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Photograph Showcase: Playing on a fence

DUVAL, Frank and Deane on fence

Frank & Deane Duval.  12 September 1938 in Divide, Montana.  Photo taken by their father.

DUVAL, Deane and Frank on fence, photo back

Photo back with Francis Henry Duval’s notes.

I love this photo of my grandmother and her brother playing on a fence.  I also love the notes on the back written by their father, my great grandfather.  He was developing his photography skills and like all good students, he was a note taker.

You may notice how light my grandmother’s eyes are.  She has very bright blue eyes.  So does her brother.


RootsTech Day Three


I saw this sitting on a table in a classroom and had to snap a picture. It was probably a freebie in the Expo Hall that I didn’t notice.

The general session on Saturday morning was, once again, excellent.  There were two main speakers, Mike Leavitt and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Mike Leavitt shared some stories from his own life.  He told us that he “tricked himself into writing [his] personal history”.  He felt like he was telling the same stories all of the time so he spent a few minutes brainstorming.  He had a goal to write down ten stories – not the whole story, just a word or phrase that would remind him of the story.  He did that so quickly that he decided to come up with 100 stories.  That happened pretty fast too so he decided to see if he could think of 1,000 stories.  He did it.  After a while he organized them and decided to write those 1,000 stories out.  He compiled a personal history for himself and his family.

I think the funniest thing he said was after sharing a story about the Dalai Lama visiting.  He ended the story by saying, “I must be one of the only people on the earth that can say the Dalai Lama substituted for my Sunday School class.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin was a phenomenal speaker.  She shared engaging stories.  I was especially fascinated by her telling of the Fitzgerald/Kennedy family bible that was used for JFK’s swearing in.  She also had a few quote worthy gems.  She expressed her fear that because of our instant world “we are losing the art of storytelling”.

She began and ended by talking about baseball and her dad.  She learned to be a storyteller as a young girl.  She would take notes about the baseball games and then give her father a play-by-play recounting when he got home from work.  She and her family are now serious Red Sox fans.  They have had season tickets for 30 years.  When she sits in the seats with her sons and remembers her father, “whose heart they have come to know through the countless stories I have told”, she says, “there is magic in these moments”.

There were only two class sessions on Saturday.  I chose these classes:

  1. Solutions for Missing or Scarce Records taught by Tom Jones
  2. Five “Musts” to Digitize Your Photos the Right Way taught by Alison Taylor

Again, Tom Jones’ class was the best part of my day.

Alison had me come up to the front and help her by stomping on a loaf of bread to demonstrate compression.  I’m not usually a stomping on bread kind of girl so that was fun.  She gave me a free copy of her book for helping her.  Score.


During the general session they announced the dates for next years RootsTech so I jotted them down and sent a photo to my sister.  She’s in.  How about you?


ps – That camera thing?  Well, it happened again, during the general session.  I guess the camera guys liked me.  ;)


My Grandma’s Boxes


Shortly before Christmas I asked my Uncle if I could look for a few photos in my Grandma’s boxes.  He paused for a second and then asked if I wanted to have them.

Ummmmm, YES!

I was so excited.  The next weekend we brought the boxes home.  They had just what I was looking for and SO. MUCH. MORE.

A lot of photos, letters, old albums, and artifacts.  Things I had no idea my Grandma had.

So, my list of genealogy projects got a lot longer.

But believe me, that is not a complaint.

Thank you Grandma for saving so many treasures.


RootsTech Day Two


Early morning selfie – ready for some genealogy goodness!

Friday was another great day at RootsTech.  The general session was fabulous.

Shipley Munson, the creator of RootsTech shared some cool statistics.  We broke the 26,000 attendees mark on Wednesday.  Attendees came from all 50 states and 37 countries including Myanmar, Afghanistan, Australia and New Zealand.  Last year the number of local Family History fairs as an extension of RootsTech was 1,499 and they were held on 5 continents.

AJ Jacobs gave us a report on his 2015 global family reunion and invited us to join him in 2016 for the same event.  He said, “I believe in the message that we are all related.”  I love that.

Josh & Naomi Davis, the bloggers behind the family blog Love Taza, shared some of their family stories and encouraged us to do the same.  I loved Naomi’s first question, “What if my Grandpa Joe had instagram?”  I have often said that my grandma would have LOVED blogging.  Instagram?  She would have loved that too.  Naomi’s heartfelt desire to celebrate motherhood and family was awesome!  She expressed something that is in my heart too.  The world is filled with negative images of families and motherhood.  She wants to be a force for good and share the beauty and challenges of the everyday experience of motherhood.

Ben Bennett, and exec at findmypast, shared the news that the new United States marriage collection is now available and will be free to use through Valentines Day.  There are 33 million marriage records and this collection will continue to grow making it the largest collection of US marriage records.

David Isay was the real showstopper of the morning.  He is the genius behind Story Corps.  He shared powerful clips from a few Story Corps interviews.  They were so raw and real.  Each one drew me in, made me cry, made me laugh and made me fall in love with this incredible organization.  One of the interviews he shared can be found here.  It’s a compelling story of forgiveness and love.  As he concluded he quoted a nun he met (I didn’t get her name) who said, “It’s impossible not to love someone whose story you’ve heard.”  And then he quoted Mother Theresa, “We’ve forgotten that we belong to each other.”

The four classes I chose were:

  1. Maximizing Your Use of Evidence taught by Tom Jones
  2. NARA Mythbusters – Your Family IS in the National Archives taught by Judy Russell
  3. A Digital Treasure: PERSI and Your Family History taught by Josh Taylor
  4. Your Ancestors War Story from Beginning to End taught by Anne Mitchell.

Can I just say that after this second Tom Jones class I was over the moon about his incredible teaching style?  He is brilliant.  I had to buy his book.


Once classes were over I walked to the FHL and researched until it closed.  I found some amazing things in the books.  I skipped the microfilm since I can order those at BYU for free.

All in all it was another great day and I wondered over and over again why I hadn’t gone before.


I scored this cool button on Friday and wore it the rest of the time.

One funny thing about Friday – during the general session a camera parked right next to me and stayed, pointed at me for about 10 mintues (it felt sooooo much longer).  It is very difficult to pretend a camera isn’t there!  Then later during Josh Taylor’s class one of the ceiling cameras did the same thing.  Once I thought it had moved back to Josh I looked up only to discover I was wrong, it was still pointed at me.  Oh boy!  I wonder if I’ll make any highlight reels?


RootsTech Day One


I got there bright and early and had a perfect seat on the end.

Wow!  Why haven’t I come to RootsTech before?!  It was a great day.  The FHL closed down at 5:15 because of a power outage.  Big bummer.  But on the bright side I have a little time to share a quick recap of my day.

The general session was excellent.  Steve Rockwood’s message was inspiring.  Among other things he told us that we are heart specialists for society and more importantly for our families.  He asked the question, “How are we going to get our families to let us touch their hearts?”  He encouraged us to start small – share stories in a minute or less.  Stories that mean something to us.

Next up was Paula Madison.  Her story of searching for her grandfather was incredibly moving.  She thanked indexers and said, “You got the ball rolling and in six weeks I was no longer lost.”  You can find out more about her story in the documentary she created.

The concluding speaker was Bruce Feiler.  I loved the questions he posed, “What is the secret sauce that holds families together?” and “What do happy families do?”  His answer?  They talk – A LOT.  They talk about what it means to be part of their family.  This helps children develop an oscillating narrative of their family.  When hard times come to them, they can rely on this knowledge of their family’s story to help them understand they will get through it just like their parents, and grandparents did.  We are stronger when we understand we are part of an inter-generational self.

The four classes I chose today were:

  1. Parish Registers of England and Wales taught by Audrey Collins
  2. Inferential Genealogy: Deducing Ancestors’ Identities Indirectly taught by Tom Jones (my favorite! so fabulous!)
  3. Developing a DNA Testing Plan taught by Paul Woodbury
  4. Proven Methodology for Using Google for Genealogy taught by Lisa Louise Cooke

I loved them.  More details on those classes later.

The expo hall is filled with goodies, deals, little freebies and a few photo opportunities.  Like these:


My face, old photo

A fun idea in theory – putting your face into an old photo – but the execution was hard.  I just couldn’t pull if off with my glasses on so the woman running the booth told me to just take them off and she would tilt my head for me.  Hmmmm….  ;)


I went with the Mickey props because I knew my 3 year old would love them.

It was an excellent, smooth day.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Now I’m off to try a few googling tricks before I fall asleep.

Happy researching!


– I called this RootsTech Day One – it was day one for me but Thursday, day two for RootsTech.


RootsTech Bound


My Family, November 2015 – It was only 21 degrees.  Brrrrrr….

It’s been a while.

I’ve had a rough year.

But now?  Things are much better.

I have so much to write about.  Where to start?

How about that I’m off to RootsTech at the crack of dawn tomorrow and I can’t wait!

Which means I’ll have EVEN MORE to write about.


Let’s catch up soon.


ps – I joined Twitter because of RootsTech.  You can find me at genealogygirl_.


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