Seventh day in Salt Lake City – it’s almost been a week already…

On Thursday I had been given an “FGS Ambassador” ribbon for my name tag by some of the team at the FGS Booth, and Friday morning a message from Laurie Desmarais informed me that I could sit in the Media and Ambassadors area in the Keynote Hall – quite the honour as we’re talking about a block of seats within 10-15 rows of the front right in front of centre stage, and a huge improvement from about 10 rows from the back where I’d sat the previous day. So I made my way in and ended up sitting with Dick Eastman, J Paul Hawthorne, Thomas MacEntee and others with a much improved view of the stage.

Today’s keynote speakers were D Joshua Taylor – President of FGS and Director of Family History at FindMyPast, and then former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager.

Josh talked about some of the things FindMyPast is doing, including digitising the records behind PERSI (PERiodical Source Index), and then taking us on a wee trip back in his past, including the tale of how as a young boy he would take the cheese grater and cheese in to his bedroom because he loved grated cheese, and then a connection to a distant relative – one William Heaps –  who was transported to Australia for stealing cheese!!

Dennis Brimhall of FamilySearch introduced former First Lady Laura Bush, and quipped that if he messed up in front of the First Lady it will be recorded in the Presidential Library. (For some reason Friday’s Keynote was NOT streamed live as Thursday’s had been, and Saturday’s would be.)

Laura Bush took the stage next with an interesting address that talked about the years her family spent in the White House – both as a son and daughter-in-law of a President, and then 8 years later as President and First Lady – and the importance of family to their family. Her and President Bush are proud grandparents now, and she noted that Grandpa and Grandma seem to be going out of fashion now – she’s “Mimi Maxwell” and George wants the baby to call him “Sir”.

She talked about the events of September 11, 2001 and noted that they were taken to a location beneath the White House furnished “during the Truman years”. One other thing I scribbled down as she spoke was that she’s had to tell George “Turmoil in East Timor is no longer an excuse to not pick up your socks”. And at the first baseball game at Yankee Stadium after September 11, where President Bush threw out the first pitch, Derek Jeter told President Bush to “be a man – throw from the mound, but don’t bounce it or they’ll boo you”.

The second part of the session saw Jenna Bush Hager come to the stage and interview Laura Bush in a more informal manner that also had a few family tales thrown in.

After the Keynote session was over there was a mad crush to leave the hall and descend on the Vendor/Exhibitor Hall.

I spent a short while in the Exhibits Hall, and then went back into the main Keynote Hall to watch the finals of the “Innovator Showdown“. Continue reading »

 

After the excitement of Wednesday, Thursday was going to be more of the same, albeit with a slightly later start. The Keynote was to start at 8:30am. At 8:15am there was a loooooooooong line of many hundreds of people still waiting to get their name tags and paraphernalia from the Registration Booth.

The keynote started off with a senior vice-president from Family Search making some introductions. Then the faces of “Genealogy Roadshow” – FGS President Josh Taylor, Kenyatta Berry and Mary Tedesco appeared on stage to talk about Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Preserve the Pensions project, which Josh proudly announced has now reached 50% of the $3,200,000 needed to complete this project.

Dennis Brimhall from FamilySearch then gave a presentation on some of the exciting new things that FamilySearch are doing, and demonstrated the “Museum of Me” which uses a lot of new technology to help people be interested in researching their families. This is well summarised in this article.

The highlight of the keynote was undoubtedly the presentation by Tan Le – a co-founder of the company Emotiv Systems – an Australian electronics company developing brain–computer interfaces based on electroencephalography (EEG) technology. She didn’t talk much about this, but instead told the completely spellbinding tale of her escape from Vietnam as a girl aged 5 years in 1982 with her younger sister, their mother and grandmother, the perils of the journey in a small boat, and eventual arrival in Melbourne, Australia where she grew up and went on to become Young Australian of the Year in 1988 – just wow!!!!! Continue reading »

 

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). Continue reading »

 

Dear WordPress Blog

Well it’s been a while since we had a new roof put on our house in October 2012!!! For much of the past several years my “blogging” has been carried out on Facebook where it’s so easy to write a quick status, link up a couple of photos and post it, or to create a photo album in iPhoto and then post that directly to Facebook.

Saturday 7 Feb 2015 saw us on what is becoming a familiar drive – the 3 hours to Chicago O’Hare airport to fly away somewhere – it’s much cheaper to do this than to fly out of Grand Rapids. This time we’re off to Salt Lake City for research in the Family History Library and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 2015 conference being held in association with RootsTech put on by Family Search (the genealogy and family history part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).

Having left home with about 12″ of snow covering the ground, it was somewhat surprising to see much of the middle of the country devoid of snow – even the mountains around Salt Lake City only have snow on their upper reaches – not a good scene if they were trying to run a Winter Olympics here right now.

Upon arrival, picked up a rental car so we’d have a car for Sunday to be “bloody tourists” and headed off to the Radisson Hotel. Got checked in there and met up with Australian genealogist and blogger Jill Ball and headed out for dinner. The Red Iguana gets great reviews so we walked the mile or so (downhill) to there only to find it was standing room only out on the footpath of people waiting to get in – wait time at least an hour. So we caught the Trax back into town and went to the Blue Lemon for a delicious very reasonably priced meal.

Next up is Sunday. We’re going in the aforementioned rental car to head out of town, on a couple of trips – up in to the mountains to the south to the Timpaganos Caves area and then to Antelope Island – the “island” you can drive to that’s out in the Salt Lake. Stay Tuned!

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