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

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

RootsTech 2023 Keynote Speakers


RootsTech 2023 Keynote Speakers from an email:

Jordin Sparks

The multi-platinum recording artist, actress, and American Idol Season 6 winner will share her personal story and speak about how music has shaped her life from a young age. Sparks has multiple Billboard hit singles, and her music videos have received over 90 million views on YouTube. She has also starred in several Broadway and film productions. Jordin Sparks will be featured opening day of RootsTech 2023, Thursday, March 2.

Sean Astin

The globally recognized actor and Academy Award-nominated director is perhaps best known for his character Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and starring roles in The Goonies, Rudy, Forever Strong, and more.  Astin has been building his fan base throughout his 40-year career and includes 160 credits. His character roles have emphasized heart, hope, determination, and loyalty. He will be sharing his heart at RootsTech 2023 on Saturday, March 4, as he shares his unique life experiences and the choices, challenges, and fulfillment that come with uniting families and people. 

Me Ra Koh

Today a famed photographer, Me Ra Koh grew from humble beginnings. Her inspiring story emerged from physical and emotional challenges, personal tragedy, homelessness, and even a period in a psychiatric hospital to a successful life as a wife, mother, and acclaimed photographer. She has mastered the talent of using the camera to capture the story of resilience within people. Watch Me Ra Koh in person or online at RootsTech 2023 on Friday, March 3.

Steve Rockwood

The CEO of FamilySearch, Steve Rockwood will kick off RootsTech 2023 on March 2, and introduce its theme of “Uniting.”  There is power in unified relationships of all types, and Rockwood will address how uniting families past, present, and future can do just that.

RootsTech 2023 Virtual Exclusive Keynotes

As a global event, RootsTech 2023 will feature keynotes from around the world.  They will not be on the main stage in Salt Lake City, Utah, but will be broadcasted online at beginning March 3, 2023.
His Highness Sheikh Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al-Qasimi

His Highness the Sheikh is from the United Arab Emirates. He is a leader in promoting understanding, openness, and harmony among people of all cultures. He has also been a major contributor to achieving sustainability and food security in the UAE and was awarded the Medal of Excellence for being an important figure in sustainable investment. 

Tuti Furlan

An amazing psychologist from Guatemala, Furlan specializes in positive psychology and the science of happiness. 

Mona Magno-Veluz 

Magno-Veluz is a native of the Philippines where she serves as the National President of the Autism Society of the Philippines. She has designed and engineered initiatives that empower individuals on the autism spectrum and those who care for them.
Global Emcees
For the first time ever, RootsTech 2023 will offer localized main stage sessions. Fifteen emcees from all over the world, speaking in their native language, will direct online attendees through the 3 days of events on the main stage. 

Announcing RootsMagic 9

 Quoting from a recent email:

We are thrilled to announce the official release of RootsMagic 9, the latest version of the award-winning genealogy software, which makes researching, organizing, and sharing your family history easy and enjoyable. With the release comes an update to the free “RootsMagic Essentials” product and a limited-time discount offer for both new and existing users.

RootsMagic 9 includes exciting new features that will help you to discover more about your family history.

  • With our innovative new “Associations” feature, you can track more than just family relationships. This powerful tool lets you record friends, associates, neighbors, enslavements, and more, giving you a more complete picture of your ancestors and their connections.
  • Enhanced color coding with multiple color code sets and color labeling makes it easier to identify different branches of your family tree and see relationships at a glance.
  • With the ability to save and reuse search criteria and task filters, you can quickly access frequently used searches and save time on your research.
  • RootsMagic 9 also includes powerful new database tools, which can help you to identify and correct errors in your family tree data. This can lead to a more accurate family tree and more informed research.
  • The RootsMagic 9 note editor has been completely rewritten to be more responsive and now includes spell-checking.
  • For Windows users, RootsMagic 9 is now available in 32-bit and 64-bit formats.
  • And RootsMagic 9 includes dozens of new features designed to make working with your data faster, easier, and more enjoyable. 
  • Click here to learn more.  

Huge On-demand Library of Classes on

With over 1500 classes on 185 topics in 30 languages, the RootsTech Archive that stretches back to 2019, is a treasure house of genealogical information. This year, 2023, there will be 180 new in-person classes and over 300 new online classes. I have heard that about 30 of these classes will be broadcast live and recorded. This will allow the online audience to participate in some of the in-person classes online and join in the excitement of the in-person experience.

Here is my live class and I have six videos to enlarge the information in my class.

Friday, February 24, 2023

How does an indentured servant, redemptioner, or enslaved ancestor affect your research?


Although data on immigration for the colonial period are scattered and incomplete several scholars have estimated that between half and three quarters of European immigrants arriving in the colonies came as indentured or redemptioner servants. See Rosenblum, Joshua. n.d. “Indentured Servitude in the Colonial U.S.” Accessed February 23, 2023. 

An indentured servant is defined as a person who signs and is bound by indentures to work for another for a specified time especially in return for payment of travel expenses and maintenance. Redemptioners are more specifically defined as follows: 
Redemptioners were European immigrants, generally in the 18th or early 19th century, who gained passage to American Colonies (most often Pennsylvania) by selling themselves into indentured servitude to pay back the shipping company which had advanced the cost of the transatlantic voyage. British indentured servants generally did not arrive as redemptioners after the early colonial period due to certain protections afforded them by law. Redemptioners were at a disadvantage because they negotiated their indentures upon arrival after a long and difficult voyage with no prospect to return to their homelands. See

As part of the number of indentured servants, approximately 60,000 of them were criminals who were transported to the colonies. Here is a quote about the numbers which vary according to the source. 

Not many people know that between 1718 and 1775 over 52,000 convicts were transported from the British Isles to America, mainly to Maryland and Virginia, to be sold as slaves to the highest bidder. It is reckoned that transported convicts made up a quarter of the British immigrants to colonial America in the 18th century.

Before the Transportation Act of 1718, criminals either escaped with just a whipping or a branding. They were then released back onto the streets to commit more crimes. Or they were hanged. Because the jails were not intended for long-term incarceration, there was nothing in between.

After the passing of the Act, transportation became the main punishment at the courts’ disposal. From May 1718 to the outbreak of the American War of Independence in 1775, over 70 per cent of those who were found guilty at the Old Bailey were sentenced to be transported, compared with less than one per cent in the period from 1700 to March 1718. See

 You need to add to that number that current estimates are that about 12 million to 12.8 million Africans were shipped across the Atlantic over a span of 400 years. See,a%20span%20of%20400%20years. In addition, about 59,000 free African Americans lived in the United States in the census of 1790 or about 19 percent of the total population.

All these figures about the percentages and numbers of these early populations are subject to opinion, methodology, and verification. But all things considered, there is a huge proportion of the United States population that has ancestors in these three categories. 

If you think about these numbers for just few minutes, you will understand that if you have ancestors that appear in the American colonies before or about the time of independence from England and you are stuck trying to find how or when they arrived in America, you are very likely to have one or even all three of these categories of ancestors. This is why a remarkably high percentage of the ancestral lines in the United States really end in or before the 1700s. Record keeping and identification of the people in these three categories is often inaccurate or incomplete. 

If you find a family line in the Family Tree that goes back to colonial times, you need to carefully document each parent/child relationship because a huge number of these lines come from one or more of these three categories and there are unlikely to be any records showing an actual extension of the family line back to Europe. Of course, tracking an enslaved family back to its origins is one of the ultimate challenges of genealogy.  

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Sean Astin, Renowned Actor, to Keynote RootsTech 2023


Here is a quote from the announcement about the new Keynote speaker:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, February 21, 2023—Sean Astin, perhaps best known for his character “Samwise Gamgee” in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, will be the featured RootsTech 2023 keynote speaker on Saturday, March 4 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The globally recognized actor and Academy Award-nominated director will take to the main stage to inspire attendees, the worldwide audience and fans, through his personal message of the power of family and unity, whatever that may look like for each of us. Watch RootsTech 2023 in person or online, March 2–4. Learn more at

Sean Astin’s acting career, beginning at age 10, has spanned four decades and includes over 160 credits. Throughout this time, Astin has come to touch all generations through his roles on the big screen. Astin’s mentionable roles include The Lord of the Rings, The Goonies, Rudy, Forever Strong, and more. 

Jen Allen, director of events at FamilySearch, says, “Sean Astin unites generations. My mother is just as excited as my teenagers to see him at RootsTech 2023.” Astin was born into a world of talent, coming from two parents who are both well-known actors themselves, Patty Duke and John Astin.

Astin succeeded at building his fan base early on through roles that emphasize his good heart, hope, determination, and loyalty. In fact, his personal motto is “people will root for anyone who shows them their heart.” Astin will be doing just that at RootsTech 2023 as he shares his heart with millions of viewers around the world and shares his unique life experiences and the choices, challenges, and fulfillment that come with uniting families and people. 

"Sean has a rich history in the film industry, and as we've seen his characters come to life on screen, we look forward to getting to know the man behind all the characters we have come to love,” said RootsTech creative manager, Jonathan Wing.

Astin’s keynote address will take place at the RootsTech General Session on Saturday, March 4, 2023, 11:00 AM MST. Register now at to get your in-person pass. Can’t attend in-person? Register to watch Sean Astin live at

Registration for RootsTech 2023 is still open you can register by clicking here: Registration 

I hope to see you there. 

Saturday, February 18, 2023

How will Artificial Intelligence affect Genealogy?


Here is the origin of the term "artificial intelligence"

John McCarthy is one of the "founding fathers" of artificial intelligence, together with Alan Turing, Marvin Minsky, Allen Newell, and Herbert A. Simon. McCarthy, Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester and Claude E. Shannon coined the term "artificial intelligence" in a proposal that they wrote for the famous Dartmouth conference in Summer 1956. This conference started AI as a field. (Minsky later joined McCarthy at MIT in 1959.)

I would have been in elementary school in 1956 but I was an avid reader of science fiction and probably learned about artificial intelligence about the time it became a popular term. But the book I Robot by Isaac Asimov was already published in 1950 and I am sure I read that book about the same time it was still newly published. In addition to my interest in science fiction, I have also read extensively about the history of computers. I knew enough to know that the early AI app, Eliza (see, flunked the Touring Test (see if you are interested).

What has this to do with genealogy? Well, many people have been involved in FamilySearch's Indexing project. If you go to and click on the Indexing link and then ask for a project, you will get the following screen. 

Yes, there are no projects to do in English. In fact, you can search in all the languages and there are no projects found. The only thing left are reviews using the app on your phone. Why is this? AI indexing using handwriting recognition is indexing the records. Now, the job for human intervention has moved to reviewing the AI Indexing. 

Yet the development of current AI projects, such as those currently being implemented by Google and Microsoft, demonstrate an even more expansive. Here is a question I put to ChatGPT:
Tell me about Henry Martin Tanner born in 1852 in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, California and died on 21 March 1935 in Gilbert, Maricopa, Arizona, United States. What did he do for a living, tell me about his family, were any of his children famous. 

Relatively, there is a huge amount of information about Henry, much of it in digital form online, including a complete biography. So, what did ChatGPT have to write about him? Here is what I got from ChatGPT:

Henry Martin Tanner (1852-1935) was an American artist known for his paintings and prints of landscapes, figures, and biblical scenes. He was born in San Bernardino, California, to parents who were former slaves, and was the eldest of thirteen children.

Tanner's family moved to Philadelphia in the late 1850s, where he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He later studied in France, where he lived for most of his life and where his work was greatly influenced by the Barbizon School of landscape painters.

Tanner's work often reflected his Christian faith, and he is perhaps best known for his religious paintings, such as "The Raising of Lazarus" and "The Annunciation." His work was also notable for its realism and its use of light and shadow.

Tanner was married to Jessie Macauley Olsson, a Swedish-American opera singer, and they had one child together, a son named Jesse O. Tanner. Jesse was not famous, but he did follow in his father's artistic footsteps, becoming a photographer and graphic designer.

In addition to his artistic work, Tanner was also involved in various civil rights organizations and was an advocate for social justice. He was the first African American artist to gain international acclaim, and he paved the way for other Black artists to gain recognition and success in the art world. Tanner died in 1935 in Arizona at the age of 82.

Hmm. It seems like I never knew my great-grandfather was famous and could paint. This is the dumb kind of mistake you would shake your head at. In genealogy this is called the same name same person mistake. What I got was a tolerable biography of Henry Ossawa Tanner, who was born in 1859 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and died in 1937 in Paris, France. See Except it got birth and death places wrong. 

I don't know about you, but I am not quite ready to start relying too heavily on AI to solve any of my genealogical problems. It seems AI does make a good indexer but it isn't even close to making a bare minimum genealogist.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Find New Cousins Using Free Relatives at RootsTech 2023 Tool

Here is another announcement from
 SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (17 February 2023)—Ever wondered if you have cousins, you didn’t know about? Now, thanks to the free Relatives at RootsTech 2023 discovery experience by FamilySearch, you can find and connect with your living relatives worldwide. The fun tool is available today through March 31 through the FamilySearch Tree app, as part of the annual in-person and virtual RootsTech 2023 event (March 2–4) that attracted over 3 million participants worldwide in 2022. To connect with your global cousins through the Relatives at RootsTech 2023 experience, download the FamilySearch Tree app, or go to

 The highly anticipated Relatives at RootsTech annual experience went global in 2021 as the first worldwide virtual RootsTech conference was held, drawing more than 1 million visitors from 240 different countries and territories. In 2022, over 3 million participated. With the in-person event returning in 2023, now all attendees, both virtual and in person, can join Relatives at RootsTech 2023 to find living relatives using the free FamilySearch Family Tree mobile app or online at

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Famed Portrait Photographer Me Ra Koh to Keynote RootsTech 2023

Here is another announcement from FamilySearch of a Keynote Speaker at the RootsTech 2023 Live conference. The keynotes will also be broadcast to those who sign up for online access. 

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, 16 February 2023—Celebrated photographer Me Ra (pronounced Mee-Rah ) Koh, is a living portrait of resilience. She will share her inspiring story as a keynote speaker at RootsTech 2023, Friday, March 3 at the Salt Palace Convention Center and online at   

Koh rose from humble beginnings, including physical and emotional challenges, to become a famed photographer featured on Oprah, Live with Kelly & Ryan, and other popular television shows, sought after photography expert, best-selling author, Disney Channel host, and one of the first two women photographers to be Sony-sponsored. Her family portraiture work has been featured in galleries in London, New York, and Los Angeles, and published in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Martha Stewart, Parenting, and Women’s World.

She is also a sought-after motivational speaker whose inspiring story weaves in and out of personal tragedy, homelessness, and a period in a psychiatric hospital to a successful life as a wife of 25 years, a mother of two young adults, and the co-owner with her husband Brian Tausend of the renowned FIORIA portrait studio in Frisco, Texas, whose sole purpose, she says, is to celebrate people’s resilience.

“Through her work on television, online, and in person, Me Ra has inspired millions of viewers around the world,” said Jonathan Wing, RootsTech creative manager. “We cannot wait for her to inspire our RootsTech audience!”

Me Ra’s message is sure to bring laughter, empowerment, and courage to those who hear her speak. To learn more about this amazing woman, visit

 You can still register to attend in person, although the price may go up soon. The online registration is free. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Genealogy in 2023: Are you up to speed?


I have always been an avid reader of science fiction. As the years pass, I realize that I am now living in the future as envisioned by many of the books I read beginning sixty years ago. Guess what? The present that was the future in the 1950s and 1960s is essentially not at all like the one in the books. I could go on and on about those things some authors predicted and failed and the others that guessed the changes that happened, but one thing missing from all books and movies is the impact of digitization of genealogical records. The closest guess comes from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The internet is the closest thing we have today that matched the capabilities of the Hitchhiker's Guide.

Now, what do we do with all this information? I still see genealogists carrying around a huge burden of paper and writing down everything with paper and pencil. This means that they are going to do everything at least twice or that some relative will end up redoing all the research and work. I have to admit that I have more electronic tools for gathering information than I have time to use. I also have to admit that I sometimes write a note on a pile of scratch paper I have next to my keyboard, but that is because I have a better chance of remembering the note it is staring me in the face than when it is sitting on a list on my computer. 

The reality of genealogical research today is that both Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Handwriting Recognition have reached the level that millions of genealogically valuable documents are being indexed and, in some cases, transcribed every day. For example, added 2.5 billion historical records in 2023. See MyHeritage now has 18.9 billion records. 

Here is a statement from FamilySearch about the records added in 2022. See 

FamilySearch added nearly 2 billion searchable names and images in 2022 from ancestral homelands worldwide for a total of 16.3 billion free historical records and images! Significant expansions in 2022 included records for Scandinavian countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland), the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, Peru, areas in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands, and more.

FamilySearch also added 19,264 digital books to its Books collection. Ancestry now has over 30 billion records. See

Of course, all three companies count their records differently but assuming you wanted to look at just these three companies' records, If you looked at one record every second it would take you about 2,132 years to look at all the records and that is only three companies.

As genealogists, we really can't ignore the numbers. This means that the old paper way of doing genealogy has to evolve into the digital version. Can we keep up? To do genealogy today, you need some serious computer skills. Fortunately, technology does not stand still. We now have the possibility through Artificial Intelligence that we can use the AI tools to look for us with increased accuracy. 

Perhaps you should be concerned about being left behind. But I do have one suggestion, the genealogists who are becoming interested in actually doing genealogical research today will definitely need superior computer skills. Maybe instead of just helping our children to become interested in family history, we should also be helping them develop the computer skills necessary to survive in the future.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Elder Gerrit W. Gong Will Keynote RootsTech 2023 Family Discovery Day


Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be the keynote speaker for the traditional Family Discovery Day on the last day, March 4th, for RootsTech 2023. Here is a link to information about Family Discovery Day.

Quoting from the announcement:

Family Discovery Day 2023 will be held during the RootsTech conference on March 4, 2023, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is a free, fun, in-person event offering activities and experiences that will help you and your family unite as you discover more about your family history.

If you are unable to attend in-person, the keynote address by Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Susan Gong, will be broadcasted virtually at at 1:30 p.m. MDT.

No registration is required for Family Discovery Day in-person or online. Those interested in getting RootsTech updates can register online. You can also join other RootsTech in-person events by signing up for the full conference with 2023 pricing.

Early bird registration for the full RootsTech 2023 Conference will end soon. For information about registration for the entire conference see the following:

I will be speaking, helping, and interacting with everything at the conference. I hope to see you there. 


Tuesday, February 7, 2023

FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 in-person event at the FamilySearch Library during RootsTech 2023

Come learn about the status, success and future of FamilySearch GEDCOM

Don’t miss this anniversary in-person event about FamilySearch GEDCOM at the FamilySearch Library,
March 3, 12:30 PM Main Floor Computer Lab.  Lots of news and announcements !
RootsTech 2023 registration not required for attendance. Space is limited
Send your attendance commitment to now !


Thursday, February 2, 2023

African American Great Migration Classes at RootsTech 2023

You are invited to attend my live class at RootsTech 2023 at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 2, at 9:30 am. "Understanding and Researching the Records of the Great Northward Migration 1915-1970" The class will be held in Room 155 B. 

I also have six supplementary classes online. "Understanding and Researching the Records of the Great Northward Migration 1915-1970 - Series." These will be available when the conference begins.

You can register for the Live conference for $98 and the online, virtual conference is free. See the following;

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Genealogists circle the law without understanding it


Legal records of all kinds are often listed as genealogically valuable but without a significant effort to learn the language used by legal practitioners, such as lawyers, judges, and court personnel: genealogists find it difficult to use these valuable legal resources. 

One of the comments made about attending law school in the United States is that you go to school for three years to learn how to make a noise like a lawyer. Part of this statement is generally true. One of my early experiences after being admitted to law school revolved around the fact that I started to work as a reference librarian in the law school library three months before classes started. During the first few days as the semester began, I worked at the reference desk and had a clear view of the stack of reference books that included the law dictionaries. As each hour's class ended, there was a stampede of students into the library to grab the dictionaries to try and understand what the law professors had just said in class. I had a good laugh. I grew up in a home where my father was an attorney and I ended up in a Boy Scout sponsored legal Explorer Post. With additional trips to court with my father, I thought I knew more than most of the students.

The idea that I knew something more than anyone around me soon evaporated in the overload of unfamiliar legal terms. I learned to live with one important book: Black's Law Dictionary. Here is a link to an online version of that extremely valuable book.

Reading a legal document, at first, is exactly like trying to read something in a language you do not speak such a German to an English speaker. Learning all the vocabulary can be overwhelming. But in addition to the vocabulary itself, there are concepts that are utterly foreign to those who do not speak the language. Now we fast forward almost 40 years and guess what? I still have a copy of Black's Law Dictionary sitting on my desk or behind my desk within arm's reach. 

Now, what about the genealogist who has no legal training? What can they do to acquire the language and the concepts that allow them to understand historical legal documents that may also be handwritten and even more difficult to decipher? They can do what those first-year law students did. Run, not walk, to the law dictionaries and start learning this, to them, foreign language. 

Today, besides the specific legal language websites, we have Google. I can now take a legal term such as "assumpsit" and type "define assumpsit" and almost instantly get an answer, which is, by the way, as follows:

Assumpsit, or more fully, action in assumpsit, was a form of action at common law used to enforce what are now called obligations arising in tort and contract; and in some common law jurisdictions, unjust enrichment. 

Of course, this definition will lead you to define some of the other terms also, such as "common law, tort, contract, and unjust enrichment." Do you have to become an attorney to understand the language? Only if you want to represent people in court. Genealogists need to learn the terms used in historical, genealogically valuable documents which include legal documents. If you do not understand what is written in a will, for example, don't guess at what it says. Either take the time to learn or ask for help from someone who can help. 

Genealogy is not simple. It is not easy. It is not something everyone can do in five minutes. Keep learning and don't give up. It is worth the effort. 

Remember the BYU Virtual Help Desk is available to help. See