Showing posts with label #RootsTech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #RootsTech. Show all posts

Friday, March 2, 2018

RootsTech Day 3: Scott Hamilton, British Gen, Jurisdictions, and Blogging Connections

Well, it's a few minutes after my figure skating hero, Scott Hamilton, concluded his emotional talk about family and connections. Here he is with a photo of the parents who adopted him, and a brother and sister. No dry eyes in the audience as he told of his life's journey so far. He received a preview of what genealogical research revealed about his birth parents. Can't wait to learn more later.

Maybe there were a few empty seats in the ballroom but I didn't see 'em. Above, a small part of the massive crowd streaming out after Scott's inspiring talk.

After Scott, my first session was the ever-dapper Myko Clelland, offering tips for finding "Hidden Gems in FindMyPast's British & Irish Collections." Despite a technical glitch with his slides, the talk was practical and informative, of course. He just happened to show a record set that might help me break a brickwall on hubby's Slatter side! Top takeaways: Use the A-Z Catalog to locate records, filter by country, use the unique search screens to find record sets by entering as little as possible and then adding more info (dates, for instance, or address) to narrow.

During the break, I caught up with David Allen Lambert, chief genealogist of American Ancestors.

Then the lunchtime Geneabloggers Tribe group photo was a hoot and a fun opportunity to see so many blogging buddies in one place at one time. Above, with permission, is the "composite" photo with a few Geneabloggers magically added via technology. I'm the small sardine in the middle of the front row, a few shoulders away from Thomas MacEntee.

My afternoon sessions began with Laurie Castillo's "Search All the Jurisdictions" presentation. She knows so much about shifting state/county/township jurisdictions and how to figure out where our ancestors lived when they were alive. That's where we need to look for the records. Her advice: Don't assume anything. Do the research and use maps, gazetteers, whatever it takes to figure out what a place was when our ancestors lived there and then look for the repository holding those records.

Alas, I was crowded out of Amy Johnson Crow & Curt Witcher's talk, as well as shut out of Shannon Christmas's DNA talk. Happily, I squeezed into "What's Next? Turning British Clues into Answers" taught by the terrific Amy Harris.

This was pure methodology at its best. Her case study for finding Mr. Freak (his name, really!) was a perfect way to see the Genealogical Proof Standard in action. Oh, and in the next few days, BYU will be launching its redesigned site for British genealogy.

Try this URL early next week: Englishancestors.byu.edu. I can't make it a hotlink because it's not yet live. Just copy and paste into your browser for lots of goodies.

PS If you're at #RootsTech, don't forget to click on the clipboard to rate each speaker and session. They really want our feedback! Bye-bye from SLC. It's been quite a memorable week.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

RootsTech Day 2: DNA Again, Photo Clues, Parish Chest, Expo Encore

On Day two of my very first-ever RootsTech, a real highlight was catching up with Devon Noel Lee and Randy Seaver just before his guest appearance at her Family History Fanatics booth. I read their blogs all the time for ideas and inspiration.
My first breakout session was Tim Janzen's excellent and timely "Update to 3rd Party Autosomal DNA Analysis Tools." Lots of new news. He recommends that we try Gedmatch Genesis for more detailed matching/analysis tools and compatibility with key testing companies. Also he noted DNA Painter won an innovation here at RootsTech (I haven't used it yet but I liked what he showed as a sample). So many good tips, I haven't got room here. Just know that our genetic genealogy toolkits are expanding every week!

Next, I walked out of a session that I won't name, because the speaker spent loads of time on background and didn't get to the point even after 12 minutes. This is something I really don't like doing, but RootsTech time is valuable and scarce. I did use the feedback tool on the app to express my opinion. Enough said.

After lots of fun in the Expo Hall (buying RootsTech sox, a sparkly gen T-shirt and of course DNA kits), my afternoon began with Maureen Taylor's interactive session, "No Language Barrier: Immigrant Clues in Photos." I always like her talks, and this was enjoyable and motivating. She reminds us to look carefully at fashions and hairstyles, also see what ancestors are holding (a photo or a book for instance), see what clues are in the background, think about why the photo was taken, and research the photographer. We had a good time guessing on many photos, and helped Maureen with a few new interpretations/translations, too.

The final session of the day for me was "Finding Your Way Around the Parish Chest" with not one, not two, but three expert speakers: Kirsty Gray, Sylvia Valentine, and Patricia Whatley. Learned a lot at this talk--starting with how much info is available if ancestors were paupers (yes, I'm talking about hubby's Slatter ancestors). Often the parishes would try to hand paupers off to other parishes rather than bear the expense of keeping them going. Will have to look for more paperwork in the parish chests!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

RootsTech Day 1: England, Deeds, Maps, DNA, and More

Day 1 of RootsTech! Photos now, story later (after Expo opening). Above, "Making the Most of English & Welsh Parish Records" featuring the dapper expert Myko Clelland. Myko explained the different types of parish records and the potential info awaiting researchers who can locate and read the records. "Read" is a key word here--the handwriting can be difficult for ordinary mortals like me. But I'm now encouraged to delve deeper into hubby's Slatter and Shehen lines in England!

Next session on my list was Amie Bowser Tennant's practical and entertaining "Deed You Hear About These Underutilized Records?" One of the top takeaways is to be sure to look up "grantor" records as well as "grantee" records, to see who bought and who sold. In many (but not all) cases, the buyer's previous town will be listed. That's just the clue I need for hubby's Steiner and Rinehart ancestors who bought land in OH!

After a fun lunch break with blogging friends, I refreshed my skills with the hands-on lab "Custom Google Maps" taught by Kyle Clements. Created a sample map showing the travel route taken by my Burk/Birk/Berk/Berg ancestors, leaving Lithuania and going first to Manchester, England. From there, one brother went to Montreal and the other went to Canada just long enough to stop feeling seasick and get on a train to NYC. Yes, that means you, Grandpa Isaac Burk.

Next was DNA superstar Diahan Southard's engaging and motivating "Direct Line DNA Testing for Genealogical Research." I asked Diahan whether mtDNA and YDNA would be helpful in endogamous populations like my ancestral Eastern European Jewish roots. She said yes! So you know what kind of tests I'm bringing home from the Expo.

So many top-notch speakers, so little time . . . but now the Expo Hall is opening and bargains await! Hint: If you're a mystery fan, go see Nathan Dylan Goodwin. I bought 4 of his books at the Expo.

RootsTech and the Value of a Research Log

RootsTech opens tomorrow, on Wednesday...300 sessions, many dozens of exhibitors, and lots of opportunities to learn from experts and fellow attendees. In fact, waiting on line for badge and bag (a LONG wait), I enjoyed genea-conversations with those in front and behind me. Tonight, I reviewed the RootsTech Conference Guide (session locations in print, for paper-loving people like me) and used the app to prep for Day One's meetings and appointments.

Today (which Randy Seaver calls "Day Zero" for RootsTech) was the day hubby and I pored over hard-to-find books and microfilms at the Family History Library. You can see my handsome guy at top, blinking into the sun as we left the FHL building after about 5 hours of intense concentration.
And now I have to confess: As much as I dislike research logs, they were absolutely essential to putting our limited time at the FHL to good use. Above, one of the 3 pages of catalog listings for my husband's Steiner and Rinehart ancestor hunt in Crawford county, OH and Berks county, PA. I spent several working days assembling this list of likely sources, reading the descriptions on FamilySearch and determining whether any of these could be accessed from home or only from the library. Why waste time at the library if we can research a source at home?

My goal was to give hubby call numbers and notes to focus his limited research time on the 2d and 3d floors of the library. As he worked through each entry, he checked off that resource or put an X if it turned out not to be applicable (or, in one case, unavailable). He was able to move down the list, item by item, and actually found a few good leads and clues (no breakthroughs yet). He also downloaded one set of files to his USB drive for us to examine more closely at home, rather than spend precious library time on this resource.

I had high hopes for two resources in particular: The book on Crawford County, Ohio, early history/pioneers and the microfilmed Crawford County Pioneers applications. The key to the history book was that there was a printed index, separate from the book, listing all names mentioned. We could quickly identify page numbers to look at, and then skim certain places and time periods for background. No breakthrough from that book, but worth the time.

The Crawford County Pioneers applications would be a treasure trove for anyone with ancestors who were in that spot in 1850 or earlier. To be named the descendant of a pioneer, applicants had to submit various types of proof, all included on this microfilm (such as pedigree charts, marriage certs, birth certs, etc). We checked the digitized index of names in the Pioneers applications and found 5 possible applications to review on microfilm (see above for the title page of one roll). Alas, not one panned out. Still, it was a productive day at the library and an excellent way to transition to RootsTech tomorrow.

Terrific lunch and dinner dates with blogging buddies Linda ("Empty Branches on the Family Tree" blog), Deborah ("Who we are and how we got that way" blog), Yvonne ("Yvonne's genealogy blog"), and friends/family. Bumped into blogger Caitlin Gow, who ran the contest in which I won my free RootsTech registration. And met many more folks who will now be familiar faces at sessions in the coming days. Can't wait.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Ready for RootsTech?!

RootsTech 2018 begins in a few days! And I'm almost ready.

I've just deleted most of the live-streamed sessions from my in-person schedule. If I can watch at home in my jammies after the conference is over, that makes more time at the conference for events available only on-site.

Tuesday priorities: Hubby and I will be at the Family History Library, learning our way around and looking up as many in-person sources as possible to chip away at brick walls. We'll be meeting blogging buddies for lunch and enjoy getting acquainted in person. Woo hoo!
  • His tree goals: Focus on Steiner and Rinehart (both families, on his mother's side, came through PA on their way to OH--but where were these families from before they came to America?)
  • My tree goals: Focus on my father's side: Birk/Burk/Berk/Birck/Berg (I snagged an appointment with an expert in the Coaches' Corner to get some help), with attention to the UK transit and the Shuham connection. Just in case I have more time, I'm carrying my Farkas and Mahler data with me.
Wednesday priorities: British genealogy sessions, deed session, host at Geneabloggers TRIBE food court lunch, attend Custom Google Maps lab for skills brushup, DNA, Fam Search official opening. Expo Hall.

Thursday priorities: Descendancy research, Geneabloggers TRIBE food court lunch, Coaches' Corner, NARA, immigrant clues in photos, Irish or parish research. Expo Hall, again. In between, Fam Fanatics' Meet & Greet with Gen Rock Stars.

Friday priorities: SCOTT HAMILTON! Oh, and also jurisdictions, DNA, Future of Fam Search, bloggers' photo. Expo Hall and Fam Fanatics' Meet & Greet with Gen Rock Stars. Send swag and goodies home via package center.

This is my third major genealogy conference in less than a year (and obviously the largest of all). NERGC was last April and the IAJGS was last July. So many great conferences, so many super speakers, so many opportunities to network with geneafriends.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

So Many Ancestors, So Little Time in the FHL


So many ancestors, so little time in the wonderful, world-famous Family History Library . . . With RootsTech less than three weeks away, I'm doing some serious planning for my limited time at the library in Salt Lake City.

How to decide which brick wall ancestors to spend my time on? I'm triaging my family tree and my husband's tree with these specifications in mind.
  • Do I have enough info to do more research? I won't consider researching any brick wall ancestor in Salt Lake City unless I have (1) a name I'm reasonably sure of, (2) approximate dates, (3) a birth, marriage, or death place. Otherwise, it's needle-in-haystack time. RESULT: I crossed hubby's 2d great-grandpa Jacob S. Steiner off my initial list because I have insufficient info to distinguish between him and the dozens of other men named Jacob Steiner born in Pennsylvania around 1800 who died in Ohio sometime after 1850. Instead, I'm going to look at his life in Tod township, Crawford cty, OH, in case there are additional records available AND ask a "coach" at the conference or the library for creative ideas about researching Jacob into Pennsylvania.
  • Can I research from home or use other resources? I'm taking the time now to see what's actually available at Family Search (and I'm doing another Ancestry search). RESULT: I got lucky with one set of Farkas ancestors on my tree--FHL microfilms are now digitized and I can check the index and browse images at home! But if I locate microfilms for a brick wall ancestor, I'll add the details to my to-do list for Salt Lake City.
  • Can I identify appropriate resources available in the Salt Lake City FHL?  As I narrow my focus on certain ancestors, I'll formulate a specific question to answer for each (such as "Who were Jacob S. Steiner's parents?" OR "What was Elizabeth Steiner's maiden name?"). Next, I need to review the FHL's resources to determine whether it has info available to help me address each question. RESULT: At top, a sample of my investigation into Crawford cty, Ohio resources at the FHL to answer my question about Jacob S. Steiner's parents and Elizabeth Steiner's maiden name. Since they lived in Crawford cty for at least a decade, I may find clues in documents, maps, Bibles, etc. One by one, I'll check each resource in the FHL catalog for Crawford cty to see where it is (online or FHL only) and what it is. Then I'll list which ones I need to consult at the FHL. That becomes my to-do list.
Blogging about my preparations helps me think through the situation and develop the first draft of my action plan. 

Suggestions are, of course, most welcome! 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Young Man with the Mustache

Young Man from Gargzdai, Lithuania - probably a Birck relative
Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Challenge on Genea-Musings this week is: Men with Facial Hair.

As soon as I read the challenge, I knew exactly who to feature: The Young Man with the Mustache.
Studio info on back of Young Man's photo

At top, the Young Man in question--probably a younger brother of my paternal grandfather Isaac Burk (1882-1943), born in Gargzdai, Lithuania.

When grandpa Isaac and five other siblings came to North America, they left behind their parents--Solomon Elias Birck and Necke Gelle Shuham Birck--and the Young Man, if we're interpreting the photos, stories, and records correctly.

Alas, I don't know the handsome Young Man's name, but I have his face in two photos. He was a boy in one photo, and a young man here. At right, the studio info on back of the Young Man's portrait.

The Young Man appears as a boy in a photo shared by my 2d cousin, the granddaughter of Isaac's brother, Meyer Berg (1883-1981), who also came to America.

We don't know the fate of the Young Man, I'm sorry to say, but we can see the strong family resemblance to my father and his first cousins. More research is in my future. Perhaps I'll find some clues when I attend #RootsTech as a #FirstTimer and go to the Family History Library?!