Day 3 – FGS- RootsTech 2015

Friday at FGS RootsTech 2015

This morning’s keynote speakers were Laura Bush and daughter Jenna Bush Hager.  The former First Lady spoke about her passion for reading and literacy and the First Family’s experiences on 9/11.  No video, audio recording or photos were allowed.  As on Wednesday and yesterday, there are too many choices of sessions to visit.  At any conference, I tend to choose what interests me or relates most to my research at the moment, hence my choice later today to attend a session on how to blog.  However, first up this morning, I decided to attend a session on which I know very little so I am patiently waiting for “creating a Digital Genealogy Album,” with Barb Groth, another new speaker for me.
Barb opened by suggesting that our descendants aren’t likely to want to trudge through the piles of documents, clippings and photos to learn the stories of their ancestors.  Digital genealogy albums are fun ways to create an engaging format to tell ancestor stories and, unlike, traditional scrapbooks, they can easily be shared with family and friends.
Barb recommended several tutorials to help develop skills and find new ideas for digital scrapbooks.  She doesn’t use one software program, but instead uses Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 and does her own scanning at home.  Her scrapbook pages are always created using templates.  Any and all kinds of information can be incorporated, but the goal is to make family members want to read the story.
I have little experience working in Photoshop, but this process looks like there would be a small, doable learning curve with this.  Because the page templates are filled using the same steps for each template box, I think I would be able to do this.  Check out her blog site at
The first afternoon session I attended was Blogging Your Research, Memories and Family Stories by Laura Hedgecock.  This session covered basic information about blog platforms, such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.  She also explained the differences between free sites and self hosted, what plug ins are, obtaining a domain name and how to get started.   Ms. Hedgecock then went on to share examples of blog home pages, pointing out formats, content and appearances that are user friendly to blog audiences.  Another point she made is that blogging is less wordy and space-filling than standard writing and that bloggers should let their personalities come through.  Lastly, she talked about connecting to social media so that readers have another venue through which to follow their favorite bloggers.   If most of the people in this session are not already blogging and actually start a new blog, there will soon be a couple hundred new genealogy blogs!
A very nice thing happened to me as I was walking to the next session.  Vendors have ribbons to attach to conference name tags.  I use RootsMagic, so I attached one of their ribbons to my tag.  A RootsMagic rep stopped me to ask if I had a RootsMagic ribbon.  I did and received a handy carry case to wear around my neck plus an Amazon gift card.  Thank you, RootsMagic!
The second afternoon session brought me to Fraternal Organizations: Records and Resources by Kris W. Rzepczynski, Senior Archivist at the Archives of Michigan.  I chose this session because, while I am very familiar with resources for hereditary organizations such as NSDAR, I have had little luck finding resources for Masons, ethnic organizations, etc.  Hoping for some good information here!
I wasn’t disappointed.  I learned about academic resources, local resources and onIine  resources to finding information even when the actual records no longer can be found.  It can be done and much of it is available for free.
Closing day tomorrow- sessions and 22,000 expected for Family Day.

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