Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

On the Road: A visit with Dick Eastman

Thursday, May 17th, 2012
Dick Eastman

Dick Eastman

This post was co-authored by MyHeritage US genealogy adviser, Schelly Talalay Dardashti and MyHeritage business development manager and genealogist, Mark Olsen.

One of the most recognized names in the genealogy world, Dick Eastman is synonymous with geneablogging and using technology to improve your family history experience.

At the recent National Genealogical Society conference in Cincinnati, the MyHeritage team saw a chance to spend some personal time with Dick – and tour his recreational vehicle (RV) – we jumped at the opportunity.

For the past year or so, Dick has left his Massachusetts home for several months at a time while he roams the country – geneahopping from one genealogy event to another, not only in the US, but globally. Since the end of 2011, he’s been home for no more than three days at a time, but is looking forward to being home again in a few weeks.

While attending NGS, Dick parked his RV and drove his towed Mini Cooper into town each morning.

Dick's Mini Cooper

Dick's Mini Cooper

Being in demand at so many conferences takes detailed planning by Dick. This now includes road travel, RV campground arrangements and – most importantly – arranging for Internet connections so he can log on and write the Eastman Online Genealogy Newsletter (

A group of us got together at a Brazilian steakhouse. In addition to the MyHeritage team (Daniel Horowitz, Mark Olsen, and Schelly Talalay Dardashti), the group included Dick, Pamela Weisberger (Los Angeles), Elise Friedman and Alex Yi (, and our friend Chris Mueller (Albuqerque). Since Schelly’s birthday was a few days later, we shared a candle-topped dessert and sang Happy Birthday.

Brazilian steakhouse: Daniel Horowitz, Mark Olsen, Schelly Talalay Dardashti, Dick Eastman, Pamela Weisberger (Los Angeles), Elise Friedman, Alex Yi (, Chris Mueller (Albuqerque)

Brazilian steakhouse: Daniel Horowitz, Mark Olsen, Schelly Talalay Dardashti, Dick Eastman, Pamela Weisberger (Los Angeles), Elise Friedman, Alex Yi (, Chris Mueller (Albuqerque)

Genealogy conferences are always happy events as we enjoy relaxing with our friends after a busy day at our booth in the exhibit hall. (more…)

NGS 2012: Recap

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
MyHeritage Team with Dennis Brimhall CEO of FamilySearch

MyHeritage Team with Dennis Brimhall CEO of FamilySearch

Last week, the MyHeritage team was kept very busy in a whirlwind of work, learning and fun at very well attended National Genealogical Society’s 2012 conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

On Wednesday, the team was busy at the booth answering questions and providing more information to attendees who had heard about MyHeritage from speakers who spoke about our very social family trees, data, facial recognition technology and much more.

A Man hides behind a post in his quest for freedom - National Underground Railroad Museum Cincinnati Ohio

Portrayal of a man hiding behind a tree in his quest for freedom - National Underground Railroad Museum Cincinnati, Ohio

In the evening, Daniel Horowitz and Mark Olsen joined hundreds of conference-goers at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for a moving experience as they learned about the lives of thousands of freedom seekers and “conductors” (those of all races and backgrounds who assisted the enslaved to reach the Ohio River and beyond – freedom – at their own and their families’ risk). Although not an actual railroad, nor underground, it was the secret route used to transfer the slaves from one location to another – from one farm or home to the next – until he or she reached freedom.

Many moving scenes are portrayed. If you visit Cincinnati, the museum should be on your must-see list.

Thursday was another fabulous day full of hundreds of great interactions with customers at the booth and conference goers looking to soak in as much information as they could through classes and interactions with other genealogists and vendors.

On Friday NGS organizers announced that the official NGS attendance was 2,155, resulting in packed session rooms. Many sessions reached capacity, and fire codes are very strict. There were reports of some attendees who could not get a seat in the session they wanted to attend. Technology and census sessions seem to be drawing the largest crowds.

The Ancestry Insider along with others at the blogger dinner hosted by FamilySearch who wish to remain unnamed

The Ancestry Insider along with others at the blogger dinner hosted by FamilySearch who wish to remain unnamed


NGS: Day one

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

NGS 2012 began today with a huge line to enter the exhibit hall.

NGS 2012 Kicks Off

Exhibit hall traffic was heavy throughout the day as thousands came to get a good deal on products and service and find answers to their genealogy questions. (more…)

Family History Expo – Albuquerque, New Mexico April 13 and 14

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

The Albuquerque New Mexico Family History Expo April 13, 14 2012

Crowne Plaza Hotel

More information

Schelly Talalay Dardashti and Mark Olsen

Schelly Talalay Dardashti and Mark Olsen from MyHeritage and WorldVitalRecords will be in New Mexico this weekend for another Family History Expo

Here is the agenda of our events – we hope to see you there!


“What wakes you up at night?”

Monday, April 6th, 2009

At the recent Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University March 13-14 in Provo, Utah, keynote speaker Susan Easton Black posed the question “What wakes you up in the night?”

For Black, a world-renowned author of over 100 books on genealogy and history, she is “up at night” with genealogy. After telling the audience she finds “great joy” in doing genealogy every day, she remarked to the at-capacity crowd, “It’s obvious I’m not alone!”

At we know there are many people just like Black who find joy in searching for their ancestors and are “up at night” about genealogy and family history. And they are not alone. We are also “up at night” working with content partners from all over the world to digitize and index genealogical and historical data. Each day we add new content at to help you in your quest. (We will soon open up our new genealogy portal site called GenSeek to provide access to millions of genealogical references from the Family History Catalog.)

We searched for some of our colleagues whom we know are “up in the night” over genealogy and found a few short vignettes we thought genealogy lovers would enjoy. Click on their story links to read and hear.

Many genealogy enthusiasts are familiar with Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, a popular writer and speaker on genealogy. According to her Web site, she is an “incurable genealogist” and “does all she can to get the g-word out there and inspire others in their quest for roots.” She tells of a memory from when she was five years old that kept her searching for over 22 years for her ancestors.

Devoted genealogists for over a quarter century, Leland and Patty Meitzler have many tales to tell. Leland gives a good example of why genealogists should check every possible source they can for information about their ancestors.

Since 2003, one of the largest oral history projects in the world, has collected over 35,000 stories from individuals who have shared their stories. We picked out a story of a mother and a son talking about their struggles as migrant workers.

“Extreme” Family History and Genealogy

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

With the advent of digital technology, new ways of “doing” family history and genealogy are appearing, allowing individuals to more fully “experience” history, or to collaborate with others in finding their ancestors through innovative tools being developed or adapted for genealogical research. Some of these new ways are out-of-the ordinary-even extreme-in comparison with traditional methods. This article briefly shares two ways in which family history and genealogy may be called “extreme.”


The first “extreme” we found is where individuals actually live in a recreated time period. We discovered that Lisa Cooke, Genealogy Gems, and her family participated in PBS television series called Texas Ranch House. A Web site has preserved the experience and comes complete with journal excerpts as a reality check with plenty of links to historical resources. Life on a Texas ranch in 1867 was recreated for television and Lisa’s family by outfitting the family and ranch workers in period clothing and providing them with the tools of the time to experience “what the saddle-sore, rope-burned, and sun-blistered ranch life was really like.” The site features details of the episodes where “real” life depicted the recreation, leisure time, music, cattle drives, and food of the Texas cowboys and their families. An interactive history page features games where individuals can test their skills of wrangling, roping, selecting food, cattle prodding, and cowboy slang. This area helps young people learn many aspects of history and have fun while learning.

Genealogical record collection on an “extreme” scale is what is doing all over the world. The current FamilySearch effort to convert their microfilm collection to digital is to create better access to the films and new records. FamilySearch operates 4500 Family History centers in 80 countries throughout the world. Dick Eastman, a popular blogger in the genealogy and family history field, interviewed Paul Nauta, Manager of Public Affairs, at FamilySearch. a non-profit organization that has accumulated the largest repository of genealogical records in the world. Dick interviewed Paul at the recent FGS conference in Philadelphia. You can view the entire interview at Roots Television by clicking here.

Facts on the “extreme” nature of the FamilySearch project:

* The bulk of the collection is still on microfilm and FamilySearch has almost 2.5 million rolls of microfilm left to digitize.

* Less than 3% of this material is digitized and indexed online.

* This microfilm collection will take 8-10 years to convert it to digital.

* 15 high speed scanners are in the Granite Mountain Records vault in Salt Lake City Utah and are being used five days a week.

* FamilySearch has replaced most of their microfilm cameras in the world with digital cameras.

* Over 200 camera teams in 45 countries are digitizing original documents five days a week.

* These teams produce 40 million images a year that FamilySearch wants to put online.

Benefits of Attending Genealogy Conferences

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

By Whitney Ransom McGowan,, Inc. 

This article is written specifically for genealogists and family historians who have never attended a genealogy conference, but who may be persuaded to attend one in the near future. Genealogy conferences are a great place to learn, share ideas, meet new people, gain new enthusiasm for your research, and have your questions answered by experts. There are hundreds of genealogy conferences, seminars, and meetings held every year across the United States and abroad. Many of these conferences are offered in the spring and fall. Here are ten reasons to attend a genealogy conference.

Ten Reasons For Attending a Genealogy Conference

1. Knowledge: Stay up-to-date on the latest information in the field. Most conferences offer a keynote address, as well as a variety of classes. Some classes are for beginners, and others are for the seasoned genealogist. In these classes you will also have the opportunity to learn new research methodologies and techniques. Whatever, your level of experience may be, there is a conference out there just for you.

2. New People: Genealogists are social people. Once you’re at the conference, you will have the opportunity to meet a lot of new people, some of whom may even be researching your same line. Even if you don’t find a cousin, you will meet folks that may have some ideas to help you with your research.

3. Audio Recordings and Syllabi: Many of the conferences you attend will offer a syllabus, which contains the notes, handouts, additional Websites and overviews of the presentations. Often the syllabus will also contain the biographies of the speakers. These syllabi are thick books filled with a goldmine of genealogical information.

4. Products and Services: At most of the larger genealogy conferences, and many of the smaller conferences, you will find a vendor hall full of genealogy products and services. Take some time to see some of the latest innovations in genealogy. Many of the vendors also offer something free (whether that be a trial subscription, candy, pens, magazines, stickers, etc.) simply for visiting their booth. usually offers free newsletter signups, drawings to win a free subscription, stress balls, candy, luggage tags, and more.

5. Luncheons and Banquets: What would a conference be without a luncheon or banquet? These gatherings offer delicious food, networking opportunities, and even an opportunity to hear from a well-known genealogist or family historian. Individuals and companies who sponsor the conferences want to make your life as easy as possible, and often provide a luncheon or banquet that takes place at the conference venue.

6. Libraries, Research, and More Libraries: Often conferences are held near a library. This will give you an opportunity to research to your heart’s desire… but make sure you come back to the conference. Many times the libraries will also be open for extended periods during the conference to allow everyone interested a chance to visit and use the library resources.

7. Genealogical and Family History Societies: Many society members take the time to attend the conference and put up a display. Their booths are usually located in the vendor hall and are often full of friendly people, books, pamphlets, and information about the society. You can join one or more of these societies and contribute to their success.

8. Computer Labs: Perhaps you are the kind of person who likes to try electronic or Internet services out before you purchase. Conferences are a great place to get hands-on experience with a variety of websites and software products. Some vendors also offer demonstrations of their products or free one-on-one training. (There is usually a sign up list for this service, so get there fast.)

9. Networking Opportunities: People from all over the world attend some of the larger genealogy conferences. Even if you attend a smaller conference, chances are you will meet many people from all walks of life. Genealogy conferences are great places to network with others.

10. Meet Professional Genealogists and Family Historians: It’s true. Conferences are the place where you can meet many professional and well-known genealogists, as well as individuals who have shaped the field. These individuals are usually at the conferences to lecture, but also attend because these events are where new information, breakthroughs, and innovations in genealogy are shared., Inc. CEO Presents Keynote at Brigham Young University Family History and Genealogy Conference

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Shifting from the old to the new in family history research through technology 

Last week, family history enthusiasts participated in more than 100 classes, attended three keynote presentations, and browsed exhibits at Brigham Young University’s 40th annual Conference on Family History and Genealogy. Paul Allen, CEO of, Inc., opened the Thursday sessions with a keynote address centered on innovative technology tools that help accelerate the efforts of genealogists and family historians.

Allen started his remarks by talking and signing “I love family history.” He explained that he recently spoke at a deaf genealogy conference and that there was “100 percent eye contact” immediately to the left of where he was speaking.

Allen then held up the book Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, and told the story of how the collection came about. He said the original organizers of the data had a difficult time gathering the information. The labor was so intense at times for them and so overwhelming, that it is written in the book: “… the vastness of the undertaking dawned upon its promoters and depressed them to almost stupidness.”

According to Allen, through technology, family historians are transitioning from an “old” way to a “new” way to do genealogy. In many cases, the “old” way was through individual effort. “We have built on the shoulders of dedicated individuals,” said Allen. “The shift now is from the dedicated sacrifice of individuals to open source or crowd sourcing where groups collaborate-where individual users contribute and work together.”

After Allen mentioned some of the projects that his company was undertaking to help connect families and bring them closer together, he said he hoped he and others wouldn’t experience a similar “vastness of the undertaking” and a depression “almost to stupidness.”

“Now the efforts are coming to a head, and the work will move forward in unprecedented ways,” predicted Allen. “This is a global work. Where we haven’t started scratching the surface is Asia. The population of North America in 1750 was 2 million. Asia had 500 million in 1750. Last week, the Chinese government announced more Internet users in China than in United States. Many of them are accessing the Internet via a cell phone. There are now about 4 billion cell phones. Think about that in terms of technology and family history. You are going to see some of the most remarkable things you have ever imagined.”

Allen announced the collaboration between FamilySearch and to publish the Family History Library Catalog-the largest single database of genealogy sources in the world-using a Web 2.0 approach. With the application of the Web 2.0 technology, individual genealogists, librarians, archivists, and others from around the world will be able, when the catalog comes online in the coming months, to enhance and extend the value of the catalog that currently has more than four million entries.

Users will be able to add new sources that are currently in the library catalog, and extend its scope of coverage. They will be able to improve the source descriptions, and even rate and review sources as to their usefulness. The user feedback combined with the intelligent search algorithm being developed by FamilyLink “will make the catalog better and better that it will become so easy that your children and grand children want to do it,” Allen said. “And our recommendation engine will get smarter and smarter as end users collaborate.”

World history has always been a passion for Allen, and he disclosed’s plans to unveil a new history site to encourage individuals to find out more about the historical context in which their ancestors lived. “We are more of an aggregator of content,” commented Allen. “Our primary goal is to broaden the interest in family history to millions of people of all ages. We want people to want to learn about their ancestors.”

Allen concluded the address by talking about the social networking sites being developed and enhanced by FamilyLink’s team. He said that his goal with the social networking sites is to “make sure your relatives are interested in what you are doing.”

Win Two Free Tickets to the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree June 27-June 29

Friday, June 13th, 2008

If you have been thinking about attending the 2008 Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree on June 27-June 29, here is your chance to win two free tickets!

How do you enter?

Describe a favorite experience you have had while researching your ancestors on,, or We’re Related on Facebook. Email your entry to Whitney at

The winner of the contest will win two free tickets (a $180 value) to the SCGS Jamboree, which is the largest genealogy conference on the West Coast. Entries are due on Friday, June 20, 2008 at 8 p.m.(MST). The winner will be notified on Monday June 23, 2008. (If you have already registered for the conference, and win, you will be reimbursed for your ticket.) All submissions will become the property of, Inc. and may be used for promotional purposes.

If you do not want to enter the competition, but still would like to attend the Jamboree, sign up now. Preregister before June 15. Until June 15, you can also register for the Friday bus trip and guided tour of Hollywood Forever Cemetery. If you prefer, you can�attend either of the free Friday morning sessions:Introduction to Genealogy, or the Kids’ Genealogy Camp (ages 5+)., Inc. will be a sponsor at the Jamboree. We hope you will join us at our booth. David Lifferth, President,, Inc. will also be speaking at the Jamboree on Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 4:30 p.m. The title of his presentation is Innovative Family Tools to Connect Families.

Seats are still available for all of the special events, including the Friday night banquet with Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak; Saturday Effective Society Management breakfast and panel discussion; Saturday evening’s dinner with Dick Eastman; and the Sunday morning Presidential Genealogy with Chris Child and Gary Boyd Roberts of NEHGS. Reservations for the meals will close on June 15.

The Jamboree will be held at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in Burbank, California. This year, the program will include speakers and lectures of particular interest to those researching German, Eastern European, and Jewish roots. These include John T. Humphrey on German records, Peter Lande on “Holocaust Records as a Source for All Genealogists,” which includes how to obtain records from Bad Arolsen; Steve Morse on “One-Step Webpages” and several others.

Many well-known professional genealogists, among them Dick Eastman, Tom Underhill, Arlene Eakle, and Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, will speak about online and traditional resources, tech applications for genealogy, including several DNA talks, German ancestry, genealogy applications for today, such as family health histories, dealing with family secrets and black sheep, finding living relatives, and more.

A featured session will be the first-ever Blogger Summit, which will feature seven of the leading genealogy bloggers: Dick Eastman of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter; Steve Danko of Steve’s Genealogy Blog; George G. Morgan, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak of Megan’s Roots World and RootsTelevision, Schelly Talalay Dardashti of Tracing the Tribe, and Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings. Moderating the panel discussion will be Leland Meitzler of

You can find full descriptions of speakers, lectures, evening events, and you can pre-register at this website: and the Jamboree blog at

Winners of the 2008 Logan Family History Expo 2008

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Congratulations to the following individuals who won subscriptions at the Logan Family History Expo.

Grand Prize Winner (includes: One year subscription to the World Collection and Family Tree Software with one year subscription to Ancestry, a $500.00 value)

• Charlene Van Duren

Two Prize Winners (one year subscription to the World Collection, a $149.95 value each)

• Sandra Merrill
• Glenda Walker

Winner of the newsletter sign-up drawing (one year subscription to the World Collection, a $149.95 value)

• Leon Lemon