Thursday, February 12, 2015

#RootsTech and #FGS2015 Opening Session (#RTATEAM)

Computer crashed.

Backup malfunctioned.

All my notes gone.

You’re stuck with some general impressions—and lots of screen captures.

Welcome to RootsTech

This is RootsTech. I do remember that, despite my bad memory and despite the loss of my notes.
Who Inspires You? RootsTech 2015 videoThe session started with a video titled “Who Inspires You?” Watch it yourself on YouTube.
Celebrating Families Across GenerationsThe theme this year is “Celebrating Families Across Generations.”
Preserve the PensionsJosh Taylor, president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies took a quick minute. He was accompanied by his costars of The Genealogy Roadshow, Mary Tedesco, and Kenyatta Berry. They gave a progress report on the Preserve the Pensions project. If you aren’t aware of this project, you should be.
Mary Tedesco, Josh Taylor, and Kenyatta Berry at FGS/RootsTech

Taylor’s comments mirrored the introduction on the project website:

The Pension Records from the War of 1812 are among the most requested documents at the National Archives. Unfortunately, these fragile documents are in urgent need of digitization. In support of this monumental task of digitizing 7.2 million pages, Ancestry.com has provided a dollar for dollar matching grant, so every dollar you contribute will make four more pages accessible and free for everyone.

He reported that they have broken the 50% milestone! Visit the Preserve the Pensions website to donate.

Dennis Brimhall shows map of RootsTech affiliated family history fairsFamilySearch CEO, Dennis Brimhall gave the first of three keynote addresses. He announced that as of this morning the number of RootsTech registrations was 21,927. All states are represented this year except for West Virginia. Every year there has been one missing, but it has never been the same. The number of vendors in the exhibit hall is up to 170. After the conference, RootsTech-associated family history fairs are held around the world. Last year, 1,183 such events were held. Below is a photo of a fair held in Nigeria.
RootsTech affiliated family history fair in Nigeria

Sonia Meza Morales with Captain Jack StarlingDennis gave a report on the FamilySearch initiative to index obituaries. Last year, Captain Jack Starling joined him onstage to introduced the initiative. This year Dennis reported that volunteers had indexed 100 million names. He said that Captain Starling would be proud. There were 319,000 indexers. On average, they indexed 1.3 million names every day.

Dennis said that FamilySearch is working with partners to digitize, index, and publish new record collections. These collaborations produce more records, more quickly. FamilySearch is currently partnering with Ancestry.com on the following projects. (Thanks, Randy, for the list.)

  • Canadian census records (pre-1911)
  • U.S. probate records
  • U.S. homesteader records
  • Northampton parish records
  • New York State Archives records
  • Virginia vital records
  • WWII draft records
  • 80 million Mexican vital records

With FindMyPast, FamilySearch is doing

  • English parish records
  • U.K. airmen service records
  • U.S. passenger lists
  • U.S. Revolutionary War pension files
  • U.S. Civil War pension indexes
  • Irish Poverty Relief Fund records

MyHeritage and FamilySearch are partnering on

  • U.K. census records
  • Finnish confirmation records
  • Swedish household names
  • Dutch records
  • U.S. passenger lists

Dennis announced two new partners: the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and family.me.

He next demonstrated the new Discovery Center experience, which he called, the “Museum of Me.”

The Museum of Me

Because I’ve already written about the Salt Lake Discovery Center, I’ll relate Dennis’s experience through pictures.

 Dennis Brimhall visits a Discovery Center where he takes a selfie Dennis Brimhall visits a Discovery Center where he takes a second selfie Dennis Brimhall visits a Discovery Center where he learns the meaning of his name Dennis Brimhall visits a Discovery Center where he learns the meaning of his name Dennis Brimhall visits a Discovery Center and sees the distribution of his name Dennis Brimhall visits a Discovery Center and sees the distribution of his name Dennis Brimhall visits a Discovery Center and learns interesting facts about his birth year Dennis Brimhall visits a Discovery Center and learns interesting facts about his birth year Dennis Brimhall demonstrates a visit to a Discovery Center at RootsTech Dennis Brimhall visits a Discovery Center and finds a picture of his Father's Purple Heart medal Dennis Brimhall visits a Discovery Center and learns his national origins Dennis Brimhall visits a Discovery Center and learns his national origins Dennis Brimhall visits a Discovery Center and, just for fun, dresses up like a Roman soldier

That is the “Museum of Me.” Well, actually, it’s the museum of Dennis Brimhall. To build your own museum, bring your family to the Salt Lake Discovery Center. (To make an appointment, visit https://familysearch.org/discoverycenter.) FamilySearch will open a discovery center in Philadelphia. They are looking for a place in London. And they will soon open a small center in Seattle.

Whew. I bet you’re glad I lost me notes. How much longer could that have been? Well, the loss of my notes actually will affect the rest of my report.

Introducing Instant Discoveries by MyHeritageDennis was followed by Mike Mallin, chief product officer for MyHeritage. During his presentation, Dennis had shared a video commercial produced by MyHeritage. (See “Introducing Instant Discoveries™ by MyHeritage” on YouTube.)

Tan Le was the final keynote at RootsTech's opening sessionThe final keynote of the opening session was Tan Le. She told a story of hardship, heartbreak, fortitude, survival, and triumph. She escaped Vietnam with her mother as a small girl. Her earliest memory was the stark and frightening escape on a boat. The boat became a metaphor of strength acquired through adversity and perseverance.

Watch the video when it is posted on RootsTech.org.

That’s it for the first keynote. See you tomorrow.

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