Dateline Wednesday 11  February 2015…

Our 5th day in Salt Lake City (counting the Saturday we arrived), FGS Society Day, and the day before FGS 2015 / RootsTech gets underway.

Up earlier than normal today since I had to get to the Salt Palace in time to check in as an FGS Volunteer, and then be ready to attend the opening session “Focus on Societies Day Opening Session: Successfully Embracing the Future” at 8a.m. That was all accomplished and I took my place in Room 355E with several hundred others to hear what Curt Witcher, Deena Coutant, and Jen Baldwin had to say about ideas for societies. Prior to the speakers, there was an introduction from Josh Taylor and then the presentation of some FGS Awards. There were awards to a number of the people who have put on previous FGS conferences as well as to Illinois and Indiana genealogical societies for their contributions to the War of 1812 Pensions Project and to a couple of groups from New York – the German and Italian genealogy societies. Then a very nice surprise – an award for Me!!! A “Distinguished Service Award to Roger Moffat in recognition of exemplary and outstanding service to FGS Member Society, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society”.

FGS Distinguished Service Award to Roger Moffat in recognition of exemplary and outstanding service to FGS Member Society, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society

FGS Distinguished Service Award to Roger Moffat in recognition of exemplary and outstanding service to FGS Member Society, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society

Then Deena, Jen and Curt made their presentations about the health and growing of societies with some very interesting points made (which currently are several pages of chicken scratch in my notebook).

There were 5 sessions during the day. For the first 2 I was an FGS Volunteer Room Monitor, and I attended the last 3 chosen because they sounded interesting.

Session 1: Sponsored by BillionGraves.com – “Using Cemeteries to Uncover Forgotten Histories”
The room was jammed to hear Billion Graves expound their vision for how cemeteries can be photographed and indexed using their app on smart phones to walk through a cemetery, taking a photo of each marker which the phone (hopefully precisely) geotags with its latitude and longitude position. The “societies hook” on this was that societies can adopt up to 10 cemeteries in their local area and get them all photographed, and then benefit from a share of the revenue made when the Billion Graves database is then used to for example allow people to use the app on their phone, or the website to order flowers to be delivered to a specific grave. The delivery agent will be able to exactly find the headstone, deliver the flowers there, take a photo which is then immediately transmitted to the person who ordered the flowers. Early in the session they made great use of some live polling via text message that let the audience respond to questions that were put up on the screen, and then within seconds we could watch as those familiar with texting sent in their responses.

Session 2: – Cyndi Ingle “Find the Silver Lining In the Cloud”.
A great roundup of the various ways societies (and individuals) can and do make use of “the cloud” for their computing needs, whether is collaborative documents on Google docs, or shared projects by DropBox, backup by CrashPlan or BackBlaze, online photo storage by a whole range of companies. etc etc etc

Session 3 – Judy G Russell “The Ethical Genealogist”.
An outstanding presentation by Judy G Russell outlining how individuals and societies can be ethical in what they do. Summed up in to as few words as possible, it came down to those 3 admonitions you received as a child

  1. Tell the Truth
  2. Play Nice with Others
  3. Don’t Tell Tales Out of School

Judy referenced the codes of conduct of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Board for Certification of Genealogist a number of times and gave many great examples of situations where one should behave ethically – and even admitted to having been more than a little tempted to take a copy of a document when the archive had 2, and clearly only needed one (she didn’t!!!!).

Session 4 – CeCe Moore “Bringing Your Society Into the 21st Century with a DNA Interest Group”.
This was a very interesting presentation, and discussion since CeCe bought some of the audience in with questions and comments, about setting up a DNA Interest Group – DIG – for your society. The recent rapid growth of DNA testing for genealogy has put great pressure on Genetic Genealogists to assist with understanding the results, so it’s a good thing if societies set up Special Interest Groups where members can help each other, and the group can learn more, bring in speakers and in some cases already been a factor for growth in a society. All of the testing companies have affiliate programmes whereby a society can earn a share of the money from the test sold, as well as letting society members buy the tests at a discounted price. This was all great food for thought.

Session 5 – Donna Moughty “Printed vs. Online Publishing for Societies”
A discussion of the various ways societies might want to embrace online publishing for some or all of their publications, and the various options for doing so once it’s been decided to use online publishing.

The end of the day – my brain was full!!!!!! And there are still 3 more days to go, jam-packed with sessions and a giant vendor hall to visit.

Lisa and I were able to attend the “FGS 2015 Opening Social – Behind the Scenes: Family History & Television” as last minute attendees – thanks to Kim Harrison and Josh Taylor! This was an interesting event where we got to see some selected clips from previous episodes of “Finding Your Roots”, “Genealogy Roadshow” and “Who Do You Think You Are”, and then a clip from an upcoming episode of “Genealogy Roadshow”. This was followed by a panel discussion, Question and Answer session with participants from each of the 3 shows – CeCe Moore who works as DNA researcher on Finding Your Roots, Kenyatta Berry and Josh Taylor from Genealogy Roadshow, and George Ott and Jenny Utley who do research for Who Do You Think You Are. A very interesting look into some of what goes into these shows.

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