Category Archives: Family History

RootsTech Connect 2022

Following the hugely succesful, first-ever, virtual RootsTech Connect conference held earlier this year, FamilySearch has announced that RootsTech Connect 2022 will take place 3-5 March 2022. And once again, it will be a fully virtual family history event.

No one could have forseen the massive success that this year’s event ocassioned. With an attendance of over one million visitors from over 240 countries, RootsTech Connect 2021 was the largest in the history of RootsTech, and spectacular proof of humanity’s interest globally in discovering our roots and connecting to each other. Registration will open in September 2021.

2021 RootsTech Connect Sessions

With just under a fortnight to go, the hardworking crew at RootsTech have released today two very important items for this year’s virtual RootsTech Connect.

The first is the schedule of the Main Stage Keynote Speakers which features Australia’s own Wil Hopoate and the second is the official 18-page schedule of Sessions.

At the time of writing this post there were 264,000 registrants from 216 countries.

Registration is free and this allows you to watch over 800 recorded On Demand sessions as well as the 12 Keynote addresses. RootsTech Connect will be live 25 to 27 February 2021, however, all registrants will be able to access the recorded sessions for 12 months.

More Keynote Speakers

The world’s largest genealogical event celebrating family has announced a further diverse group of keynote speakers, who hail from England, India, and Uruguay. 

RootsTech Connect, to be held on 25–27 February 2021, is a free online conference to discover, share, and celebrate family and heritage connections.

 

Erick Avari, born in Darjeeling, West Bengal, India, is an Indian American television, film, and theater actor, writer, director and producer. He has performed in grand opera, on and off Broadway, in regional theaters, and in Hollywood blockbuster films, hit TV series, and award-winning independent films such as The Chosen. He is best known for his roles in Stargate, Independence Day, The Mummy, Daredevil, Planet of the Apes, and Mr. Deeds. Avari has been a trailblazer for a generation of South Asian actors in Hollywood. As part of his fight against stereotypical casting, he has convincingly played more than two dozen ethnicities.

 

Diego Lugano is a Uruguayan former professional footballer (soccer player) for many clubs in South America and Europe. He played in 95 matches as a member of the Uruguayan soccer team from 2003 to –2014. In 2010 and 2014, he captained the Uruguayan squad in the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup. His career began at the Club Nacional de Fútbol of Canelones in 1999. During his career, he played for Plaza Colonia, Fenerbahçe S.K., Paris Saint Germain, Málaga, West Bromwich Albion, BK Häcken, Cerro Porteño of Paraguay, and São Paulo. He has supported many causes defending the rights of children. He is now the superintendent of Institutional Relations of São Paulo FC.

 

Sunetra Sarker is an award-winning actress born in Liverpool, England, to Hindu parents. Her first acting success came at age 15, when she was cast as Nisha Batra on the Channel 4 serial drama Brookside. Her career took off, and during the next three decades she acted in an array of television series, earning awards for her performances, including an award for Best TV character at the Asian Media Awards. During her career, she made time for school, graduating in IT and French from Brunel University. She is a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), an independent charity to support, develop, and promote excellence in film, games, and television and creative talent in the United Kingdom and internationally.

While not really a fan of football (soccer to us in Aus) I am really excited about hearing Erick and Sunetra talk at RootsTech Connect.

Keynote Speakers at RootsTech Connect 2021

 

The annual RootsTech genealogical conference has always managed to find the best Keynote Speakers in the world for their conferences and next year’s RootsTech Connect 2021 will once again showcase the best of the world’s motivational speakers.

With RootsTech Connect 2021 being held as a free, online, worldwide event, there is even more reason to register, sit-back at home, enjoy, celebrate, and share family and heritage connections.

ROOTSTECH CONNECT 2021 KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Nick Vujicic, born in Melbourne, Australia, and with no medical explanation or warning, came into the world with neither arms nor legs. Nick overcame his disabilities and has achieved remarkable goals despite them. By age 19 he started fulfilling his dream of encouraging others through their personal challenges. He has spoken live to 6.5 million people in more than 65 countries, met with 21 presidents, and addressed 9 governments. His New York Times best seller, Unstoppable, is now published in more than 30 languages.

Lorena Ochoa is best known as the top-ranked female golfer in the world for 157 consecutive weeks in the LPGA. As the first Mexican golfer of either gender with such a ranking, she is considered the best Mexican golfer and Best Latin American female golfer of all time. “Knowing your past is very important to understand who you are,” said Ochoa. “The work that FamilySearch and RootsTech Connect does is incredible. I know more about my story than I would have ever imagined.”

Lorena started a foundation focused on educating low-income children, and in November 2012, she published her book, Dream Big, sharing the goals from her childhood that set her on that course.

Francesco Lotoro is an Italian pianist, composer, conductor, and professor at the Umberto Giordano Music Conservatory in Foggia, Italy. For the past 30 years, he has worked tirelessly to recover, study, archive, execute, record, and promote tens of thousands of remarkable musical scores composed by prisoners in concentration camps.

Sharon Leslie Morgan has devoted her career to support African American genealogical research. She founded Our Black Ancestry (OBA), an online community provide resources for African American genealogical research, preserve historical materials and properties, and promote healing of wounds that are a legacy of slavery. OBA is a partner with FamilySearch on the ROAR (Reclaiming Our African Roots) Project. 

RootsTech Connect, February 25–27, 2021.

There is always a silver lining

In February 2021, I will once again be attending the annual RootsTech genealogical conference held in Salt Lake City. However, unlike past years, I will not be booking international flights or accommodation. Instead, from February 25 to 27, I’ll simply be walking from my bedroom to my study and attending RootsTech Connect 2021 virtually!

The advent of COVID-19 this year and resultant travel restrictions in place, has completely changed the way we currently go about our lives and our family history research. And while we might not be able to physically meet up with our research buddies in Salt Lake City, we are able to catch up with them online thanks to modern technology.

RootsTech Connect 2021 will be a massive event allowing attendees to participate from anywhere in the world. And the best news – it’s free!

FamilySearch are guaranteeing that RootsTech Connect 2021 will:

  • offer a combination of both livestream and on-demand content to accommodate different time zones;
  • classes will be taught in many languages, and presenters will teach from a number of international locations;
  • there will be a virtual marketplace; and
  • attendees will be able to interact with presenters, exhibitors, and other attendees through live chat and question and answer sessions

Covid-19 might have turned our lives upside down but with RootsTech Connect 2021there is always a silver lining.

Family History Down Under

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has put paid to any plans I may have entertained of overseas travel within the next 12 months. Instead, I am looking forward to staying in Australia and participating in local conferences.

And thanks to Unlock the Past, a highlight will be the Family History Down Under conference taking place 22-26 March 2021 at the fabulous Sunshine Coast Convention Centre and Novotal Sunshine Coast Resort Hotel, Twin Waters, Queensland.    

The initial line up of international speakers is amazing:

Blaine Bettinger 

Judy G Russell 

David Rencher  

Cyndi Ingle 

Paul Milner 

Mia Bennett 

Maurice Gleeson 

Angie Bush 

Chris Paton 

Between them they share a rich and rewarding genealogical expertise covering Irish, Scottish, English, DNA, General and Methodology research and the problem for me is going to be how I can be in several places at the same time to attend every presentation without missing anything.

Unlock the Past have a terrific worth ethic and their experience in putting together great genealogy conferencing is second to none. With hundreds of talks, optional workshops, an exhibition hall, pre-conference tours and more, Family History Down Under 2021 will also see the introduction of casual breakfast and dinner talks.

Fun, food and friends all wrapped up with genealogy – you can’t wish for anything better.

#FHDU2021

Explore Your Family History

Towards the end of 2019 I undertook a six-week, online, genealogy course with the University of Dundee. The module, Explore Your Family History, was made available through the Centre for Archive and Information Studies with the focus being on locating and interpreting archives and primary sources and understanding the historical context in which they were used.

These days, resources for genealogical research change rapidly and even with my 40-plus years of experience I strongly believe that further education is paramount to keep pace with evolving access to resources as well as improved technology to search and record data.

Having participated in many online genealogical courses over the years, I must admit that Explore Your Family History from the University of Dundee is truly the best online course I have so far undertaken.

Right from the sign-up, everything ran smoothly and expertly with access to the module made through a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which is part of the University of Dundee website.  It was here that all the course material was based.  

After log-in, access was gained from the Courses tab which also included an Introduction, Help and Guidance Section, a Discussion Board and a Welcome Announcement from my designated tutor.

The module was broken down into six specific units covering:

  • Civil and Criminal Courts and Police Forces
  • Education
  • Church Court Records, including Marriage Bonds and Allegations
  • Manorial Records and Estate Papers
  • Property Records (title deeds, maps and plans etc)
  • Records of Different Types of People – Emigrants, Burgesses and Apprentices, Printed Sources

Whenever I attend any type of genealogy education, be it webinars, conferences, podcasts or online programmes, I fully realise that the bulk of the session will cover material I am already familar with. However, what I always hope to gain is knowledge of at least one new idea, resource or access to research material.

I was therefore thrilled with the Explore Your Family History course as it covered far more than I had expected, and I definitely came away with a wonderful research plan for my next visit to the UK.

Delving into manorial records in Unit 4 turned out to be an absolute goldmine as I followed the suggested Manuscripts and Collections website of the University of Nottingham. Clicking through the various pages, the descriptions of each type of record – court rolls, accounts, rentals, custumals, extents, maps – were short and precise, however, it was a major benefit to also see photographic examples of those records as part of the description.  The glossary and supporting resources page was also extremely helpful.

CAIS have certainly put together a fabulous course on a variety of topics and knowledge gained has been an important addition to my genealogical toolbox.

For somebody just starting out on their genealogical journey, it would be wise to undertake the Discover Your Family History module also offered by CAIS, prior to commencing Explore Your Family History. Both courses run for 6 weeks and are very reasonably priced with a range of starting dates.

I now plan to look at further courses with CAIS.

 

DNA Ethics

Day 2 of Unlock the Past’s DNA Down Under conference finished with a very thought-provoking Panel discussion on “what would you do” in the following situations:

  • The right to “know your identity” vs other’s “right to privacy”.
  • What should be included in “informed consent” advice when asking relatives to test?
  • You ask “a family member” to do a DNA test and they do not show up as a relative to you.
  • Someone shows up as a DNA match to you. You recognise your ancestor in common by the shared matches. This is not the person they list in their family tree.
  • If a DNA test reveals a certain health predisposition, should you tell family? Does this change if it is a medical-grade genetic test rather than a genealogy test?

All extremely important scenarios that will affect many of us who look after not just our own, but other people’s test results.

As genealogists we must strive to not only be conscientious and well informed but also to pass on due care and, importantly, take the time to explain “unforeseen results” as well as what we will “do” with our family or client DNA tests as part of informed consent.

DNA Down Under, Done Well

I have nothing but praise for the first day of the Unlock the Past 3-day DNA Down Under conference in Sydney at Castle Hill RSL.

I have never met so many exuberant and engrossed genealogists having also travelled from Queensland, Victoria, Canberra, New Zealand and even West Australia. (We eastern Australians all know that it is quicker to fly to NZ than fly to Perth!) It goes to prove that Unlock the Past know what they are doing and they do it extremely well.

I’ll have more to say about this conference later but for now the organisers need to congratulate themselves on putting together not a just an excellent program but also having chosen a terrific conference venue. The staff at Castle Hill RSL have been more than generous and helpful with everything they have undertaken.

And – as for the speakers – I truly feel for Blaine T Bettinger who spoke at 5 of the 6 sessions today and will be following up tomorrow and Saturday with 4 of the 6 sessions planned each day. I expect he won’t have a voice left by Sunday!

Photos need to be downloaded and notes need to typed-up so stay tuned.

Priceless Evidence

I am still an absolute newcomer to DNA even after several years of having done a DNA test. However, while I cannot get my head around all the new paraphernalia available there is one connection that has given me a major happy dance.

When I started my genealogy journey back in the 1970s, I concentrated all my research on my maternal grandmother’s Scottish side which was super easy. My paternal side was a complete nightmare and one that I would struggle with for many years.

Ironically, it is my paternal side that has confirmed my paper trail through DNA testing.

The problem was my earliest paternal ancestor Joseph FAIRS first appeared in New South Wales in 1843 when he married Ellen Donagher. And while I could trace his line down to me and all his descendants, I couldn’t find one link taking him backwards.

It would take 15-plus years to discover that my Joseph Fairs arrived in Australia as Joseph FARR, convict. And yes, I had skirted around this information a few times over the 15+ years but it wasn’t until Ancestry put online some additional London parish records that I was able to make the connection.

I had a record of marriage of Joseph Fairs and Ellen Donohue [sic] at Cattai Creek, New South Wales, on 23 January 1843 but I had no record of birth or arrival in Australia for Joseph Fairs except for a Ticket of Leave for one Joseph FAIR per Hoogley 1834;

Joseph Fairs died in 1868 at Tarban Creek Asylum where his records stated his Native Place was Hanwell, Middlesex. His death certificate gave an approximate year of birth of 1808 and stated that his mother was an “unknown Brantford”.

When Ancestry added several London parish registers around 2010 I was able to find a Joseph FARR born to a Martha BRANSGROVE in 1808 in Hanwell, Middlesex. From the 15-year search into the life of my progenitor in Australia, I was now comfortable with the reasoning that Joseph FARR and Joseph FAIRS were one and the same person.

At the time I accepted I would never find a document that stated they were one and the same, so I had to suffice myself with the knowledge that at times in genealogical research, close enough just has to be good enough. Like a jury, you must weigh up the evidence and reach a verdict.

However, little did I know that my Ancestry DNA test would end up having an extremely close match with a woman living in the UK.

I was aware through my research that Joseph Farr, convict, had left behind a wife and daughter in England when he was transported. Having served his 7 years in the Colony, Joseph obviously took advantage of the rule that allowed him to remarry as long as his first wife remained abroad.

In 2018 I was contacted by an obscure DNA match. But when we looked at our paper trails everything fell into place and confirmed my paper research.

My new DNA connection was descended from the only child that Joseph Farr had left behind in England. I was descended from his marriage in Australia as Joseph Fairs. 

While I thought I would never find a document stating that Joseph Farr and Joseph Fairs were one and the same I was gobsmacked that a descendant of Joseph Farr had made contact with a descendant of Joseph Fairs and confirmed we were both from the same paternal DNA.