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

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

A Brief History of RootsTech from a very personal perspective

RootsTech 2024 is coming up fast and registration is already open and I have been thinking about all the conferences of the past. started in 2011 so 2024 will be the the 14th conference. I was invited as a blogger to attend the first RootsTech conference in 2011 and I have attended every RootsTech conference since then, either in person or online, and I am scheduled to present three live classes in 2024, I am also a Media representative for the 2024 conference, along with working with The Family History Guide and anyone else who organizes a meeting or a class at the conference. 

All the details I remember of the past conferences are in my journal which I began writing in 1964 and have been writing consistently since 1973, now 50 years. Here are some memories as preserved in my journal. 


My first contact with RootsTech, as recorded in my journal, started in October, 2010 with a call from FamilySearch to come from my home in Mesa, Arizona to Salt Lake City, Utah to meet for a day. I really had no idea about why I had been called except for the fact that I wrote about FamilySearch frequently in my blog. By that time, I was also getting emails from FamilySearch about new developments, I did learn that there were "six or eight" bloggers invited to the meeting. Back then, I was actively teaching all over Arizona at genealogy seminars, classes, and other meetings. 

The meeting was held on October 22, 2010 and involved 12 bloggers and a lot of people from FamilySearch. The object of the conference turned out to be a transition from to what is now Family Tree. This was the first time I had met any of the other bloggers. By this time, I was actively working on about five different projects for FamilySearch, including the FamilySearch Research Wiki. 

Well, blogging also ended up with an invitation to attend the RootsTech 2011 Conference as an official blogger. The conference, as it is scheduled in 2024, was held in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. We had dinners, meetings, and some tours of the microfilm shipping facility (now discontinued). My journal entries for February 11, 2011 show a lot of contact with people from FamilySearch. I was most impressed with a class by Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive and had a personal interview with him. Being a blogger, gave me access to a lot of interviews and conversations with genealogy people. Later, I found out that there had been about 3000 people at the conference. 


The big news at RootTech 2012 was the 1940 U.S. Federal Census introduction. I attended the keynote sessions and wrote about them for my blog, sometimes in real time. My journal comments included, "FamilySearch set up five different interviews for me and a I talked to several more people including two men from Google who were attending the conference about their program for genealogy. I ended up talking to at least a hundred or so people over the three days." That was heyday of blogs. I taught one class. For me, being at RootsTech began to be mostly talking to people from around the world. 


As it turned out, planning for RootsTech 2013 started in 2012. By the time the conference came around, I was busy with panel presentations and classes. When I got to Utah, I spend time making appointments with people to talk to them at RootsTech. Since blogs were a big deal, a lot of people wanted to have a chance to talk to me. I had an amazing experience. Here is what I wrote in my journal with some editing for Tuesday, March 22, 2013.

During the day, we got a call from Mark Olson of and Gilad Japeth, the CEO was on his way to RootsTech when his father died. In a very surprising development, they asked me to do the Saturday Keynote Address for That was a very interesting development. They decided not to announce it until Friday. But we had to make all the arrangements and that took quite a few phone calls. It was sort of like being in the chorus backstage and having the lead get sick and suddenly becoming the star of the show. 

I spent a lot of time with the MyHeritage employees learning what I needed to know to give the keynote presentation on Saturday, the last day of the conference. Interesting, that the "official" history of RootsTech shows Gilad Japeth as the presenter. Here is my record of the presentation. 

Saturday was the big day. We got to the huge presentation area early to be ready for the Keynote. I got my microphone, and we stood around while the first speaker, David Pogue did his comedy presentation. We then went out on the stage and in a few minutes, it was all over. I had thought through what I was going to say, and it worked out pretty well. All during the day, people came up and complimented me on the presentation. MyHeritage was swamped with people signing up for their service. They were pretty happy how things went. 


As you get older, the years seem to flash by and it was time to prepare for RootsTech 2014. By this time, RootsTech was more of an opportunity to talk to people and find out what was going on with genealogy globally. RootsTech was evolving into a global presentation. I was still a blogger and got to meet with the heads of various genealogy companies such as,, and Most of my time was spent in meeting with various software and website developers and talking to people in the Exhibit Hall. I didn't usually have time to eat. The conference was growing and the numbers of people were huge in comparison to the first conferences. I was still a blogger for FamilySearch and at some point, the name changed to Ambassador. This is the year we moved from Mesa to Provo, Utah. 


This year, I added attending the BYU Family History Technology Conference to my RootsTech week. Some of my time at RootsTech was spent in the Media Hub for all the bloggers who were now invited to participate in the conference. As was usual now for RootsTech, I spent all my time talking to people and did not attend any classes. This year the conference included keynote addresses from former first lady, Laura Bush, her daughter Jenna Bush Hager, Donny Osmond, and Tan Le, a very remarkable businessperson who was a boat refugee from Vietnam. They all told extraordinary stories.

I was continually surprised that people read my blog and recognized who I was. I guess I have lived through the rise and fall of bloggers now blogging is just another advertising venue. 


By 2016, I was officially an Ambassador. I had decided not to try teaching a class at the conference because I spent so much time talking to people. As usual, the preparations for RootsTech started in 2015 and continued for months prior to the conference. By this year, I was presenting at the BYU Family History Technology Conference as well as attending RootsTech the same week. Blogging was starting to fade and my involvement with RootsTech was also evolving. Here is a summary of the conference (with some editing) from my journal.

  • I did two presentations at BYU, one for my opinion on the problems facing the genealogical community and one for The Family History Guide.
  • I met with hundreds of people and talked all day every day.
  • I met with Gilad Japhet of MyHeritage and talked to him for about four hours total over three days.
  • I met with Annalise Van Den Belt the CEO of and had a nice visit and then after telling her about how we were using Findmypast, she decided to have her video team do a short video of me explaining how I used the program which took place on Friday. 
  • I talked and talked to many people: relatives, friends from Mesa, friends from the Library, friends from Church, Blogging friends, vendors, developers and a lot more.
  • We ate no breakfasts.
  • We had lunch vouchers from FamilySearch which we used to buy lunches. We ate dinners at the parties and dinners in the evenings. 
  • I thought of about 100 blog topics.
  • We walked a lot. By my pedometer in my iPhone, we walked 4 miles on Friday.
  • I carried everything including my computer in a pack.
  • On Friday, I wore my Australia T-shirt.
  • We had a meeting in the Joseph Smith Memorial for the Area Advisers.
  • We had a nice MyHeritage party on Friday with prizes and my wife Ann won a new iPad mini.
  • I had a dinner at a Sushi restaurant called the Naked Fish with the Findmypast people.
  • I learned a lot about what is coming in software development.
  • I taught two presentations for MyHeritage and lost my voice on Wednesday.

By this time, it seemed like RootsTech preparations started earlier every year. By 2017, I was involved with the Exhibit floor booth for The Family History Guide. I was also teaching for the BYU Library Family History Center and for I was also working with genealogy software developers and helping them prepare for their presentations at the conference. With the BYU workshop and other meetings, RootsTech was turning into a solid week of talking and meeting. I talked at an Innovator Summit panel discussion. Most of the week was spent talking to people. 


This year my wife and I were serving as missionaries digitizing records at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, Maryland. I participated with RootsTech online both before and during the conference. It was a far less busy event for me. 


By August of 2018, we were already seeing information and meetings about RootsTech 2019. By this time, I was doing more than one presentation a week for the BYU Library Family History Center and for other entities, so RootsTech was just one more event in the constant online stream of events. Some weeks I was presenting as many as seven different classes. I spoke at the BYU Family History Technology Workshop and did videos for The Family History Guide. My journal entries are rather brief since my time at the conference was spent mostly talking to people. I did enjoy visits with Ron Tanner and Gilad Jephet. Later in the year, we had some representatives from The Family History Guide at the London RootsTech Conference. I was still part of RootsTech but at some point the name changed again to Influencer. 


My life had turned into a stream of classes, webinars, and videos by the time RootsTech 2020 rolled around. The week of RootsTech started out as usual by then with the BYU Family History Technology Workshop. My experience at the main RootsTech conference had evolved into a series of meetings, presentations for The Family History Guide and MyHeritage, and talking to as many people as I could get in contact with. By this time, being an Ambassador involved blogging about the conference and talking to everyone I could about every imaginable topic. I did a presentation at the Salt Lake FamilySearch Library and met with the GEDCOM people about updating the GEDCOM Standard. I was still very much involved directly with FamilySearch. But as it had evolved, I spent most of my time connecting on a world-wide basis. Little did we know at the time, we were living on the edge of a catastrophe. The COVID 19 Pandemic shut down the country just two weeks after RootsTech 2020.

2021 and 2022

The entire concept of RootsTech changed in 2021. The conference was entirely online. There were still media people involved and I took an active part in promoting the conference. See How this genealogy conference went global.

By 2022, the virtual conference was well established, and I did a number of videos. I did one on my own topic that is still online,, and many more for The Family History Guide. The online attendance at RootsTech jump into the millions. In 2022, the format of the conference moved even more world-wide and the attendance continued to increase dramatically. 


We finally got out of the COVID shutdown and had both a live and virtual conference in 2023. I did one live class that was not recorded and uploaded a six-video series again on the Great African American Migration. All six videos are online on the website and also on Here is the link to the first video in the series. After presenting at the BYU Family History Technology Workshop ( on the Monday before the RootsTech conference, my wife and I started working at the 2023 conference on Wednesday and I don't think we stopped talking or resting until the conference ended on Saturday afternoon. I also taught classes for the BYU Library Family History Center, and talked to hundreds of people. It was easily the busiest conference we have ever attended so far. 

Well, that is my part of the story of RootsTech. Obviously, there are a lot more details. I recommend attending the conference in person. It is a never to be forgotten experience. We will be back again at RootsTech 2024 and likely be as busy or busier than in any time in the past. You will see me in my live classes, and I will be wandering the Exhibit Hall as usual. I am also one of the Media Representatives, now the name of the bloggers, ambassadors and anyone online that is invited to participate. I still blog and I am posting new videos on YouTube almost every week. If you are at the live conference in 2024, stop me and say hello. 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Be aware of the genealogical Traps in the 1700s

It is enticing to jump so far back in history and begin researching your ancestors in the 1700s. This is especially true when you find, what appear to be, records that correspond to your family. The trap is that there are usually many people with the same names, even that have the same or similar children's names. Without careful and systematic research focusing on the places where the events recorded occur, you will soon have a tangled mess of unrelated people. In the Family Tree this tangle can occur as separate people view the existing records and add in people who are not related and who live far from the areas of valid genealogical focus on places. 

You may wish to look at these entries in the Family Tree as I explore some of the issues. You can find the people using their ID numbers. 

The screenshot above is an example of a situation in the Family Tree that may not have enough existing records to unravel. 

This is what is in the Family Tree about this family. 

John Austin GF3M-V26 is married to Margaret Bourne GF3M-FBF

This couple is shown with 17 children. Two of these children illustrate part of the problem.

Joseph Austin G61S-1GJ born in Tysoe, Warwickshire, England

Jonathan Austen LBJB-5H1 born in Goudhurst, Kent, England

The problem is first, that Joseph and several other of the listed children born in Tysoe are born nearly 150 miles away from Goudhurst. Their "father" John Austin GF3M-V26 is listed as born in Marden, Kent, England and his wife, Margaret Bourne GF3M-FBF is listed as born in Goudhurst, Kent, England. Marden, Tonbridge, Kent is about 5 miles from Goudhurst. The rest of these children are listed as born in either Goudhurst or Horsmonden both in Kent about 4 miles apart. It is apparent that the first child, Joseph Austin G61S-1GJ, is probably not part of this family. 

But this is just the beginning of the problems with this family. Joseph Austin G61S-1GJ has only one record attached as a source, a death record showing a death in the Canterbury Cathedral Archives. Here is a download of the record.

Here is the relevant entry.

This is not a death record from Goudhurst for Joseph Auston, it is a death record for a son, Edward, who died in 1628. This is interesting because the entry for Joseph shows he was born in 1600 and died in 1603 both in Tysoe, Warwickshire, England. 

Things get more interesting when you look at the multiple entries for Margaret Bourne GF3M-FBF and LZXP-QZG. One of these Margarets was born in Goudhurst and the other in Tenterden, Kent. There are records attached that show her name as Margaret Austin and she has three different husbands named John Austen LZYY-G7F, KCL6-3NG, GF3M-V26. The John Austins live and die in different places. Each of the three John Austins has a different list of children. 

Of course, there are a variety of records attached. Here is one example of a record.

I could easily go on and on with this one family. But bear in mind that the parents of John and Margaret are even more confused. 

Some things you might learn from this example:

1. The 1700s are not a place to play around. Only very specific and detailed research will produce accurate results. 

2. Focus on places, not names but always try to find actual records of births, marriages, and deaths before adding children.

3. Think about whether or not the mother in the family could have had 17 or more children some in the same year. 

4. If it isn't worth doing right, it isn't worth doing (actually the quote is if it is worth doing, it is worth doing right). 

Comments are accepted.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

A New Development in Family History: 

This is a new AI experience with a direct impact on relating family history. Here is a link to the introductory video.

It may not be obvious but the main point of the website is to allow users to create their own narratives from their own ancestors. Here is a screenshot showing the services offered. 

The developer website is The website indicates that they are a partner with FamilySearch.

Watch the videos and here is another immersive experience.

Right now, this only works on PCs and since I am Mac-based, I will have to figure out how to look at these links. Comments are appreciated. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Some Practical Predictions About the Future of Genealogy


Genealogy has its boat anchor in the paper-based, Western European traditions that prevent the adoption of a revised methodology that would empower researches in ways that only now becoming vaguely perceptible. If the current tidal wave of artificial intelligence is going to affect genealogy, they we must start by acknowledging that genealogy is based on information and AI is nothing more or less that a newer way to manipulate and present information. Using AI in the context of genealogy should become pervasive and automatic. 

For example, here is a list of possible family structures from Bing Chat in addition to the nuclear family, extended family, and single-parent family.

Joint Family: In many South Asian countries, such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, it is common for multiple generations of a family to live together under one roof. This arrangement often includes grandparents, parents, siblings, and their respective spouses and children.

Matrilineal Family: Some societies, such as the Minangkabau people of Indonesia, follow a matrilineal kinship system. In these families, descent and inheritance are traced through the female line, and property is often passed down from mother to daughter.

Patrilineal Family: Conversely, other cultures may follow a patrilineal kinship system, where descent and inheritance are traced through the male line. This is observed in many African societies, such as the Akan people of Ghana.

Bilateral Family: In bilateral kinship systems, such as those found in many Western societies including the United States, both the maternal and paternal sides of the family are considered equally important. Individuals maintain close relationships with relatives from both sides.

Blended Family: Blended families are formed when two individuals with children from previous relationships come together to form a new family unit. This structure is increasingly common in many parts of the world due to factors such as divorce and remarriage.

Same-Sex Parent Family: With increasing recognition of LGBTQ+ rights, same-sex parent families have become more visible and accepted in many countries. These families consist of same-sex couples raising children together through adoption, surrogacy, or other means.

Fictive Kinship: Fictive kinship refers to non-biological relationships that are considered family-like. This can include godparents, close family friends, or individuals who play significant roles in a person’s life without a blood or legal connection.

Bing. (2023, September 20). Re: Internationally, what are all the possible types and iterations of family biological, social, religious, cultural, and formal around the world? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from'

Can you think of a genealogical family tree program available today that can accamodate all of these variations? As long genealogy persists in being Western European based, any other advances will be superficial and inconsequential. As can be seen from the list below, AI will have to play a predominate role in order to move genealogy forward. 

1. DNA Testing

DNA testing has already revolutionized genealogy, allowing some individuals to trace their first few generations with unprecedented accuracy. In the future, we can expect these tests to become even more advanced and accessible. This could lead to the discovery of previously unknown familial connections and a more nuanced understanding of our genetic heritage. However, more remote ancestral relationships will continue to depend on accumulating related testing subjects. 

2. Digital Records

The digitization of records is another trend that will continue to transform genealogy. As more historical records are digitized and made available online, the issue will shift from whether or not the records you need are digitized to whether or not they are accessible. 

3. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds great promise for genealogy. AI algorithms can analyze complex data sets much faster than humans, identifying patterns or connections that might be missed by human researchers. This could help genealogists uncover hidden links and piece together family histories more efficiently. Advances in genealogy using AI will also depend on access. 

4. Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) technology could offer a new way to engage with our ancestral past. Imagine being able to “visit” your ancestral homelands or experience historical events that shaped your family’s history in an immersive VR environment. This could bring family histories to life in a way that traditional research methods cannot.

5. Privacy Concerns

As genealogy becomes increasingly reliant on personal data, privacy concerns will likely come to the forefront. There will likely be ongoing debates and legislation about privacy protection and the ethical use of genetic information. Ensuring that genealogical research respects individual privacy rights will be a key challenge moving forward.

6. Health Predictions

The intersection of genealogy and health is another area set for growth. As our understanding of genetics advances, genealogical data could be used more frequently for predicting potential health issues and personalizing healthcare.

7. Cultural Reconnection

For displaced or diasporic communities, advanced genealogy could provide a means of reconnecting with lost cultural heritage and history. By tracing their roots, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their cultural identity and heritage.

There are probably many more trends. Here is the citation to the above list. 

Bing. (2023. September 20). Write an article about Some Practical Predictions About the Future of Genealogy (Online forum comment) Retrieved from

Now some further comments about family structure. It seems to me that the real breakthrough in genealogy will occur once there is a way to show all of the possible interactions and relationships between individuals in a way that the relationships can be visualized. 

Monday, September 18, 2023

Registration is now open for RootsTech 2024

RootsTech 2024 is open for registration. Here is a link to the in-person registration page.

The price is  the same as it was last year. I have a three-part, live presentation, probably one on each day of the conference.

My topic for the three classes will be:

Each of the sessions will cover different uses of AI for genealogical research. More later when we have the actual schedule. 

Friday, September 15, 2023

FamilySearch Chat: Talking with Users in Real Time

This is an interesting blog post from the FamilySearch Blog. I don't think it is necessary for me to restate the blog but I would note that perhaps the people who developed this "new tool" and wrote the blog have a limited experience interacting with other FamilySearch Family Tree users. We frequently get written messages from people who are irate, using expletives, threatening, otherwise being rude and unreasonable. I don't really have any reason why I would want to talk to such people in real-time. I guess this does give families an alternative method of texting back and forth, but I don't see it replacing our existing text message groups on our phones or other text message programs such as Marco Polo

Speaking at RootsTech Early

You might get a surprise if you watch the video I did for on 13 September 2023. The presentation was part of an all-day live broadcast with presenters every hour. The videos are now up on the YouTube Channel. The BYU Library Family History Center also broadcast the video on the same day. It was an interesting experience and think this is the first time one of my presentations has be broadcast by FamilySearch for a long time, if ever. 

The 2024 website will open officially for registration on 18 September 2023. I will be presenting a series of three live classes at RootsTech 2024 with the title of "Using Artificial Intelligence Tools to Expand Your Genealogical Research Universe." I don't yet know if all or any one of them will be broadcast online, but meanwhile I will be writing about the impact of AI and probably will have a few videos on the subject on the BYU Library Family History YouTube Channel

If you want to start now learning about what I think about the impact of all the new AI programs and how it is changing genealogical research, see this recent video.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Announcing Heredis 2024

For many years, Heredis has been a family tree software company that helps people discover their ancestors and create family trees. The software is used by genealogy enthusiasts and professionals worldwide. The newly released, Heredis 24 is a major European-based, desktop genealogy program that runs on both Apple and PC computers. The company is based in Montpellier, in the south of France. 

In 2014 the founder of the company sold his shares to the employees, who then took over the company and became each other's partners. It is owned by a SCOP, or Participative Cooperative Society. SCOPs are a type of worker cooperative where employees become partners and make decisions together. 

I have been acquainted with Heredis and had it on my computers for years. Each year, the company has been kind to offer me a free version of the updates. It has always been innovative and a program I often suggest it to those who want control over their own desktop programs as opposed to the online websites. Heredis is a visually lovely program compared to most. It offers a free demo version that allows you to create as many family trees as you like, with up to 50 members each. To create an extensive family tree, you'll need to upgrade to the full version.

The program has over 200 features so you can spend quite some time learning about all of them. One feature of the program that might surprise you is the ability to download a huge desktop family tree from the Family Tree. I would be careful going overboard with this feature due to the time the download may take and the amount of memory it may take up on your computer. You will also find that the program incorporates LDS ordinance information where available. 

If you have been working with genealogy programs for a while, you will appreciate some of the features such as the ability to directly search many online genealogy websites with on click for each individual in your database. 

The 2024 version also includes access to input census grids to enter everything while reading the Census, create ancestors and descendants' wheels up to 12 generations and now mixed wheel, a new feature 2024, create a family chronology, another new feature in 2024, and the ability to rename your media.

The Heredis Wheel feature is a visualization tool that allows you to display both the ancestors and descendants of a primary person in a circular chart1. Here are some key aspects of this feature:

Mixed Wheel: The mixed wheel lets you display both the ancestors and descendants of the primary person.

Zoom: You can zoom in and out using the + and – buttons. You can also hold down the CTRL key (Windows) or Cmd key (Mac) on your keyboard and zoom in/out using the mouse wheel.

Color Coding: The wheel displays a different color for each Ancestor and Descendant generation. You can select the desired starting color. It also allows you to show the male/female breakdown by selecting the color for men, women, and persons of unknown gender.

Export: You can export the wheel to PDF format for printing.

This feature provides a 360° representation of your family tree, making it easier to visualize and understand your genealogical data. Here is a screenshot of a family wheel. 

I could go on and on, but I suggest looking at the website and downloading the free version to see what it can do for you. 

I might also add that the company offers a partnership to genealogy associations.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Growing Old in Genealogy


Once you get to a certain part of your life, you realize that there are no rationalizations that you are still in middle age or anything remotely resembling middle age; you are definitely old. When I started doing genealogical research about 41 years ago, I thought that everyone who did genealogy was "old." Now I realize that many of the people who are doing genealogical research are not old but there are quite a few of us who qualify for my early impression. When you get to this stage, you must admit that no excuses exist that a qualify you for any other category. 

Here are a few of symptoms of what it is like to be old and trying to do genealogical research. 

First of all, I realize that I can no longer work for 10 to 12 hours straight without a nap. There are also other physical reasons that long duration work does not happen so much any more. I also find that after working all day writing, creating presentations, answering questions, and either presenting the same presentations I create or acting as a consultant for the Salt Lake City, Utah FamilySearch Library all make me useless after about 8:00 pm. 

I also have come to depend on an extra pair of glasses for computer use. 

I find that my hearing aids must be in use all day, every day. 

I also seemed to have joined the pain-of-the day club. 

All this leads to a prioritizing of projects and an overall decrease in productivity. It also answers the question I am frequently asked about whether I ever sleep. Yes, I do. 

From time to time, I might comment on my experiences in growing old as a genealogist. Fortunately, I have access to a lot of electronic devices that me writing easier. Here is a short explanation about what it is like to grow old from our friend ChatGPT. 

Growing old as a genealogist can be a unique and rewarding experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. Here's a glimpse into what it might be like:

Accumulated Knowledge: One advantage of growing old as a genealogist is the accumulation of extensive knowledge and expertise in family history research. Years of experience can make you an invaluable resource for younger generations interested in their roots.

Family Legacy: Being a genealogist allows you to create a rich family legacy for your descendants. You can leave behind meticulously researched family trees and detailed histories that future generations can cherish.

Technology Changes: As you age, you may witness significant changes in genealogy research techniques and technology. Staying up-to-date with new tools and digital resources can be a challenge, but it's essential for the field's continued growth.

Preservation: Preserving historical documents, photographs, and artifacts becomes more critical as you age. You might dedicate more time to organizing and digitizing your collections to ensure they are accessible to future genealogists.

Community Involvement: Growing old as a genealogist can provide a strong sense of community. You may belong to genealogy societies or online forums where you can share your knowledge and connect with others who share your passion.

Health Considerations: Like anyone else, aging can bring health challenges. It's important to maintain your physical and mental health to continue your genealogy work. You might adapt your research methods to accommodate any physical limitations.

Teaching and Mentoring: Many older genealogists find joy in mentoring younger enthusiasts. Passing down your knowledge and skills to the next generation can be a fulfilling way to ensure your legacy lives on.

Reflecting on Ancestry: As you age, you may find yourself reflecting more on your own ancestry and family history. This introspection can add depth to your genealogical research and provide a personal connection to the past.

Legacy Planning: Planning for the future of your genealogy research is crucial. Consider documenting your methods, organizing your research materials, and designating a successor to carry on your work when you're no longer able.

In summary, growing old as a genealogist offers the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy, share your knowledge, and connect with a vibrant community. However, it also requires adapting to technological changes, preserving your research, and planning for the future to ensure your work continues to benefit future generations.

Well, I have to agree with the entire list. It is about as good a summary as I could write in less than a minute. 

You Need to Register for RootsTech 2024 Beginning September 18th 2024

I have been writing about RootsTech since 2011 and have attended every year since either in person or online. I started out as a Blogger which became an Ambassador and then an Influencer and finally today as Media person. I think the one most significant benefit from all those years has been the opportunity to associate with fellow genealogists. There is something about talking in person and sharing information and experiences that can't adequately be replaced by an online experience. RootsTech 2024 gives us all another opportunity to gather together. I realize that living in Provo does not present the planning and expense of coming from another country of a distant part of the United States, but this opportunity is worth the effort. 

Granted, RootsTech 2024 is going to be both in-person and online. You can certainly enjoy much of what goes on in the classrooms and on the large stage presentations from the comfort of your own home, but when I go to RootsTech, I go mainly to interact with people I would never see otherwise. At RootsTech 2023, both my wife and I spent every practical minute talking to people and sharing information and experiences. I might add that we were both exhausted at the end of the week and it took an entire week or so to recover. But we are ready to do it all over again. 

The full catalog of videos on the website has 4346 results. That is 4346 videos to view when you register. The videos vary in length from under 20 minutes to almost an hour or more. The tech part of RootsTech is changing almost weekly and attending the conference in person or online will give you an opportunity to see what is really going on the greater world of international genealogy. 

Time is passing quickly. Think about attending in person and start getting ready to be there and when you come, make sure you say hello to me as I wander around the expo floor or teach a class or two or three. 

Reclaim the Records: The Connecticut Genealogy Index

 Reclaim the Records has an impressive success rate for liberating records from unresponsive government agencies. This is the latest effort. Here is a quote from an email message about the new liberated collection. 

Introducing! It's a FREE searchable database of 576,638 births, 2,180,700 marriages, 2,086 civil unions, and 2,772,116 deaths from the state of Connecticut, spanning three centuries. Some of this data had been online before, scattered across several other websites, but with fewer years, in non-downloadable and non-shareable formats, locked behind paywalls, and/or with tools that couldn't handle searching the quirks and oddities in the data very well. Well, now it's all in one place, and we think we've got better data and better tools, and we're here to tell you all about it!

The story behind the acquisition of this collection and the remaining records that still have not been released is described as "Kafkaesque."

Please take the time to read the entire notice at

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Heads up! RootsTech 2024 Live Classes September 13, 2023 and Registration Opens on September 18, 2023

RootTech 2024 is ramping up. In preparation for the live and online conference February 29th to March 2nd, 2024. The live conference will be held in the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. Online classes will be available at the beginning of the conference. 

I will be speaking live on September 13th. You can see the schedule above of all the classes being offered live on that date. My class, Help for the Absolute Genealogy Beginner, will be at 3:50 pm Mountain Daylight Time or GMT-6. You can click on the link to each class from the RootsTech website. 

Just in case you get confused about time, GMT-6 is six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). It's also known as Central Standard Time (CST) during the winter months. During the summer months, it's called Central Daylight Time (CDT).

GMT-6 is used in the Central Standard Time Zone in the United States. It's also used when states in the Mountain Time Zone operate Daylight Saving Time.

Some of us who are online all the time have to think about time zones continually.

Here is a list of all the speakers and their presentations include the following. All times are MDT/GMT-6 time.

Getting Started with Research in Germany, Wednesday, September 13th, 2023 at 9:00 am

Getting started with research in an unfamiliar country can be daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the language, records, and resources available. In this class, we will introduce key records, resources, strategies, and tools for researching in Germany 

Baerbel Johnson, AG

Baerbel works as a German Research Specialist at the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Baerbel was born in Germany and started her family history journey after she immigrated to the United States. Baerbel is accredited in Germany and has worked for FamilySearch for more than 20 years.

Getting Started with Research in Sweden Wednesday, September 13th, 2023 at 10:00 AM

Getting started with research in an unfamiliar country can be daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the language, records, and resources available. In this class, we will introduce key records, resources, strategies, and tools for researching in Sweden.

Savannah Larson, AG

Savannah Larson has always been fascinated by stories of heritage and connection. With fluency in Swedish and proficiency in Danish and Norwegian, Savannah is accredited in Swedish research and works as a Nordic Research Specialist at the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering with a youth leadership organization called HOBY, painting, reading, and spending time with her growing family. 

Getting Started with Research in Ireland Wednesday, September 13th, 2023 at 11:00 AM

Getting started with research in an unfamiliar country can be daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the records and resources available. In this class, we will introduce key records, resources, strategies, and tools for researching in Ireland.

Dan Poffenberger, AG

Dan Poffenberger, AG® is a Senior British and Irish Research Specialist for FamilySearch at the FamilySearch. He is accredited by the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen) in England research. He has been a professional genealogist for 34 years specializing in England, Ireland and United States research. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Brigham Young University in Political Science, with a minor in Family and Community History. He and his wife Keirstin have been married for 35 years and have 5 children. Dan has presented at numerous conferences around the United States and internationally.

Getting Started with Research in Brazil Wednesday, September 13th, 2023 at 12:00 PM

Getting started with research in an unfamiliar country can be daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the language, records, and resources available. In this class, we will introduce key records, resources, strategies, and tools for researching in Brazil.

Debbie Gurtler, AG

Debbie Gurtler is the Assistant Director of the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City. With a BA in Family History from Brigham Young University, she holds five Accredited Genealogist® credentials for the United States Mid-South, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, and Chile. Fluent in Spanish from living over five years in South America. A frequent speaker on Hispanic research topics at local and national conferences. She is the mother of three and the grandmother of five. 

Getting Started with Research in the United States Wednesday, September 13th, 2023 at 1:00 PM

Getting started with genealogy research can be daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the records and resources available. In this class, we will introduce key records, resources, strategies, and tools for researching in the United States.

Beth Taylor, CG 

Getting Started with Research in Mexico Wednesday, September 13th, 2023 at 2:00 PM

Getting started with research in an unfamiliar country can be daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the language, records, and resources available. In this class, we will introduce key records, resources, strategies, and tools for researching in Mexico.

Debbie Gurtler, AG

Getting Started with Research in New Zealand Wednesday, September 13th, 2023 at 3:00 PM

Getting started with research in an unfamiliar country can be daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the records and resources available. In this class, we will introduce key records, resources, strategies, and tools for researching in New Zealand.

Raymon Naisbitt, AG 

Help for the Absolute Genealogy Beginner Wednesday, September 13th, 2023 at 3:50 PM

Beginning with how to spell genealogy, this class walks through the process of starting your genealogical journey. Start by talking to your relatives, getting a genealogical DNA test, or just getting online with one of the major genealogy programs, all this is explained in a way to get you going on your family history.

James L. Tanner B.A; Spanish, M.A.; Linguistics, U of Utah, J.D. Degree; Law, ASU. 2 years, Intelligence Analyst, U.S. Army. 39 years Arizona trial attorney. 41+ years of genealogical research. Blogger of Genealogy’s Star blog. Ten years missionary at Mesa FSL. Presently serving at the BYU Family History Library. Member of FamilySearch GEDCOM Steering Committee. Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Family History Guide Association. Presenter at Expos and Conferences around the U.S. Canada and Europe. Presenter of over 400 genealogy videos on YouTube.

 Fostering Genealogical Enthusiasm: Engaging the Next Generation Wednesday, September 13th, 2023 at 5:00 PM

Listen as Jana teaches how to engage the younger generations in genealogy work.

Jana Greenhalgh, Accredited Genealogist® specializing in England research. She graduated from BYU in 2003 with a BA degree in Genealogy & Family History, and now teaches family history there as adjunct faculty. She has also been an instructor for BYU-Idaho’s online family history degree program, served on the Board of Directors for the Utah Genealogical Association, and as the Level 1 Chair for ICAPGen’s Testing Committee. She currently serves on the Conferences & Education Committee for ICAPGen. She has presented at various genealogy conferences. Jana and her husband Brent live in Lehi, Utah with their seven children, and just for fun, they share their family history adventures via social media and online at

Tune in for these free live presentations. Look for other dates for additional RootsTech activities and presentations with a monthly theme. September's themes is Beginners in Genealogy.

I will be posting more information when it is announced on September 18th,

Monday, September 4, 2023

The Family Bible Project and other related projects

When I am working with the family tree, I routinely check the sources for any individual. Over the years, I have a noticed that there is a distinct trend to rely almost solely on birth, marriage, and death records (BMD records) with a sprinkling of census records. When officially kept, BMD records disappear in U.S. records, usually by the middle of the 19th Century,  and most inexperienced researchers are lost and entries with either no BMD information or only estimated information is entered. Here is an easily discovered example of an estimate with missing information. 

Here is a screenshot of the one source cited. 

What if you were to find a Bible record for this family? 

Family Bibles are valuable resources for genealogists because they often contain handwritten records of important family events, such as births, deaths, and marriages. These records can include dates, names, and locations. Family Bibles can also provide information about a family's history, such as the names of all the children in a family and their fates. They can also provide hints about unknown or missing ancestors.

Family Bibles were especially popular in the 1700s and 1800s. Families would pass them down from one generation to the next. The records in family Bibles can serve as proof of parentage in the absence of a vital or church record.

Some of the most valuable ancient Bibles in the world include the Codex Sassoon, Gutenberg Bible, Bay Psalm Book, and 1616 King James Bible. These rare artifacts provide insight into theological history and are highly sought-after investments.

Sources for the quote:'

Google Chat

Shakshober, Jennifer. 2022. “Locating Family Bible Records.” Vita Brevis (blog). August 29, 2022.

“United States Bible Records.” 2022. FamilySearch Wiki. October 13, 2022.

What if you had a centralized location to a vast number of Family Bible records?

The answer to this question is that we do have such a series of websites that provide links to tens of thousands of Bible records. 

Here are a few of the links that are part of the Family Bible Project that includes the screenshot and link at the beginning of this post.

There is also a ongoing project to find more bibles listed in the website.

You can also find out more about this project by clicking on the following link:

Here are a few ideas about the value of research into Family Bibles that showed up in a search in ChatGPT:

Family Bibles hold significant value for genealogy and family history research. They are often cherished heirlooms that provide valuable insights into a family's past. Here are several reasons why family Bibles are valuable for genealogy and family history:

Record Keeping: Many family Bibles contain handwritten records of births, marriages, and deaths within the family. These records can provide crucial information for genealogists, such as names, dates, and sometimes even locations.

Primary Sources: Family Bibles serve as primary sources of information. They are typically created at or near the time of the event they record, making them highly reliable for genealogical research.

Missing Links: Family Bibles can fill in gaps in official records. In cases where vital records (birth, marriage, and death certificates) are missing or incomplete, the information in a family Bible can help bridge these gaps.

Personal Touch: The handwritten entries in a family Bible often include personal notes or details that may not be found in official records. These can provide insights into family relationships, nicknames, or other anecdotal information.

Visual Documentation: Some family Bibles include photographs, newspaper clippings, or other ephemera that offer visual documentation of family members or events. This can add depth to your family history research.

Cultural and Historical Context: Family Bibles can reveal cultural and historical context. They may contain inscriptions or notes related to significant historical events, family migrations, or religious beliefs, which can help you understand your ancestors' lives better.

Emotional Connection: Family Bibles often hold sentimental value, and they can create a personal and emotional connection to your ancestors. Reading the same Bible that your great-grandparents used can be a powerful experience.

Authentication: In some cases, family Bibles can be used to authenticate other genealogical records or oral family traditions. They can serve as evidence to support the accuracy of other information you uncover during your research.

Preservation: Family Bibles may also be valuable from a preservation perspective. They often contain historical and cultural information that can be lost if not properly cared for. Digitizing or conserving a family Bible can ensure it remains a resource for future generations.

Sharing and Connecting: Family Bibles can be a way to connect with living relatives who may have information or memories to share. Sharing the information from a family Bible can lead to fruitful discussions and collaboration with other family members interested in genealogy.

While family Bibles are invaluable resources, it's essential to remember that they can also contain errors or omissions. Cross-referencing the information found in a family Bible with other records, such as census data, church records, and official certificates, is crucial to ensure the accuracy of your genealogical research.

By the way, I don't find it any different to quote ChatGPT, especially when it develops such good information when I have routinely used Wikipedia in the past.  

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Using Adobe Photoshop BETA, Adobe Phoshop and and Reimagine to repair a photo

This photo of one of my uncles has severe damage to the lower left. The question was, can I repair the photo using Adobe Photoshop BETA and artificial intelligence? The process is simple. I upload the photo, use the lasso tool to circle the damaged part of the image and then click on generate. 

This is the results of the process that takes about 15 seconds. 


Next, the question becomes, what would the image editing apps do to the same damaged image. The damage turns out to too much for MyHeritage. The difference of course is that Adobe Photoshop is a professional level photo editing program. Here is what MyHeritage was able to do with the damaged photo. 

What if I take the improvements back into Adobe Photoshop?

This is the photo using both the photo tools and the Adobe Photoshop BETA version to edit the photo. There is a small white dot on his mouth. Can that be repaired in Photoshop?

I don't know if you can tell, but the spot is gone with the Spot Healing Tool from Adobe. Now, has recently released a new mobile app that has the photo tools from the main website. The app is called Reimagine. I shared the image with my iPhone and used the Reimagine app to repair, enhance, and colorize the image. The app had all the same tools, with the same results as the desktop web-based program. 

The key here is that the enhancement and colorization would not be happening in Photoshop. 

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Introducing, a FREE searchable database


Quoting from an email announcement:

Hello again from Reclaim The Records! Today, we come into your e-mail with a long-awaited present: millions of new free genealogy records -- or at least, new searchable and downloadable indices to those millions of records, and helpful instructions on how you can order the underlying certificates, even very recent ones. And of course, we also have yet another Kafkaesque story about why the world is still missing public access to even more years of this great data, and how we're working to fix that.

Introducing! It's a FREE searchable database of 576,638 births, 2,180,700 marriages, 2,086 civil unions, and 2,772,116 deaths from the state of Connecticut, spanning three centuries. Some of this data had been online before, scattered across several other websites, but with fewer years, in non-downloadable and non-shareable formats, locked behind paywalls, and/or with tools that couldn't handle searching the quirks and oddities in the data very well. Well, now it's all in one place, and we think we've got better data and better tools, and we're here to tell you all about it!

In addition, includes the first-ever online publication of Connecticut birth index data from 1897-1917, and this new data is the only statewide index of Connecticut births that exists publicly online anywhere. (Yay!) We also acquired marriage and death index data from 1897 through 2017, while the next most complete online version of the index only had data through 2012. And our search engine is set up to better handle some of the weirdness in this data, such as the official records from 1969-1979 only having the first five letters of each person's given name, and some of the pre-1925 data missing some names entirely. Our search engine also has all the fun bells and whistles like automatic nickname and partial name searches, wildcard searches, automatic typo or letter transposition searches, date range searches (even down to the exact day, not just the year), and so on.

And we even geo-coded all the data, and we also auto-supplemented all the data with county names. 

Its been a while since I heard from Reclaim the Records and it is nice to see that they are still working away at liberating records.  

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

MyHeritage's Reimagine Image Editing on your SmartPhone

 Some time ago, in May 2023, announced the new Reimagine App. Reimagine is a groundbreaking new mobile app for family photos developed by MyHeritage. It is available on both iOS and Android platforms. The app harnesses the power of MyHeritage’s world-class AI technologies for improving historical photos and boasts a powerful photo scanner that enables high-speed scanning of entire album pages. 

Reimagine is a one-stop-shop where you can scan, improve, and share your photos, and indulge that sweet sense of nostalgia. The app comes with a state-of-the-art, multi-page scanner feature developed by MyHeritage’s AI team. This enables quick and easy scanning of entire album pages or multiple standalone photos in a single tap. The scanner then uses cutting-edge, cloud-based AI technology to automatically detect the individual photos and crop them, saving hours of work traditionally required with other scanners.

Scanned photos are saved in an album within the app and backed up to an account on MyHeritage. In just a few taps, an old, damaged black and white photo can be scanned and beautifully restored, enhanced, colorized, and even animated. The improved photos, or their original scanned versions, can easily be shared with family and friends on social media or through your family site on MyHeritage.

Reimagine currently supports 11 languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Portuguese (Brazil), Swedish, Norwegian, Italian, and Finnish. Additional languages will be added in the future. You can download Reimagine from the App Store or Google Play.

Monday, August 14, 2023

PhotoDater™ from MyHeritage: Another Amazing Technological Advance


You can read about all the details of this amazing addition to the arsenal of photographic innovations in this blog post: "Introducing PhotoDater™, an Exclusive, Free New Feature to Estimate When Old Photos Were Taken."

Here is a quote from the blog post:

If you are like most genealogists, you probably have cherished old family photos whose details, such as when they were taken, remain a mystery. Perhaps you flipped them over hoping to find more details, only to discover that your ancestors who treasured these photos didn’t leave any information behind. Until now, missing details about your photos could have remained a mystery forever, but here at MyHeritage, we set out to find a solution. Today we’re excited to announce the release of PhotoDater™, a groundbreaking, free new feature that estimates the year a photo was taken, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology.

PhotoDater™ is one-of-a-kind: MyHeritage is the only genealogy service that offers date estimation for historical photos. Using powerful technology developed by our AI team, PhotoDater™ gives its best guess when a photo was taken. This can help you unlock further clues about who appears in the photo and the event at which it was taken, to solve mysteries in your genealogy research. PhotoDater™ is completely free!

I tried it out on several different photos and having spent most of my life involved in photography, I was still impressed with the estimates. I currently have more than 13,000 media items on, so it is unlikely that I can date all of them, but having this tool will be a help in identifying unknown individuals and giving dates to a series of photos of one individual or family. This feature was mentioned at RootsTech 2023 earlier this year and it is really great to finally see it in action.