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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Press Release: RootsTech Keynote Levar Burton

Salt Lake City, UT, October 19, 2016

Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton Will Keynote RootsTech 2017

FamilySearch International is pleased to announce that LeVar Burton will be the Friday keynote speaker at RootsTech 2017 on February 10, 2017. Burton is known by millions for his legendary starring role as Kunta Kinte in 1977 in the globally acclaimed and award-winning ABC mini series, Roots, as chief engineer Geordi La Forge in the iconic Star Trek: The Next Generation television series, and as host and executive producer of the beloved PBS children’s series, Reading Rainbow. Burton was also the co-executive producer of the re-envisioned production of Roots that aired in June of this year on the A&E Networks. 

Reading Rainbow was one of the longest running children’s television shows in TV history (1983-2009) and one of the most acclaimed, earning more than 200 awards including 26 Emmys and a Peabody. "There's a whole new generation of kids that need to develop a relationship with the written word, especially, I believe, in this ultra-technological age. I'm in this for the mission. This is what I do," said Burton.
He is excited about the opportunity to keynote at RootsTech where he plans to share personal stories about Roots, Star Trek, his Reading Rainbow foundation, and also stories of his mom and her commanding influence on him.

"The story of Roots traces a family's journey from Africa to America and back. At RootsTech, I'll share some of my own journey of family, storytelling and the influence of African culture on my American Experience."

Burton’s acting career began as a college student at the University of Southern California with his first-ever audition—winning the role of Kunta Kinte in ABC’s wildly popular 1977 TV mini-series, Roots. Thus, at age 19, he found his picture on the cover of Time magazine. Soaring to stardom was only the beginning for Burton. He followed it with many roles—most notably in Reading Rainbow and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

An advocate for children’s literacy, Burton’s Reading Rainbow provides an outlet for innovative uses of storytelling. Reading Rainbow uses technology and media to inspire today’s children to love reading, and is currently the number one educational app on iTunes. The digital service includes more than 500 children’s fiction and non-fiction books, and 200 newly-produced video field trips with new content added weekly.

RootsTech is held at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City and will be simulcasted around the world with many sessions recorded for later viewing. RootsTech offers a line-up of world-class speakers, thrilling entertainment and engaging classes and activities with a bigger-than-ever expo hall. There will be something for everyone regardless of age or experience. Registration for RootsTech is currently open at reduced rates at Rootstech 2017 is sponsored by FamilySearch,, and

Friday, September 23, 2016

Missed my interview with Dear Myrtle?

This past Wednesday I spent a wonderful hour with a great bunch of genealogists.  Wacky Wednesday was run by Sweet Sadie, Dear Myrtle's distant cousin, and I was thrilled to be able to give some insight into my new book Genealogy Basics in 30 Minutes.

If you missed the show, never fear!  You can watch it here:


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review:  White Slave Children Trilogy by Richard Hayes Phillips, PhD

This year two more volumes in the Without Indentures series by Richard Hayes Phillips, PhD, published by the Genealogical Publishing Company, were released.  This little know index traces children who were transported to Colonial Maryland and Virginia from Europe and other colonies. Phillips new books add to his first book, Without Indentures: Index to White Slave Children in Colonial Court Records (Maryland and Virginia), which was published in 2013.  These new volumes concentrate on different records and specific county research.

I have to admit that while I knew there were indentured children, I was unaware of the amount of underhanded deals which made hundreds of children essentially slaves.  Children who were taken from their homes in Colonial Massachusetts as well as in England who were lost in the records while they were sent to Maryland, Virginia, or the Caribbean.  Through extensive searching of extant documents Phillips has begun the process of finding these children who had, in many cases, simply disappeared from the family unit according to other records.

Each book gives you historical background for the various laws enacted as well as a guide to using the books.  Both of which are essential to read so you can understand the records which are discussed better.  I was fascinated by the historical background information contained in the text.  Through it I was able to I read about the laws which were enacted that lead to the trafficking of white children and then those that were later enacted to stop it. 

In White Slave Children of Charles County, Maryland: The Search for Survivors concentrates on records held  within this specific county. The small biographies in the beginning of the book were particularly informative.  Compiled from court records and other documents that have survived, these biographies covered not only some of the children but those who purchased them as well.  There is also a listing of “Dishonorable Mentions.” These were people who had a record of abusing their servants.  More than three quarters of the book however concerns the children slaves, or servants, who were found in records like orphan’s lists, deeds, estates, petitions for freedom, and runaways who were found.

The second volume White Slave Children of Colonial Maryland and Virginia: Birth and Shipping Records concentrates on records from specific geographical areas.  Each chapter catalogs the birth and shipping records for those from an English County (such as Kent, Devon, or Essex), Country (like Ireland or Scotland), or another colony (Massachusetts).  Each entry lists all of the information uncovered for that person as well as where the information was found. 

Phillips admits that this is a subject in which more work still needs to be done.  This series of books could easily this could turn into a person’s life work as more records are discovered on this subject.  In fact, each county in Maryland and Virginia could be easily be covered through this research resulting in dozens of more books.
Truly a scholarly work, these books are essential for any library on colonial Maryland or Virginia research.  An excellent compendium of information to help discover those who are easily overlooked in typical research methodology.  I hope that you check them out if you do any research these areas.  Not only will you find excellent explanations on historical matters, but you may find a few surprise in the pages.

You can purchase these books though or

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lectures, presentations and hangouts oh my!

This is a busy week for me.  Not only am I still recuperating from a nasty twisted ankle (10 days out and still purple/swollen, sigh) but I am excited to be on a hangout Wednesday and presenting 2 lectures this Saturday.

Tomorrow I am thrilled to be on "Wacky Wednesday" with Dear Myrtle.  We will be discussion all hour my new book Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes.  If you have not purchased it yet this will be the perfect opportunity to learn more about it.

On Saturday I will be speaking at the Fall Seminar for the Fredericksburg Regional Genealogical Society.  It will be an informative and jam packed day!  The event is free but you will need to register so they know how many people to prepare for.  There is a little bit of something for any level.

24 September 2016   9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 
Central Rappahannock Regional Library
1201 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Genealogy 101 - Chuck Mason
Utilizing - Julie Cabitto
The Relationship Between Chancery Causes and Lost Records Localities at the Library of Virginia - Callie Lou Freed and Joanne Porter
Genetic Genealogy - A Crash Course - Shannon Combs-Bennett
I’ve Tested My DNA, Now What? - Shannon Combs-Bennett
Researching African-American Ancestors - Shelley Murphy

Thursday, September 15, 2016

RootsTech Registration is open are you going

It's that time of year again, time to register for RootsTech.  As of this morning the event is open for registration and you can find all the details in the press release below.

I will be there again this year not only as an ambassador but also as a speaker.  Yes, I am very excited to be speaking there for the first time and know it will be a great experience.   I will talk more about that later.  Right now, get on out there and register!

Popular RootsTech Event Open for Registration

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA (September 15, 2016)—FamilySearch International has announced that registration to RootsTech 2017 is now open. RootsTech is an annual family history and technology conference where guests of all ages are inspired to discover, preserve, and share their family roots, heritage, and stories across generations—past, present, and future. In 2016 the event attracted more than 28,000 attendees in-person from all 50 US states and 30+ countries. RootsTech 2017 will be held February 8–11 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The popular Innovator Summit and free Family Discovery Day are also open for registration. The website for registration is

The 4-day conference will offer attendees a full lineup of inspiring and well-known keynote speakers, over 200 informative sessions, including hands-on computer labs taught by industry professionals and leaders, interactive activities and helpful exhibitors in the expo hall, and entertaining evening events, all designed to inspire and empower personal family discoveries. Early bird discount pricing is available for a limited time on 4-day passes at just $159 and $189 for the RootsTech plus Innovator Summit pass. Passes for the Getting Started track start at $49 for a single day and $69 for a limited 3-day pass. All passes include access to the popular expo hall and morning keynote sessions.

Starting off the 4-day RootsTech conference is the Innovator Summit, a unique 1-day conference designed for serious entrepreneurs, developers, and innovators interested in giving their creative ideas traction in a growing multi-billion-dollar industry. The event also offers attendees the opportunity to interact and connect with industry influencers, executives, and investors. The Summit will include a morning general session (the keynote speaker will be announced soon), over 20 classes, the Innovator Showdown semi-finals, and more. Innovator Summit ONLY passes are available at the discount price of $99.

Along with the Innovator Summit, the Innovator Showdown returns to RootsTech with $100,000 in prizes. Innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world and from any industry are invited to compete with their latest products or services that enable individuals to discover, preserve, and share their personal and family stories, memories, or ancestral connections. The top 5 finalists will be invited to present their product or service on the main RootsTech stage before a panel of judges and a live audience on Friday, February 10, just after the morning keynote session.

Registration for Family Discovery Day is also now open. The event takes place on Saturday,
February 11, 2017, and is designed for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This free and fun 1-day event includes inspiring messages from Church leaders, engaging classes for families, youth, and young single adults, and evening entertainment to inspire and help families and members discover, preserve, and share their family connections. Family Discovery Day attendees will also have access to all the interactive activities and exhibitors found in the RootsTech expo hall. Event details, including speakers and classes, will be made available soon at Registration is required.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Press Release: publication of Genetic Genealogy in Practice the first workbook on genetic genealogy

National Genealogical Society Publishes The First Workbook on Genetic Genealogy

ARLINGTON, VA, 6 September 2016—The National Genealogical Society (NGS) announces the publication of Genetic Genealogy in Practice, the first workbook on genetic genealogy. Written by Blaine T. Bettinger, PhD, JD, and Debbie Parker Wayne, CGSM, CGLSM, the book provides family historians and genealogists who have just begun to explore genetic genealogy practical, easy to understand information that they can apply to their research.  As Wayne notes in her blog, Deb’s Delvings in Genealogy, “DNA can seem complex to many of us, but this book will guide you and help build your knowledge level one step at a time.”

At their own pace, readers learn the basic concepts of genetic genealogy. They then build on that knowledge as they study the testing, analysis, and application of Y-DNA, X-DNA, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and autosomal DNA (atDNA) to reach and support genealogical conclusions. Each chapter includes exercises with answer keys for hands-on practice.

Individuals may purchase a print edition of Genetic Genealogy in Practice from the NGS Store starting 12 September.  Visit the NGS website to order.
Blaine Bettinger is an intellectual property attorney in Syracuse, New York. The author of The Genetic Genealogist blog, he is a genealogy educator, a trustee of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, and organizer of the Shared cM Project, a crowdsourced project examining the associations between genetic data and genealogical relationships.

Debbie Parker Wayne is a professional genealogist who has conducted research for individuals as well as for the PBS series “Finding Your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and other television shows. She is an award-winning author, the coordinator for genetic genealogy institute courses, and the DNA Project Chair for the Texas State Genealogical Society.

Visit the NGS website to learn more about Genetic Genealogy in Practice and other NGS special publications.

Founded in 1903, the National Genealogical Society is dedicated to genealogical education, exemplary standards of research, and the preservation of genealogical records.  The Arlington, Virginia, based nonprofit is the premier national society for everyone, from the beginner to the most advanced family historian, seeking excellence in publications, educational offerings, and guidance in research. It also offers many opportunities to interact with other genealogists.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Press Release: RootsTech Innovator Showdown 2017 open for registration

Third Annual 2017 RootsTech Innovator Showdown Boasts $100,000 in Prizes
The global innovation competition is now accepting entries

2016 RootsTech Innovator SummitSalt Lake City (September 12, 2016)RootsTech, the world’s largest family history and technology conference, is now accepting entries for the 2017 Innovator Showdown—a “Global Innovation Competition” for developers and entrepreneurs seeking an opportunity to impact the growing multi-billion dollar family history industry while competing for $100,000 in cash and prizes. The Innovator Showdown seeks to support, foster, and inspire innovation within the family history marketplace. The deadline for submitting to the 2017 Innovator Showdown is December 1, 2016. The winners will present on stage and be selected by judges and live audience voting at RootsTech 2017 on Friday, February 10, 2017. Go to for more information.

Last year, 50 contestants, including six international applicants, competed in the Innovator Showdown. In 2017, the total cash and in-kind Innovator Showdown prizes will again be $100,000—making it one of the most attractive innovator contests in the nation.
Showdown Calendar:
  • Submissions will be accepted: today through December 1, 2016
  • Online Judging: December 1–20, 2016
  • Semifinalists Announced: December 20, 2016
  • Showdown Semifinals: February 8, 2017
  • Showdown Finals: February 10, 2017 at RootsTech at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Out of all applicants, the field will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists.  Showdown semifinals will be held during lunch at the RootsTech Innovator Summit in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 8, 2017 where we will introduce the semifinalists and their products. Five finalists will be announced that evening.

The exciting Showdown Finals are held during RootsTech before a panel of industry judges, including genealogy, technology and business gurus, and a live audience of 3,000 family history consumers, making the Innovator Showdown arguably one of the largest live audience tech competitions in North America. Finals will also be streamed live through to tens of thousands of online viewers.  This year, five finalists will pitch their innovations, field questions from judges, and await the announcement of the winners, while real time audience voting is taking place via texting to determine the winner of the People’s Choice prize.

Cash Prize Breakdown for Finalists:
  • Judge’s 1st Choice: $20,000
  • Judge’s 2nd Choice: $14,000
  • Judge’s 3rd Choice: $6,000
  • People’s Choice: $10,000
Besides cash prizes, winners will receive fabulous in-kind prizes from sponsors to assist in successfully launching their products to the awaiting world of family history enthusiasts, bringing the total prize value up to $100,000.

2016 Showdown winners represented a wide variety of family history related products that included:
    TapGenes, 2016 RootsTech Innovator Showdown 1st Place Winner
  • 1st place winner, TapGenes by Heather Holmes—Tools to identify medical and genetic threads that tie your family together. TapGenes also competed in the 2015 competition.
  • 2nd Place winner, Studio from Legacy Republic by Michael Chang—Technology hardware and software for digitizing hard copy photo albums using off-the-shelf smartphone technology
  • 3rd Place winner, Twile by Paul Brooks from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, UK— Web app that populates a visual family timeline with data and media
  • People’s Choice winner—Twile

Entries for the 2017 Innovator Showdown can be made through  and must include a video.

You can find this release online at

About RootsTech
RootsTech, held February 8-11, 2017 and hosted by FamilySearch, is the largest global family history event in the world! The sixth annual conference—celebrating families across generations—is the perfect place to discover and share your family's stories and connections through technology.