Friday, February 13, 2015

RootsTech and FGS2015 Opening Day

Thursday was the official opening day for the RootsTech and FGS2015 co-conferences. Yes, there are two conferences being held at the same time.

I was lucky enough to be invited to tour the exhibit hall before it opened. I noticed right away that vendor areas are significantly larger than last year.

There's even a playground. They have Centipede. I checked.

The Demo Theater is always my favorite place. This year it is larger with more couches!

After the hall tour, I got to go backstage. Here's a behind the scenes view:

Everyone loved keynote speaker Tan Le. She spoke from the heart and left not a dry eye in the house.

I had a very productive lunch with a friend. We are kicking around marketable ideas and planning world domination.

In the afternoon, I went to Judy Russell's class on federal records. It was exactly what I needed, as my felonious great-grandfather has done federal time. She clearly explained the court system and where I *should* be able to locate these records. As always, Russell was knowledgeable and funny.

I debated being anti-social for dinner, but then put the word out on Twitter. Within minutes I had a dinner date and great conversation at a local pub. Genealogical serendipity at its finest.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

FamilySearch 2015 RootsTech Media Dinner

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending a media dinner hosted by FamilySearch on the eve of the opening of RootsTech 2015.

This is always one of my favorite conference events because FamilySearch tells us the latest developments in their organization, and they do so in style:

Shipley Munson talked about the major points of RootsTech. He said there was a "conservative" estimate of 20,000 unique attendees, but if everyone shows up it will be closer to 30,000. People are coming from 49 states (no West Virginians in the house) and 35 countries, There will also be 200,000 viewers from around the world.

FamilySearch previewed several moving videos that will be presented during the conference. When one presentation ended, we found that we were part of it. We are the storytellers... and so are you.

New (or reinvented) this year is the Innovator Showdown, giving developers a chance to present their tech tools for a chance at a cash award. There are $25,000 in prizes, expanded sponsorship, and 51 entries whittled down to four finalists. The winner will be crowned during the conference. The whole competition has a Shark Tank feel to it.

One of the bigger takeaways from this event was the mention of the FamilySearch app gallery. You can see it at

The theme of this conference is "Who Inspires You?" I love this thought, because everyone can answer the question. It's not just for the crazy genealogists. We are all doing family history, most of us just don't realize it. FamilySearch is out to change that.

Thanks again to FamilySearch for including me in their media dinner.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Touring the FamilySearch Family Discovery Center

Today I had the pleasure of attending a VIP tour of the FamilySearch Family Discovery Center, that's set for a February 11, 2015 grand opening. 
The Family Discovery Center is in the FamilySearch corner of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City. It is ready to welcome visitors, but it is also acting as a model for possible off-site future centers around the world.
The target audience is youth ages 12-18, with the hope that they will then attract their families as well.

The Family Discovery Center is organized into kiosks with different interactive family history activities. Visitors are given individual iPads to use during the tour. Those with FamilySearch accounts are asked to log in using their names and passwords. The result is a custom experience based on your family tree.
Here is where I learned about the meaning of my name. My maiden name is unique, so there wasn't any information (yet).

Many of the stations have futuristic looks to them, because that's what kids these days want and expect. Several stations had interactive touch screens, including this station that felt like time travel and taught about different eras in our ancestors' lives.

Below this world map display, you can see where I've docked my iPad. I don't have a large family tree at FamilySearch (yet) so I didn't get to fully participate in this station. Once the iPad is docked, information from your tree and ancestors' locations will come up on the map. You can use the touchscreen to zoom in or out and see the migration paths and birthplaces of ancestors.

There's even a station to record your own history. There are question prompts on the screen and a camera that records you telling your stories. At the end of the tour, visitors receive a recording from this station as well as photos and information from the others.

Station 5 has a Wii-style experience where you wave your hand to choose and take photos in various styles of dress. Here I am being a Chickasaw Princess:

Special thanks to FamilySearch for thinking I was a VI enough P for their VIP tour. See for more information on this innovative endeavor to get families interested in their own histories.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Removing the Dust Covers and Getting Ready for RootsTech / FGS2015

Hi there! Remember me?

So much has happened since we last spoke. It's been a rough few months on the home front. My husband unexpectedly walked out the door and then I was diagnosed with Graves disease.

This is not dirty laundry; it is family history. We don't always get to choose how the story goes.

So you see...I do have a pretty good excuse for not blogging.

But now it is time to blog again. I got my writing voice back. Just in time, too. RootsTech and FGS2015 are just around the corner. I'll be there with bells on and I want to experience it all.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

October Genealogy Classes in Richmond, Texas

Have you ever wondered where your ancestors came from?  Are you curious about their military service or daily lives? Begin your family-history research at Fort Bend County Libraries' Local History and Genealogy Department at George Memorial Library, 1001 Golfview in Richmond. Library staff will present two programs in October to help the beginning family-history researcher pursue their genealogy search.

The class "Family-History Research: World War I Records," will take place on Tuesday, October 14 beginning at 10:00 a.m., in the library's Computer Lab. Staff from the Genealogy and Local History Department will show family researchers how to trace family history using World War I military records such as draft-registration cards, service records, and pension-application files. Find out how and where to obtain copies of compiled service records and pensions for U.S. soldiers. Learn about the library's microfilm collection of indexes to World War I, other holdings in the Genealogy and Local History Department, and online resources such as, Family Search, and Fold3.

In the class "Build Your Family Tree Online," learn how to create a family-tree website using the free resources on The class will take place on October 15 beginning at 10:00 a.m., in the Computer Lab. Those attending the class will need an email account to set up an account on this resource, on which one can add names, upload photographs, create an interactive chart, capture family stories, and invite other family members to contribute information.

The classes are free and open to the public. Seating is limited, however, and reservations are required. To register online at the library's website (, click on "Calendar," select "George Memorial," and find the program. Participants may also register by calling the library's Local History and Genealogy Department at 281-341-2608, or by visiting the department at the library.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Genealogy Program in Sugar Land, Texas, October 15

Hey there, local genealogy friends. I received this press release from Fort Bend County Libraries regarding a local free program. Spread the word with your genealogy society colleagues.  --A

The Internet has made more resources available to people researching their family roots than ever before. Fort Bend County Libraries' First Colony Branch Library will show how to access the library's online resources in a program on "Genealogy Resources @ Your Library," on Wednesday, October 15 beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Conference Room of the library, located at 2121 Austin Parkway in Sugar Land.

Staff from the library's Adult Services department will demonstrate how to access online tools and databases for genealogical research in this program for beginner family-history researchers. The databases are available through the Fort Bend County Libraries' website, Most of them can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection, and there is one that must be accessed from within the library. Some of the resources require a subscription when accessed directly, but are free when accessed through the library's website. Those attending the program will also receive tips on how to conduct online searches in an efficient manner for the best results.

The program is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, however, and reservations are required. To register online at the library's website, click on "Calendar," select "First Colony Branch Library," and find the program. Participants may also register by calling the library at 281-238-2800, or by visiting the library.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Register for FGS2015 and get a RootsTech pass for $39!

Guys, guys, GUYS! I'm still at FGS2014, but I received this press release about FGS2015. Registration is open! But it gets better. Register for FGS2015 and get a pass to RootsTech for only $39! Both conferences will be going at the same time. This price for an add-on RootsTech pass is a steal. Take advantage of it! Will I see you there?  -Amy

Connect.Explore.Refresh — A Conference for the Nation’s Genealogists

August 27, 2014 – Austin, TX. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) opened registration today for their 2015 conference scheduled for February 11–14 in Salt Lake City, Utah. This highly anticipated genealogy event puts the FGS and RootsTech conferences under one roof at the Salt Palace Convention Center (SPCC).

Registration opened with a special early bird price of $139 for a full FGS conference registration. That pricing is available throughSeptember 12, 2014. Attend only FGS or add-on a full RootsTech pass for an additional $39. Register now at

FGS President, D. Joshua Taylor, shared "FGS 2015 will undoubtedly be part of the largest family history event in North America. We are delighted to partner with RootsTech to bring the best of tradition and innovation to the family history community."

Conference Highlights
·       Conference Sessions: The program features lectures for genealogists of all experience levels. Attendees will learn from a variety of tracks including Tried and True Methods, The Most Useful Records Hidden in Plain Sight, Compiling Singular Records into Lively Stories, A Retro Look at Organizing and Planning, and Modern Access to Vintage Resources. See the full program and list of speakers at
·       General Sessions: ThursdayFriday, and Saturday mornings will kick off with a joint general session for all FGS and RootsTech attendees.  
·       Expo Hall: Both conferences will share an expo hall covering more than 120,000 square feet, which will offer at least 240 booth spaces and a Demo Theater featuring special vendor presentations.
·       Research Opportunity: The Family History Library is the reason that Salt Lake City is the dream destination of genealogists everywhere. The library is a located in walking distance of the Salt Palace Convention Center and the four conference hotels.  
·       Focus on Societies: Sessions on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 will give society leaders and volunteers ideas and tools to help societies promote themselves, increase membership, and develop sources of revenue.
·       Librarians’ Day: On Tuesday, February 10, 2015, ProQuest will sponsor a full pre-conference day of sessions designed for librarians, archivists, and other information professionals serving family history researchers.

Visit the FGS conference website at for additional details including links to the conference hotels. Watch for future announcements about general session speakers, special activities and more on the FGS Voice Blog at and through FGS social media channels (links available on the conference website).  

See you in Salt Lake City in February.  

About the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) was founded in 1976 and represents the members of hundreds of genealogical societies. FGS links the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow through resources available online, FGS Forum magazine (filled with articles pertaining to society management and genealogical news), and Society Strategy Series papers, covering topics about effectively operating a genealogical society. FGS also links the genealogical community through its annual conference -- four days of excellent lectures, including one full day devoted to society management topics. To learn more visit

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

FamilySearch Media Dinner Recap for FGS2014

I had the pleasure of attending the FamilySearch media dinner on Tuesday evening. This is an event usually held at major genealogy conferences where they invite bloggers and other media types to learn about the latest news and developments with FamilySearch.

This evening was no exception. The event started with an update from Chief Genealogical Officer David Rencher. He spoke briefly about FamilySearch Family Tree and how they're trying to improve metrics. He gave an example of a person in Family Tree having multiple people linked as parents, and the steps being taken to omit that.

Next up Dan Call spoke about RootsTech 2014. He showed a video and gave the attendance numbers. I wasn't able to write them all down, but paid attendance was 5,250. That didn't include special events like kid's day, LDS training, etc.

Call then turned his attention to RootsTech 2015, being held February 12-14, 2015. He did apologize for it being Valentine's Day, but I can't think of a better present than genealogy. Innovator Summit will be February 11. They must have got some mixed feedback from the last one because the 2015 version will be retooled. Another thing Call mentioned was more intermediate and advanced classes. I don't know what that entails. We'll have to wait and see when the schedule comes out.

Registration for RootsTech opens August 29. The early-bird price is $139, and I believe that price will be held for two weeks.

Remember, RootsTech will be running concurrently with the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference. I've been told that you will be able to register for FGS2015 and add a pass to RootsTech for $39. I do not know if the same is the case if you register for RootsTech and want a pass to FGS. This is all so new and I think everyone is a little confused.

Bryce Roper is the product manager for Family Tree. He talked about available apps. They are FamilySearch Tree and FamilySearch Memories. More information can be found at the FamilySearch Mobile App Landing Page.

Did you know FamilySearch Family Tree has hints now? They're like that other site's shaky leaves, but it is a different symbol. In fact, Family Tree shows record hints, research suggestions and confirms data quality. (I think "data quality" means they point out when you have a mother whose death date is before a child was supposedly born.) My takeaway from this segment was that FamilySearch is trying to clean up trees and increase accuracy and growth.

Robert Kehrer was a brave soul who did a live presentation. He showed the different types of hints on FamilyTree and how to add sources, people. etc. Bloggers asked good questions about privacy regarding living people in the FamilyTree, ability for others to change information and copyright. FamilySearch is pretty confident that there isn't much fighting over family tree information. Seems like there is, but what do I know?

All in all it was a great event and I'm thrilled to be up to date with all that's going on with FamilySearch.

If you want to keep up with the latest FamilySearch news, follow their blog.

Librarians' Day Re-Cap at FGS2014

Today was Librarians' Day at FGS2014, which is before Society Day, which is before the actual FGS conference.

The event was sponsored by ProQuest, which I must add because they gave us lunch among other things.

David Rencher, Chief Genealogist at FamilySearch, gave a presentation on the War of 1812 pension collection. See Preserve the Pensions for the public effort to get funding to digitize and care for this collection. He shared some of the incredible things one can find in a pension file.

Three takeaways you must know about this presentation:

1. The War of 1812 pension collection is available for free at Fold3. Yes, Fold3 is a subscription database, but these items will be free.

2. You say you don't have any ancestors that served? War of 1812 pensions have lots of names and information about others who were related to or knew the pensioner. Take the time to examine the collection. You never know what you'll find.

3. These pension documents are falling apart. We need to help digitize them before it is too late. Donate to Preserve the Pensions today.

Craig Scott of Heritage Books discussed "Building a Core Genealogical Collection for our Library" in the next segment. Libraries often serve many different audiences. This session stressed the importance of having an acquisitions plan to ensure you have the genealogy collection your users want. Communication between departments was stressed, as well as sharing with city government the importance and dollars brought in by genealogy tourism.

Lunch was great. William "Bill" Forsyth gave some minor updates with regard to ProQuest. He said Heritage Quest will be updated. After that he shared a case history from his own family and how he utilized military records for genealogy. It was a very interesting presentation.

The biggest takeaway you need to know from lunch is that Critical Path exists. Forsyth used it to see film of where his grandfather served in World War I.

Frank Faulkner of the San Antonio Public Library Texana and Genealogy Collection was the after-lunch speaker. There are two takeaways you need to know from this session:

1. The word "genealogy" in the collection title often scares people away. Texana means anything having to do with Texas or its history.

2. This collection is HUGE. It covers all 50 states, so do not ignore it.

James Harkins of the Texas General Land Office was the final speaker. He gave a brief history of the GLO, then a brief example of what they have. This is such a neat repository with so much historical information in Texas and even pre-statehood.

Takeaway from this session: check out their website. They have things online.

I ended up winning a prize! It's a very cool historical map.

All in all, I call Librarians' Day a success. Special thanks to Sue Kaufman, Queen Bee at Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, for planning it all.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Greetings from San Antonio for #FGS2014

Today I drove away from Houston and aimed my car toward San Antonio. My goal and intent was to be there for the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2014 Annual Conference.

I timed my trip so I would arrive in Luling, Texas around lunch time. I went to City Market.

This was the quintessential Texas BBQ joint. You walk through the store to the smoke room where they cook the meat and order there. They give it to you on butcher paper.

I ordered brisket and sausage. There are no forks. The bread is for moppin'. Should you want sides, you will get a fork with those, but they are sold in the store, not the smoke room.

My Diet Coke invited me to share it with a Go-Getter. I did just drive to an unfamiliar town and eat new stuff. Then I was driving to San Antonio to be part of a big conference. It doesn't get and more go-getter than that.

After I arrived in San Antonio, I spent some time resting, then went to the mall. I ran into Linda McCauley, who then led me to Marian Pierre-Louis, Paula Stuart Warren, Caroline Pointer and Polly Kimmitt.

On our way back to dinner, we stopped by The Alamo. It sure is pretty at night.

This was a good day, even though it was a travel day.

Tomorrow is Librarians' Day. I am very excited.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

MyCanvas Finds a New Home in Alexander’s

MyCanvas users will be happy to know that the service that is on's chopping block has found a new home at Alexander's.

Find out more at the blog.

I'm glad was able to ensure the service continued. I haven't used MyCanvas yet,* but I know many people who have. I've heard good things about MyCanvas in the past and hope to use it in the future.

*I'm still in the process of gathering enough ancestral information and photos to fill a book. Plus, my family is small and not in love with genealogy so I'm still figuring out my audience. In time....

Monday, August 18, 2014

Online Registration for FGS 2014 Ends August 19!

“Gone to Texas” – A Conference for the Nation’s Genealogists

August 15, 2014 – Austin, TX.  Online registration for the 2014 Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference, scheduled 27-30 August 2014 in San Antonio, Texas, ends Tuesday, August 19. Register at  This year’s conference theme is “Gone to Texas,” and the local hosts are the San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society (SAGHS) and the Texas State Genealogical Society (TSGS).
Pre-registering for the conference gives you access to some great benefits. Those who have already registered for the conference still have time to purchase tickets to the conference "extras."

Only attendees who preregister for the conference can:

  • Access the conference syllabus online prior to the conference.
  • Guarantee a spot in the "extra" conference events (on-site tickets may be available to events if they have not sold out):
  • ​Add on ​
    13 luncheons over the 4 conference days.
  • ​Register for ​
      workshops over 3 days.   
    Workshops are filling up quickly but there are still a few spaces remaining.
  • Wednesday Night at the Institute of Texan Cultures on August 27
    , hosted by the the San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society and the Texas State Genealogical Society.
  • Friday evening's "Night in Old San Antonio" at La Villita is sold out.​

You can also purchase extra tickets (except for workshops) for your non-genealogy spouses or friends who traveled with you to the conference.

Visit to register or add "extras" today. We hope to see you in San Antonio, August 27-30.
Learn More and Stay Connected
Follow FGS on Twitter at and hashtag #FGS2014.
Visit San Antonio at

About the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)
The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) was founded in 1976 and represents the members of hundreds of genealogical societies. FGS links the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow through resources available online, FGS FORUM magazine (filled with articles for the family history community), and Society Strategy Series papers, covering topics about effectively operating a genealogical society. FGS also links the genealogical community through its annual conference -- four days of excellent lectures, including one full day devoted to society management topics. To learn more visit

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Do's and Don'ts for FGS 2014

It's almost time for the 2014 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference! This time it's in my neck of the woods, and I'm excited to have all these genealogy folks come to Texas. If this is your first trip to San Antonio, here are some tips to make your trip memorable:

DO try new things. Attend a class in something about which you know nothing, play with the databases in the vendor hall, make friends in the chairs around you while we're all waiting for sessions to start.

DON'T bring your horse or cowboy hat. Downtown San Antonio is a very busy place. Take all your visions of ranches and prairies out of your head and replace them with buses and tall buildings. Leave your boots at home too, unless they're super comfortable and worthy of long walks through the convention center.

DO take advantage of local food and drink. When it comes to after-hours conference entertainment, San Antonio is one of the better FGS settings in recent memory. There are so many choices! Here is a list of nearby restaurants and bars.

DON'T spend all your time in the convention center. I realize genealogy is the reason we're all coming to San Antonio, but take some time to explore the city surrounding the conference. Check out these downtown San Antonio maps for ideas.

DO realize The Alamo is only a short walk from the convention center.This conference offers you a great chance to see it (and realize how small it is). There's even an early-morning Fun Walk supporting the Preserve the Pensions cause. Why not sign up?

DON'T ask where the basement is at The Alamo:

DO come find me at the conference. I love making new genealogy friends!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Long time, no blog

I'm here! I promise.

The good news is that I've been so busy that blogging took a back seat. I went on vacation:

Isn't that pretty? What you don't know is 1. I'm moving there once the nest is empty and 2. I took this photo while my car was stuck in the sand. Prince Charming with silver teeth driving an Escalade helped set me free.

Recently, I've been hired on several genealogy projects large and small. I just finished some research that I think is going to be used for a book. I didn't ask. I was given a specific task so I delivered without questions. It was a fun project.

My most recent project has me attempting to connect a one adult to another, a child to a parent. It's quite complicated as key records are missing and people sort of vanish. This is right up my alley, as I'm becoming an expert in dealing with my own difficult ancestors.

I've also started working more on my family tree. It's pretty boring but necessary stuff. Lots of adding census records and city directories to my RootsMagic database. I need to get all these online discoveries in the database so I can start getting back into the deep research. I want to go on some road trips! But before I do that I need my facts in a row. I started alphabetically with the first person in my database, and now I'm up to Ezekiel Cloyd.

Another reason I've been gone is that I'm deep cleaning the house. I call it Hurricane Amy. I need to get rid of stuff, donate stuff, and fix stuff. I was not kidding about moving to that beach in the photo, people. I have 2 years to get this house lookin' purdy.

Blogging should get more frequent as I make a priority to get it in my schedule.

FGS 2014 in San Antonio is coming up in August, so you'll get some conference posts from me there. Who is going? Will I see you there?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

See you in San Antonio!

Good news! I get to go to the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2014 conference in San Antonio!

Even though I only live 3 hours away, it wasn't a done deal. I have a husband who works out of state and a child without a driver's license. Someone had to play taxi that week. My husband will be working from home so I can make this trip.

I signed up for Librarians' Day and I'm really looking forward to it. I really want to stay current on collection development, especially for genealogy resources. 

I did not sign up for any ticketed lunches. I realize that's the figurative bread and butter for many genealogy groups, but I think I'll use lunch time to explore the city. I also didn't sign up for the big ticketed events. I know, I'm sorry. It's just that I'm not a big fan of....people. There, now you know.

There are many conference sessions that look so good to me:

"Have You Really Done the Dawes?" by Linda Woodward Geiger
Well, I thought so....but maybe not? My Chickasaw ancestors are all up in those records, but maybe I don't know what I don't know.

"Davy Crockett: Following the Trail From Limestone to Texas" by J. Mark Lowe
This session discusses Southern families who migrated to the Republic of Texas. I have those. I love hearing Mark speak. Win/win.

"Finding Your Ancestors in the Republic of Texas" by Teri E. Flack
I have a few documents for my Bourlands in the Republic of Texas. I want more. Hopefully this session shows me how to get more.

Ugh, there are so many good sessions. Some at the same time of others. This will be a difficult choice.

Since I am attending Librarians' Day, I'll arrive in San Antonio Monday afternoon. Anyone else getting there that early?

San Antonio is a wonderful setting for a conference. Walking distance to the Alamo (it's small!), Riverwalk and numerous restaurants. The convention center is nice, too. You'll like it.

Will I see you there?