Monday, September 15, 2014

Conference Early Bird Discounts Extended – Deadline Today

The Ancestry Insider at RootsTech 2015The end of special registration discounts to RootsTech and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conferences snuck up on many of us, so conference organizers have extended the deadline to today to give them one last marketing push. If you’re considering attending one or both of these coincident, colocated conferences, today is the day to act. These are two of the three national conferences (the National Genealogical Society conference in May being the third). Who knows when or if ever these two conferences will be held together again. 

Another upside is that the conferences are being held in Salt Lake City, just south of the famed Family History Library. The downside of that is, you may be vying with 5,000 other people for 50 microfilm readers. Okay, maybe that isn’t an upside. Still, the two conferences together or alone may be worth the trip. And the library is extending its hours for conference attendees.

RootsTech offers a plethora of registration options for the general public (one day or three day passes for 12-14 February 2015), technologists (11 February), beginners (one or three day passes), students (three day passes), and families (who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - 14 February). Over 200 classes are listed on the conference schedule. Frequently asked questions are answered on the RootsTech website.

The FGS Conference offers registration options for early-bird, regular, onsite, single day, and student rate. The FGS Conference brochure will answer your questions about the tracks, sessions, speakers, hotels, and travel options. The FGS conference opens Wednesday night with a special event, “Behind the Scenes: Family History & Television.” Tickets are $10. Further information is available on the conference website and on the conference blog.

The FGS Conference and RootsTech share expo hall, keynote sessions, and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening events. The two share two lecture tracks on Saturday on technology and DNA. Each offers their own set of extra cost luncheons. Full conference registrants of one conference can add the other for $39.

While generally the conferences run Thursday through Saturday (12-14 February 2014), both FGS and RootsTech have specialized events on Wednesday. FGS sponsors Focus on Societies Day for genealogical society officers, board members, and perennial volunteers. Focus on Societies is included in your regular FGS registration. RootsTech sponsors the Innovator Summit for software developers, business leaders, and entrepreneurs. This event can be added to your RootsTech 3-day pass for $20. On Tuesday, ProQuest sponsors Librarians’ Day for $10.

While the special discount price expires today, early bird pricing continues through 23 January 2015.

Register now for RootsTech 2015

Register now for the FGS 2015 conference

Extra credit: This frame, below, from a RootsTech 2015 promotional video, captured several people I know at RootsTech 2014. In true Waldo fashion, if you know them, can you find them?

  • Myself (the suspenders and T-shirt give me away)
  • More than three official conference bloggers (including Renee, Randy, and Myrt)
  • FGS 2014 Conference chair (Ed)
  • More than three current and former FGS officers and board members (including Cherie, Gordon, and Mike)
  • More than two deputies to David Rencher, FamilySearch chief genealogical officer (including Fran and Elaine)
  • Retired president of OCLC and WorldCat (Jay Jordan)
  • Two general authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Elder Bradley D. Foster and Elder Allan F. Packer)

The audience at RootsTech 2014 contains many people I know

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ancestry Insider Photographed at FGS Conference

A reader caught this photo of me at the recent Federation of Genealogical Societies conference:


New readers may not be aware that I am the Wilson of genealogy bloggers. Diane Haddad, the Genealogy Insider at Family Tree Magazine, started the tradition when she published this photograph of me:

Diane Haddad was the first person to ever photograph the Ancestry Insider
Diane Haddad, “Secret Genealogy Blogger Revealed! (Partially),” Genealogy Insider: Family Tree Magazine( : 11 January 2009).

Here are some other photos of me, several with famous people:

Thomas MacEntee and the Ancestry Insider at RootsTech 2012The Ancestry Insider with Family History Expo's Holly HansenThe Ancestry Insider listening to Aaron OrrThe Ancestry Insider in the NGS 2013 media centerThe Ancestry Insider discovers a strange new world at FGS 2013The Ancestry Insider at RootsTech 2013The Ancestry Insider and fellow bloggers at's 2009 Blogger's DayChristmas photograph of the Ancestry InsiderThe Ancestry Insider Indexing History at FGS 2012Lisa Louise Cooke interviews the Ancestry InsiderThe Ancestry Insider's Holiday PicThe Ancestry Insider at the Findmypast booth at RootsTech 2013The Ancestry Insider with Capt'n Jack Starling at RootsTech 2014The Ancestry Insider at the 2009 St. George Family History Expo

There are also pictures of me on other bloggers’ websites:

DearMYRTLE's photo of the Ancestry Insider at RootsTech 2011DearMYRTLE, “AncestryInsider makes appearance at RootsTech 2011,” Dear MYRTLE ( : 13 February 2011).
imageStephen J. Danko, “The Son of Blogger,” Steve’s Genealogy Blog ( : 29 June 2009).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Genealogy at a Glance: Polish Genealogy Research

Genealogy At a Glance: Polish Genealogy Research, by Rosemary A. Dembinski ChorzemphaAfter my recent review of another At a Glance title, I pawed through my stack of things to do and looked at the other titles Genealogical Publishing Company has sent me over the years. If you’ll recall from my DNA results, I’m pretty homogenous, so I’m not really qualified to review many of their At a Glance titles. But I have a friend, David Ouimette, who’s an expert in Polish genealogy, so I thought I’d ask him what he thought about Genealogy At a Glance: Polish Genealogy Research, by Rosemary A. Dembinski Chorzempa.

David immediately brightened at the name of the author. Chorzempa authored Polish Roots, the book that he found invaluable in his first foray into Polish genealogy. After reading through the four pages, he gave a positive review. He said she’d covered the right information in each section. He liked the books she suggested, although he felt she had left off a couple of major ones:

  • Going Home : A Guide to Polish-American Family History Research by Jonathan D. Shea
  • Sto Lat: A Modern Guide to Polish Genealogy by Cecile Wendt Jensen

The reverse side of the sheet lists place names in English, Latin, Polish, and German. David thought it was very helpful to have those particular four languages, as they prove the most helpful. (Russian also shows up in some areas of Poland.) But he thought a list of words commonly found in records would have been a more valuable use of the space. (She provides translations of 12 common words, but only from Polish to English.) He thought she provided some “cool links,” some to websites he’d not seen before.

David finds it helpful to look at a subject through the different angles provided by different authors. Dembinski Chorzempa’s is one he recommends.

Genealogy at a Glance: Polish Genealogy Research
Rosemary A. Dembinski Chorzempa
8.5" x 11", 4 pp., folded and laminated. 2013.
ISBN 978-0-8063-1968-1
Genealogical Publishing Company
$8.95 (list) plus shipping ($7.50, Fed Ex Ground).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Genealogy At a Glance: Scots-Irish Genealogy

Genealogy at a Glance: Scots-Irish Genealogy Research by Brian MitchellI don’t know why the Genealogical Publishing Company keeps sending me stuff for review. I don’t have time for a lot of reading and have a bookshelf full of titles I’ve begun but never finished. And I always give their Genealogy At a Glance reference sheets a bad review because the price per page is enormous. The single sheet of paper is folded in two and laminated, yielding four pages. I don’t often see them include reference type material. You know, the stuff I’m talking about. You view it over and over and have it within reach on your desk: the dictionary, Evidence Explained, and The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy (I got to chapter 5).

However, when I received their latest offering, Genealogy at a Glance: Scots-Irish Genealogy Research by Brian Mitchell, a thought occurred to me. Maybe I’m approaching this series wrongly. Maybe I ought to see them as the perfect beginners’ manual for someone who has a bookshelf full of titles begun but not finished. I have a dead-end in my genealogy that seems to have both Scottish and Irish connections. Maybe I should give this one a try.

What I found was a helpful introduction for an absolute beginner to Scots-Irish research. I was a bit disappointed to find in the second paragraph that this guide was for pre-1800 immigrants. My brick wall is a 19th century immigrant. But I learned a lot about who the Scots-Irish are, where they came from, and what resources are available for researching them. As with any good four page introduction to a subject, this guide contains references to books for further information on different aspects of Scots-Irish research. I trust these are the best references in those areas. And it was not like those obnoxious conference syllabi that contain little else but a bibliography. I raised an eyebrow when the first book referenced was a book by the author himself, also published by the Genealogical Publishing Company. But that is to be expected assuming GPC approaches the foremost experts on subjects.

The guide began with the usual wasted space, a table of contents. Come on guys; this is a four page title. And it is bookended with 10 square inches of wasted space dedicated the equivalent of a title-page and back jacket: the name of the publisher, the copyright date, a marketing logo, and the UPC. In-between I was pleased to see the small margins and reasonable leading  befitting a four page reference work.

I’m surprised I’m giving my first positive review of an At a Glance title. Remember, I’m not an expert and can’t vouch for the choice or value of the information presented. But for an ever-so-brief introduction for someone of my attention span, I liked it.

Genealogy at a Glance: Scots-Irish Genealogy Research
Brian Mitchell
8.5" x 11", 4 pp., folded and laminated. 2014.
ISBN 978-0-8063-1996-4
Genealogical Publishing Company
$8.95 (list) plus shipping ($7.50, Fed Ex Ground).

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Family Tree Magazine’s 101 Best Genealogy Websites for 2014

The Ancestry Insider is one of Family Tree Magazine's 101 Best Websites for 2014.A friend tells me that the Ancestry Insider is honored this year on the Family Tree Magazine list of the 101 Best Genealogy Websites for 2014! I visited their website and, sure enough, there I was! There are many, many websites better than mine, so it is a pleasure to be named. The Ancestry Insider was one of the five websites mentioned in the “Best Genealogy News” category, alongside Dick Eastman, Dear Myrtle, Lisa Louise Cooke, and the RootsWeb massive set of mailing list, where you can here the news about pretty much any subject, locale, or surname.

David A. Fryxell put the list together again this year.

Click the category below to see the best websites from that category:

This is especially meaningful because the editors at Family Tree Magazine provided encouragement to me in this newsletter’s earliest stages, when I was painfully aware of my ragged writing. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them. Thank you, Family Tree Magazine!

And I’d like to also thank… (Queue music. Fade to commercial.)