Miryelle Resek | Mar 30, 2018

6 Tips You Missed While #NotAtRootsTech

If you weren’t able to attend the Friday session of RootsTech, here are 6 tips that will help you as you research your genealogy.

If you weren’t able to attend the Friday session of RootsTech, here are 6 tips—two tips each from three different presenters—that will help you as you research your genealogy.


Diana Elder in her presentation, “Getting Organized One Paper at a Time,” made getting started on organizing our piles of documents less intimidating. She gave two tips for organizing digitally and on paper.

Tip #1

File items on your computer.

  • Create a file for each surname.
  • Create subfolders for each individual with that surname.
  • Use maiden names for women.

“Computers will alphabetize for you. … It makes it really easy for my brain to look and find people,” Elder said. She also recommended that if you have multiple generations of the same name, use birthdays to help differentiate which John Smith you’re referring to.

As you digitize your papers and name electronic documents, Elder recommended using the date first to create a timeline of your records as you add them to an ancestor's electronic file folder. Use dashes (-) and underscores (_) to separate information.

For example: 1850-Census_Thomas-B-Royston_Chambers-AL

If you don’t fill in the spaces, the computer will fill it with zeros or other characters.

Tip #2

Create a paper filing system for archival documents.

Examine one paper a day. “Once you’ve checked out that paper, decide what to do with it. Don’t be tempted to put it aside and deal with it later,” Elder said. She also added, “I give you permission to throw things away.”

But how do you know when it’s OK to get rid of physical documents?

  • If you have duplicate records of no genealogical use
  • If you can find them online
  • If family group sheets or pedigree charts have been verified and the photos have been added to your tree online

“I guarantee you are going to find treasures as you go through boxes. So figure out how to keep them.” —Diana Elder


Pierre Le Clercq in his presentation, “The Pioneers of New Netherland and New Sweden,” helped us understand why we may find we have more than just British ancestry if we have ancestors who helped colonize North America.

Tip #3

“Understand that colonization is different,” Le Clercq said.

He explained the background of why people from France, the British Isles, the Netherlands, and Sweden immigrated to North America:

  • New France was colonized due to missionary efforts.
  • New Britain was colonized with purgative motives.
  • New Netherland was colonized with mercantile consideration.
  • New Sweden was colonized for the purpose of penitentiary discipline.

Tip #4

Consider that the United States was not created only by British colonies.

“What is American English?” Le Clercq teased. “American English is British English pronounced with a Dutch accent.”

Those who colonized North America were heavily influenced by the very pragmatic Dutch colonization. He explains that:

  • Early settlers adopted the melting pot ideation of New Netherland.
  • The American Declaration of Independence, signed in 1776, was inspired by the Dutch declaration signed in 1581. 
  • The name the United States of America was inspired by the former name of the United Provinces of the Netherlands.

You can read more about his presentation here and see his slideshows here.


David Andros in his presentation, “Digital Rights and Online Privacy. Do You Know the Truth?” gave us tips on how to protect ourselves online.

Tip #5

Consider the cost of the services you’re using.

“Put another way, when you use online services (Facebook, Dropbox, Gmail, etc.) you can pay with privacy, quality, or money,” said Andros.

If you want your information to stay more private, Andros recommended using the right tools to protect yourself. He gave the following ideas to consider:

  • Tracker-blocking software (Ghostery)
  • Proxy or VPN services (NordVPN)
  • Nontracking search engine (DuckDuckGo)
  • All-in-one services (Redmorph)
  • Photo storage (Forever)

Tip #6

Decide what information you’re OK giving out and what you might want to keep to yourself.

Andros recommended doing the following:

  • Avoid giving out personal information.
  • Maximize privacy settings on the sites you’re using.
  • Review your history and privacy settings regularly.
  • Read terms of service.
    • A red flag that the site might not care about your personal data is that the terms of service aren’t presented in a consumable manner.
  •  Search for a data detox, which helps you clean up what you’ve done online.

“Nowadays we use digital footprints. … As technology becomes more and more of a part of our lives, our digital history becomes part of our personal history.” —David Andros

Miryelle Resek

Recent Posts
Vocalists Alex Melicio, Kenya Clark, and Evie Clair share their musical talents and unique family stories with the RootsTech 2018 attendees.

Music: A Bridge Across Generations

An inspiring session from RootsTech 2018 Family Discovery Day features three talented vocalists and highlights the ways in which music can connect us to our loved ones.
Linda Clyde | Sep 4, 2018
People at RootsTech

What We Learned About Connecting and Belonging at RootsTech 2018

Connecting and belonging is different for everyone, but it’s something that binds us all together.
Tyler Stahle | May 30, 2018