Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lisa Louise Cooke and T.C. Christensen ~ Keynote Speakers at the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy

As I mentioned in my previous post, each day of the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy began with a wonderful keynote address. Today I'd like to tell you about the keynote addresses for days 3 and 4 of the conference.

Day 3 - July 30th Keynote Address

Thursday's keynote address was given by Lisa Louise Cooke, founder of Genealogy Gems, a genealogy and family history multi-media company. Lisa produces and hosts the very popular Genealogy Gems Podcast, which has been downloaded over 1.5 million times. She is the author of four books and also produces and hosts The Family Tree Magazine Podcast.

Her keynote address was titled "The Future of Technology and Genealogy: Five Strategies You Need."


I can't say enough good thinks about Lisa. She is a very popular worldwide genealogy speaker. It was a pleasure hearing her keynote address. I also attended one of her classes during the conference. She makes learning fun and is an excellent teacher.

Lisa pointed out that technology is changing so fast, but the good news is that we are empowered.

Among the many tips that Lisa offered for using today's technology was a very cool online tool by Stanford University called Data Visualization: Journalism's Voyage West. This interactive map shows the growth of newspapers over time. I took a screenshot from the website. The website states, "This visualization plots over 140,000 newspapers published over three centuries in the United States."


Lisa also listed Evernote and Google Earth as great technology tools. I personally use Evernote and find it very helpful. Lisa told us about how one of her podcast listeners had used Google Earth to plot tombstones in a cemetery and then uploaded those links to Find A Grave. What a fantastic idea!

By the way, Google Earth Pro is now free. You can download it by clicking HERE.

During her address, Lisa talked about the democratization of technology. Lisa's Genealogy Gems podcast is a great example of this concept. She began her podcast eight years ago with the desire to share what she was learning. She told the audience that each of us has the ability to publish our own videos, DVD's etc. and that we can also publish our own family histories. She listed Lulu.com as a family history publishing option. Lisa also mentioned blogging as another way to share our family histories. I personally love this option. As Lisa mentioned, blogs are great for "cousin bait." I personally have had several new-to-me cousins contact me because they found my blog. And, I have a special category on Evernote for these cousin connections.

The last strategy Lisa mentioned was that we should listen to our ancestors. With that in mind, Lisa shared an incredibly moving and personal story. Near the end of her story she shared a picture of a priceless heirloom quilt that was miraculously discovered and which she inherited. Lisa shares this beautiful story in one of her Genealogy Gems Podcasts from 2008. It can be found at the 00:28:00 time stamp of "Episode 39 - Heritage Quilts, History Podcasts, Mail & More." To access this podcast, click HERE. Lisa shared a photo of this priceless heirloom quilt on Pinterest. To see this beautiful quilt, click HERE.

Lisa's keynote address was captivating. If you ever have the chance to attend one of her presentations, whether virtually or in person, I highly recommend taking advantage of that opportunity.

Day 4 - July 31st Keynote Address

Friday's keynote address titled "Angels Round About" was given by filmmaker T.C. Christensen. His movies include 17 MiraclesEphraim's RescueThe Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd, and The Work and the Glory. I have seen all of these movies and loved them!



Mr. Christensen's latest movie called "The Cokeville Miracle", is a true story that took place in Cokeville, Wyoming on May 16, 1986. On that date, a man and his wife took 136 children and 18 adults hostage at Cokeville Elementary School using guns and a bomb. Miraculously, when the bomb accidentally went off, none of the hostages were killed. Several of the children said that they had seen and had been helped by angels.

Mr. Christensen said that most of the children who had an experience with an angel helping them identified them as an ancestor.


During his address, Mr. Christensen showed several powerful and emotional clips from "The Cokeville Miracle."

On stage with Mr. Christensen during his address were two Cokeville Miracle survivors, Katie Payne and Jennie Johnson.


Katie spoke after Mr. Christensen's remarks. She testified of the miracle “that those who love us who’ve passed on are still very close to us.”


During the question and answer period, Jennie told us that she didn't immediately recognize the woman who helped her as being one of her ancestors. But, when she was in 5th grade, she looked through albums and saw the woman who helped her out of the building. She originally thought the woman was a teacher, but the woman was her aunt who had died years earlier.

This was an incredibly gripping and inspirational keynote address.

Here's the official movie trailer for "The Cokeville Miracle." I'm looking forward to seeing this movie. Unfortunately, it isn't currently playing where I live. But, in answer to an audience member's question during the question and answer portion of the address, "The Cokeville Miracle" will be available on Netflix and DVD sometime this fall.



I found this amazing interview with some of "The Cokeville Miracle" survivors. I highly recommend watching it. You can do so by clicking on the link below.


I'll be sharing more posts about The BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy in the future.

Thanks for reading!


© 2015 Copyright by Jana Last, All Rights Reserved

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