RootsTech 2022, the genealogy conference, wrapped up day one. Before the pandemic, I’d never been to a genealogy conference. This is my second year at RootsTech thanks to it being completely free and virtual. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to today. It seemed I had a habit of checking in between live sessions. And, strangely, my desktop had the correct calendar, but my tablet ran Saturday through Monday with times way off. Don’t ask. I attract these kinds of quirks.
Let me give my impressions of the first day.
First Off, Do I Have Any Cousins Here?
One of the features at RootsTech is the ability to see if you are related to anyone else attending. I don’t have my family tree on FamilySearch.org because I don’t really want to maintain my tree in another place. However, I am interested in finding cousins on my newly uncovered great grandfather’s line. So, I decided to connect his ancestry to the FamilySearch Family Tree.
Kind of a funny thing. I don’t claim any pilgrims, revolutionary war veterans, or even civil war soldiers. My people didn’t arrive until 1848 with the last immigrant arriving in 1907.
As we have the ability to share our “are we related” link on social media, I have clicked on many in the last week. And, I’m not related to anyone. LOL Every single link I’ve clicked on has come up “We couldn’t find a connection!” That doesn’t mean I don’t have any cousins at the conference. It just means they’re not anyone I know. I am related to 663 people to date, all them secret cousins who don’t belong to my social media genealogy world.
Most of my new cousins are 6th to infinity who almost always come from my Honeysett ancestors in England. But, I’ve found a new 2nd cousins, twice removed on my Jobson line. I’ve messaged them and, fingers crossed, I’m hear back. This would be the closest connection I’ve made on my great grandfather’s line so far.
Gads, It’s Overwhelming
I attended RootsTech 2021. I was completely overwhelmed. There’s the live session, the product demos, and so many recorded tutorials, webinars, etc. I saved a lot of videos to watch and only got to some of them.
This year, I’m still overwhelmed. I tried to be a bit more strategic about the videos I saved to my playlist by thinking about what I want to learn more about. I caught the live sessions that interested me and didn’t try to chase everything around.
I didn’t get into the vendor area today. Tomorrow is another day, as they say.
The Ancestry.com For All Presentation
I sat in on this presentation and was eager to hear what Ancestry.com has coming down the pike.
What I picked up on was…
- Ancestry is spending a lot of time, money, and effort working on AI for handwriting transcription for the 1950 US Census when it is released in April. This sound impressive and daunting. I admit to being a bit skeptical as to how well this is going to work with the varieties of handwriting styles and a plethora of names of foreign origin. I’m fortunate that a lot of my people lived in the same neighborhoods together for decades. I won’t have to rely on indexes until I exhaust my ability to flip through pages. I will be interested to see how this indexing comes out. We’ve all seen the screwy indexing of newspaper articles and other records on genealogy websites.
- Ancestry’s photo editing tools are coming. Well, some folks have them, but I don’t yet. I’m looking forward to this. I’ve played with the same tools on MyHeritage and I am eager to see what Ancestry does with them.
- Ancestry has teamed up with PhotoMyne presumably on the photo editing tools previously mentioned, but also on a new photo scanning feature. I’m really excited about this! They claim that you’ll be able to use your phone’s camera to scan several photos on a page at once. The tool will separate them into individual photos, clean them up, and add them to your gallery. There are a few pages of photos in my dad’s photo album that I’ve never scanned because the photos are glued in. I don’t want to pull them out and risk damaging them. I can’t wait to test this feature out and finally be able to digitize and share them
- Ancestry also mentioned changes to their family tree. Some of these changes are already active. I heard the word “collaborative” more than once. I’m interested to see what they mean. Right now, we all have individual trees and can share with whoever we like. Are they adding more features? More ways to connect trees or move things between trees? We’ll have to wait and see.
That’s what stood out for me in the Ancestry.com presentation. There was some information about DNA. I learned a bit more on how DNA Communities work. I would have loved to have heard that they were going to free up the shared matches under 20 cM. Maybe some day. You can watch the Ancestry For All session any time.
MyHeritage Made Me Cry And Creeped Me Out A Little Bit
MyHeritage had several things to highlight. This is what stood out for me…
- MyHeritage mentioned the newly acquired Filae French collection. I have done a lot of research on the French archives website, but these newly indexed records have allowed me to fill in some holes in my research. Recently, I was able to find the Cabanot family of San Francisco fairly quickly using the Filae database.. I have so many French DNA matches on MyHeritage. Hopefully, having indexed records will help me piece together some of the connections.
- Another addition to the French records from Filae is their family tree profiles. Coincidentally, I had used these earlier this week not realizing it was something new. I found a tree for my grandmother’s French cousins who migrated to Spain. I wish I was able to contact the person who put the tree together, but since I’m not a subscribing member, but use MyHeritage through my public library, I will just have to hope they find me.
- MyHeritage highlighted their latest DNA enhancements like updates to Theory of Relativity and the new color dots for sorting matches. I really like those dots! They also announced that if you upload your DNA files from another site, you’ll get all the utilities for free. Jump on it. It’s only good for a few days.
- MyHeritage has done quite a bit to help adoptees find their biological families. They highlighted two success stories. I won’t tell you what they were about in case you want to the watch the session. Both made me tear up though. DNA can bring about the unexpected, the secrets, the unwanted, but it can also bring people together and bring healing.
- Last year, MyHeritage revealed Deep Nostalgia, the animation of photographs. There was definitely a mix of awe and a bit of a creep out factor especially since the movement made me feel like the people were trapped. This year they’ve introduced LiveStory. It takes those animated photographs and gives them a voice. With a voice, they can tell their own story from a narrative that you supply. I just don’t know how I feel about this. The voices are fairly generic and a little bit robotic. I do not think I’d want this for someone I knew in real life. I wouldn’t want another voice superimposing over the voice I remember in my memories. As for my ancestors? Only two of my grandparents were Americans. I’d need a voice with an accent to fill like it was normal.
The only other thing that I’ll mention is MyHeritage has added a free beginner’s genealogy course to their website. If you’re starting your family tree, you should check it out. Here is the link to watch the entire MyHeritage Keynote presentation.
The Storytelling Presentation
I didn’t have a lot of time tonight to watch videos today. I did sit down after dinner to watch Tori Bush’s The Power of Storytelling.
One of the reasons I blog is to tell the stories of my relatives. Some of these stories I’ve told and retold multiple times, but in different ways. I feel like I’m getting better at it the more attempts I make.
Tori’s presentation gave me some ideas on how to make my stories more interesting without fibbing. I’ve recently worked on my first family history video telling my great grandfather’s story. I may play through it again to see if I can use some of her tips.
That’s it for now. Hopefully, I’ll be in for day two. Maybe see more of the sessions on my playlist.
Are you attending RootsTech? If so, tell us what you found interesting in the comments.