RootsTech reflections, Day 1

Feb 03, 2012

Hello from Salt Lake City--land of beautiful mountains, the Utah Jazz, and, of course, the you-won't-believe-it-til-you-use-it Family History Library.


GSP is here for RootsTech, the technology and genealogy conference hosted by FamilySearch.  We know from our membership that genealogists with Pennsylvania roots live everywhere, so we welcome the chance at conferences to meet you in person and hear your family stories (my favorite part of any conference.)  We're only one day in, and so far we've talked to folks with PA ancestry who live in Salt Lake, Ohio, Indiana, Seattle, and Texas, among many other places.


My most serendiptious moments so far were meeting a Mellott cousin (anyone else out there researching these Fulton County folks?) and a descendant of Joseph Johns (Schantz), the founder of Johnstown, my hometown. There's a lot of pride of place among us Johnstowners, and it was really fascinating to hear a bit of Joseph's history (including the story of his name variation and his Amish heritage), and meet someone else who has deep roots in Cambria County.


The day was also a whirlwind of vendor visits, conference sessions, and of course, researching at the FHL. Our Pennsylvania friends GenDetective gave us a sneak preview of new functionality they're developing for their software--we can't wait to use it.  We stopped by the APG table to let them know our Philly chapter is being revitalized. (Are you a professional genealogist or aspiring progen in the Philadelphia area?  Drop us an email at to be notified about the next meeting.)  We're also learning about more vendors that can help us in our genealogy research, including AboutOne (they'll help you organize your files and a busy life), Mocavo, search engine devoted to genealogy, and Billion Graves, a site to help you find your ancestors' tombstones.  Reel Tributes founder David Adelman visited with us too...great to see some friends from home.


The keynote session by Jay Verkler gave me lots of food for thought, as he talked about the future of genealogy (a la 2060), and what innovations developers are working on to enhance our research experience.  In addition, we got to sit down at an unconference with other state societies (thanks, FGS and Randy Whited), and have a thoughtful discussion about what our purpose is, and what we can do to benefit our members.


More thoughts about both of those sessions (and the FHL research experience) soon, and more, but it's time to go start day 2.  Want to join us from home?  RootsTech is live streaming many of the sesions. Click here to follow along! --JH