Day 1 – Opening of FGS Conference 2015, Salt Lake City

Festivities for FGS RootsTech 2015 actually began on Monday morning when Pat Richley-Erickson did her Monday morning Hangout on Air live from the third floor of the Family History Library in the glass room.

Hundreds of FGS-RootsTech 2015 attendees had arrived in Salt Lake City by Sunday and while the line to get in the library each morning wasn’t terribly long, the library got more andmore crowded as the day went on. I haven’t seen this many people in there since the old days before the internet. By Tuesday afternoon, the library was packed.

Conference registration opened at 2:00 on Tuesday afternoon. It was busy, but the line moved quickly. Those waiting were told that when the kids arrive for their sessions on Saturday, total attendees that day are expected to be 22,000!

The FGS conference opened with a reminder to connect, refresh and explore, making new friends and meeting up with old, refresh visions and directions our our own genealogical societies and to explore new avenues of growth.

This is a mini-review of the opening FGS session today. I am somewhat handicapped in how much I can write because I am only using my IPad, but this should give you a sense of how the conference began.

FGS 2015 opened today with the FGS celebration of genealogical societies and the work that they accomplish through the efforts of many volunteers. The opening session hosted by Joshua Taylor, President of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. Multiple societies and individuals were honored for varied projects and volunteer services that have come to fruition through their efforts. Instead of one opening speaker, FGS invited three to present opening remarks. Deena Coutant paved the way, almost literally, by suggesting that TLC needed to develop sustained growth of our genealogy societies was not all that different to TLC that is necessary for cultivating a physical garden. She was followed by Jen Baldwin, who challenged us to embrace and plan for social media usage in our societies. Curt Witcher concluded the remarks, proposing that, as the only constant in life is change, that we become successful change agents. I enjoyed each of the speakers and each made excellent points in their messages. I have to admit that I’m not often a fan of large group speeches and remarks because speakers often talk too long (and maybe even go off topic!), but I loved that each speaker made excellent points about strengthening and expanding the reaches of genealogical societies. stayed within their allotted time, and kept to their own unique and absorbing styles of presentation. I wish more conferences would follow the FGS lead and have several speakers with a common theme presenting in shorter time blocks.

After a 15 minute break in sessions, it was off to the first regular session. My choice was Tech Soup by Thomas MacEntee, who hosts several websites, including, Hack Genealogy and Geneabloggers. I had never heard of TechSoup, and to be honest, when I first saw the title, I thought it would be miscellaneous and lesser known tips to use new technological sources in genealogy, hence “Tech Soup.” The talk was actually something totally different – is a consortium of vendors that provide discounted technology software and supplies to 501c3 non-profit organizations. It is a tremendous dollar saving resource for non-profits so if you are a member of a local organization that qualifies to participate, let them know about I learned a lot!

A second 15 minute break gave me time to find my seat in the same room, so I actually walked around a little bit to stretch. I didn’t dawdle for long, though, as Lisa Louise Cooke of was talking on Evernote. I have heard her speak a couple of times before, both on Evernote and Google Earth for genealogy. She is a popular speaker and I got back to my seat just in time because the room filled up to capacity. Evernote is a free, cloud-based organizational system that many genealogists are now using to take research notes, clip articles and photos from the web and to share with other family members or collaborative researching buddies. Check out if you haven’t ever used it.

I went out for lunch, as I rarely pay for the hosted luncheons at conferences. The sun was out, it was a bit brisk with temperatures in the 50’s or low 60’s, but there was also lots of blue sky – a beautiful day.

Returning to the convention center, my first afternoon choice was The Ethical Genealogist presented by Judy G. Russell, who writes The Legal Genealogist blog. Judy made the point that while genealogists have always been faced with ethical issues, the 21st century has brought about completing new issues brought about by technology. The main points were that the rules of ethics demands honesty, courtesy and confidentiality and that, as individuals and society members, everyone needs to be faithful to the truth because once it has been shared (online), it can’t be taken back. I had never heard Judy speak before – she is a top notch presenter.

The last afternoon session on my list was Tips for a Robust Society Website. I hadn’t ever heard Cyndi Ingle ( speak either. She is a bundle of energy who talks really fast, but that was a good thing because she had fantastic tips and recommendations for how societies can keep old members and draw in new members through the use of a well planned, well maintained website and public presence in social media.

There was a fifth session scheduled for late afternoon, but my brain was saturated so I headed to the Family History Library for some more help with my Swedish research.

More to come tomorrow including photos!

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