Maegan Kasteler | Jan 31, 2019

Photos, Stories, and Preservation Classes at RootsTech 2019

Do you like using photographs to patch together the lives of your ancestors? Have you ever found a photograph that helped you learn something new about your relatives?

Photos and stories are an important part of doing family history and can help add color to the lives of your ancestors. At RootsTech we pride ourselves in offering a variety of classes spanning multiple aspects of genealogy. Included are numerous classes about photos, stories, and preservation.

Here are just a few:

Wednesday, February 27

Blending Family History and Technology with the Art of Storytelling

Panelists Valerie Elkins, Laura Hedgecock, and Sharlene Reyes discuss fun and practical ways to incorporate storytelling into your family history pursuits. Participants will learn creative methods of blending research, family photographs, and technology with the art of storytelling. This discussion will include:

  • Why storytelling matters to your family’s history
  • Listening skills that enhance family storytelling and story preservation 
  • Integrating family storytelling into your family’s routine 
  • Highlighting moments that matter in your family versus posed portraits 
  • Instigating conversations around family history and family photographs and memorabilia
  • Involving family members in the compilation of family stories
  • Tools for connecting family stories with family photographs
  • How to share digital media with older family members and start conversations that lead to more stories
  • Tools for sharing and preserving stories and photographs

Presenter: Valerie Elkins, Laura Hedgecock, Sharlene Reyes
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Location: Ballroom A

Hear them Sing! Social History and Family Narrative

Not all of our family members are as interested in the family stories and research we find as genealogists are. But with the addition of social history to our family narratives, our ancestors' song of life can be heard much more clearly. In this hour, we will discuss how to contextualize our ancestors' lives with social history research and use it to inspire others to want to know more about those who have passed. We will discuss research tips, writing, and the use of photographs and newspapers in our stories.

Presenter: Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG, CGL
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: Ballroom G

Preserving Your Online Digital Legacy: Practical Information and Preservation Solutions

Our moves into the digital world with our research and daily online interactions bring with them important long-term considerations. Inspired by Carroll and Romano’s “Your Digital Afterlife," this talk examines the increasingly difficult task of keeping track of our online digital "footprint," preserving that information beyond our own lifetime, and making it possible for passing "ownership" of those resources to someone else. Examples are given on how this can take place, and important issues such as account and information security are addressed.

Presenter: Reed Powell
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Location: 355 F

Thursday, February 28

The Secret Life of Ernest Oldham: Researching and Writing Your Family History

A case study from Nick Barratt's personal tree, highlighting different research techniques and how to focus on narrative and story, as well as audience and publication type.

Presenter: Nick Barratt
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Location: Ballroom B

From Mountains to Megabytes—Organizing and Archiving Your Stuff

Many family historians have collected (or inherited) boxes full of family history “stuff” that they don’t know what to do with, and yet they can’t throw it away. The weight of this responsibility is overwhelming and can cause real stress in the lives of those who care about preserving history. This session will show you a step-by-step process to sort quickly through the boxes, properly preserve and store your valuable family history assets in a digital archive, and reclaim your dining room table. We will discuss:

  • Professional organizing tips for sorting, selecting, and culling your family history assets
  • Best practices for preserving important original documents
  • Best practices for digitizing assets so that your files can be used for multiple purposes
  • How to create a digital archive that can be easily shared, uploaded, and stored for future generations

Presenter: Alison Taylor
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Location: 355 C

Heirloom, Documentation, or Junk: What to Keep or Toss

Somewhere in the continuum between hoarder and compulsive purger is a happy medium for your family history. When a genealogist keeps everything, the next generation can be overwhelmed and decide to toss everything, just to save their sanity. But one person’s junk could be another’s family history treasure. How will the everyday stuff, the documents, and the heirlooms be passed down in your family? What can you do now to make sure the important stories are protected so that they can inspire future generations? How do you preserve the personalities of those who came before? With a few simple steps, you can determine what is most valuable and how to best preserve it. Store your physical treasures so that they will be valued and decide on the best digital archive and create a digital will so that your history will last into the next generations. The intersection between the digital and the physical world is changing drastically in this generation. Learn how to work with your family member’s current interests and project into the future to determine what to keep and what to toss.

Presenter: Janet Hovorka
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Location: Ballroom G

Creative Ways to Honor Heritage and Celebrate Family

We often think that doing genealogy means sitting alone in front of a computer for hours or digging through dusty books in the cold basement at an old cemetery, but it's so much more than that and it can actually be FUN! This fast-paced class features tons of exciting ways you can honor your heritage in creative ways and even get your kids interested in joining you! Twin authors of “Climbing Family Trees: Whisper in the Leaves” and their big sister share inspiring stories, cool project ideas, and travel tips to help you think outside the coffin box!

Presenter: Trina Boice, Tracey Long
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: 251 A

Friday, March 1

How to Digitally Restore Old Photos

Learn how to digitally restore and retouch old photographs in photoshop and bring them back to their original condition.

Presenter: Jens Nielsen
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Location: 155 F

20 Hacks for Interviewing Almost Anyone, and Getting a Good Story

Have you ever gone to interview someone and could not get them to talk? Are they video shy? Are they reluctant to share? Do they have memory loss? Is their story a difficult one to tell? Personal historian Karen Morgan and speech-language pathologist Joanna Liddell share tips for quickly building a rapport with your subject. You will learn how to prepare for the interview, maximize the environment, put your subject at ease, use story prompts, listen actively, handle difficult topics, and discover how the role of an audience affects the stories the subject tells. With 34 years of combined experience, Karen and Joanna offer tried and true techniques for interviewing almost anyone—and getting a good story!

Presenter: Joanna Liddell, M.S., CCC-SLP, Karen Morgan
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Location: Ballroom J

Put Some Meat on Them Bones—Telling the Stories

Genealogy research begins with the vital records (birth, marriage, death) and adds other records that appear throughout the lifetime of the individual (immigration, land, military, census, wills, etc.). Too often, once these basic records are found, the research is considered complete. However, the final necessary piece of all research should be to tell the story of that individual. This lecture will show why the story is important and how to use background information about the location, historical events, local events, organizations, neighbors, and other things to help tell a full and accurate story of the ancestor's life, even when few actual facts are available.

Presenter: Rosemary Cantrell
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Location: 150

S.O.S. (Save Our Stuff): Stories and Heirlooms

Each time an estate is liquidated, things of significance are lost because people were not aware of the stories that made them valuable. This session will present steps to help preserve heirlooms.

  • Step 1: Identify. Go through your possessions and identify those items of enduring value. Determine what will connect you, and your ancestors, to future generations. We will present questions to help determine value, introduce concepts such as “story” and “provenance,” and show research strategies for better understanding one’s stuff.
  • Step 2: Document. Everything in your head goes with you when you die. If you want your stories to survive, you need to record them. We will present ways to document the information connected to an artifact.
  • Step 3: Share. Increase people’s interest in heirlooms. Post your photos and research about your heirlooms to FamilySearch, Ancestry, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Create folders or books about the artifacts. Make sure that those who will settle your estate know what is of value. The session will include real-life examples of this process put into practice.

Presenter: Scott Christensen, Alan Morrell
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Ballroom G

Saturday, March 2

Writing and Publishing a Family history: 10 Steps

Not sure how to begin writing your family history? This presentation gives an overview of the process of writing and publishing, breaking it down into 10 steps—from making the mental shift from research to writing (step 1), to printing or publishing your family history (step 10). It includes a brief overview of standard genealogical formats.

Presenter: Penelope Stratton
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Location: Ballroom J

My Digital Preservation—How Do I Make this Work?

Learn how to preserve your digital records, including family history files such as research documents, photos, video and audio recordings, etc. We will present a brief overview of the digital preservation process used by the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then we will explain and demo a process for preserving personal digital files. The process suggested by the Library of Congress will be explained:

  1. Identify what you want to save
  2. Decide what is most important to you
  3. Organize the content
  4. Make copies and manage them in different places
  5. Manage your archive over time

You will come away with a step-by-step process to preserve your digital files. Links will be provided to additional resources.

Presenter: Richard Laxman, David Otterstrom
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Location: 151

What classes are you most excited for at RootsTech? Share with us on social media on Facebook and Twitter.


Maegan Kasteler

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