when the information is entered by users with a variety of genealogical experience levels and also with some of the ways the program handles changes to existing information. 

One reason for employing a wiki-based format for the Family Tree was to provide an open access way of entering new entries and correcting existing entries. However, from the very beginning, one major issue was the issue of ownership of genealogical information and claims that “other users” were changing the information on “my family tree.” It has been pointed out continually by FamilySearch representatives and by others, such as me, that no one “owns” any part of the Family Tree. It is universally available to all the registered users.

Over the past few years, I have written about the issue of changes on the Family Tree many times, but the issue has now been raised to a new level of concern and it is once again necessary to write about the new threats to the integrity of the Family Tree. It is apparent that there are people out there who are using some sophisticated and intentional ways of making substantial changes to the Family Tree for the purpose of undermining and preventing its use for the ordinance work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These intentional changes are directed at the accuracy and integrity of the data and unfortunately the changes are camouflaged by exchanging information with other records. I am not going to describe the actual process. 

At this point, I need to provide a detailed analysis of the different types of changes that can and do occur in the Family Tree. 

Of course, the first major changes occur when someone adds a person to the Family Tree. The issues here are whether the person is correctly added and/or if the information about the person added is correct or complete. Because the Family Tree is an open access, collaborative website, the person who entered the incorrect or incomplete information may come back and make corrections or do the research to complete the entry. Of course, the correction or completion could also be done by some other user. This is how the Family Tree is supposed to work. In addition, because the Family Tree is intended to be source-supported, any entries or changes should be accompanied by a citation to a source where the information came from. 

If people add information without doing the basic research to support the addition, they can expect that someone else will come along and add more information or correct the information already added. The Family Tree also has a feature that allows all the users the opportunity of following the people they enter. Following a person, turns on a feature where FamilySearch will notify the user once a week about any changes made to any person they are following. I will come back to the need to follow individuals many times in this analysis. 

Adding information to the Family Tree implies that the person entering the information has made an opinion about the validity of the added information. In every instance, this information should be supported by a valid historical record that contains information consistent with the person’s conclusion. As I previously noted, because the Family Tree is intended to be source-supported, any entries or changes should be accompanied by a citation to a source where the information came from.

The need for supporting source citations brings up the next issue level, adding and changing source supported information in the Family Tree without citing a source. This is endemic and is the main source of concern by those who carefully document every change or addition they make to the Family Tree. I extensively wrote about this issue in several of my blog posts. Here is a partial list of some links. 

And many more.

Despite some who deny that GEDCOM files can be uploaded to the Family Tree, FamilySearch has allowed the data from GEDCOM files to be added with the results that a huge number of inaccurate or duplicative entries can be inserted into the Family Tree causing a great deal of work for those whose families turn out to be the targets. Additional duplicate information can sometimes be added through FamilySearch Partner Websites. 

The next level of concern involves intentional, destructive changes and additions. This is sometimes motivated by sincere beliefs but now we are seeing systematic attacks that are hard to detect and if continued will seriously undermine the integrity and usefulness of the Family Tree. This vandalism is not something that can be ignored. Correcting all these types of changes, when unsupported by valid source citations, are a tremendous time waster for those who are trying to do supported, valid work on the Family Tree. 

In Part Two of this post, I will continue my writing about the issues but will begin an analysis of the ways these unsupported and unwanted changes can be reduced or possibly eliminated. 

Friday, October 7, 2022

MyHeritage adds Sorting for Shared DNA Matches

One of the major challenges of DNA matching is discovering the common ancestor. Although taking DNA tests has been extremely popular, many of those who take a test fail to add a family tree making the discovery of a common ancestor even more difficult. The new Sorting for Shared DNA Matches from is a valuable tool for users interested in figuring out how they’re related to a specific DNA match. The new sorting functionality enables you to sort your Shared DNA Matches based on the proximity of their relationship to you or to the DNA Match you’re reviewing and gain new insights. See New: "Sorting for Shared DNA Matches"

The value of this feature increases with the difficulty you face in finding people you are related to. 

However, quoting from the blog article referenced above, 

Shared DNA Matches is a premium feature that requires a site subscription on MyHeritage (Premium, PremiumPlus, or Complete). If you uploaded your raw DNA data to MyHeritage from another service, you can pay a one-time unlock fee of $29 to access Shared DNA Matches, Ethnicity Estimates, Genetic Groups, and other advanced tools for DNA results such as the Chromosome Browser, Theory of Family Relativity™, and AutoClusters. Learn more about our subscription plans here.

Sorting is a significant step towards identifying a common ancestor. Every new innovation from MyHeritage adds real value to the website. 

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Registration for RootsTech 2023 is now open


Quoting from the announcement dated 6 October 2022:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—RootsTech, the world’s largest family history gathering, is back March 2–4, 2023, with an in-person event in Salt Lake City, Utah, to complement its massive online conference. Millions of virtual and in-person attendees will gather for inspiring keynote addresses, instructive classes, innovative technologies, and the opportunity to connect to their family—past, present, and future. Registration is now open for the 2023 event. The online event is free. The 3-day, in-person experience is $98. Register now at

You might note that there is no tiered price, it is a flat $98. There is likely not a discount for any special interest group or whatever. The online event is free to everyone. This will be an interesting experiment to see if the live event will draw big crowds if the online event is free. I suppose that those legislating for an in-person event will find out if this actually works. 

The theme for RootsTech 2023 is “Uniting.” RootsTech is all about bringing people, stories, memories, technology, innovation, communities, and ultimately—families—together.

“Families are the foundation of society,” said FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood. “Connecting and uniting families across generations strengthens individuals and nations alike. We are amazed and gratified to see the role RootsTech has been able to play in helping literally millions of individuals connect with their family, past, present, and future.”

This will be my 13th year attending RootsTech in person or virtually. I have been at all the live events except one when my wife and I were serving a mission in Annapolis, Maryland digitizing documents for FamilySearch. That year there was a live event, but I was online. 

There is a really good reason to attend in person because there will be about 200 live classes including one from me, and about 200 exhibitors in the Expo Hall. 

Hope to see you in person this next year in Salt Lake City, Utah. 


Sunday, October 2, 2022

Don't waste your opportunity to give to The Family History Guide

It's So Easy To Donate To The Family History Guide Association For Free

Did you know if you shop on Amazon you can donate to The Family History Guide Association for NO Charge to you?  That's right!  Amazon will donate .05% of your total purchase at no additional charge to you.  

Here's how it works:
  1. Go to
  2. Follow the prompts to select The Family History Guide Association as your charity
  3. Next, start shopping as usual on
  4. Amazon donates .05% of all your purchases to The Family History Guide Association
  5. There is NO COST TO YOU!!