Thursday, March 7, 2019

RootsTech 2019: Part 2

RootsTech 2019 was jam-packed with classes, opportunities to network with other genealogists, and even a little time to do research at the Family History Library! In RootsTech 2019: Part 1, I shared my first two days of RootsTech with you. This post will cover Friday, 1 March.

On Friday, my day began bright and early with the MyHeritage Friends Breakfast. It was great to hear from MyHeritage Genealogy Expert Daniel Horowitz about all the new things MyHeritage is offering and working on. Plus, it was a chance to enjoy some delicious food with new friends. We had to keep their announcements a secret until they were public at the General Session, but here is the news from MyHeritage!

  • AutoClusters to organize your DNA matches
  • Theory of Family Relativity - incorporate genealogical information with DNA matches
  • Free webinars every Wednesday
  • DNAQuest renewal for 5,000 free DNA tests to adoptees! If you're adopted and looking for biological family, this is for you! Registration is open now:
To get more information about MyHeritage and their new features check out their blog post about RootsTech.

Saroo Brierley, author of his memoir A Long Way Home (adapted into the 2016 film Lion), was our keynote speaker on Thursday! I was SO excited! He spoke about his story of getting lost in India, his adoption by a family in Tasmania, Australia and his eventual reunion with his biological family. It was a great talk! I loved reading his memoir, and was thrilled to ask him my question in person.

"One of the parts that was most moving for me in your book was when you were talking about a moment you had with Baba, the religious leader in your village. I work full-time with youth for my church, so that influence that you can have with young people is really important to me. And one of the things that you said is that he fed not only your body, but also your spirit because he gave you hope that you were - you know - a person that had meaning. So how has that influence of Baba still brought into your life, and have you brought that into other aspects of your life?"

"You are the first person to ask that question. And it's a very important question to me. Because when my mother wasn't about - my biological mother - I would be taken to the holy man and he would take me fishing, he would show me around. And you know, I spent a lot of time with him. And I think he had a massive influence on me, of the way to look at nature, and so on, and spirituality. And this movie's got a massive spirituality in it. Because, I'm not too sure, but I do get a little bit from my mum, my adoptive mother, and my biological mother is quite spiritual as well. And, you know, to deny would be just like well you know it's not like that. Somehow, I've had that influence, evidently it was through the holy man. And, that's just the way it was, so I don't know what else to say. But, I think I've very privileged to be in the arms of someone that wanted to take care of me when my mother wasn't around."

Here's another view of the interview set-up at the Media Hub. Thank you to @easygenie for the shot!

I got a selfie with Saroo and Tierra from Pressing My Way. We were pretty happy!

I also got Saroo Brierley to autograph his book!

One of the class highlights of the day was from The Research Road Map: Your Path to Success by Amy Johnson Crow. Here are some of the take-aways from her talk:

Before we can know what road to take in our genealogy research plan, we need to know where we are now. So some things to think about are:
  • What notes can we reread? 
  • What sources do we already have? 
  • We need to find holes in our research. Don't assume they aren't there!
Here are a couple helpful quotes from her talk too:
  • "Is there something better you can use for this particular fact? If so, finding that source needs to be part of our research plan.”
  • "Information you read is only as accurate as the knowledge of the person who gave it."
  • "Our ancestors are more than names!"
I was also happy to get to meet Jennifer Mendelsohn of #resistancegenealogy fame! You can follow her on Twitter @CleverTitleTK. I found her at the booth of another great group that works to make sure we all have access to our records, Reclaim the Records. Please make sure to support their work!

As if that wasn't a full enough day, I also had a meetup with the Virtual Genealogical Association Thursday night! It was great to have an in-person get together with people who gather virtually around the country.  

Here is my schedule from Friday:

  • 7:00am - MyHeritage Friends Breakfast
  • 9:30am - Essential Considerations for DNA Evidence - Blaine T. Bettinger
  • 11:00am - General Session: Saroo Brierley
  • 12:50pm - Interview with Saroo Brierley
  • 1:30pm - Chromosome Mapping Tips and Techniques - Blaine T. Bettinger
  • 3:00pm - Colonial New England Research and Resources From Archives to the Internet - David Allen Lambert
  • 4:30pm - The Research Road Map: Your Path to Success - Amy Johnson Crow
  • 6:00pm - Virtual Genealogical Association - Meetup


Friday was amazing. So many memories, great classes, new connections.

My next post will be about the last day of RootsTech 2019 and an eventful Sunday in Salt Lake City!

Let's keep encountering our ancestors through family history and remembering the past made present today!

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