Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Highlights of Day 3 at RootsTech 2013

The excitement at RootsTech 2013 continued into Day 3, starting with the Keynote speakers:  

David Pogue gave us a wonderful start to the 3rd and final day of the conference, with some great jokes and comedy sketches relating to personal technology and gadgets.  

He also described the current technology trends, from Web 1.0, where the website creator provides the content (e.g. The New York Times website), to Web 2.0, where the audience create the input (e.g. Facebook, Wikipedia, Craigslist), and the next big wave, "augmented reality", which according to Wikipedia is "a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data".  Examples of augmented reality include apps such as:

  • London Tube's "Your New Eye", which shows you where the nearest tube station is and even where the underground lines run under the road. (Sounds cool - trying it out tomorrow in London!)
  • Word Lens, which instantly translates words visible through the camera lens, into Spanish, Italian or French (and vice-versa)

  •  and Ocarina, which turns an iPhone into a flute-like musical instrument, which he proceeded to demonstrate: 

David also showed us that he is not just a technology geek, he is a talented composer, singer and musician to boot! I had already noticed the grand piano on the stage, but had not anticipated such an amazingly humorous performance from a technology journalist - WOW is all I can say!

I couldn't resist recording one of the songs he sang (Sounds of Silence) and posting it below (apologies for the poor quality of my recording - you should be able to watch a much better quality when RootsTech post the Saturday recap videos here in due course). David also sang My Way, but unfortunately my phone ran out of storage space half way through!

After his Keynote, David Pogue was interviewed in the media hub by Jill Ball, Australian genealogy blogger at Geniaus; she talked to him about his early career working in musical theatre and his move into technology journalism. You can watch her interview here

In the second, MyHeritage presentation, Ori Soen described how MyHeritage was founded by Gilad Japhet in 2005, from his own home, and has now grown to be the second largest family history company in the world.  Their 75 million users use the site to build their family trees, and automatically connect to other trees and records using the MyHeritage "smart matching facility".

James Tanner, a blogger at Genealogy's Star and a MyHeritage user, went on to explain that the MyHeritage matching facility works by not only matching user-contributed trees, but also a wide range of genealogy records, which from April, users will also be able to save as attachments to their trees.  

In terms of databases, MyHeritage was one of the first sites to complete the transcription of the 1940 US census last year, and in April it will also upload all the other US censuses, from 1790 to 1930.  One of the main strengths of MyHeritage, however, is its large user base outside the US and Western Europe.  Based in Israel, it has particularly strong coverage in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, so is ideal for those whose family backgrounds include  those regions.

Finally James Tanner announced that the first 500 people to sign up to a MyHeritage account after the Keynote session, would receive a free 6 month subscription to the MyHeritage PremiumPlus account (which is worth £7.95 a month in the UK).  Needless to say the MyHeritage stand was extremely busy for the next hour or so!

My video interview on Day 3 was with Geoff Swinfield and Di Bouglas, of Geoff Swinfield Genealogical Services.  As RootsTech first-timers I was keen to get their thoughts on what they liked best about RootsTech, how it compares to Who Do You Think You Are? Live in London and what it offers the British genealogist.  You can listen to their interview here:

Well that was the end of RootsTech 2013.  I hope you have enjoyed reading my Daily Highlight blog posts and watching my video interviews. I hope to be able to return next year for more of the same.

This was a picture taken from the aeroplane as I left Salt Lake City.  Next year, I definitely hope to combine RootsTech 2014 with some Utah ski-ing. It looks so tempting!

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Monday, 25 March 2013

WOW - Highlights of Day 2 at RootsTech 2013

On Friday, the second day of RootsTech 2013, the word of the day was WOW!  The first Keynote speaker was Jyl Pattee of Mom It Forward, a digital agency and network of social media influencers.  Jyl encouraged us to look for the "wow" factor in life, quoting Hilary Cooper: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."  

Jyl asked us to think about the small moments that, on a daily basis, can take our breath away, and then to think about ways to:
  • Create the WOW
  • Capture the WOW
  • Archive the WOW
  • and Share the WOW

In an example of "creating the WOW", Jyl described her own 10 year challenge to jump in every single state in the US, which she finally achieved last November, and in order to "capture the WOW", she took photos of her jumps and used Instagram to share them on social media such as Twitter.  In another example, Jyl  also told us how she interviewed and recorded her grandmother by telephone, over several weeks, and has recently used these to create a video montage of her grandmother's life story, to share with her cousins on YouTube.  
Jyl also described how her grandmother's recipe for Banana Cookies had been a uniting theme in her family - and she showed a video of her making the cookies at home with her two sisters.  And as Jyl had very thoughtfully put a postcard of the recipe on every seat in the conference hall, I thought I would include it here, for those of you who either didn't get one or were watching online. Of course the video of Jyl and her sisters making the cookies is still online here at RootsTech if you'd like to watch it.

The second Keynote speaker on Friday was Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of Ancestry.com and he didn't disappoint, giving us some more WOW moments!  Tim Sullivan announced that:
  • Over the next three years Ancestry will be digitising 140 million pages of US probate records (WOW), dating from 1800 to 1930 in a major deal with FamilySearch - these records have already been filmed by FamilySearch and Ancestry is working with the various authorities, to acquire the online publishing rights.
  • Over the next five years Ancestry will be spending over $100 million (WOW) on digitising and indexing new content for Ancestry.com, Fold3 and Archives.com.
  • A new version of the Ancestry iPhone and iPad app (version 4.1) will soon be available, which will enable photos, and photo sharing via Facebook and Twitter as well as providing a photo match service with other peoples’ trees. These changes are designed to appeal to the next generation of genealogists and over one-third of new Ancestry registrations currently come via their mobile app. (WOW)
Finally, Sullivan announced that the price for Ancestry’s DNA test was being reduced to $99.  Although not available in the UK (as far as I know), the fact that DNA prices are tumbling is good news for genealogists everywhere!

In a surprise move, Tim Sullivan also appeared to ask for forgiveness about the number of mistakes in Ancestry member trees, a fact which has become a hot topic recently among genealogists.  However, he urged those of us with private trees (and I'm afraid that includes me), to open up our trees in the interest of collaboration and sharing:


My video interviewees for Friday were Else Churchill, genealogist at the Society of Genealogists in London and Alec Tritton , chairman of The Halsted Trust.  Although Alec had been to RootsTech before, this was the first time the Society of Genealogists had been represented.  I therefore talked to Else about her first impressions of RootsTech and also how it compared to Who Do You Think You Are? Live in London.  I also asked Alec for his impressions of RootsTech and about the Exodus 2013 Conference being organised by The Halsted Trust later this year in Leicestershire, England.  You can see the full interview here:

On Friday evening I attended the RootsTech “Late Night at the Library” session at the FamilySearch library, which is located literally just across the road from the Conference Centre (so very handy for the odd bit of research).  As this was my first visit, I hadn’t quite appreciated how large this library was, with Great Britain and Ireland having their own floor!  The pictures below hopefully give you an idea of just how user-friendly this library, with everything you could want (including vast numbers of microfilms) simply available on open shelves, with no restrictions on what you take into the library:

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Highlights of Day 1 at RootsTech

Yesterday was my first day at RootsTech 2013, and what an exciting day it was!

First of all, at 7.30 am, the official bloggers had early access to the Exhibitor Hall, for a guided tour of the exhibitor stands:

Next up were the three Keynote speakers:

    Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch
  • Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch, first of all congratulated the large number of volunteer indexers on the success of the 1940 census. He then went on to explain how FamilySearch is aiming to attract more people into researching their family histories than is currently the case, and in particular, they would like to lower the average age of people researching their genealogy by engaging the younger generation in family history.  With this goal in mind, he described a change in emphasis taking place at FamilySearch, moving away from just researching and connecting names and dates and encouraging us to make greater use of story telling and photographs to add more "flavour" to our family trees.  He left us with the following thought "What would our great great great grandchildren wish that we would have done"
    Syd Lieberman
  • Syd Lieberman, nationally acclaimed story teller, author and teacher, told us some wonderful stories about his parents, his grandparents and his grandchildren.  He is a wonderful speaker and storyteller, and the message coming across was "don't forget to pass on your stories to your descendants".
    Joshua Taylor, FindMyPast USA
  • Joshua Taylor, Business Development Manager, North America, for brightsolid online publishing, creators of FindMyPast.com, came across as passionate about genealogy, having chosen from a young age to get involved in family history.  Joshua reiterated the desire to engage the younger generation in family history, and especially Generation "Y" who no longer watch cable TV but do everything on their mobile devices.  He felt that the challenge, especially for developers, and others involved in genealogy, is to find ways of engaging with this audience, and postulated that the answer might be through family history gaming!

I then had the privilege of interviewing two of my fellow Strathclyde PG diploma students, Marie Dougan of Ancestral Consultants and Jeanette Rosenberg of The  Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain.  I asked them both:

  • what had brought them all the way to Salt Lake City from the UK
  • how they thought RootsTech compares to the largest British genealogy show, Who Do You Think You Are? live and 
  • what they hoped to get out of their time at the conference and in Salt Lake City in general
  • and what their main "take out" was from the Keynote speaker session this morning.  You can listen to the full interview here:

The highlight of the day, however, had to be a private tour of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir facilities, followed by a special "mini concert" for the benefit of RootsTech attendees.  It was a simply magical experience and one that will stay with me for a long while:

Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Salt Lake City

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The day before RootsTech 2013

I have finally arrived at RootsTech 2013, my first ever trip to Salt Lake City.  Some of you will know, from my Twitter feed, that I am no stranger to business trips to the USA, so arriving here on business feels quite familiar and comfortable.  The most challenging aspect of my travel yesterday, was the three and half hours spent queueing at Dallas airport to get through immigration, then customs and finally re-entry through security for my onward flight to Salt Lake City.

However, today has more than made up for any inconvenience suffered yesterday.  I spent most of the day at the APG Professional Management Conference, along with fellow genealogist, Marie Dougan, of Ancestral Consultants.  In the morning, we had a most interesting session on American court records, given by Judy G Russell, of Legal Genealogist fame.  Many of the lessons of this hands-on session, although using American court records, could easily be applied to UK court records, so I now feel inspired to try and use these more in my own genealogy practice.  Over lunch it was great to chat to Lynn Broderick, who blogs at The Single Leaf, whom I had met in February at Who Do You Think You Are? Live and Thomas MacEntee, of Geneabloggers.

In the afternoon I attended two fabulous genealogy marketing sessions:  First of all, Thomas MacEntee, of Geneabloggers,  talked about how to run an effective marketing campaign, largely based around new media marketing such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Pinterest. Thomas gave us lots of ideas on how to improve our social media presence, not least by using analytics more. Then Lisa Louise Cook, Genealogy Gems, showed us how to use YouTube in our genealogy marketing, which was very timely as I hope to be incorporating some videos from RootsTech into this blog over the next few days.

This evening, I attended the official bloggers dinner, hosted by FamilySearch at the Lion House restaurant,  which was simply fascinating, finally getting to meet so many genealogists whom I had previously known only "virtually", via Twitter or their blogs:

Amy Coffin, Dear MYRTLE and Mr MYRT

Jill Ball and Nancy Shively
I was made to feel very welcome by the RootsTech and FamilySearch team, who made a special point of introducing me as their first official blogger from England.  During dinner there were several presentations by the FamilySearch team, included some previews of tomorrow's announcements.  I won't spoil the fun by saying too much here, but suffice it to say that FamilySearch.org will be changing yet again (oh yes it will!), and in particular the home page will become much more "user friendly".  Here is a preview of what it might look like:
Watch this space for more details - and don't forget to watch the live streamed RootsTech sessions here to find out more!

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Sunday, 17 March 2013

On my way to RootsTech 2013

As I prepare to leave for Salt Lake City, to attend the 3rd RootsTech conference next week (Thurs 21st - Sat 23rd March), I am a little unsure of what to expect.  As with any trip in mid March, a combination of clothing types is recommended  and I am also taking both my laptop (for blogging) and my ipad (for travelling and note-taking in sessions) with me, hoping that this won't be "overkill".  I am also taking my latest gadget, my New Trent Powerpak icarrier, to keep both my iphone and ipad charged while I am travelling. I am definitely NOT "travelling light!"

For anyone unable to attend RootsTech in person, I can recommend catching some of the sessions through the RootsTech free streaming facility.  I did this last year, and found it immensely informative. In fact it was watching those sessions, and the accompanying chat on Twitter, that got me interested in attending in person.  The announcement of which sessions are to be streamed live can be found here and you can use the same link to watch the live webcast window when it appears.

As you probably know I have been invited to attend RootsTech this year as an "official blogger", and in that role, I shall reporting back from as many of the talks as I can possibly get to.  However, I am not superhuman and when faced with the choice of 15 talks for any one time slot, I will simply have to go with my instincts as to which one to attend.  I will, however  be attending all the Keynote sessions which kick off at the start of each day, so if you're watching the live streaming, you can look out for me in the audience!  Before Thursday, I shall be taking a look at the detailed Conference schedule on my RootsTech app, and selecting which sessions to attend.

I also plan to interview several fellow genealogists over the course of the three days, and if all goes according to plan, I shall be posting the video links here on this blog.  At present I have interviews booked with Marie Dougan (of Ancestral Consultants), Else Churchill (of the Society of Genealogists), Alec Tritton (of the Hasted Trust) and Geoff Swinfield and Di Bouglas (of Geoff Swinfield Genealogical Services).

But of course, conferences are as much about the networking as about the talks themselves and RootsTech is no exception - there seem to be plenty of networking opportunities for me to get stuck into!  As well as the Official Blogger's dinner on the Wednesday evening, which is invitation only, there are plenty of social events open to all RootsTech attendees, from the Hosted lunches (some of which sold out very early on) to the Special Evening Events, some of which I shall be attending.  I have also signed up for Dick Eastman's EOGN Dinner on the Saturday evening, after RootsTech, which already has 60 people signed up!

Do come back and visit this blog regularly over the next week - I will do my best to update you on what I'm up to and more importantly, what is going on in the RootsTech world.

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Disclosure:  As an Official blogger for RootsTech 2013, I have received a complimentary registration for the conference.  This does not influence my views or opinions of the conference or the sponsors in any way. 

Friday, 8 March 2013

Emma Frances Ray - the intriguing story of my gg grandmother

In honour of International Women's Day 2013, I have decided to write about my most intriguing female ancestor, my great great grandmother, Emma Frances Ray.

Emma Frances was born on 21st July 1808 and baptised at St James Piccadilly, on 18 Sep 1808, the daughter of bookbinder Stuart Ray and his wife Elizabeth. She was the second of 11 children of Stuart and Elizabeth, all of whom were baptised at St James' Piccadilly.

The Ray family lived for a while in Norris Street, Westminster (just off Haymarket), before settling in the mid 1820's into 43 Duke Street, St James', just off Piccadilly, where they lived for many years, and where Stuart Ray carried out his bookbinding business until he died in 1855.
Today, number 43 is occupied by St James's Auctions, specialising in coins, metals and bullion (see current photo thanks to Google Maps).

On 27 January 1837, Emma Frances Ray married Joseph Tanner, at St Margaret's, Westminster, by licence (see parish record right).

However, at the time of this marriage, Emma Frances Tanner already had a daughter, Emma Lizzy, who was born on 18th July 1835.  She then went on to have a son, Joseph Henry Tanner, who was born on 17th April, 1837.

Both these children were baptised on 4th February 1842, at Holy Trinity church, Brompton Road, Kensington (see parish record below).  She named the children's father as Joseph Tanner, gentleman, but gave their address as 43 Duke Street, Westminster.  This was her parents' family home, with whom she was living, with her two children, in the 1841 census, as "independent" but with no Joseph present.  So already, I have a few questions: why didn't Emma Frances marry Joseph Tanner before their first child was born?  Was Joseph Tanner already married?  Why is he not present in the 1841 census?  Was he already deceased?

However, the plot thickens! I am still not sure what happened to Joseph Tanner (did he die, disappear or marry someone else?), but in February 1842, when Emma Frances baptised these two children, she must have already been 7 months pregnant with twins by great great grandfather Edward Clifford, as they were born on 6th April 1842.  In fact the choice of place for the baptism may have been influenced by him, as in the 1841 census, Edward Clifford was found living in Brompton Vale, Kensington, not far from Holy Trinity church.

Edward Clifford and Emma Frances Tanner went on to have four boys, the two twins (Edward, my great grandfather, and Frank), followed by Stuart and Robert Henry.  I have the birth certificates for the two twins; Emma Frances registered them on 10th May 1842, naming them as Edward Clifford and Frank Clifford, with their father's name blank, and her own name as Emma Frances Tanner.  So they are listed in the index as Edward Clifford Tanner and Frank Clifford Tanner.

The birth registration of their third son, Stuart Clifford, has not been found, but by the time their fourth son was born, on 5th October 1846, his mother's name is shown as Emma Frances Clifford, formerly Ray (no mention of Tanner), and the father as Edward Clifford, clerk in Her Majesties customs.  As far as I know, however, Edward Clifford never actually married Emma Frances and no baptism records have been found for any of the four boys, who all went on to use the Clifford name later in life.

By the time of Robert Henry's birth, Edward and Emma Frances were living together at 9 Chapter Street, in the parish of St John the Evangelist, Westminster.  This was also the address given for Edward on the inquest into his untimely death in 1848, which is described here.  It is an area of Westminster which has recently been undergoing considerable "gentrification" (see current photo courtesy of Google maps).

I imagine that Emma Frances would have been distraught at Edward's death, with 6 children, aged between 2 and 13, to look after when he died.

By the time of the 1851 census, Emma Frances had married again, so presumably Joseph Tanner was deceased by then.  She married Thomas Newland, a tailor and widower, in the parish of St Mary Lambeth. I am not sure why they crossed the river to marry, giving their address as 16 High Street, Lambeth, possibility for reasons of anonymity.  In the 1851 census, we find them both living at 9 Chapter Street, Westminster, with two of his children, her four Clifford boys and 5 month old Frederick  Thomas Newland.  On the birth certificate of Frederick Thomas Newland, she gave her name as Emma Frances Newland, late Tanner, formerly Ray, which would suggest that she never did marry my great grandfather Edward Clifford.

By 1861, the Newland family had moved to 50 Chapter Street, and in 1871 they had moved again, but not far away, in Upper Garden Street, adjacent to the church of St James the Less, Westminster.  By the time of the 1881 census, Emma Frances Newland had again been widowed and was living with her son, Robert Clifford, a drover, his wife and their three children in Romney Street, Westminster, close to Lambeth Bridge.

Family stories suggest that Emma Frances Newland died in St George's workhouse and I found a probable death of "Fanny" Newland, age 79, "unknown of Lambeth" in the St George's workhouse.   I can't help feeling that Emma Frances had a difficult life, and ended it with no family to take care of her. She is definitely my most intriguing female ancestor!

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

Thursday, 7 March 2013

RootsTech 2013: The Brits are coming

Two weeks today is the start of America's largest genealogy conference, RootsTech 2013, where I am proud to have been selected as an official blogger. As this is my first trip to both RootsTech and Salt Lake City, I am not entirely sure what to expect, but I shall be blogging and tweeting while I am there to keep all my followers up-to-date with my impressions, news and gossip.  I also hope to have the chance to interview some speakers and attendees, aiming to focus on international issues. 

My interest in RootsTech started when I was able to watch many of the live streamed broadcasts last year, from the comfort of my own home.  Over the course of the following few months, I started to feel that, as a professional genealogist, I wanted to to attend this important conference in person.  I knew Audrey Collins, of The UK National Archives, had attended before and when she told me she would going again this year (albeit in a private capacity), I decided to book my conference place, my flight and my hotel.  This was back in October 2012.

Then at last months Who Do You Think You Are? live, I discovered that, in addition to Audrey, a number of other UK genealogists would also be attending RootsTech this year, including:

  • Else Churchill, of the London-based Society of Genealogists will be attending and also giving a talk at the Family History Library the day before RootsTech, entitled "Treasures of the London Society of Genealogist On Site and Online".  
  • Bruce Durie, founder and ex-Director of the Genealogical, Heraldic and Palaeographic Studies Programme at Strathclyde University, where yours truly studied for the PG Certificate and Diploma.
Of course there may be other UK Genealogists attending RootsTech 2013, whom I am not aware of (or dare I say I might have forgotten about).  If you are British and heading off to RootsTech 2013, do please let me know.  

For those who cannot attend in person, there will be live streamed sessions as in previous years.  Please keep an eye on the RootsTech website for more details.

For those who are going, I'll see you there!

Rosemary Morgan 
London Roots Research

Disclosure:  As an Official blogger for RootsTech 2013, I have received a complimentary registration for the conference.  This does not influence my views or opinions of the conference or the sponsors in any way.