RootsTech 2014: Is It Over?

RootsTech 2014 Elevator WPThe story is told of a recently wedded young woman who turned to her mother and with a smile proclaimed, “Oh mom, I’m finally at the end of all my troubles!” The mother wisely responded, “I know dear, but which end?” [1]  Similar statements are made after events like RootsTech 2014, and beg the question, is it over, or has it just begun? The perspective one takes about an event can make all the difference in the outcome.

RootsTech is an event that requires a lot of planning. Registration begins toward the end of the summer and, as anticipation builds, would-be participants arrange their schedules, book hotel reservations, and make travel plans. It’s all part of the story. Finally the time arrives and attendees happily fill their days with classes, presentations, networking, socializing, and performances. When it’s over, everyone involved leaves exhausted, armed with new information, new skills, and new friends. Is it over or has it just begun? If you participated this year, are you back to your routine? Did your participation in RootsTech 2014 make a difference in your life? If so or if not, what’s your RootsTech 2014 story?

Depending on your genealogy and family history goals, RootsTech 2014 was a treasure trove of information and ideas. All of us have our routines to get back to and all of us have genealogy and family history goals. I hope that attending RootsTech 2014 made a difference in your life, whether you attended at the venue or virtually. If you did not attend the conference this year, why not begin today? A number of sessions, including the general sessions from each morning, may be viewed on-line at your leisure and the syllabus, which you can download, covers many other sessions that were not recorded.

RootsTech 2014 Conclusion WPEvery story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The young woman getting married was actually in the middle of a journey that she hoped would last forever. For all of us involved in genealogy and family history, I hope that the conclusion of the RootsTech 2014 conference was not an end, but somewhere in the middle of an incredible year of genealogy and family history discoveries that ultimately will be preserved and shared.

By the way, if you plan to attend RootsTech 2015, reserve February 11-15 on your calendar. This conference will be held in conjunction with the conference for the Federation of Genealogical Societies at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah and is conveniently located within walking distance of the Family History Library. Reserving extra days for research is advisable.

[1] Adapted from Hafen, Bruce C. “Covenant Marriage.” October 1996. Accessed February 23, 2014.

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.


RootsTech 2014: Reaching the Summit with New Mountains to Climb, Part 2

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Genographic ProjectJudy 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

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.

Friday Night at the Library Pizza Party

Friday Night at the Library Pizza Party

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.

Todd and Koreen Hansen

Todd and Koreen Hansen

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 Nielsen of the Nie Nie Dialogues and Heaven is Here addresses her audience at RootsTech 2014

Stephanie Nielsen of the NieNie Dialogues and Heaven is Here addresses her audience at RootsTech 2014

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 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 and check out his book, Your Digital Afterlife, which was recommended by Chris Dancy during the keynote presentation at the RootsTech 2014 Innovator Summit.

I ran into this family on their way to see Studio C. They were so excited!

I ran into this family on their way to see Studio C. They were so excited!

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 crowd waiting for autographs from the Studio C cast

The crowd waiting for autographs from the Studio C cast.

Why is Jeremy showing me his watch? You'll have to read the post to find out :)

Why is Jeremy showing me his watch? You’ll have to read the rest of this post to find out :)

Studio C all lined up greeting their public!

Studio C all lined up greeting their public!

Three generations!

Three generations!

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 :-)

Dune, a service dog in training, and her family. It was a delight to meet so many furfriends and their families at RootsTech 2014!

Dune, a service dog in training, and her family. It was a delight to meet so many furfriends and their families at RootsTech 2014!

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 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.

RootsTech 2014: Reaching the Summit with New Mountains to Climb, Part 1

With Captain Jack Starling

With Captain Jack Starling

RootsTech 2014 offered participants an expanded view of all that is available to the family history and genealogy community. There were wow moments for many of those who came from 49 states and 32 countries! If anyone else knows someone from South Dakota, the lone holdout state, we’ve been asked to bring them along next year.

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

The Innovator Summit was held on Wednesday, February 5th. “RootsTech 2014: Reaching New Heights …” discusses the opening session. The day of the summit, I found myself tweeting, “[s]o many choices, so many friends, so little time!” The result of the larger conference and venue was that I attended a few sessions, not many, saw some friends, not all, and focused on capturing fleeting moments rather than reflective, hence the delay in sharing my experiences at RootsTech.

Find #MyToday at

Find #MyToday at

In one session, Cydni Tetro, who is employed as a Disney Imagineer, shared her vision of an app that would allow an individual to gather posts and tweets from multiple social media accounts into story form for preservation on the FamilySearch site. It is called #MyToday and it is in early beta. Cydni invited everyone to access and, using their Facebook account, create a story and provide feedback. Unfortunately, the story created will not be preserved but it will visually allow the creator an idea of the finished product.

In the evening the RootsTech 2014 FamilySearch Blogger and Media Dinner was held at the Salt Palace.

FamilySearch Industry Leaders Town Hall

FamilySearch Industry Leaders Town Hall

For the first time bloggers were invited to participate virtually. Announcements were made, including an introduction to The Year of the Obituary and FamilySearch’s Captain Jack Starling. The goal is to create an index of 100,000,000 obituaries because “dead men tell no tales, but their obituaries do.” FamilySearch is partnering with many organizations and volunteers to make this happen. The project will begin with obituaries from the United States and expand to other nations. Although an obituary is only as good as its source, obituaries provide vital and biographical information important to genealogical research. Sometimes they even include a story or two.

By the way, there was a town meeting held with some of the top executives from FamilySearch International. It was a great opportunity to ask questions. All were invited.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Please welcome to the stage ... Shipley Munson!

“Please welcome to the stage … Shipley Munson!”

Shipley Munson welcomed RootsTech attendees to this year’s conference. He introduced Dennis C. Brimhall, the CEO of FamilySearch International. Brimhall had four important points:

  1. The power of stories
  2. enhancements, including an attempt to create a texting app so that those who do not have access to computers and smart phones can participate via this technology
  3. The role and importance of records, including the importance of indexing
  4. The importance of partnerships to accelerate online record access. At the current pace, it will take an estimated 11 generations before the records at FamilySearch will be digitally preserved. With partnerships, it is estimated we can reduce this to one!

After Brimhall’s remarks Josh Taylor introduced his boss Annelies van den Belt, CEO of DC Thomson Family History. She introduced herself by sharing part of her own family history and her vision for the partnership entered into by the leading genealogy companies. Finally, Ree Drummond, The Pioneeer Woman, shared her introduction to family history and her blogging journey. She encouraged others to start blogging or writing their stories using the medium of their choice.
Expo Hall RootsTech 2014. WPThe Expo Hall opened shortly thereafter with vendors prepared to greet attendees. This year RootsTech provided free Expo passes to those who wanted to walk the hall. With presenters taking the stage at the BackBlaze theatre, the Expo Hall was a continual education hot spot. I must admit that I only caught a quick glimpse of all that was going on. I needed another day to devote to investigating everything available!

Dr. Spencer Wells, Kenny Freestone, Dr. Tim Janzen, and Benett Greenspan

(From L to R) Dr. Spencer Wells, Kenny Freestone, Dr. Tim Janzen, MD, and Bennett Greenspan

I enjoyed two sessions on DNA. CeCe Moore presented her strategies for “Using Genetic Genealogy to Discover the Ancestry of Adoptees (and Scale Recent Genealogical Brick Walls).” As an expert genetic genealogist, she moderated the session that allowed attendees to ask questions to the experts representing the leading DNA companies. One of the benefits of physically attending RootsTech is the opportunity for an attendee to receive an answer to his or her specific question from top experts in the field.

Vocal Point at RootsTech 2014 Opening Social

Vocal Point at RootsTech 2014 Opening Social

In the evening, attendees were treated to light refreshments and a concert by Vocal Point, who opened with “Footloose.” Vocal Point performed songs for all generations and shared a few anecdotes related to their own experience with family history.

RootsTech 2014 had so much to offer whether attending in person or virtually, so I have a musing question: how long do you think it would take to apply all that one could learn from RootsTech 2014?

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.


RootsTech 2014: Reaching New Heights at the Innovator Summit

Chris Dancy WP RootsTech 2014 opened Wednesday with the Innovator Summit held at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. This year RootsTech set aside an entire day to focus on innovative ways to address the issues that affect genealogists and look to the future. The conference is being held in a bigger venue this year allowing more people the opportunity to attend the largest genealogy conference in North America. Projected numbers indicate that RootsTech 2014 will qualify as the largest genealogy conference in the world!

Ben Bennett, representing FamilySearch International, made the introductions. FamilySearch International invited those present to be forward-thinking and enhance the pursuit of genealogy through the development of new ideas. As it was advertised, “Join the Conversation. Change Your Future.”

Andrew Fox introduced findmypast and related that the company is looking to partner with tech organizations and provide a developer platform to expand the use of the information held in their databases. He said that findmypast can benefit the world of academia in science and social science. He mentioned a few projects that are currently being researched using specific record sets. Findmypast is continually evaluating how to use its data, recognizing that the applications are endless. The big announcement is that findmypast (fmp) is releasing the fmp capture app that will allow individuals to record audio, upload photos, and store notes. If you are in Salt Lake, stop by the findmypast booth for a demonstration.

Chris Dancy of BMC Software and a data exhaust cartographer gave the keynote presentation. I had the opportunity to talk with Chris before the session. It is obvious upon meeting him that he is futuristic in his thinking. Besides wearing Google glass, he was wearing 11 sensors that provide data on his current state of being. Since we were at a genealogy conference, I asked him about his heritage. He told me that he comes from Irish and Nordic heritage. With his forward-thinking, he has had his entire genome sequenced. Although he tested his DNA with 23andMe, he uses a company called Exogen Biotechnology. Inc. that monitors changes in his DNA on a regular basis. He uses this data to make adjustments in his lifestyle and environment.

In his presentation, “Facebook for the Dead”, he discussed the fact that, organically, it’s easy to die. Death used be “dualistic,” meaning that not only did people die but their data files died too. The statistic that 3.9 billion people will die during a individual’s lifetime and the fact that 7,000 people died during Chris Dancy’s presentation is daunting. Despite these sobering facts, Chris talked about the ways that people live on. Historically, Egyptians had the Book of the Dead as well as the Scroll of Ani. Now we are remembered through the remaining bits of data in our digital world.

It’s hard to die digitally. People can be followed on Twitter even after they take their last breath. Chris Dancy shared an experience he had in Las Vegas. He told the story of how he witnessed Michael Jackson being resurrected during a show wearing clothes Michael never wore and singing songs he never sang. It was as if Michael had never died. This type of digital reconstruction is possible not only possible for Michael Jackson but us too. Dancy cited cost as the prohibitive factor.

“We are putting are lives online, and we are also putting our deaths online,” and Chris Dancy gave himself as an example. With the previously mentioned 11 sensors and 7 system monitoring him, he is able to record his vital information on a Google calendar. He is making a digital history that will live on after his mortal death.

The dead population is beginning to grow larger than life in the cyber world. Chris Dancy urges people to evaluate the systems in their lives. He asked us to consider how our data will remember us. He mentioned that social networking companies have varied terms of service that affect our information upon death. The record of our lives becomes complicated by these terms. He mentioned that Google was one of the better companies with their terms of service. Nevertheless, Chris Dancy suggested that making it possible to link accounts and becoming aware of what is posted online will help construct an accurate legacy.

There are many resources that can be used to help preserve the past. One example is, a website that allows you to create a lasting digital history. Chris Dancy encouraged developers to create middle-ware to connect different sites together. The platform that is used is important but the most important factor is you.

Chris Dancy ended his address by talking about an episode of the British show Black Mirror entitled “Wish You Were Here” where the boyfriend of a character is virtually reconstructed and she questions his reality. Ultimately, we may be able to reconstruct a 3D virtual reality of the deceased using the data they left behind, especially photos aggregated online. In many ways, we are being enabled to virtually resurrect the past.

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.


Your Family History’s Future is in the Stats

Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks on winning Super Bowl XLVIII. It was amazing execution on the field for the triumphant win! Seattle, enjoy your celebration today; I wish I could be there! Football is all about claiming the Lombardi trophy and statistics provide great feedback as to what happened on the field and how to approach the future.

Family history and genealogy similarly have stats we can review to orient ourselves to the game. Coupled with a research log, this feedback can help a researcher move the chains.

Numbers of the GenerationsThe most comprehensive statistic to calculate is how many ancestors you have found compared to how many are yet to be found in a certain number of generations. By dividing the total number of ancestors you have found by the sum of the total number of ancestors from the first generation to the target generation that you are interested in, you will find the percentage of ancestors found. This will give you an idea of how many more research opportunities you have before you. This can be humbling. Those who say it’s all been done are few indeed. Even if one has the essential identifiers of name, date, place, and relationship to an event, a researcher must look to see if the data has a source and then verify it.

For example, I went on and found an interesting sourced tree in which I had great hope. It not only had complete vital information but the sources indicated the microfilm numbers by which the information was obtained. Nevertheless, when I pulled the film to verify the information none of it was correct! I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating, never trust an online tree. It may contain valid information and clues to further your research but always verify the information and its sources!

As far as statistics, I’ve always looked at completing nine generations simply because in the next generation there are 1,024 more ancestors to find and that can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, I never miss an opportunity to go beyond and add additional generations to my lineage when records are available. Remember, records become more scarce and incomplete as one moves back in time.

So, are you up to the challenge of finding the next generation of your ancestors and their families? In previous posts I’ve mentioned resources to get you started. This week I would like to recommend RootsTech 2014, the largest family history and genealogy conference in North America, which begins today with an Innovator Summit, formerly called Developer Day, and the Full-Access conference beginning tomorrow, February 6th, through Saturday, February 8th, at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. Check out the website at for pass comparisons and registration information.

Not in Salt Lake City? There is good news! The keynote presentations and specific sessions will be streamed live and available for later viewing at your convenience. Whether you are at RootsTech 2014 in person or view the conference virtually you will strengthen your offense by participating in this conference. There’s no doubt about it!

[FYI: Keynote and select presentations given at RootTech 2013 are still available for viewing for a limited time. Check out the sessions here.]

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.


Studio C: Putting Down Roots in the Field of Entertainment

The lobby of the BYU Broadcasting Building with the Studio C cast to greet us :)

The lobby of BYU Broadcasting with the Studio C cast to greet us :)

Love to laugh? Well, RootsTech 2014* has invited the popular sketch comedy group Studio C to entertain youth on Saturday, February 8th at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. These actors have entertained the university sector for quite some time and have evolved into a tight-knit group of friends producing a quality 30-minute show on BYUtv.

Gina, a production assistant, is busy backstage making sure all the paperwork is in order.

Gina, a production assistant, is busy backstage making sure all the paperwork is in order.

Studio C is in the process of taping their fourth season, which will premiere on Monday, April 7, 2014. I had the opportunity to visit the crew backstage and speak with cast members about their upcoming appearance at RootsTech and I assure you that these authentic personalities are just as delightful off-screen.

The cast consists of Adam Berg, Whitney Call, Mallory Everton, Jason Gray, Stacey Harkey, Natalie Madsen, Stephen Meek, Matt Meese, James Perry, and Jeremy Warner. Off-screen, six of the cast members are married, two to each other. As Whitney says, “… I eat, sleep, breathe (and even marry) comedy.”[1]  She and Stephen Meek were married last spring. In addition, the next generation is being produced; currently there is one adorable toddler named Jack and two more babies on the way. Jason Gray announced that he and his wife are expecting a daughter to arrive this spring, an exciting time for a man who grew up with five brothers. Indeed, this troupe is living the family history of their future.

Backstage in Studio A (and no this isn't a typo)

Backstage in Studio A (not to be confused with Studio C :)

As it relates to genealogy, their stories vary. Some have been involved in FamilySearch Indexing. At least one cast member took a class at the university. James mentioned that his favorite Christmas gifts since his marriage are books from his wife chronicling their adventures for each year. RootsTech will be a new experience for them, yet their passion is to bring laughter into our lives and provide humor that will bring families together. And, they are succeeding. Families are even dressing up as their favorite Studio C characters. Truly, Studio C is leaving a legacy of laughter!

Tera-Lynne of Kraft Services keep cast and crew happy with an array of snacks :) Her dinosaur nuggets were featured in the Season 3 Opener!

Tera-Lynne of Kraft Services keeps cast and crew happy with an array of snacks :) Her dinosaur nuggets were featured in the Season 3 Opener!

Although Studio C’s performance will be a youth-only activity at RootsTech 2014, everyone is invited to watch the show on Mondays 10 p.m. ET/8 p.m. MT on BYUtv or subscribe to their YouTube channel. You may also find them on Twitter #studioc and/or In addition, Studio C recently released a DVD containing the sketches of seasons 1 and 2 that may be available for sale at RootTech and can be purchased from a number of distributors.

[1] Call, W. [@Whitney_Call]. [ca. 2013] Whitney Call Profile ( Accessed January 15, 2014.

[*Every venue has its limits and there is now a wait list for Youth Activity Day; LDS Family Discovery Day passes are still available at no cost. FamilySearch has notified me that seating for the Studio C event and the devotional with Elder Neil L. Andersen will be made available to Family Discovery Day registrants on a first come, first serve basis in Hall D. Early Bird registration prices for all other passes ends on January 27, 2014.]

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.