Chat about RootsTech and other conferences

This month the #ANZAncestryTime chat was all about conferences we had attended or plan to attend in 2022 but especially RootsTech.

Tips when watching RootsTech

When you watch a session you find particularly useful, don’t forget to check the syllabus that’s available and download it.

Pexels / Pixabay

Did you participate in all aspects of RootsTech ( main stage, sessions, playlist, expo hall, relatives around me)? What did you enjoy about each of these?

Nearly everyone mentioned they had a long playlist to watch throughout the rest of the year. Many were going to watch the keynotes after they were recorded as timing not always suited to Aussie/NZ times. Many had relatives at RootsTech but most were 8th+ cousins. Some had had replies to messages for those cousins who were closer.

The theme song was very catchy and like by many. Most wanted some sort of PDF created with all the sessions to make it easier to mark off those they wanted to watch. Some found the categories for filtering sessions was not easy to follow. Most followed themes eg Ireland, Scotland, DNA when choosing sessions for playlist.

Much discussion about Live Story from MyHeritage – many felt it was creepy putting words into our ancestors mouths.

If I had a wish for the Playlist it would be the option for another tick box or similar so you can remind yourself you’ve watched a session without removing it.

This year #RootsTech had a link to “Calendar” as part of the menu. This allowed attendees to find day/time for the Main Stage, live sessions, & Expo demonstrations. It helped me to keep focused on the 2022 live sessions for the first 3 days.

My #RootsTech spreadsheet, mainly created for me. Caveats: I only included English-speaking sessions; I assume times on website are MT, so I converted to ET; there may be typos; did NOT include speakers/descriptions.…

I would have like to be able to mark them as watched or have a Watched List

A bit of everything but with a main focus on #DNA sessions. Found the #RootsTech playlist problematic during the event because it couldn’t be ordered by day and time.

I started with DNA, Ireland, Scotland then specific speakers especially England, Australia, New Zealand

I have done that too Sue. Found a speaker I liked and watched all of theirs. One was a series on Scotland records. Most I knew about, but each had an extra record that I now know to try.

I chose two topics. Scotland and DNA. I have watched several talks on DNA and hope to watch one tomorrow as I ran out of time today. I am interested in mtDNA and YDNA.

I’ve been a bit more focused this year, in the hope I’ll actually watch everything on my playlist.

I watched a mix of sessions about Historical Records, DNA, Historical Places and a few others. I liked that they were listed by topic.

I didn’t participate in any live events as I found it hard to navigate and find sessions that I was interested at times that suited me. No cousins closer than sixth. I will definitely revisit some of the recorded sessions over the next few months

I also create a Watched RT2022 playlist for watched ones. This way I know where I am up to with the sessions. I find the playlist great for the conference. In later months I have found Youtube easier to manage as I have many other videos waiting to be watched.

I was quite excited this year to have had Relatives at Rootstech. Only 7 but they were all close Scots who went to America. Last year I have 0. I’ve contacted them but haven’t heard back yet

I confess to being a hopeless #RootsTech attendee. I think I saw just one session but I really enjoyed it. Hopefully I will catch up on more later. There’s never enough time is there to do everything?

each topic on the ethics discussion could have been an hour on its own

I’m saving the DNA talks for when my brain is in fully functioning mode

I’m saving my DNA talks too for when I can take time out and really concentrate

I found Paul Maier’s session on the Million Mito Project fascinating. Lots of good information about mtDNA

I started watching the series of videos by the one speaker rather than the one off.

I did some pre recorded sessions, visited the expo hall, checked out any chat on my two talks and did Relatives at RootsTech but no one really close. I was away from home and internet access not as good plus other things going on.

Watched a couple of live sessions, and now working my way through my playlist – focused on Ireland and NZ. Have enjoyed the ones seen so far!

I prioritised the mainstage and watched them all. Also watched sessions and visited expo hall. Really enjoyed the mainstage especially the dancing.

I listened to most of the keynote speakers and I contacted people via Relatives Around me. I enjoyed the Expo hall and joined the Essex FH Society. I really liked the theme song this year! I made a playlist but as yet have not watched everything.

viarami / Pixabay

What new skills, knowledge or perspectives did you gain from RootsTech? Have you put any of these into practice yet?

I just had a play with #Live Story on #MyHeritage tonight and so far have received the thumbs up from my son so think this is maybe the only way to get the younger generation interested in family history. “Way cool” was his response. 🙂

I’m interested in timeline feature / tool also. Useful for finding gaps and illogical facts like being before born before parents too.

I had one third cousin on the list. Have been in touch with some of that family line. Others mostly distant and questionable, with some very dodgy FS trees

Most of the sessions I’ve seen so far have reminded me of record sets I haven’t investigated fully or for a while. Also love hearing about techniques to tackle brick walls – always something to learn.

I watched the BNA one closely, wrote a bit about it for local genealogy magazine, then discovered they had a 30% off discount for a few days so I signed up!

93 in my list of Relatives at RootsTech. 9 people are 3rd cousins once or twice removed. All from a common ancestor in NZ and might be church people also. Nice to see closer matches.

Hi Brooke, As I’m a newbie to DNA I found some sessions and then looked up the name of the presenter, and worked out the order from there.

Last year, in addition to my YouTube playlist, I printed off the list and highlighted ones I was interested in and ticketed off those watched. I did not see a printable list this year.

I had trouble finding speakers or sessions with the search function. Whereas last year I printed it and then highlighted what I wanted. Not very techno but it worked

No new skills gained yet . I have suggested that short videos on using the UKFreeGen sites may be helpful for newbies to WikiTree

I have yet to put any into practice as I have been too busy. I had the excellent @scottishindexes conference last weekend, and I bought a new car as well, delivered today. Once I learn to drive it, I’ll be back to normal stuff.

Haven’t really had a chance yet but did try to confirm the relatives for whom I also had DNA matches. There are so many new things I find it hard to keep up with everything.

I’ll be looking at New York State, New England USA related sessions – Gedmatch’s new features were something I’m working on and I want to look further into DNA Painter and MyHeritage new features

Since watching the DNA sessions, I feel more confident to send off my AncestryDNA kit, first time testing!

I learnt about Jamaican Research. I was very keen for these sessions as I have Jamaican ancestry and wasn’t sure where to begin. I feel confident now to move ahead with my research

manfredsteger / Pixabay

Which speakers and sessions would you recommend? How did you connect with others during RootsTech?

checking the sponsors videos for news in the exhibitors hall. FTDNA and DNA Painter! Playing the others at fast speed, skimming the more razzmatazz or advertorial parts, the new features on offer are worth keeping up to date about.

Delighted to say that the recording of my Scavenger Hunt  @RootsTechConf workshop is finally online. You can watch here. I’ll be putting up a follow-on Q&A on my blog asap.…

finally found out that apparently I am automatically enrolled in the Million Mito project as I have done the ftdna mtdna test

I also liked this one by Beth Taylor – again you may need to watch it serveral times…  – grouping DNA matches

I liked this one – good tips and tools – it might be necessary to view it a couple of times –… – searching for close relatives

You’ll also want to read this guide by @legalgen that follows up on the ethics session at #RootsTech.…

I have given a few answers to this re the Scotland talks. But as I have yet to watch most, too early for recommendations. I connected with one speaker who I knew through @WikiTreers. No one connected with me

Joshua Taylor was great as he always is. He’s always my first choice. Fiona Brooker. Nick Barratt. Loved the Aussies. So many great speakers

Really enjoyed @UlsterHistory Gillian Hunt’s session on Irish landed estate records, and @FamHistAcademy Cathie Sherwood’s talk on Irish workhouses. Caught up with some geniemates via Zoom virtual pub sessions.

I recommend Andrea Bentschneider and Katherine Schober for German records

I really enjoyed Fiona Brooker’s session on Recording Memories…a bit different.

Sessions by @DrPennyW were interesting. Also the DNA painter ones are always helpful. others I enjoyed were Johsua Taylor, Tim Janzen, Nick Barratt, Michelle patient, Fiona Brooker, Cheryl Hudson Passey, Dianne Southard, Rob, Hamilton

The main way I connected with others was friends with messaging apps. Suggestions of sessions to watch were useful. I did try the chat however being interrupted by work did not help the conversation.

I’d recommend everyone watch Keynote Maysoon Zayid. She was amazing. Very funny and super inspiring

I had to check my diary. The three are called “Birth in Scotland”, “Marriage in Scotland” and “Death in Scotland”. Another good one was “Secrets of ScotlandsPeople” by Alison Spring.

another issue for me is that virtual conferences are not as interactive personally. It is too easy to say I will watch it later rather than get up early as you would in person.

I thought the roundtable Oz session on brickwalls with Michelle Patient, Fiona Brooker and Deb Carter was dynamic and well hosted. A credit to the regiment 🙂

Being away meant I didn’t really have time to participate but I did follow up comments/ questions on my talks.

didn’t watch speakers just joined some discussions some were poorly attended unfortunately

As noted before – live sessions that @fiona_memories & @patientgenie held. Helps that I am interested in NZ & DNA research. Another I enjoyed was DNA and the Settlers of Taranaki, NZ which was from 2021 and I missed it the first time around.

My Rootstech playlist so far on YT. YTube playlists can be public or private ( have a couple of Shotbox ones in it, just ignore those)…

Karen Evans had some great sessions on UK ancestors on a budget

What’s the LucidChart one? Love using it for displaying DNA matches – will have to check it out.

Its a program that allows you to create flow chats and diagrams and the session used it in conjunction with DNA results and matches

crystal710 / Pixabay

What other online or in person conferences have you attended recently or are you planning to attend this year?

I find the interaction with an in-person conference that makes it better for me. Plus visited close cousins in the USA and UK when in RT was in London

Working on the Christchurch Family History Expo being in person this year. Cross your fingers for us.

Most recent conference attended was @scottishindexes – always worthwhile! Hopefully in-person events here this year for August #FamilyHistoryMonth, and am booked for #FHDU in Sydney in November.

I am going to the @GuildOneName conference next month in Oxford it was postponed for the last 2 years looking forward to meeting in person

I am running talks and workshops at local library but only getting low numbers due to Covid still but allows more specific Q&A

I can’t attend in person conferences as travelling and eating away from home are too difficult for me now. Really pleased that we have these online now. I will attend future @scottishindexes conferences if online.

And I love to hear the Scottish accents. That would have been how my grandfather spoke, but he died when I was two. Such a variety of talks and so much knowledge. Reminds me to download the handouts.

I have attended a couple of online ones in the last year and joined virtual family history society sessions attended a hybrid one last night

I attended tonight so that I could get an idea of what to follow up. And how others participate in this virtual world. If there is a hybrid in 2023 then my intention would be to go in person

I’m a bit nervous about attending a big person to person event but I’ll be still wearing mask and being very careful. I’m keen to start living a covid normal life.

we have other travel plans to Maldives in Dec 2022 and then Scandinavia UK & Portugal in June – July 2023 which will involve some family history road tripping – so $’s won’t stretch to Roots Tech 2023 so hybrid will work better for me

I can’t wait to return to beautiful Norfolk island for @AFFO2015 I’ll see a few genea-friends for the first time in ages!

have been to a few and how I interact depends on how long the talks remain on the website. If you only have 72 hours then I try to watch in person or clear the weekend. If it is longer I usually have the mad rush to watch everything just before it closes.

I attended the @scottishindexes conference last weekend and will be going to Congress on Norfolk Island as well as the Qld State Conference at Redcliffe both IN PERSON! And a few others in between

As I am still wearing a mask when indoors at any shops etc, I wont be doing anything in person only online – hopefully the Female Convict Research sessions in early May and FHDU22 later in the year

I have booked accommodation for the QLD state conference at Redcliffe 21-23 Oct – Sands of Time. Thinking about the Family History Down Under in Nov or the virtual if I do not go.

Blogposts about RootsTech sessions

Judy: Dos and don’ts about DNA

Roberta: DNA sessions at RootsTech

Maggie: a Legacy webinar re DNA tools

Sue: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

Readers: What did you find most useful from RootsTech? Why?

Day 3 RootsTech 2022

Knowing I have the rest of the year to look at my playlist, today was a very relaxing day especially as I got up very early (7am in Tasmanian time) to take part in:

Dealing with ethical dilemmas in an online world

Genealogists running the session included Lynn, Jill, Judy, CeCe , Kerry, Daniel and Andrew.

A poll was available at the beginning of the session but as I was a few minutes late joining, I didn’t get to fill it in. The data from the poll was used to lead the discussions.

Topics discussed were:

  • Copyright with photos and records
  • Terms and Conditions on websites we use as genealogists
  • Find a Grave – when and who to add memorials to this site
  • Investigative Genetic Genealogy – law enforcement access to DNA from large databases

Also mentioned in the chat was bullying and gatekeeping, knowledge from amateur or professional genealogists and joining societies and Facebook groups.

Each topic could have been an hour on its own and this was mentioned by many of the 400+ participants in the chat.

When I was teaching and blogging prior to 2011, Edublogger created guide for copyright and images. It has recently been updated for 2021. Even though it says educators, it is relevant to anyone blogging or using social media.

Pexels / Pixabay

Diaries, journals and calendars: Documenting your ancestor’s day to day life – Melissa Barker

Many different types of diaries, journals and calendars

  • Adolescent or teenager diaries – interesting that the example used was one diary used over a 4 year period – could compare what you were doing in previous year on that date
  • War diaries – I have used these for WWI when some of my relatives were in diaries kept by the battalion or similar
  • Work diaries – rarer and hard to find
  • Daily calendars rather than diary or journal – often includes images

These help as a primary resource about what was happening in the family and maybe your family’s part in history.

Try finding them at home, archives and museums. Often mentioned under Manuscript collections. Could also be found in neighbours diaries etc.

I am very lucky in that my parents, whenever they went on a trip away, kept a diary of their travels, including our three month trip around Australia as a family. Dad’s mother also wrote a diary, which dad now has, of her journey to Adamsfield in Tasmania.

Readers: Have you got any diarists in your family? How have they added to your family history?

Day 1 RootsTech 2022

Any links will take you directly to a recommended website.

My playlist is ready and I have now started checking out some sessions, series and keynotes. Some are of interest to me personally and others might be helpful information for those people I help at the local library doing their family history.

UK Ancestors on a budget by Karen Evans

Three sessions – first one about census

  • Irish census 1901 and 1911 can be found at the National Archives of Ireland.
  • English and Welsh returns for 1841-1911 found at Family Search. Scroll down the page to specify which collection you want to check by typing in England census then choose from the options.
  • England, Wales and Scotland records transcribed by volunteers at FreeCen. Note not all places have been transcribed.

Second session – BMD

Civil registration was different for each country.

  • England 1837 but compulsory only from 1875
  • Ireland from 1864 but non Catholic marriages from 1845
  • Scotland from 1855

Places to find civil and church records:

  • ScotlandsPeople – search for free but pay for documents at reasonable price – incudes both civil and church records
  • IrishGenealogy – has both civil records and church records
  • General Register Office – has index for BMD and you can order certificates here more cheaply than from a large database like Ancestry
  • FreeBMD – shows indexes for BMD – all volunteers
  • UKBMD – again a volunteer based group which shows parishes or counties looking at BMD in their area specifically. Also includes lists of counties with Online Parish Clerk websites (OPC). Also has one place studies and census info – so great site for lots of free information and indexes to use.
  • National Library Ireland – Catholic parish registers
  • Family search – lots of registers for particular counties and parishes. Find them through Records and narrow further with Collections
  • FreeReg – similar to FreeBMD and FreeCen – run by volunteers

Third session – hidden treasures

After having looked at the censuses and BMDs, where else can you look for information while on a budget?

  • Find a grave – often includes images, basic info on the person being searched and maybe family info as well
  • Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC) – for those who have died in war – variety of ways to search
  • County councils – some councils have their own archives of things like dog licences, canal boats, gaols
  • GENUKI – great site, breaks down to country then county and parish and what records are available at each level
  • Cyndi’s list – world wide links to thousands of websites
  • Also check out specials and free trials of the big databases. Often family history societies and local libraries have more resources as well.
  • Help online from rootschat, facebook groups and other social media.

Latest DNA Painter releases by Jonny Perl

I love using some of the tools on DNA Painter especially What are the odds (WATO) and the shared cM page. But I have also tried to paint chromosome maps but have found it very tedious adding in one person at a time. But there are now ways to import more than one persons DNA chromosome segments which I might have to start using.

I also learnt about using phased kits at GEDmatch to import just my mum’s data or just my dad’s data. This makes it easier to work out if segments are maternal or paternal on the chromosome map when importing from GEDmatch cluster groups. (Tier 1)

Another new tool was looking at adding dimensions such as birth/death year on your family tree instead of just names. Also colour coding on family trees as well as on WATO.

Main stage events

Many of these sessions are very early in the morning in Australia so I will have to watch them at another time once the recordings are up on the website. But I did listen to Maysoon Zayid and Matthew Modine talking about their family history and how memories make connections through oral history as well as movies and photos.

I did look at some other sessions but will not be writing about them all.

I am disappointed though that I only have 13 relatives at RootsTech – maybe my relatives are not into family history as much as I am.

Readers: What were your takeaways from day 1 at RootsTech?