RootsTech London 2019 is coming!

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Where will you be on October 24? Hopefully in London, enjoying the experience that is RootsTech! There is nothing like it. It’s the best of all worlds…informative classes presented by experienced genealogists, an Exhibition hall featuring over 100 stands devoted to everything genealogy, and world-famous keynote speakers who will bring their passion for family history to the stage, each in their own unique way. You will walk away feeling inspired, uplifted and eager to put all your newly learned information into practice.

Take a peek at the recently released schedule (subject to change) and you’ll see an excellent variety of classes to choose from, covering all aspects of genealogy:

London Schedule

RootsTech London has a variety of passes, one of which is sure to fit your schedule. Right now you can take advantage of early bird pricing for the popular 3-day pass at £99 (which allows access to ALL the sessions in the registration price), and for the 1-day pass at £49.

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If you just can’t make it to London, don’t despair! RootsTech will offer a variety of classes which will be recorded and made available as part of a virtual pass. Stay tuned as those will be announced in the next few weeks. The beauty of the virtual pass is being able to watch at home in your pajamas if you like, and still experience the magic that is RootsTech!

If you’ve never heard of RootsTech and wonder what all the hype is about, you can watch some of the sessions recorded at RootsTech in Salt Lake City earlier this year. They are freely available to watch, just be sure you have enough time as you’ll want to watch them all! You can also read about my own experience at RootsTech Salt Lake City 2019 here.

As an official RootsTech London ambassador I will have a complimentary RootsTech London pass worth £149 to give away. Stay tuned for more info on that!

Come and discover your family story at RootsTech London 2019!

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RootsTech 2019 Recap

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It’s hard to believe that RootsTech 2019 was 3 weeks ago! I came back from an absolutely wonderful week to a pretty big assignment for the ProGen course I’m taking and have been working on that all month. It’s finally submitted now and time to do a short recap of what was a busy, fun, exhausting, but inspiring week!

This was my fifth RootsTech and the fourth that my friend Kandace and I have been at together. We meet in Salt Lake City each February to indulge in our love for genealogy and to catch up on each others’ lives. The theme for this year of Connect.Belong. seemed to fit so well with a friendship that’s been going strong for over 18 years now!

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This year was my first as a RootsTech Ambassador and it was fantastic! Besides promoting RootsTech on all of our social media platforms, each ambassador was given a free registration to give away and my competition was won by John. John came all the way from The Netherlands to attend RootsTech! It was great to meet him in person.

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John and I in front of the Family History Library

What fun to be part of this amazing group of RootsTech ambassadors!

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Just a couple of the wonderful genealogists I got to meet in person!

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RootsTech always comes through with interesting classes and inspiring, energetic keynote sessions. No exception this year! The keynote sessions are available to watch at RootsTech.org. So if you weren’t able to attend RootsTech 2019, or just want to watch them again, head over and relive the magic!

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I was interviewed by RootsTech and given a few minutes to gush about why I love it so much and what keeps me coming back. A fun but kind of nerve wracking experience!

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What a great experience this year’s RootsTech was! And now RootsTech is headed to London! I got the news while at RootsTech that I am one of the official RootsTech London Ambassadors which is really exciting! I’m so happy that friends and family in the U.K. will be able to experience the magic that is RootsTech! Early bird pricing is happening now for RootsTech London!

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2020 will be RootsTech’s 10th anniversary year! Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t attend RootsTech in person? The Virtual Pass may be the perfect solution

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RootsTech is truly listening to its fans and finding options for those who aren’t able to make it to the conference in person. This past week the brand new RootsTech Virtual Pass was announced! It provides access to 18 online recorded sessions from the conference, allowing you to watch from the comfort of your home.  What could be better than learning something new…in your pajamas!

The RootsTech free live streaming sessions will also be available to those not headed to the conference. This includes the general sessions featuring keynote speakers such as Patricia Heaton, Saroo Brierley and Jake Shimabukuro. These sessions will be streamed live starting on Wednesday, February 27, at 9:30 a.m. MST from the RootsTech.org home page.

For those who have attended RootsTech before, we know that it is almost impossible to get to every event or session that you want to see. There are just so many great classes to learn from! That’s where the Virtual Pass comes in. You can add the pass to your existing registration and that way, add more content.

The Virtual Pass, and the free live streamed sessions are a win-win for those unable to attend RootsTech in person, and for those attending but who would like access to more content.

important-98442_1280Quick tip: Did you know that you can access the recorded content from past RootsTech conferences (2015-2018)? What a great way to get a taste of RootsTech for those attending for the first time in 2019! Or just to relive what have been some truly memorable sessions and classes!

 

 

Are you ready? RootsTech 2019 is around the corner!

With the new year just around the corner, RootsTech 2019 is inching closer and closer! So, what has been happening behind the scenes at RootsTech? A lot!  Wonderful keynote speakers have been announced, there’s a RootsTech film competition, and just last week, the streaming schedule was revealed. Let’s take a closer look at some of these big happenings.

Keynote Speakers

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Who doesn’t love funny lady Patricia Heaton from Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle? Patricia Heaton will be the keynote speaker on Thursday, February 28. I’m looking forward to laughing and learning from her! Check out the 3 interesting things about Patricia Heaton that you may not have known.

Have you read Saroo Brierley’s autobiography, A Long Way Home? Maybe you’ve seen the film, Lion, based on the book? Both are excellent, depicting the courage and determination of this young man, Saroo Brierley, in connecting with his birth family in India, after losing contact with them at age five. Saroo Brierley will be on the main stage on Friday, March 1 at 11:00am. Don’t miss it!

I had not heard of Jake Shimabukuro until RootsTech made the announcement that he would be a keynote speaker on Saturday, March 2. I had to go and find out more. YouTube came through with some music videos of Jake playing his ukulele. After hearing him play Bohemian Rhapsody, I am a fan!

From the RootsTech Blog

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The Expo Hall is one of my favorite parts of RootsTech.  The energy is electric with hundreds of vendors and thousands of attendees all talking genealogy!  Thanks to the RootsTech blog I’ve now learned about some vendors that I will definitely be making time to visit.  Read about 10 Exhibitors You Won’t Want to Miss at RootsTech 2019.

Are you new to RootsTech? Or someone looking to brush up on the basics? RootsTech 2019 has something for everyone. The RootsTech blog takes a look at what is available for beginner’s here.

The RootsTech Film Fest

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Submit your entry and tell how you connect and belong and you could win a trip to your ancestral homeland. What a dream that would be! You don’t have to be a professional, there’s a category for everyone. Deadline is January 30, 2019. More information can be found here.

Free Live Stream Schedule

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I know there are some folks who aren’t able to make it to RootsTech 2019. Here is the next best thing. A live streaming schedule that you can watch in the comfort of your home, with your pjs on if you like! Those three incredible keynote speakers I mentioned?  Their keynote addresses will be live streamed. Also being live streamed are classes by well-known genealogy experts such as Rebecca Whitford Koford, Diahan Southard, Kenyatta Berry, Amy Johnson Crow, Blaine Bettinger and many more.

If you’ve decided that it’s just too good to miss and you’re ready to give up your pjs and join us in Salt Lake City, on 27 February 2019, then take advantage of promotional pricing ($209) and register before January 25, 2019.

See you in Salt Lake!

 

Context is Key: Know the Law!

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At the time our ancestors lived, there were laws that came into being and which affected the way our ancestors lived and the documents they created.  In last week’s post, we learned how important it is to understand the collection our record is in. It is perhaps even more important to understand the laws at the time the record was created. This is particularly important in the case of probate, deed, marriage and other court records. The way a will disperses property is influenced by the laws in effect at the time. These laws may be local, state and national. Just as our lives are subject to the laws of today, our ancestors lived and created records influenced by the laws of their day.

An example: Coverture and the status of women as guardians

In the early colonies and even later in the United States, women had very few, if any, rights. Under the doctrine known as coverture, a married woman could not own property, enter into a contract or even claim legal guardianship of her children should her husband die. All her rights were subsumed under her husband’s 1. It’s important to understand this law and how it affected your female ancestors. Should you come across children in an Orphan’s Court document, with a male guardian being appointed, you would be incorrect in assuming their mother had died and that they were literally orphans. I noticed this recently on a mailing list I participate in. The poster was assuming their widowed female ancestor must have died as the guardianship document, recorded in the local Orphan’s Court, showed the five young children being assigned an adult male guardian. Widowed women held no rights, not even to be guardians of their biological children. Usually there was an inheritance in play, land or other goods, and with women having no rights to make contracts or own property, she was judged unable to properly look after her children’s affairs. A male guardian was appointed to do so. Her children were not taken from her and she still cared for them physically but anything to do with their inherited property was a matter only for the male guardian.

An example: Primogeniture or the right of the eldest son to inherit

Estate law in Colonial America (specifically the southern colonies: the Province of Maryland, the Colony of Virginia, the Provinces of North and South Carolina, and the Province of Georgia) gave the right of inheritance to the eldest son of a couple who had died intestate (without a will). This was referred to as primogeniture and applied only to land and not personal property left by the deceased. Where the deceased man had several sons, the oldest would inherit the entire estate 2. If a man had only daughters, all would inherit equal shares of the land. Should the oldest son be deceased but have a living son of his own, that son would inherit first, followed by his own siblings, in birth order if males, or all equally if females. There were complex rules of descent which had to be followed in every inheritance case. Can you see the benefit of knowing this information when you uncover an estate document from the 1700s? One benefit would be the ability to determine the birth order of children based on the order of inheritance in the document.  One caveat – the law changed often and varied by state. Be sure you understand the law at the time of the document’s creation, in the particular colony or state you’re working in.

These are only two examples of areas where laws greatly affect the way a document was created by our ancestors. There are many, many more.

Where to find information on archaic legal words?

In learning about archaic laws, you will no doubt come across unfamiliar legal words which we no longer use today.  The go to book for genealogist’s is Black’s Law Dictionary. First published in 1891 by Henry Campbell Black, this is the best place to look up those unfamiliar words. It is still being published today but it’s best to stick with the 1891 version. There are a few places online to find the 1891 version:

Where to find information on the laws of British America?

William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England can be found online at:

This volume, the first of four, was published in 1765, and is a commentary on the common laws of England. Early colonies followed English common law so this book is helpful in understanding the laws around some of the early records we may come across.

Good genealogists place their ancestors into their historical, geographical, social and cultural contexts. This involves understanding how the laws of the time affected our ancestors and the documents they created.

 


  1. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “Married Women’s Property Acts in the United States,” rev. 10:35, 25 November 2018. 
  2. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “Primogeniture,” rev. 00:24, 24 November 2018. 

Context is Key: Understanding the Record within the Record Collection

Records don’t exist in a vacuum. (For the purposes of this post, I am referring to microfilmed images of records we have located online). It’s important to understand the record in terms of the collection it’s found in. Once we’ve located a record, we need to ask ourselves questions about the record and the collection. Questions such as:

Who created this collection?
Does my record fit in this collection?
Is there anything unusual about my record that other records in the collection don’t have?
Is something missing that should be there?
Is the record an original or a copy?
Are there gaps in this collection?
Does the collection have an index and if it does, was the index created at the same time as the record?

We can answer those questions in two ways:

First, by studying our record image and the images that come before it and after it on the microfilm. We can compare handwriting – is it all the same in the collection (indicating perhaps a clerk copied the information from elsewhere)? Have we gone to the beginning of the film (or the beginning of the Item number on the film) and studied any images that may appear of the book cover that our record comes from? As we do so, we gather information which helps us place our record in context.

Second, we can study the collection description, which is what this post focuses on.

Where to find collection descriptions?

A quick example using Ancestry

One of the results in a search for Patty Dawley, born about 1771 in Vermont, is a death record.

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The top red arrow in the image above points to the title of the collection that the record is found in. In this example, the record is in Ancestry’s collection titled, ‘Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908’. The red arrow in the middle gives us further source information on the collection, including where the original data came from and which repository was responsible for first compiling the collection.

The red arrow toward the bottom points to the description of the collection and this is where Ancestry does a decent job of describing the collection further. Click on the Learn more… in the blue circle and a page will appear with a search box at the top, allowing you to search only within this collection. But page down, past the Source Information we just saw on the previous page. Here we are given more information (see image below) about the collection, including a brief history of when vital records were kept in Vermont, when the law came into being which dictated the keeping of those vital records and the availability of the records. Any known gaps in the records are also given. All of this information helps us to place into context our specific record. Perhaps even more than that, the description of the collection allows us to determine whether a record we are seeking exists in this particular collection.

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Another example using FamilySearch

Familysearch.org offers excellent descriptions of its record collections. Begin here at the Category: FamilySearch Historical Records Published Collections. This is an alphabetical listing of all the FamilySearch historical record collections (only the published ones). Find the collection you are interested in and click on the link provided. We’ll use the Arizona Marriages collection as an example:

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Image showing Category: FamilySearch Historical Records Published Collections

 

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Image showing Arizona Marriages collection description within the FamilySearch Historical Records Collection

There is a wealth of information on the individual collection page. The red arrow above points to the Contents of the page.  Of great importance is the general collection description which states that this is an index only collection so we will not find images of the actual marriage documents here. There is a coverage table and map showing which counties are covered by this index. There is information on what to do if you are unable to find your ancestor in the collection. The blue arrow points to the ability to access and search the collection from this page.

When we understand the record collection, we are better able to understand our specific record. Genealogists consider the weight of evidence in each document they use. Understanding why and how that document was created aids in being able to effectively weigh the evidence the document provides.

As important as it is to understand the collection our record is in, it is equally important to understand the laws at the time the record was created. Next week’s post will focus on how the laws of the time influenced the records created by our ancestors.

Locating Original Records for ‘Text Only’ Indexes on Ancestry

We’ve all seen them. Those Ancestry search results that pop up with a few details but without an image attached. They provide tantalizing bits of information but thorough researchers know that they need to find the original record, if at all possible.

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Image from Ancestry.com

These ‘Text-only’ collections can often be used as a finding aid to the original record. I was surprised to learn how many people don’t realize that there is another, more important, step to take.  The clue is in the FHL film number given.

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This is where we head over to Familysearch.org and using the top menu, hover our cursor over Search. A drop-down menu appears, and we select Catalog. A search page appears with various search options. We want to search by Film/Fiche Number.

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Image from Familysearch.org

Click on Film/Fiche Number and enter the FHL film number which you located on the Ancestry ‘Text-only’ record. Familysearch.org displays a list of the microfilm/s with that number and which contain the original records.

Index Films

The information we found on the ‘Text-only’ record tell us that the birth date of the Craft child in question was 17 October 1883. We can see in the image above that the first film covers birth registers for the years 1880-1913, and this is where we will find the original record. Once we click on that film, we are given a screen which displays the Film/Digital Notes.

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The second entry shows us it is for the Register of births, no. 1-2 1880-1900 and we are in luck, as a small camera icon is displayed. This means that the film is available to browse online. Clicking on that camera icon will take you to the original microfilmed images and it is a matter of navigating through the film to 17 October 1883 to find the entry for the child. Always take note of the Item number/s on the film (in this case, Items 2-3) as they will guide you to where those records begin.

Tip: You may be tempted to click on the magnifying glass icon shown in the image above as this indicates a link to a Familysearch index. But be warned, if you do so, you will find yourself looking at the indexed entry again with no image.

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Having the original record in our hands, we might think we have completed our research with this film. But here is another tip … if the film also contains an index to the registers, it is always worth searching it! Going back to those film notes, we can see that this film does contain images of the original Indexes to the Register of Births.

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This is how I discovered a previously unknown child. By searching the microfilmed indexes under C for Craft (and knowing that this family remained in the same place for several years), I was able to confirm all the births of the known children. However, I found one more entry in that Index to Register of Births  for a child that I had no knowledge of.

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By going back to the film and navigating to entry 2501 in Book 1, page 192 as was shown on the Index to the Register of Births, I was able to find a male child (unnamed at the time) born 8 January 1894. This child must have died as an infant as he does not appear in any further records for this family.

Index Craft child

My tips:

  • Sound genealogical research means we should always try to locate the original record from an indexed entry.
  • If searching on Ancestry.com (or anywhere else) and you find a FHL (Family History Library) film number, head to Familysearch.org and locate that film. If you are lucky, it will be available to view online.
  • Always check the Index to a Register, if filmed, for the name you are researching.