Friday, February 7, 2014
Judy G. Russell opened Friday’s General Session, like a typical Scotch-Irish, with a story. She referred to an article that stated that oral history can disappear in three generations and stressed that it is important that our history be passed down purposely and accurately. After Judy G. Russell, Dr. Spencer Wells addressed the audience. Dr. Wells is in charge of the National Genographic Project that studies the deep history of humankind. Wells shared his introduction to family history and genetics. His name is not really Spencer Wells; it’s Russ Spencer Wells, IV and as a boy he wanted to know the first Russ, a great grandfather. This was only the beginning. I highly recommend watching this session at RootsTech.org.
There were a number of sessions on Friday. I attended D. Joshua Taylor’s presentation entitled “Capturing and #SharingStories in 140 Characters or Less” where he gave an overview of the many social media options for sharing stories. It may be a bit overwhelming to someone just beginning their family history quest so Taylor cautioned attendees to choose one or two possibilities and consider those options in more depth.
In the evening, conference participants had an opportunity to attend Friday Night at the Library and the pizza party on-site for those who pre-registered. The delayed broadcast of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games was televised for for those in attendance.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
RootsTech hosted three different sessions on Saturday with alternate schedules: the General Session, the Family Discovery Day, and the Youth Discovery Day. Although there were many more youth and adults, the larger venue and alternate schedules helped control the crowds.
Saturday’s General Session included Todd Hansen of the BYUtv series The Story Trek and Stephanie Nielsen of the NieNie Dialogues. Although I had seen commercials advertising The Story Trek, I had never watched an episode. I was delighted to know that every story told is aired on the show. Todd Hansen believes that everyone has a story. He said that he has found that the person who thinks he has the least compelling story is the most interesting. The Story Trek is the ultimate reality show. As far as his own story, the one he chose to tell the audience was how he arrived on stage at RootsTech. Although incomplete, it included generations of decisions and he told it from present day to the historic beginnings. A novel approach. He made the point that with the current world population and only one of him, with four stories per show, it would take him four million years to record every person’s story. He commented that the chances of him knocking on a specific door are “ridiculously slim.” His message was clear. Tell your story. Take one step at a time. If you only have a piece of paper, make it a goal tomorrow to buy a pen.
Stephanie Nielson is the wife of Christian, mother of Claire, Jane, Oliver, Nicholas, Charlotte, and the author of Heaven is Here and the NieNie Dialogues. Her courage, faith, tenacity, and many prayers brought her to the RootsTech stage to share her story. It is a story about love. It is a story about a horrific accident that claimed the life of one. It is a story about her desire to be a mother. It is a testimony of God’s blessings. I could write more, in fact I will, but I encourage you to watch the video broadcast at RootsTech.org and read her memoir.
I listened to Evan Carroll lecture on “What Happens to Your Digital Assets After You Die?” He raised significant issues concerning our digital life, areas for consideration, and suggestions for a plan of action. Read more about it in the coming days on FamilySearch.org and check out his book, Your Digital Afterlife, which was recommended by Chris Dancy during the keynote presentation at the RootsTech 2014 Innovator Summit.
Saturday seemed like my busiest day as conferences collided. As day three of the full-access conference continued, I ran into many attending the Family Discovery Day and Youth Discovery Day. Bright orange and lime green backpacks helped youth identify their assigned groups.
Along with all the classes families and youth attended, BYUtv’s Studio C made an appearance for autographs and a presentation that contained highlights from the upcoming season beginning April 7th. The RootTech 2014 audience was one of the largest the cast has ever addressed. The youth clamored for the t-shirt give-a-ways that were part of the program.
The Jeremy Warner showed me his watch displaying a picture of his darling newborn Felix and, during the presentation, displayed a three-generation photo of himself with his father holding his son. Another photo showed little Felix with a mustache :-) Congratulations to Jeremy and his wife on the birth of their son only one week before this event. In addition, those in attendance at the Studio C event were allowed to tweet questions to the cast. My question was simply, ‘Why was Jeremy coming between Stephen and Whitney on stage?’ It was the impetus for a tender moment of Stephen and Whitney holding hands over Jeremy’s lap, a prelude to Valentine’s Day. Jeremy claimed to be a marriage counselor. I checked. No, he’s not, but he is an actor, which is close enough :-)
For the closing session of Youth Discovery Day, Elder Neil L. Andersen encouraged the youth to find their cousins. He introduced a new song, which was partially performed live, and demonstrated Puzzilla, a program that shows not only direct progenitors, but their children, too. This program attempts to show a possible missing child or marriage of a child and assists with descendancy research. If you would like to learn more about this FamilySearch Certified program click here.
RootsTech 2014 was a wonderful conference that had so much to offer anyone interested in genealogy and family history. You may still download the syllabus and watch the recordings of over a dozen sessions at RootsTech.org. I would like to extend a personal thank you to the leaders, staff, and volunteers who planned, organized, and executed such a splendid conference. RootsTech 2015 is scheduled for next February! Local hotels are already accepting reservations. Besides having the Family History Library nearby as a local distraction during next year’s conference, the Federation of Genealogical Societies will also be in town. If you’re passionate about genealogy and family history you may just find that Salt Lake City is where you will want to be February 11th through the 15th in 2015.
Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and The Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.