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.

The 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.


RootsTech Report: It’s All About Stories

Salt Lake City, Utah

Sunny Morton, Genealogy Book Lovers Group Moderator and Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor

Lisa is all over RootsTech this year, teaching and running demos and–her favorite part–meeting many of YOU! So she’s asked me, Gems editor Sunny Morton, to send out a RootsTech Report for those of you who aren’t here.

In case you’re not familiar with this one-of-a-kind (and still evolving) conference, RootsTech is part traditional conference, part trade show. Top speakers teach technology-infused topics in packed classrooms. Industry leaders wow on the big stage, amplified by enormous monitors and sound systems.

Host FamilySearch International has pulled out all the stops to make the event bigger and better than last year: there are more attendees, more exhibitor sRTOfficialBlog_Bpace, more entertainment. A reported 6700 attendees preregistered, with an additional 2000 youth expected on Saturday and an estimated 5000 additional viewers tuning in to selected sessions at 16 satellite locations in 7 countries. With buy anxiety medication hopes to extend remote viewership in-language to ten times that number of locations next year, RootsTech is positioning itself as the world’s biggest and furthest-reaching genealogical conference.

Behind all the glamor, industry buzz, excitement of new services and products and everyday genealogists is a message FamilySearch is broadcasting to all who will listen: they want to recruit legions of new family historians who will preserve the stories of millions of lives. Though FamilySearch will continue to provide us millions of sources for dates-names-places, its new online family tree service is designed to capture stories, too, because that’s what makes genealogy meaningful to most of us.

We’ll tell you more about that–and other fun RootsTech updates–in upcoming posts. Meanwhile, tune in here wherever you are to join the fray: catch live streaming sessions and see what’s happening for yourself.

Where You Should Sit at a Genealogy Conference

no changing classroomsThis spring we’ve got some great conferences coming up in the U.S., like #RootsTech2013 in Salt Lake and the National Genealogical Society conference in Las Vegas, as well as events in Fairfax (VA), Wausau (WI), Manchester (NH), Cincinnati (OH), the Houston area, and Southern California. So here’s my question, just for fun: where do you sit when you go to conferences?

Studies of college classrooms show that students who sit toward the front of the room and catch the teacher’s eye are more likely to pay attention, which can translate into a better learning experience. Now, that caught my eye, because a better learning experience is what we all want out of conferences.

The report goes on to say that students who sit in front and make eye contact establish a better rapport with teachers and are more likely to be more engaged in the learning process. Of course, a conference isn’t the same as a college class. The instructor isn’t grading you. But presenters are human too, and they appreciate an engaged audience. In any sort of presentation, there is always an energy that flows back and forth between audience and presenter. Both you and the instructor will benefit from rapport and engagement.

Here are my tips for getting the most out of your experience:

  • Arrive at the lecture as early as possible so you can get a seat where you’ll be able to see and hear everything clearly.
  • Read the class syllabus ahead of time so you’ll be familiar with the material going into the presentation.
  • Print out the syllabus (or have it handy on your iPad or tablet) so you don’t waste time writing down ideas and links that have already been written for you.
  • Keep your attention on the speaker, but jot down any additional ideas the speaker shares that aren’t in the syllabus–as well as any ideas you hope to apply to your own research.

Here’s a final tip that comes from the study report on where you sit. One interviewee for this article says that, “In lecture, students’ attention tends to bottom out about 30 minutes into class, which is just when faculty are getting to the most important information.” She goes on to say that sitting closer to the instructor will help you stay focused during that critical time. The takeaway: 30 minutes into any lecture, if your attention starts to wander, challenge yourself to write down the key concept you learned up to that point, and one key question you hope will be answered. And then re-focus on listening intently for the answer.

Check out my upcoming live presentations.   See you in class!

RootsTech 2013: There’s an App for That!

Are you going to RootsTech in March? Do you have an iPad, tablet or smart phone? Then you need to download a free app!

RootsTech 2013 is your personal conference assistant. It delivers to your palm all the  information you need on exhibitors and speakers along with a map and customizable schedule. For example, I’m speaking at RootsTech in four different sessions. You can find each session listed by day or track under the Events icon, or you can go right to my name under the Speakers icon and see all four sessions at once, with a description and location of each one. Add one (or more) of my sessions to your own schedule. You’ll also find me under the Exhibitors icon. You can bookmark or schedule buy valtrex medication each exhibitor you want to visit, then mark them off as you do. I hope you’ll come see me at my booth!

You can even have a social life on this app. Publish a profile if you want others to see your name on a guest list. Then look for others who have done that under the Attendees icon. Create a network of Friends with whom you can chat and share notes (and meet for lunch!). Stay updated with the app’s News feed, and share in the conference buzz on Twitter and Facebook.

The link I gave you above takes you to the App Shopper for the iOS universal app; it’s also in Apple’s Apps Store.


RootsTech: Countdown, Update!

We’re five weeks from RootsTech and counting downRTOfficialBlog_B! The folks at RootsTech have sent out this registration update and contest invitation:

“Early bird registration has been extended for one more week.  The $149 price will expire on 2/22/2013.  We’ve seen some great momentum in registrations this week. So, we want to give every opportunity for folks to take advantage of the reduced price on a full conference pass.  After 2/22 the price will move to a “last chance” price of $179 for a full conference pass. The “last chance” price will expire on 3/16, at which point the price will go to $219.

As you know, Story@Home is a new addition to RootsTech this year.  Story@Home offers class sessions with award-winning storytellers, performers, and speakers to help attendees explore ways to use the power of story to connect with their family.  We’re excited buy std medication online about the new perspective and dimension Story@Home adds to the RootsTech experience.  You can learn more about Story@Home at www.rootstech.org/stories.

Our friends at Story@Home are running an Instagram Photo Contest.  Official RootsTech bloggers are invited to help spread the word.  Here are the contest details:

Prize: Story@Home + Getting Started pass ($79 value), Access to all Story@Home classes and Getting Started classes all three days of RootsTech. Contest Dates: February 20th-24th. To participate in the contest: Snap a picture you think tells a story. Examples include family, friends, places, events, mementos–anything that has meaning for you. Upload the photo to Instagram and share with us what story your photo tells. Include the hashtags #tellyourstory and #storyathome. The winner will be chosen by Random.org and announced on the Story@Home Facebook page Monday, February 25th. “Like” us on Facebook to find out if you’ve won: https://www.facebook.com/pages/StoryHome/175409965858537?ref=ts&fref=ts.”

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