Monday, June 29, 2015

RootsTech Attendee Demographics

RootsTech 2016 - Celebrating Families across GenerationsRootsTech (hosted by FamilySearch) recently released some interesting demographics about 2015 RootsTech conference and Innovator Summit attendees.

  RootsTech Attendees Innovator Summit Attendees
States 49 39
Countries 39 11
Family history beginner 37% 21%
Family history intermediate 46% 46%
Family history advanced, expert, or professional 17% 33%
Technology beginner 19% 7%
Technology intermediate 59% 28%
Technology advanced, expert, or developer 22% 65%
Female 66% 34%
Male 34% 66%
18-35 10% 23%
36-45 15% 26%
46-55 18% 22%
56-65 28% 21%
Over 65 29% 8%

Some interesting things to notice:

  • Percentages for male and female are completely reversed between RootsTech and Innovator Summit.
  • The average Innovator Summit attendee considered himself to be a better genealogist than what the average RootsTech attendee considered herself. That would be an interesting self appraisal to validate. Most of the technology I see produced for genealogy is designed for pre-chasm research. There’s the possibility that Innovator Summit attendees haven’t done much post-chasm research or aren’t even aware the chasm exists. Or the explanation could be much more obvious and less ominous: RootsTech offers a beginners’ track and the Innovator Summit doesn’t. (For more information about the chasm, see “The Chasm.”)
  • To put the shoe on the other foot, when it came to technology, 22% of RootsTech attendees considered themselves advanced or developer. Since I doubt one in five RootsTech attendees are familiar with C#, Java, JavaScript, JSON, jQuery, XML, and AJAX, “advanced” must mean something different to a RootsTech attendee than it does to an Innovator Summit attendee. I guess some rows in the above table are comparing apples and oranges.
  • Innovator Summit attendee ages were evenly split between the four age groups from 18 to 65. Over half of the RootsTech attendees were over 55.

RootsTech 2016 will be held the 3rd through the 6th of February, 2016. RootsTech is always held in Salt Lake City and will be held again at the Salt Palace Convention Center. I’ve not seen any word on when registration will open, but the class schedule will be announced mid September. The deadline for presentation proposals is tomorrow, 30 June 2015.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

FamilySearch Announces Project to Index Freedmen Records

A marriage certificate from the records of the Freedmen's BureauFriday, on the 150th Juneteenth day, FamilySearch announced the Freedmen’s Bureau Indexing Project. The project is a collaborative effort with FamilySearch and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States and the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. The project will index an estimated 4 million names from 1.5 million digitized images of records from the Freedmen’s Bureau. The Freedmen’s Bureau was established to help freed slaves transition to citizenship.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke of the importance of the project. Elder Christofferson is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of FamilySearch sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Fourteen years ago he announced the completion of the indexing of the Freedman’s Bank records.

“One of our key beliefs is that our families can be linked forever and that knowing the sacrifices, the joys and the paths our ancestors trod helps us to know who we are and what we can accomplish,” he said. “I witnessed the healing and joy African Americans experienced as they discovered their ancestors for the first time in those records."

Thom Reed, FamilySearch marketing manager said, "We’re calling for volunteers, specifically those that have ties to these records, the African American community, to get involved with this to help us break down this brick wall to help us overcome these barriers in genealogical research and making these family connections."

I was especially impressed with the remarks of Jannah Scott, deputy director for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “This is rich,” she said. “This is about all of us. I know the records are about the 4 million African Americans that were freed, but at that time there were people from all races, all religions, all ethnicities who were heralding the call for a new America, an America that would hold the promise of us being a perfect union, an America that would hold the promise that all men are created equal.”

Some images of the records are already available on the FamilySearch website. View the list of U.S. collections and enter “Freedmen” in the “Filter by collection name.”

For more information on the indexing project, visit You can view a recording of the news conference on YouTube.

Jannah Scott speaks at the Freemen's Bureau Indexing Project news conference. Click to watch on YouTube.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Global Family Reunion

The Global Family ReunionNearly 4,000 people showed up at the Global Family Reunion in New York City on 6 June 2015. Thousands attended the associated block party at the Salt Lake City Family History Library. (See “Salt Lake City Joins Global Family Reunion, Celebrating Family History” in the Deseret News.) Recordings of several presentations at the Reunion are now available online:

  • Gallery Session 1:
    Bennett Greenspan (“DNA and You”),
    Ron Arons (31:32 – “Black Sheep”)
  • Gallery Session 2:
    Gilad Japhet (“Amazing Family Tales”),
    Pamela Weisberger (29:00 – “Family, Scandals & Secrets”),
    Josh Taylor (1:00:00 – “Hollywood & Family”)
  • Gallery Session 3:
    CeCe Moore (“Power of DNA”)
    Pamela Weisberger & Jordan Auslander (32:35 – Game Show Quiz – extensive technical difficulties)
  • Gallery Session 4:
    Maud Newton (“The Ancestry Craze”)
    Sister Sledge (36:10 – “World, Rise and Shine”)
    Sister Sledge (40:44 - “We Are Family”)
    Sister Sledge at the Global Family Reunion
    Randy Whited (1:24:53 “The Future is Now”)
  • Gallery Session 5:
    Maureen Taylor (1:39 - “Photo Detective”)
    David Rencher (25:45 - “Connecting Families”)
    A.J. Jacos and David Rencher at the Global Family Reunion
    Eric Schoenberg (57:30 - “Family Business”)
    Niels Hansen (1:14:18 - “The Global Chart”)
    Kasia Bryc (1:28:45 - “Ask Your DNA”)
  • Gallery Session 6:
    Wesley Eames (9:23 - “Genealogy & Tech”)

Two other tracks of entertainment and pop presentations are available. See the schedule and the videos.

The main stage at the Global Family Reunion

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy

BYU Conference on Family History and GenealogyI’m honored to be an official conference blogger for this year’s conference on Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University. The conference is scheduled for the 28th to 31st of July 2015.

Topics scheduled for this year include:

  • ICAPGen Accreditation
  • Beginner Skills
  • Methodology
  • U.S./Canada Research
  • German Research
  • Online Research
  • Writing/Publishing Family History
  • FamilySearch
  • DNA Research
  • U.K Research
  • Military Records

For more information, visit

BYU myFamily History Youth CampConcurrent with this year’s conference is a new youth camp: myFamily History Youth Camp. The camp is designed for young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, age 14-18. The goal of the camp is that “each youth who attends this camp will leave with enough knowledge and ability in family history research to become a ward family history consultant, able to pass on his or her knowledge and excitement about family history work to other ward members, family and friends.” The camp includes a joint dance with another popular BYU youth camp: Especially for Youth. Attendees will attend the keynote sessions of the adult conference: Elder Gerald N. Lund of the Church, Robert Kehrer of FamilySearch, Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems., and movie producer, T.C. Christensen. Participants will take several field trips, including one to the Salt Lake City Family History Library. The schedule includes plenty of hands-on lab time. Participants can stay on-campus or arrange for their own housing. For more information, visit

Thursday, June 11, 2015 News Ketchup for 10 June 2015 Leaf logoAncestry Insider KetchupI have no time. I’m way behind on articles. Time to ketchup…


Ancestry has posted vital records from the state of Virginia. See “Virginia Vital Records Are Here!” on the Ancestry Blog. FamilySearch’s Dennis Brimhall announced at RootsTech that FamilySearch had partnered with Ancestry to do Virginia vital records. See my article, “RootsTech and FGS2015 Opening Session.”

Bullet Ancestry.comI noticed this week that Ancestry is a corporate partner of NAPHSIS, the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems. Ancestry made a presentation at the 2015 annual meeting in Pittsburgh last week. I heard it went really well.

Bullet Ancestry.comAncestry is testing a new website: AncestryHealth. The concept is to offer a free website to “trace health conditions along family lines and get customized information on risks and prevention.” The website is capable of printing reports for sharing with one’s doctor or family. If you already have an Ancestry Member Tree, it will automatically utilize a private copy of it. Otherwise, you can enter your family information. Then you can add health conditions that run in your family, as well as personal habits that affect health, such as smoking, diet, and exercise. The website presents  information from experts about the health concerns you’ve indicated and steps that can be taken to reduce your risks.

Bullet Ancestry.comAncestryDNA is now available in Australia and New Zealand. With expanding coverage in the United Kingdom and Ireland, AncestryDNA can become a powerful tool for those in Australia and New Zealand with British and Irish ancestry. See “AncestryDNA is Now Available in Australia and New Zealand” on the Ancestry Blog.

Bullet Ancestry.comIn a six minute video, AncestryDNA scientist Ross Curtis explains the science behind their ethnicity estimates. Learn why your results can look so different than a sibling’s. Watch the YouTube video, “Breaking Down the Science Behind AncestryDNA Ethnicity Results.”

I’m out of time!