RootsTech 2014: Reaching the Summit with New Mountains to Climb, Part 1

With Captain Jack Starling

With Captain Jack Starling

RootsTech 2014 offered participants an expanded view of all that is available to the family history and genealogy community. There were wow moments for many of those who came from 49 states and 32 countries! If anyone else knows someone from South Dakota, the lone holdout state, we’ve been asked to bring them along next year.

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

The Innovator Summit was held on Wednesday, February 5th. “RootsTech 2014: Reaching New Heights …” discusses the opening session. The day of the summit, I found myself tweeting, “[s]o many choices, so many friends, so little time!” The result of the larger conference and venue was that I attended a few sessions, not many, saw some friends, not all, and focused on capturing fleeting moments rather than reflective, hence the delay in sharing my experiences at RootsTech.

Find #MyToday at

Find #MyToday at

In one session, Cydni Tetro, who is employed as a Disney Imagineer, shared her vision of an app that would allow an individual to gather posts and tweets from multiple social media accounts into story form for preservation on the FamilySearch site. It is called #MyToday and it is in early beta. Cydni invited everyone to access and, using their Facebook account, create a story and provide feedback. Unfortunately, the story created will not be preserved but it will visually allow the creator an idea of the finished product.

In the evening the RootsTech 2014 FamilySearch Blogger and Media Dinner was held at the Salt Palace.

FamilySearch Industry Leaders Town Hall

FamilySearch Industry Leaders Town Hall

For the first time bloggers were invited to participate virtually. Announcements were made, including an introduction to The Year of the Obituary and FamilySearch’s Captain Jack Starling. The goal is to create an index of 100,000,000 obituaries because “dead men tell no tales, but their obituaries do.” FamilySearch is partnering with many organizations and volunteers to make this happen. The project will begin with obituaries from the United States and expand to other nations. Although an obituary is only as good as its source, obituaries provide vital and biographical information important to genealogical research. Sometimes they even include a story or two.

By the way, there was a town meeting held with some of the top executives from FamilySearch International. It was a great opportunity to ask questions. All were invited.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Please welcome to the stage ... Shipley Munson!

“Please welcome to the stage … Shipley Munson!”

Shipley Munson welcomed RootsTech attendees to this year’s conference. He introduced Dennis C. Brimhall, the CEO of FamilySearch International. Brimhall had four important points:

  1. The power of stories
  2. enhancements, including an attempt to create a texting app so that those who do not have access to computers and smart phones can participate via this technology
  3. The role and importance of records, including the importance of indexing
  4. The importance of partnerships to accelerate online record access. At the current pace, it will take an estimated 11 generations before the records at FamilySearch will be digitally preserved. With partnerships, it is estimated we can reduce this to one!

After Brimhall’s remarks Josh Taylor introduced his boss Annelies van den Belt, CEO of DC Thomson Family History. She introduced herself by sharing part of her own family history and her vision for the partnership entered into by the leading genealogy companies. Finally, Ree Drummond, The Pioneeer Woman, shared her introduction to family history and her blogging journey. She encouraged others to start blogging or writing their stories using the medium of their choice.
Expo Hall RootsTech 2014. WPThe Expo Hall opened shortly thereafter with vendors prepared to greet attendees. This year RootsTech provided free Expo passes to those who wanted to walk the hall. With presenters taking the stage at the BackBlaze theatre, the Expo Hall was a continual education hot spot. I must admit that I only caught a quick glimpse of all that was going on. I needed another day to devote to investigating everything available!

Dr. Spencer Wells, Kenny Freestone, Dr. Tim Janzen, and Benett Greenspan

(From L to R) Dr. Spencer Wells, Kenny Freestone, Dr. Tim Janzen, MD, and Bennett Greenspan

I enjoyed two sessions on DNA. CeCe Moore presented her strategies for “Using Genetic Genealogy to Discover the Ancestry of Adoptees (and Scale Recent Genealogical Brick Walls).” As an expert genetic genealogist, she moderated the session that allowed attendees to ask questions to the experts representing the leading DNA companies. One of the benefits of physically attending RootsTech is the opportunity for an attendee to receive an answer to his or her specific question from top experts in the field.

Vocal Point at RootsTech 2014 Opening Social

Vocal Point at RootsTech 2014 Opening Social

In the evening, attendees were treated to light refreshments and a concert by Vocal Point, who opened with “Footloose.” Vocal Point performed songs for all generations and shared a few anecdotes related to their own experience with family history.

RootsTech 2014 had so much to offer whether attending in person or virtually, so I have a musing question: how long do you think it would take to apply all that one could learn from RootsTech 2014?

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

The BYU 45th Annual Conference on Family History and Genealogy: the Keynote Presentations

BYU Conference Center

BYU Conference Center

I mentioned in previous posts that the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy would make available transcripts of this year’s keynote presentations shortly after the conference ended. Today is the day :-)

Now available for download and viewing are the following:

  • An Invitation to Shape the Future by Elder Allan F. Packer – the transcript in PDF format
  • Coffins, Urns & Zip Lock Bags by J. Mark Lowe – a two-page syllabus from his presentation in PDF format
  • Hearts Then Charts by Dennis C. Brimhall – download the slides of this presentation. Additionally, there are two short videos to view.

Enjoy them at your leisure this weekend :-)

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

The BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy is Going South

The Third Day of the 45th Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit. Actually the South, or really an expert in Southern U.S. Research, has come to us :-)

Today J. Mark Lowe will give the final keynote presentation, “Coffins, Urns & Zip-Lock Bags.” Mark is a professional genealogist, author, and teacher. He is an engaging storyteller that weaves into the minds of his listeners the principles of sound methodology using his experience in conducting Southern research.

Following the opening session, methodology education continues with Jean Wilcox Hibben, Nancy Lauer, Hannah Allan and Stephen Ehat. As part of this track, Mark Lowe’s final presentation at this conference will be at 1:30pm entitled, “Here Comes the Bride, and There She Goes.”

The U.S. Research track continues as well along with the Scottish and German Research tracks. Dutch, Estonian, Russian, and Slovakian Research will also be offered today. More presentations about online research, as well as the first day of classes to assist LDS Family History Consultants with their church responsibilities will also be conducted.

Wednesday’s opening session of the BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference

Wednesday’s opening session of the
BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference

Yesterday Dennis C. Brimhall, managing director of the LDS Family History Department, gave the opening keynote address. His remarks were entitled, “Not Just a Chart, But the Heart.” He mentioned that there are about 70,000 family history consultants world-wide and about 4,700 Family History Centers in 129 countries throughout the world. He shared that there are 2.9 billion names in the FamilySearch database and that 1.7 million names are added daily. Since April over 700,000 photos have been uploaded to the Family Tree system. Presently, there are 237 camera teams digitizing records and it is hoped to raise this number to 500. He estimated that it will take 5-7 years to digitize the Granite Vault.

And then he asked the question, “How well are we doing?” He said that only 25% of members of the LDS Church have registered to use and only 8% have logged on in the past 12 months. He said that “we” have been too technology-centric and that a significant number of LDS Church members do not have access to a computer, such as in the Philippians where 1 out of 10 youth have access.

The quandary has been that those who are paying for this system are not using it. He said that Family History Centers have missed the point; they have been places to do research, not places to learn about oneself and that people must start with themselves. He shared a vision of the future Family History Center becoming a Discovery Center that is family friendly. Presently, NEHGS and the British Library, among others, will soon receive this newly-designed center. He also emphasized that the new family history center is in the home.

He shared other statistics, such as 27% of contributors to Family Tree are friends from other faiths. He emphasized that FamilySearch has partnered with major companies serving the genealogical community to increase the number of record sets available to the patrons through avoiding duplication of acquisitions.

He closed by sharing statistics about RootsTech. This year there were 25,644 total attendees, 68% attended by remote access or by live stream. In 2014 RootsTech will be broadcast to 600 locations in 10 different languages with an estimated 120,000 participants.

He said that FamilySearch seeks to champion the things of the heart, as well as the chart. He said that FamilySearch is committed to providing such an experience. He announced that at the end of August a new pamphlet, My Family, will be made available to assist members in beginning their family history.

[The transcripts of the keynote addresses given at the 45th Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy will be made available on the conference website in the near future.]

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Can You Chart the Heart?

The Second Day of the 45th Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy

Those involved in family history and genealogy are familiar with charts: names, dates, places, and relationships all displayed in an organized fashion. Some have these charts in files, others have published books, and others have charts hanging on the walls of their homes. They provide a sense of knowledge about oneself and those from whom one descends.

Elder Allan F. Packer (Courtesy of BYU Conferences & Workshops Photography)

Elder Allan F. Packer
(Courtesy of BYU Conferences & Workshops Photography)

Yesterday Elder Allan F. Packer extended “an invitation to shape the future” to an overflow crowd at the BYU Conference Center in Provo, Utah. He asked us to get involved, to become “change agents,” in the field of family history and genealogy. He listed fun and fulfillment as the top reasons for the need for change in the number of people involved in this work. Greater unity in [the] family and society, the doctrine [of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints], population growth and record-keeping were other points he mentioned.

And then he suggested “specific things [we] can do.” First on his list was to start with the youth. (This conference hosted about 70 youth yesterday. I had the opportunity to pop-in to their sessions, filled or almost filled, to capacity throughout the day. Will the youth have their very own conference in the near future?)

Paul, Anna, Kate and Rachel

Paul, Anna, Kate and Rachel

He also asked us to “change the sequence of how we introduce people to family history, help them to discover themselves, use stories and pictures, and simplify.” He stated that “family history is more than genealogy.” He encouraged us to “discover the history of the past, create history by living in the present, and shape the history of the future by what we do now.”

During his address Elder Packer reported that the participants of this conference came from 6 countries, 24 states, 89% of the participants were under the age of 60, and 75% of conference participants were female. Of this last point he said that this must change :-)

In the past, transcripts of the keynote addresses were made available on the conference website. I will keep you posted as to their availability this year.

Today Dennis Brimhall will discuss, “Not Just a Chart, But the Heart.” As you know, he is the Managing Director of the LDS Family History Department. After the keynote address there will be 40 classes for participants to choose from divided into 8 tracks. There will be a track for Beginners. Southern U.S. Research and Irish Research will have their own series of classes. Internationally, Canadian, French, Jewish, and Japanese Research will be addressed. will be presenting a series of classes as well. DNA Research, the FamilySearch Family Tree, and FamilySearch Compatibles round out today’s offerings.

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

The Single Leaf Interrupts Your Summer…

BYU Conference Center NE WPActually, I hope to enhance your summer as I make this announcement :-)

Unknown to some is a week-long conference held in Provo, Utah, near Sundance resort, you know, Robert Redford’s place. Provo is located about 45 miles south of Salt Lake and if you are interested in genealogy you are probably familiar with that city. Although people come from as far away as Australia, and this year from Africa, to attend this conference, some locals may not even know that this conference has been going on for 44 years!

Therefore, I would like to announce that the 45th Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy will be held July 30th through August 2nd, 2013 at the BYU Conference Center, 770 East University Parkway, Provo, Utah. There is still time to register if you would like to attend. Remember, sometimes airlines have great last minute deals :-)

Why would you want to interrupt your summer plans?

Unlike genealogical institutes that have you register for one course for the entire week, this conference allows the participant to chose from 160 classes categorized into about two dozen tracks. The syllabus is a treasure trove of additional information, bibliographies, and links to further one’s study of a topic so one can go as deep as necessary or desired.

The opening session for the conference is entitled, “An Invitation to Shape the Future” and will be given by Elder Allan F. Packer, executive director of the Family History Department for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On Wednesday, Dennis C. Brimhall, President and CEO of FamilySearch International will speak to conference participants about “Not Just a Chart, but the Heart.” This year BYU is pleased to announce that J. Mark Lowe will be teaching a number of classes as well as presenting the keynote on Thursday. Mark is well-known in genealogical circles for his expertise in Southern U.S. Research and his sense of humor. I’m curious to know what he has to say about “Coffins, Urns & Zip-Lock Bags.” Classes are offered from the beginner to advanced levels by some names that you may know and some who are just qualified to share their expertise :-) For a complete schedule of presenters and their topics visit

As we have gone digital, the youth have been a great asset in helping FamilySearch Indexing get record indices online. This year the youth will have their own track on opening day, Tuesday, July 30th. Attendance does not require pre-registration so if you are a youth or know a youth, consider dropping by and staying for the day. It’s free and, with the hot Utah sun, it’s also air conditioned. (Did I mention that the entire facility is fabulous?)

Family Chart Masters and Genealogy Wall Charts are giving away free fan charts to conference participants. You must order them online and they will be available for pick up at the conference. Visit the conference website for more information.

The conference will also have exhibitors present to display their newest products and services. Come check out the newest offerings in the field of genealogy. With the retirement of the free PAF program, Ancestral Quest, Legacy FamilyTree, and RootsMagic will be available to demonstrate their software to help those who may have been reluctant to leave PAF, or those new to genealogy, find a computer database program that suits their preferences. For Mac Users who prefer not to use Fusion, Parallels, or Boot Camp to run the PC programs, there are other options. will be at the conference. They have programs for PC and Mac. There will be a beginner class on Friday entitled, “Mac Users: Simple Tricks to Save You Time.” Talk to the presenter about program options or contact me. I like Mac :-)

As mentioned above, the Youth track on Tuesday is FREE and does not require pre-registration. Noncredit registration for the four-day event, including a CD syllabus, is $180. Family History Consultants, who may attend their specific track for FREE on Friday, may register for the full conference and receive a $50 discount on general registration. The credit option cost for the conference (2 credits of History 481R – Family History Directed Research and a CD syllabus) is $440. To register, call 1-877-221-6716 or visit

Men’s and women’s housing, which includes meals each day of the conference, is available on the BYU campus for $155. (That’s four nights lodging and 12 full meals.) Married housing is not available. (See the conference website about hotel accommodations.) Conference participants who are not staying in campus housing may purchase a $32 lunch card that covers lunches at the Morris Center each day of the conference. Lunch includes a choice of two entrees, salad, fruit, desserts, and drinks. It’s all you can eat! For more information about the conference, visit the website or call 801-422-4853.

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.