The sun shone as you sat on a worn stone bench with your grandmother in the park. “When your grandfather and I were married, we planted a sapling together,” she remembered, pointing at a tall oak shading the path. “Look how tall it has grown.”
When you walk in the same park today, you remember her story and point out the oak to your children. Stretching into the heavens, its many branches remind you of family. The branches represent your parents, aunts, and uncles. Shooting off those larger limbs are you, your siblings, and cousins. Crowning the tree are the new leaves that represent the latest generation.
This year it’s time to plant your own family tree to help your great-grandchildren remember loved ones. Instead of planting a sapling in the ground, however, you’ve decided to make a family tree account using FamilySearch. The next step is to start learning how to research your family history.
Every year, FamilySearch sponsors RootsTech, the world’s largest conference on family history. This four day event is a tremendous resource for helping you make your family tree, with over 200 sessions led by expert genealogists. If you’re not able to make it to Salt Lake City, you can watch select sessions online both live and after the conference on RootsTech.org. You can also learn more by connecting with the family history experts on Twitter.
Get Excited to Start Researching Your Family History
To help you jumpstart your family tree, we’ve selected 20 “can’t miss” sessions from RootsTech 2015.
|The Global Family Reunion: How You Can Join the Biggest Family Ever
Do you have a smile like Julia Roberts? Can you wiggle your ears like Jeff Goldblum? Learn how discovering his famous relatives got A.J. Jacobs (@ajjacobs) excited about genealogy, and how to use websites like FamilySearch and A.J. Jacob’s Global Family Reunion to learn how you’re related to people all over the world.
Watch Live: Saturday Feb. 14 at 8:30am MST
|Six Steps to Choreograph Your Research across the Internet
In need of a clear process to help you research your family history? Janet Hovorka (@familychartmstr), former President of the Utah Genealogical Association, shares how to coordinate your research between the big family history sites, explains why it’s important to find historical sources, and reveals how to use timelines and tabs to verify your results.
|Building a Genealogy Research Toolbox
As founder of GeneaBloggers, one of the largest online communities of family history bloggers, Thomas MacEntee (@hidefgen) is no stranger to supporting family historians. Learn the online resources he recommends for genealogical research, and how to organize them into an easy-to-access virtual toolbox.
Watch live: Friday Feb. 13 at 1:00pm MST
|New Media, New Muse: Digital Tools for Sharing Family Stories
Collecting your family stories is easier than you think. Genealogy instructor Lisa Alzo @lisaalzo helps you get started with easy ways to tell stories using digital platforms. Lisa also reveals her favorite tools and apps to use to collect your stories and find ideas.
|What Help is Available for FamilySearch Users
Learn how to get the help you need when you need it. Anne Metcalf (@FamilySearch) walks you through the videos, tutorials, FAQs, strategies, guides, blog posts, and classes created by FamilySearch to make it easy for you to start and grow your family tree.
Can’t make it to SLC? Visit our Help Center.
Recording Your Family Story:
|The Write Stuff: Leaving a Recorded Legacy; Personal Histories, Journals, Diaries, and Letters
Family historians, get ready to save your memories. Genealogy researcher Valerie Elkins @elkinsvalerie reveals apps and software that will make it easier to preserve your family stories, whether you prefer to type in your memories or use a pen.
Watch live: Friday Feb. 13 at 4:00pm MST
|Blogging About Your Research, Memories, and Family Stories
After her grandmother gave her an old spiral notebook filled with childhood memories, family stories, and wisdom gathered over a lifetime, Laura Hedgecock (@lauralhedgecock) wrote Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life. Come to her session to learn how to preserve your own family memories.
|Parenting Keys That Unlock Hearts
Remember how you loved to hear stories as a young child? Carol Rice (@carolrice) shares how to use stories about your family history to bring your loved ones closer together and become more than a group of people living under the same roof.
How to Set-up Your Technology:
|Family History on the Go Using Phones and Tablet Apps
Want to build your family tree, but don’t have time to sit down at the computer? Rhonna Farrer (@RhonnaFarrer) and Crystal Beutler share how to use your tablet and phone to build your family tree, research genealogy, create a digital scrapbook, and keep a journal while on the go.
|How to Turn Your Tablet (or Smart Phone) into a Genealogy Powerhouse
No stranger to helping aspiring family historians learn on the go, Genealogy Gems podcast host Lisa Louise Cooke (@lisacooke) shares the apps she recommends to build a family tree and conduct research right from your tablet or smart phone!
|30 Pieces of Tech I Can’t Live Without
What tips and tricks do expert genealogists have up their sleeves? Learn the technology, online subscriptions, and gadgets Genealogy Roadshow’s host D. Joshua Taylor (@djoshuataylor) uses to research ancestors and solve family mysteries.
Watch live: Thursday, Feb. 12 at 11:00am MST
|APIs 101: What Are They, and What Do They Have to Do with Genealogy?
APIs are 3rd party applications that make it easier for you to access information from your favorite genealogy resources. In this session, librarian and genealogist Colleen Greene (@colleengreene) gives an intro to the APIs, web services, and mashups that can help you with your family tree.
Start Your Search:
|Map My Ancestors
Imagine walking the same street your ancestor did over 200 years ago. In many major cities, street names have changed and finding where an ancestor lived can be difficult. In this session, genealogical researcher A. C. Ivory (@acivory) shares the maps and other genealogical records he used to find his ancestors’ homes in the early 1800s and shares his tips on how to locate your own ancestors.
|Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy
Many family historians are now turning to DNA testing to verify ancestral connections or uncover geographical origins. In this session, Diahan Southard (@DNAdiahan), Genealogy Gems’ DNA expert, explains the basics of genetic genealogy and clarifies what DNA testing can (and can’t) reveal about your heritage.
|Finding the Living among the Dead: Using the Internet to Find Your Living Cousins
Could a hidden relative be a phone call or email away? Amy Archibald will help you learn how to use clues in family trees and obituaries to find your living relatives. She’ll also share online tools and resources that will help you connect.
Attend at RootsTech: Thursday Feb. 12 at 4:30pm MST
Watch on RootsTech.org: Saturday, Feb. 14 at 10:30 am MST
Dive into Your Ancestry:
|Essential Online Resources for African American Genealogy Research
Due to scarcity of records kept before the Civil War, African Americans often face unique challenges researching their family history. Discover the online resources Angela Walton Raji (@aywalton), founding member of AfriGeneas.com, considers essential for learning about your ancestors.
|The “Other Side” of Jewish Genealogy: Sephardic Research
Although many family historians are familiar with Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, research and resources related to the “other side” of Jewish genealogy, Sephardic Jews from Spain, Portugal and the Mediterranean, are very different. In this session, journalist and genealogist Schelly Talalay Dardashti (@tracingthetribe) shares wide-ranging resources to help you learn about Sephardic Jewish heritage, including migration, traditions, languages, country and Internet resources.
|Back to Your French Ancestors
Want to trace your ancestors back to France? Laurent Monpouet (@geneanetdotorg) of international collaborative genealogy website GeneaNet shares the sources and techniques that will help you learn about your French ancestry.
|Lost Cousins Downunder?
In the 19th and 20th centuries, families emigrating out of Britain and Europe often split up, with half moving to North America and half to Australia. Join Australian ancestor hunter Jill Ball (@geniaus) as she explains online resources you can use to find long-lost relatives in the southern hemisphere.
|21st-Century Italian Genealogy
More than four million Italians immigrated to the U.S. by the early part of the 20th In this session, casting director and genealogy enthusiast Michael Cassara (@michaelcassara) will share how to use FamilySearch and other resources to learn more about your Italian roots.
What are you looking forward to learning at RootsTech to help you make a family tree? Let us know in the comments, and share whether you’ll join us in Salt Lake City or if you’ll be watching online.