Monday, March 19, 2018

Thoughts on RootsTech 2018

RootsTech 2018 is over. But I still have more to share in the coming weeks.

Here's a brief overview summary of the conference with links to all of my blog posts at the end of this post. I'll add additional links here as I continue to blog about RootsTech.

This year's theme was Connect. Belong. My goodness, did I ever Connect!

  • Every conference and institute I attend leads to new friends. RootsTech is especially great for connecting and reconnecting with GeneaBloggers, old and new friends and fellow researchers. Some of these friends especially feed my soul. I look forward to seeing them every year.
  • Through the FamilyTree app, I connected with several "relatives" attending RootsTech. One of them is already a real-life friend. Now she's family.
  • RootsTech definitely leads to a feeling of belonging to something bigger in a way that other conferences doesn't. Maybe it's the inspiring keynotes. Or maybe it's somehow managing to run into friends purely by chance in the exhibit hall full of thousands of people. Whatever energy it is that runs through the conference, I'm thrilled to be a part!

RootsTech 2018 Posts:

Link to my talk:
Google Photos: Collect, Organize, Preserve and Share

Last but not least, I want to thank the RootsTech folks for putting on such an awesome conference. And MyHeritage for their after party. It was a great way to finally relax, connect and realize we all belong.

Disclaimer: I (Michelle Goodrum) am a RootsTech 2018 Ambassador and received complimentary registration to RootsTech along with other perks.

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 © 2018, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Sunday, March 4, 2018

RootsTech Session Notes

Here’s a quick summary of the sessions I attended at RootsTech.

But first, a little self-promotion. Here is a link to the talk I gave titled, Google Photos: Collect, Organize, Preserve & Share.

And now for the sessions:

Missing – Presumed Dead: A Case Study of Civil War Records, presented by Rebecca Koford
Rebecca is a fantastic storyteller – weaving historic details both visually and verbally into the Civil War story of her ancestor. Rebecca’s presentation was somewhat in the style of Ken Burns. I can’t even begin to imagine how many hours, days and years it took to perform the research and prepare this talk. It was a beautiful presentation full of great how-to information.

A tip: investigate all the records rather than assuming your Civil War ancestor wasn’t in a particular record. You never know. I think this applies to other areas in addition to Civil War research. Her handout has a nice list of records to use as a checklist.

Migration Trails Across America, presented by Peggy Clemens Lauritzen
Peggy is an entertaining presenter who always has a fun story ready to tell. Here are a couple of takeaways from her talk.
1.     The FamilySearch Wiki has excellent maps. Try looking under something along the lines of Migration Routes or American (or United States) Migration Routes.
2.     Determine what churches existed at the time and places your ancestor lived. Do this even if they weren’t religious people. Churches kept records of baptisms, christenings, marriages, burials and funerals. They also would write letters of introduction. So if your ancestor moved, they might have gotten a letter of introduction for the new place they moved to.

Beyond Population: Researching in Special Census Schedules, presented by Angela McGhie
Genealogists are familiar with the population schedules. Angela gave a great overview of the other kinds of federal census schedules. There are so many kinds, I’m not going to attempt to list them all. Some are digitized and online at Ancestry and FamilySearch. In the catalog on FamilySearch, try looking under non-population, supplemental or special schedules. Also, remember that many aren’t indexed so you might have to page through the schedules the old-fashioned way: one page at a time.

I also attended all four of Jennifer Holik’s sessions on World War II research. My comments are here.
This session was live-streamed. I highly recommend watching.
·      The Greatest Generation: Advanced World War II Research
·      World War II Sacrifice
·      Battlefield Stories: Writing Your Stories of War

There’s intense interest in our World War II veterans these days. For more information, check out Jennifer’s website, World War II Research and Writing Center.

Remember there are many recorded session from RootsTech 2018 available to view.

Even though RootsTech ended yesterday, I’m not done posting. Stay tuned…


Disclaimer: I (Michelle Goodrum) am a RootsTech 2018 Ambassador and received complimentary registration to RootsTech along with other perks. All opinions are my own.

URL for this post:

 © 2018, copyright Michelle Goodrum

Friday, March 2, 2018

World War II Research with Jennifer Holik

I ran into World War II expert, Jennifer Holik at the RootsTech registration desk. She told me about the four-part series of WWII talks she’s giving at RootsTech. When I made a comment about my grandfather’s WWI service during the conversation, she responded that everything she discusses is applicable to WWI and the Korean Conflict as well. I've attended three of her talks and am planning on being at the last one tomorrow. By the way, her husband is a WWII re-enactor from The Netherlands.

Jennifer’s first talk, Finding the Answers: The Basics of World War II Research, was live-streamed. If you’re interested learning about your WWII ancestor’s experience (or WWI or Korea), watch this video when they post it at You’ll learn a ton about the methodology of military research.

Here are a couple of things that I learned:
·      Europeans feel a debt of gratitude to our American soldiers for liberating their country today. They are very willing to help and if you visit, make contact with some of the experts ahead of time. They will take you around to the places where your serviceman fought.
·      Men served in many units throughout the war. The unit that is on their final papers is only the last unit. Remember this when researching your ancestor’s military service.

For more information, Jennifer’s website is WWII Research and Writing Center at

Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton was our keynote this morning. If you missed the live stream, watch it when it’s posted at I was thoroughly immersed in what he had to say and so didn’t take any notes. All I can say is, he is an amazing human being. The talk he gave is one of a kind for RootsTech where he shared thoughts and experiences about growing up, skating, life challenges and family. You don’t want to miss it!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts, especially the interview with I participated in with Scott.

Last but not least, my talk on Google Photos from yesterday (Thursday) is now online at RootsTech.


Disclaimer: I (Michelle Goodrum) am a RootsTech 2018 Ambassador and received complimentary registration to RootsTech along with other perks. All opinions are my own.

URL for this post:

 © 2018, copyright Michelle Goodrum