John Ralls has again created a report on what he saw at RootsTech today, including a number of pictures. As you read his words and look at the pictures, don't forget that you can click on any of the small pictures below to view a larger image.
RootsTech's second day begun with the obligatory keynote, but today's speakers weren't commercial partners, they were Judith Russell 'The Legal Genealogist' and Dr. Spencer Wells, director of the Genographic Project and National Geographic Explorer in Residence.
Judy Russell gave a rousing and interesting talk about the importance of accurately recording and preserving family stories around the theme that it takes only three generations for those stories to be lost if they're not carefully preserved. She illustrated with an example of two brothers who served in the 3rd Regiment of the Virginia Line, one of whom was killed at the Battle of Trenton in 1776. Aside from the other brother's mention of him in his Revolutionary War pension application 50 years later, no record at all exists of the killed brother. Only one brother of the 5 who survived to have children even named a son after his fallen brother. Another example given was a "family story" written by an uncle of hers, connecting her family to the Mayflower and an ancestor who was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, most of which turned out to be wrong. The story had been preserved, but inaccurately. Her counter-example was the family stories of her grandfather, one of which said he had been a cowboy, another a rancher, and others a farmer, a sheriff, a traveling salesman, and a circuit preacher. Clearly conflicting? No, after careful research following the principles of the Genealogical Proof Standard, all turned out to be true phases of the man's very rich life. She concluded by reminding us that it's important not only to research and tell the stories of our ancestors, but also to accurately record and document our own stories lest *they* be lost in 3 Generations. You can read a longer version of Judy's remarks at http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/2014/02/07/just-three-generations/.
Dr. Wells spoke about what in his life had inspired him to undertake the Genographic Project, an enormous effort to use the variations in human DNA to map mankind's journey from its origins in Africa and spread throughout the world. He followed with a brief refresher on how mutations occur and mark descendents, and how by comparing the prevalence of mutations in an existing population they can be ordered into a sort of deep ancestry tree extending back over 100,000 years. He explained the three principles of the project: field research with indigenous peoples, public participation to raise money and interest in the project, and a legacy fund to help pay for cultural preservation of those indigenous cultures, many of which are under threat from the encroachment of the modern world.
Some statistics: They've collected samples from more than 72,000 indigenous people and more than 575,000 first-world subjects, and they've funded 85 cultural preservation projects with over $2.2 million.
One of the surprises of the project was the level of interest and involvement from the general public, including at least one letter which led to research that determined that about 3% of those with Hungarian ancestry have indications of DNA from central Asia. This is interesting because the Hungarian language is, like Finnish, of different origin from most other European languages, but no one had before found genetic evidence of that heritage.
He concluded with an observation of the immense growth of genetic testing among the public: When he started the project in 2002, only a few hundred people had had any such testing. 10 years later, in 2012, the millionth person was tested, and sometime this year, the second millionth person will be tested. He sees that exponential growth as very important both for his project and for genealogy because the having those large sample sizes allows him and us to draw ever more accurate conclusions about both our deep and recent ancestry.
- Third place: Photo Facematch
- Second place: Find a Record
- First place: Saving Memories Forever
Munson had Harvey and Jane Baker from St. Louis, Missouri, the creators of Saving Memories Forever, come out for a brief presentation about their product.
Dick had asked for a few exhibit hall pictures, so here's the digital lounge. All of those computers are available for public use. Each of the major exhibitors also has dozens of computers in their booths for attendees to experiment with their services.
There was a nice vantage point for an overview, which nicely shows that the exhibit floor is quite a bit larger than what frequent conference-goers are used to.
I attended this morning a presentation by Curt Witcher, director of genealogy at the Allen County Public Library, about the new release of the Periodical Source Index, PERSI.
He's clearly very pleased with this new partnership with Find My Past, particularly that they have committed to frequent updates of the published index. After explaining that PERSI is a human-generated subject index of genealogical, historical, and special-interest society journals, magazines, and newsletters, he showed off the new user interface (with static slides): It's similar in function to the current FamilySearch interface, with keyword searches by name, place, or other keyword and check-box refinements. Each search result has a link to a bibliographic reference, each of which has a link to WorldCat as well as to the ACPL catalog. You can use WorldCat to find out if there's a holding near you, or the ACPL catalog link to help you order the item by inter-library loan.
My thanks to John Ralls for his extensive report and for all the pictures.