October 26, 2016

LaVar Burton to be Keynote Speaker at RootsTech 2017

RootsTech 2017 is already wowing us with their recent announcement of Friday’s keynote speaker, LaVar Burton. Not just known for favorites like Reading Rainbow and Star Trek: The Next Generation, LaVar has been known by millions for his role as Kunta Kinte the 1977, ABC mini series, Roots.

2017 RootsTech keynote speaker

I can hardly wait until Friday, February 10th, 2017 when LaVar Burton is introduced on stage as a keynote speaker at RootsTech! One of my childhood favorites, I grew up listening to him share his love of reading in Reading Rainbow and teaching his best friend, Data, how to be more ‘human’ in the popular TV show, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Mr. Burton is excited about the opportunity to speak at RootsTech where he plans to share personal stories about Roots, Star Trek, and his Reading Rainbow foundation. He also plans on sharing stories of his mom and her commanding influence on him. He says,

“The story of Roots traces a family’s journey from Africa to America and back. At RootsTech, I’ll share some of my own journey of family, storytelling and the influence of African culture on my American Experience.”

RootsTech Keynote Speakers and More

Lbooth_imageaVar Burton is the first RootsTech Keynote Speaker to be announced for 2017. More speakers will be announced over the coming weeks.

If you haven’t heard, registration has already started for the RootsTech genealogy conference in Salt Lake City. Visit www.rootstech.org to register or learn more.

Be sure to come by and visit the entire Genealogy Gems team in the Expo Hall. We have some very special things planned for the event. Stay tuned!

RootsTech 2017 Open for Registration

It’s that time of year again! RootsTech 2017 is officially open for registration.

RootsTech 2017

Each year, eager genealogists around the world excitedly wait to get the message that RootsTech registration is officially open. Well, here is your special announcement: As of September 15th, registration for RootsTech 2017 is now open!

What is RootsTech?

RootsTech is an annual family history and technology conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Speakers and attendees from all over the globe descend on the Salt Lake Valley to learn and share innovative and new tools in genealogy.

In 2016, the event attracted more than 28,000 attendees in-person from all 50 US states and 30+ countries. RootsTech 2017 will be held February 8–11 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The popular Innovator Summit and free Family Discovery Day are also open for registration. The website for registration can be found at RootsTech.org. Early bird pricing is $159.00, so don’t delay! Early bird discount pricing is available for a limited time on 4-day passes at just $159 and $189 for the RootsTech plus Innovator Summit pass. Passes for the Getting Started track start at $49 for a single day and $69 for a limited 3-day pass. All passes include access to the popular expo hall and morning keynote sessions.

The 4-day conference will offer over 200 lectures from top instructors in the field, including four of our Genealogy Gems team members, Lisa Louise Cooke, Sunny Morton, Amie Bowser Tennant, and Diahan Southard.

In addition to lectures, some hands-on computer labs and interactive activities can also be enjoyed.

Other Events at RootsTech 2017

RootsTech is for everyone, young and old. The expo hall and other entertainment events are just the beginning!

You and your entire family may enjoy Family Discovery Day. This event takes place on Saturday, February 11, 2017 and is designed for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a free and fun day event including messages from Church leaders, engaging classes for all ages, and evening entertainment. Family Discovery Day attendees will also have access to all the interactive activities and exhibitors in the RootsTech expo hall. Registration is required.

If you make it out to RootsTech in February, be sure to come by the booth and see us. As always, we have some really special things planned as we do a little celebrating of some of our Genealogy Gems milestones. Stay tuned!

Gems at RootsTech 2017


Free Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 188 Now Available

GGP 188 genealogy gems podcast episode 188Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 188 has published. It’s packed with news, tips and inspiration that can help your family history research now. Check it out!

The newest episode of the free Genealogy Gems Podcast is now available. Host Lisa Louise Cooke shares her signature variety of news, inspiration, innovative strategies and tips you can use now. Highlights from the Genealogy Gems podcast episode 188 include:

  • RootsTech news and resources for everyone;
  • New records online for Ireland and the United States;
  • Two inspiring emails from listeners who unravel family mysteries with determination, skill and Google sleuthing;
  • A Genealogy Gems Book Club update with more thoughts on the featured title Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Growby Tara Austen Weaver and book recommendations from RootsTech attendees;
  • A critique of a recent NPR article on genetic genealogy by Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard; and
  • A great conversation with Cindy Cochran and Sabrina Riley of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society Library at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Lisa Louise Cooke with Cindy Cochran and Sabrina Riley genealogy gems podcast episode 188

Lisa Louise Cooke with Cindy Cochran and Sabrina Riley

My favorite part of this episode for me was Lisa’s conversation with Cindy and Sabrina. It was fun to meet two interesting women who help keep their corner of the genealogy research world running smoothly. I don’t even have Nebraska roots but I appreciated the inside “look” at their genealogy collection. It reminds me what gems–human and archival–may be tucked away on college campuses that love and welcome researchers.

New to the Genealogy Gems podcast? Welcome! Click on the link above to listen; subscribe and listen in iTunes or download the Genealogy Gems app (click here to learn more about these options).

thanks youre a gemDo you already listen to the free Genealogy Gems podcast? Will you please tell your friends and fellow “genies” about it? We especially appreciate your recommendations on your favorite social media sites–thanks for sharing this post!


RootsTech Hits the Road! RootsTech Family Discovery Days Coming Your Way!

overhead_freeway_custom_sign_16324Were you among the record-breaking audience of 23,918 attendees at RootsTech 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah? Even if you were, chances are you didn’t catch all the top talks.

RootsTech staffers have announced that over 1000 FREE regional RootsTech events, called RootsTech Discovery Days, will be hosted around the world throughout 2015. “Select sessions and planning resources from RootsTech 2015 have been recorded, translated in 10 languages, and made available online to support…local volunteer organizers,” says a media statement.

“By the first week following the conference, 65 local family discovery day events had already been held, including 27 in Latin America, one in Korea, and another in the Philippines. Over 1,000 more events are expected to be held throughout 2015, significantly extending the reach and impact of this popular conference.”

Click here to search for a RootsTech Family Discovery Day event near you. We notice that there plenty of options across the U.S. and in England, Canada, Australia and South Africa. Where do YOU want to look for an event?

Lisa speaks to a packed audience at RootsTech 2015.

Lisa speaks to a packed audience at RootsTech 2015.

RootsTech / FGS 2015: Free Sessions at Our Booth and PRIZES!

OTB_RT_14frontBack by popular demand! After fabulous response last year, Genealogy Gems will once again be sponsoring “Outside the Box Sessions,” a series of FREE mini-presentations at Booths 1240 & 1242 at RootsTech 2015.

Our popular sessions help you think outside the box (and have fun and get free swag while you’re at it). Lisa’s sessions will include:

  • Tech Tips for Newspaper Research (Thursday at 12:00);
  • How to Use Google Earth for Genealogy (Thursday at 4:00);
  • Google for Genealogy: What’s NEW! (Friday at 11:30 and Saturday at 2:00);
  • Google Strategies for Common Surnames (Friday at 12:00);
  • Win Prizes! Google Earth Genealogy Game Show (Friday from 5:30-6:30-perfect “Happy Hour!” activity);
  • iPad Tips and Tricks (Saturday at 10:00);
  • Evernote Tips and Tricks (Saturday at 12:30).

FREE EBOOK: Attend any session and receive our free ebook of handouts for all sessions!

2nd editionClick here for the full schedule and the Grand Prize entry form (which also gets you the FREE Outside the Box e-book with all session handouts). Drop this entry by Booth #1242 and say hello!

Lisa will also be signing copies of her brand new book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Second Edition!

We are again partnering with The Photo Detective Maureen Taylor and Janet Hovorka (author of Zap the Grandma Gap), and Family Tree Magazine.

Here’s a look at the fun we had at NGS last year:

By the way, our RootsTech partner Family ChartMasters is celebrating the release of its NEW pocket guide, The Chart Chick Insider’s Guide to Salt Lake City: Everything A Genealogist Needs to Know Outside the Library. Click here to get a FREE pdf travel guide to Salt Lake City and, if you like, order the book for only $9.95 (pre-order for pickup at RootsTech and pay no shipping, or add on $5 to have it sent to you).

The Cool New Technology that Just Got Better with Genealogy

Flipboard CoverFlipboard
Originally designed specifically for the iPad in 2010, the free Flipboard app has moved onto all the major mobile platforms. And this cool new technology has just gotten better with a big dose of genealogy!

I invite you to explore the newly released free Flipboard magazine RootsTech 2014: Where Genealogy and Technology Converge. (Image right: cover)

Genealogy Gems has  published the magazine in conjunction with the RootsTech program team in a continuing effort to help family historians embrace new technologies and present RootsTech attendees with the possibilities.

Consider what’s been happening in the mobile space this last year:

  • Smartphone usage in the U.S. increased by 50 percent (Kleiner Perkins)
  • The number of emails being opened on mobile increased by 330 percent (Litmus)
  • Tablet usage doubled in the U.S. (Pew Research Center)

The bottom line: More than ever folks are accessing websites, videos, podcasts, blogs and other online information on their mobile devices. That’s where the free Flipboard app comes in.

RootsTech Flipboard magazine pageThe free Flipboard app is a social-network and online aggregator of web content and RSS channels for Android, Blackberry 10, iOS, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8. Content is presented in a captivating magazine format allowing users to “flip” through it with a simple swipe of the finger.

As a genealogy new media content creator and publisher, we’re excited to introduce a creative use of this emerging technology to the genealogy industry. RootsTech 2014: Where Genealogy and Technology Converge is a free magazine available at http://tinyurl.com/RootsTech2014. The magazine pulls together great web content from RootsTech speakers, exhibitors, and official bloggers in one beautiful and convenient place.

This magazine has presented an opportunity to crowd-source the know-how and talent of all of those who work to make RootsTech a success. The magazine offers an exciting look at the RootsTech experience the innovative technologies emerging in the genealogy industry, and a new vehicle for everyone in the RootsTech community to converge! The pages go beyond text and images by also delivering video and audio!

How to Access the Magazine in Flipboard:

  1. Get the free Flipboard app at flipboard.com, in iTunes or Google Play.
  2. Set up for your free account
  3. In the search box at the top of the homepage, search for ROOTSTECH
  4. Tap “RootsTech 2014” by Lisa Louise Cooke (you’ll see a magazine icon next to it.)
  5. When the magazine loads, tap the SUBSCRIBE icon at the top of the page
  6. Starting at the right hand side of the page, swipe your finger from right to left over each page to “flip!”

Looking for more great genealogy themed Flipboard magazines? Check out two more new issues from Lisa Louise Cooke:

Stay tuned to the Genealogy Gems Blog and Podcast for Lisa’s upcoming exclusive interview with the folks at Flipboard!

RootsTech 2014 Keynote Speakers Announced

The all-star lineup of keynote speakers has been announced for  RootsTech 2014. They will inspire everyone to discover and share the stories that connect our families-past, present, and future.


Ree Drummond, blogger and author, The Pioneer Woman

Ree is an award-winning blogger and New York Times bestselling author. Her popular website, The Pioneer Woman, was founded in 2006 and showcases her cooking, photography, and stories about country life.


Annelies van den Belt, CEO, DC Thompson Family History – Annelies is changing the way digital genealogical records are published and organized. Her company hosts 1.8 billion genealogical records across a family of online brands.

Judy Russell, blogger and professional genealogist, The Legal Genealogist – Judy is a certified genealogist with a law degree who enjoys helping others understand the interplay between genealogy and the law. She blogs and maintains The Legal Genealogist website.

Dr. Spencer Wells, project director, National Geographic Genographic Project – The indiana Jones of genetics, Dr. Wells has traveled the world and captured the DNA of more than a half-million people to tell the story of the human journey.

Todd Hansen, TV host, The Story Trek – Behind every door there is a story. This TV series consists of random door-to-door interviews to discover who lives behind those doors and their real stories.

Stephanie Nielsen, blogger and author, NieNie Dialogues – Stephanie’s story of survival and recovery after a plane crash captured the hearts of the nation. She has inspired others through interviews with Oprah Winfrey and on the Today Show.

RT-Blogger-badge-150sqThe fourth annual RootsTech conference, hosted by FamilySearch, will be held February 6-8, 2014 at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to renowned keynote speakers, the conference features over 200 classes, hundreds of booths in a huge Expo Hall, and evening events.

Early bird pricing is available until January 6, 2014. Register today!

Here’s Where You Can Get the RootsTech 2014 Conference Schedule

Registration is now open for RootsTech 2014, which will be held February 6­-8, 2014 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here’s all the info hot off the press including links that reveal classes and computer labs plus a coupon code you can use for early bird pricing:

This annual family history conference, hosted by FamilySearch, is a unique global event where people of all ages learn to discover and share their family stories and connections through technology. Over the past three years, RootsTech has grown in popularity with attendees to become the largest family history event in the United States!

Rootstech Whether attendees are just beginning their family history, an avid hobbyist, or an experienced researcher, RootsTech has something for everyone:

  • Classes and Computer Labs —Over 200 classes and computer labs taught by knowledgeable experts and enthusiasts in family history.
  • Getting Started Track —A track of over 30 classes designed to help beginners start their family tree. Passes start at only $19.
  • Developer Day —A preconference event on Wednesday, February 5, for developers to innovate and collaborate with other engineers and family history industry experts.
  • Expo Hall —A huge expo with over 100 informative vendors and interactive booths where attendees can record a family story, scan a book or photo, or create a visual family tree.
  • Family Discovery Day —New! A day of free inspirational classes for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to learn more about strengthening family relationships across generations through family history.

Pass Pricing and Discounts

Various pass options are available, with pricing set to make RootsTech an affordable experience. Early Bird pricing discounts for a Full Access Pass ($159) and a Getting Started Pass ($39) are available until January 6, 2014.

An additional $20 discount is available for a limited time. Attendees can get a Full Access Pass for just $139 simply by using the promotional code RT14EXCLSV before September 9, 2013.

To get more information and register, visit rootstech.org.

I’ll be there conducting a brand new computer lab: Flipboard for Genealogy: Create an Incredible Mobile Magazine of Your Favorite Genealogy Web Content
NOTE: Computer labs fill up VERY fast so don’t delay!

Also look for my other classes:

  • Panel Discussion: Self-Professed Uber-Organized Freaks Talk Genealogy Tech Organization
  • Become an iPad Power User
  • How to Use YouTube for Family History: Setting Up Your Own YouTube Channel

RootsTech and FGS: Joint Genealogy Conferences in 2015

stick_figure_podium_speech_group_anim_150_clr_9408Ever had to choose between attending two fantastic genealogy conferences? In 2015, your choice will be easier: RootsTech and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) will host events in the same time and place: the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mark your calendars and make your hotel reservations early for February 12-14, 2015!

Never been to either of these events?

  • RootsTech is a mammoth event hosted by the folks at FamilySearch. There’s lots of genealogy education but the primary focus is one I love: harnessing advances in technology to better help us discover and share family history.
  • FGS helps genealogical societies strengthen and grow by providing events and online resources. Their annual  conference is a 4-day event with tons of excellent lectures, including a full day on society management topics.

According to a press release from FGS, “With the Salt Palace Convention Center as the common venue, both FamilySearch and FGS are committed to producing a one-of-a-kind genealogy event addressing the educational needs of the family history, technology and genealogical society communities. As the logistics of this sizeable event are still being worked out, both FGS and FamilySearch will work together to share resources and provide cost benefits for all parties, including attendees and exhibitors. Attendees can expect to see familiar elements of previous FGS and RootsTech events including keynote presentations, a Society Showcase and Expo Hall.”

More details will be announced later: watch for them here e at the RootsTech and FGS websites.


10 Top Tips for Breaking Down Your Genealogy Brick Wall

“One of the most incredible and likely true stories I’ve ever seen!” announced Dave Obee as he met with Genealogy Gems Listener Sarah Stout, the winner of our #RootsTech 2013 conference registration contest.

Sarah_and_LisaThe question to contestant was “who’s class would you most like to attend at RootsTech?” Sarah’s answer was Dave Obee, and that was because she was running up against a Canadian brick wall in her family history research, and Dave is a Canadian Research Guru!

Read more about Sarah’s incredible genealogical brick wall:


In my new video at the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel I get the two together and Dave dishes up 10 terrific tips that will not only help Sarah, but are sure to prove their worth in your own family tree climbing.

Dave Obee’s Top 10 Tips:

1. Create a Timeline – “plot her life…it’s easier to see the holes.”
2. Understand Geography – “plot movements”
3. Find Every Possible Record
4. Understand How Records Were Created
5. Read Every Local Story in Newspapers at that Time
6. Tap into Local Knowledge – “Locals know more” (historical and genealogical societies)
7. Go There if You Can in Person
8. Look for Negative Proof
9. Collaborate with Other Researchers
10. Be Diligent About Proof

Resources Mentioned in the video:

Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel for free to receive instant updates of all of my latest videos from RootsTech 2013 and beyond.