Wednesday, March 15, 2023

My RootsTech 2023 Recap ~ Saturday

Welcome to my RootsTech 2023 recap for Saturday, March 4, 2023. If you missed my RootsTech recaps for Thursday, March 2, 2023 and Friday, March 3, 2023, you can read them by clicking on these links: THURSDAY and FRIDAY. As I mentioned in my previous recap, I attended RootsTech 2023 virtually.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

My first class session on Saturday morning was "Expanding Your Family Tree with SideView and More AncestryDNA Innovations" presented by Crista Cowan. It was a great class! During her class she said, "So one of the things that I love about DNA is that when somebody shows up on your match list...I know that I'm related to those people. It's just a matter of figuring out how and then making that connection." She also said, "...I've learned that DNA is a little bit like learning a foreign language and the best way to learn it is by immersion." 

Crista shared that AncestryDNA is "the largest consumer DNA network in the world" with "23 million people who have taken the AncestryDNA test." She also explained, "Why is bigger better in this case? Because there is more opportunity for discovery." I am one of those 23 million people who have taken an AncestryDNA test. My mom did too before she passed away. I wish my dad had the opportunity to have taken an AncestryDNA test too, but he passed away in 2009 and AncestryDNA launched in 2012.

Crista spoke about two new features on AncestryDNA: SideView and DNA Compare. Using ethnicity inheritance estimates, SideView splits your DNA inheritance into two parts: Parent 1 and Parent 2. Then we have to decide who Parent 1 and Parent 2 is. For instance, here is my SideView on AncestryDNA.

It was pretty easy to determine my maternal and paternal sides because I already knew my dad was Swedish and Norwegian and my mom was from Brazil and had Portuguese ancestry.

DNA Compare can be accessed at the bottom of your Ethnicity Estimate. Crista explained that when you click on the "Compare my DNA" button, "it's going to bring up a list of your DNA matches and allow you to compare them with other people." Crista said, "it's automatically going to pull in your two closest matches." I tried this new feature, and it brought in my two closest matches which were my mom and one of my brothers. As you can see, you can add more people to your comparison. You can also change from comparing ethnicity estimates to DNA communities at the top of the page.

This class is available to watch on at the following link: Expanding Your Family Tree with SideView and More AncestryDNA Innovations.

Next up for me was watching General Session 3 featuring Sean Astin as the keynote speaker. Yes! That Sean Astin who played Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings! Yay!

It was such a great keynote address. The amazing emcee, Kirby Heyborne, introduced Sean Astin as "the nicest man on the planet." It was so wonderful to listen to Sean Astin on the RootsTech main stage. Regarding four of Kirby Heyborne's favorite Sean Astin movies, Kirby asked Sean Astin to tell him "one word, what they meant to [him]...what [he] learned, who [he] became because of that." And this was Sean's answer: Mikey from Goonies - Hope; Rudy - Grit; Samwise Gamgee - Home; and Bob from Stranger Things - Decent.

Paraphrasing, Sean Astin also shared that six of his eight great-grandparents immigrated from Ireland. And that the immigrant experience lives in his family. Sean also shared that one of his daughters, Ali, "about six or seven years ago discovered genealogy." She has traveled to relatives to do family history research. Amazing! Sean said he had sent Ali a text asking her why she loves genealogy. She wrote, "It's the way to learn about the ancestors that live on through me. We are the key to our ancestors' eternal life and through my children in a way I'll live forever so it's important to honor them." Wow! That is amazing! She continued, "I think we all repeat certain generational patterns and learning from my ancestry is the biggest cheat sheet to solving life's greatest problems."

After Sean Astin left the stage, a surprise guest appeared on stage, but first there was a touching video of her learning about her ancestry. That surprise guest was singer and actress, Adassa. You may recognize her as the voice of Dolores in the movie, Encanto. She treated the audience to her amazing vocal talent.

To hear Adassa's amazing singing voice and Sean Astin's keynote address, you can watch the General Session 3 at at the following link: General Session 3 with Sean Astin.

The next class session I watched was Judy Russell's "Follow the Money! Records of the Record Makers." It was an excellent class! Her class description is as follows: "Researching the lives of our ancestors takes us through a wide variety of census, land, tax, court, probate and related records. But conducting reasonably exhaustive research--the kind best designed to produce the results we need--means we not only have to find the records; we need to find the record-makers. By following the money trail to the doctors, lawyers, preachers, teachers, bankers, merchants and others in their communities who made and kept records may well lead us to details they recorded that no-one else did."

She recounted how the death information for her third great-grandfather was discovered in a diary of someone not related to her family. Regarding this discovery, she said, "There, in this diary, in this record kept by this record-maker is what I couldn't find anywhere else." That is amazing! So who are the record makers? She answered that question. They include doctors, nurses, midwives, lawyers, bankers, merchants, union leaders, business associations, schoolteachers, and more. She provided so much more information in her excellent class session. I highly recommend watching it at the following link: Follow the Money! Records of the Record Makers.

My last class session on Saturday was "Shared DNA Matches - the only DNA Tool You will Ever Need" presented by Diahan Southard." She shared the following statement: "You can find the ancestor that you are looking for using your DNA and one tool that's available at every DNA testing company." To watch this wonderful DNA class, click on the following link: Shared DNA Matches - the only DNA Tool You will Ever Need.

RootsTech 2023 was so informative and fun! I highly recommend watching and even rewatching the class sessions and the keynote addresses at

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

My RootsTech 2023 Recap ~ Friday

Welcome to my RootsTech 2023 recap for Friday, March 3, 2023. If you missed my RootsTech recap for Thursday, March 2, 2023, you can read it by clicking HERE. As I mentioned in my previous recap, I attended RootsTech 2023 virtually.

Friday, March 3, 2023

My first class session on Friday morning was Lisa Louise Cooke's "Reconstruct Your Ancestor's Lives with Google." It was a fantastic class! One of the things Lisa talked about was using Google Earth Pro to create a family history tour of our ancestors' lives. I really need to give that a try! She also shared that Google Earth Pro is now free and that it used to cost around $40. Wow! I highly recommend watching this class. It's available on the RootsTech website at the following link: Reconstruct Your Ancestor's Lives with Google.

Next up I watched the General Session featuring Me Ra Koh. She shared her inspirational story of her life. She is a famed professional portrait photographer who taught herself how to take photos. That's incredible! 

She said that she didn't find photography, it came and found her (paraphrased). After she finished her presentation, we all got to experience the incredible moment when Tamra Stansfield of FamilySearch presented Me Ra with her family history, including 32 generations of her Korean genealogy.

Me Ra said, "This is amazing." Among other responses to this incredible moment, Me Ra also said thank you and that she was stunned. It really was wonderful to witness Me Ra Koh receiving her genealogy. If you missed Me Ra Koh's keynote address, you can still watch it on at the following link: General Session 2

My next class session was "The Anatomy of a Story" by Crista Cowan. Of course, she was fantastic, as usual! She gave us the following (paraphrased) advice called Homework for Life: At the end of each day, write a couple words or a sentence about what happened that day. This is such great advice/homework. She also said that one of the first things she wanted to teach us about being a good storyteller is that we need to capture the information when we can because memories are faulty.

Crista also said "The greatest storytellers are those who listen to other people's stories." There is so much more that she shared in her class. It was a great class and I highly recommend it. You can still view it on the RootsTech website by clicking on the following link: The Anatomy of a Story

The last class that I watched on Friday was "How to Milk a Source for all It's Worth" by Amy Jonson Crow. This was an absolutely amazing class that was chock full of very helpful information. She said, "'s a good skill to have to be able to take whatever source we find, whatever source we are using and really be able to pull out all of the information that we can which will also not only help our immediate research but can also give us some wonderful ideas of other places we can look for even more sources." She also said, "We don't want to overlook any clues that are in a record." I highly recommend this class whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced family history researcher. To view this class on the RootsTech website, click on the following link: How to Milk a Source for all It's Worth.

Well, that's it for this RootsTech recap. I'll share more about my RootsTech 2023 experience in my next RootsTech Recap post. 

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 10, 2023

My RootsTech 2023 Recap ~ Thursday

Welcome to my RootsTech 2023 recap for Thursday, March 2, 2023. I attended RootsTech virtually this year. Many of my genealogy friends attended in-person and from their social media posts it looks like they had a lot of fun at RootsTech, which is awesome! From my experience attending RootsTech in-person in the past, there really is a feeling of energy and excitement at RootsTech when attending in-person.

Before RootsTech began I looked through the class sessions that would be available for us virtual attendees and then created my Show Planner, or as it is called on the RootsTech website, My Playlist. The RootsTech app refers to my playlist as My Show Planner.

During RootsTech I shared my posts about RootsTech on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram instead of here on my blog. So now I will be sharing my experience attending RootsTech virtually here on my blog. I'll be sharing three recaps, one for each day of RootsTech 2023.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

My first class session on Thursday morning was "What's New at FamilySearch in 2023" presented by Craig Miller. Some of the things I learned from that class were these amazing statistics about FamilySearch: There are 1.47 billion persons in the FamilySearch Family Tree, 2.6 billion total sources, 83 million total memories, 8.9 billion searchable names in records, 4.6 billion historical record images, and 1 billion new record images published in 2022. Wow! One of the sneak peaks for the future that intrigued me is the "Shared Family Trees" feature that will be within Family Groups. With this new feature, we will be able to work on our family tree collaboratively with others in our Family Group. To learn more about this upcoming feature, and more from this class, click HERE.

Next up for me was the General Session which included the very talented Jordin Sparks. She said that her family helped her keep her feet on the ground and her head screwed on straight. And that her family brings her back to center. And can I just say how amazing her voice is! Wow! What a treat to hear her sing at RootsTech!

Can I also say a word about the wonderful emcee for the RootsTech General Sessions? His name is Kirby Heyborne and he was such a great emcee! He was so fun and did a fantastic job. To learn more about him, click HERE.

The next class session I watched was "1950 Census Secrets" by Lisa Louise Cooke. Unfortunately, inclement weather where she lives caused a power outage and her class was cancelled part way through. But one thing I learned from her abbreviated class is that Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, and the NARA each have a different version of the 1950 census index. That's quite helpful because if we can't find our ancestor in one of these indexes, we should search the other indexes.

I also watched the Innovation and Tech Forum 2023, or at least part of it. One of the company's presenting in this forum was MyHeritage. Maya Lerner from MyHeritage spoke about their new AI Time Machine. I've tried this feature and it is very fun. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI), MyHeritage creates "imaginary images of a person, as he or she may have looked in different periods throughout history." Here is one of my 1950s Chic photos using MyHeritage's AI Time Machine. If you'd like to give the AI Time Machine a try, click HERE.

My next class session was "What's New at Ancestry in 2023" presented by Crista Cowan. She did a fantastic job with her presentation. One thing Crista pointed out was the comparison of time it took Ancestry to index the 1940 census versus the 1950 census. It took nine months to index the 1940 census and only took nine days to index the 1950 census using AI and handwriting recognition technology. Wow! A new feature on Ancestry is group messaging in the message center. Another new feature in the message center is the ability to archive messages. An upcoming feature on Ancestry is Info Request. So watch for that. A new and exciting feature is called Storymaker Studio. This feature is included in the Ancestry App. Storymaker Studio will allow us to "enhance photos," "capture audio," and "craft and share stories." To learn more about this new feature, click HERE.

My last class session of the day was "An Overview of Recent MyHeritage Photo Feature Releases" presented by Tal Erlichman. The AI Time Machine was discussed, which I already shared information about here in this post. Another feature that was discussed is the list view option for viewing photos uploaded on MyHeritage. Here is a screenshot of some of my photos on MyHeritage using the list view option. The red arrow is pointing to the list view icon. The icon next to list view is grid view.

With the list view, I am able to easily see which photos need place and date information, as well as which people havn't been tagged in my photos. There's also a filter option to view the photos in my list.

Another feature that was discussed is called Photo Tagger. This feature helps with tagging our photos. Rather than manually tagging the people in our uploaded photos, Photo Tagger tags them for us. It sounds like this will be done based on who we've already tagged in our photos. It also appears that we will be able to review tagging suggestions as well. I don't have this Photo Tagger feature yet.

An exciting upcoming MyHeritage feature is called Photo Dater. Using AI, this feature will be able to estimate the year a photo was taken. I am looking forward to trying this feature, which was announced to be coming in a few weeks.

Well, that's it for this RootsTech recap. I'll share more about my RootsTech 2023 experience in my next RootsTech Recap post. 

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 24, 2023

Exploring the RootsTech 2023 App - Part 2


Welcome to Part 2 of Exploring the RootsTech 2023 App! I thought I'd go ahead and show the app's homepage again for those who missed Part 1.

If you haven't read Part 1, you can see what else you've missed by clicking HERE.

Next up in our exploration of the RootsTech 2023 app is a look at the Expo Hall. Clicking on "Expo Hall" takes us to the Expo Hall map. 

This map is zoomable and interactive. Here's a screenshot of a zoomed-in portion of the Expo Hall map.

By clicking on one of the exhibitors on the map, you can learn about the exhibitor and can add them to your Show Planner.

You can also see where they are located in the Expo Hall and can mark the exhibitor as having been visited.

Here's the screenshot with the app showing the location of the exhibitor in the Expo Hall.

Once you've added exhibitors to your Show Planner, they will appear in blue on the Expo Hall map.

Next up is the tile on the homepage. This tile takes you to RootsTech's website.

The app's homepage also includes a Relatives at RootsTech tile, which is a pretty cool feature. Relatives at RootsTech provides a way for you to find relatives attending RootsTech 2023. When you click this tile, you will see this screen.

Click on "Relatives at RootsTech" and you will be taken to this screen.

Sign in to your FamilySearch account or create a new one. Once you do this, you will see a screen that shows how many relatives have joined.

So far, I have 9,116 relatives who have joined. Be sure to click on View Relatives to see how you're related. You can search by location, ancestor, and family line. You can also search by attendees. And you can turn on the map feature to see a general idea of where your relatives live.

You also have the opportunity to see how you are related to your relatives, message your relatives, and add them to your contact list.

Also, don't forget to scroll down below the "View Relatives" tile on the Relatives at RootsTech screen to view more interesting information such as how many people with your last name have joined, total participants, a map showing the hometowns of relatives at RootsTech, and even a way to share Relatives at RootsTech with your friends on social media to see if you're related to them.

Relatives at RootsTech ends March 31, 2023. So don't wait to try this fun feature. 

The last app tile I'm going to share with you is the "Restaurants Nearby" tile. Clicking on this tile provides you with a map showing restaurants near the Salt Palace Convention Center, which is where RootsTech 2023 will be taking place. You can also view restaurant options in a list view.

If you haven't registered for RootsTech 2023 yet, there's still time. To register for RootsTech 2023, click HERE. Virtual attendance is FREE and in-person attendance is currently $98.

If you haven't downloaded the RootsTech 2023 Mobile App yet, here are the links to the app:

Thanks for reading!


© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Exploring the RootsTech 2023 App - Part 1

RootsTech 2023 is right around the corner. In fact, it begins next week on Thursday, March 2, 2023. Are you attending RootsTech? I am attending virtually this year. If you haven't registered yet, there's still time. To register for RootsTech 2023, click HERE. Virtual attendance is FREE and in-person attendance is currently $98.

Did you know that RootsTech has an app? Yep, it does. I have downloaded the RootsTech 2023 mobile app and have been exploring it lately.

Today I'm going to give you a tour of the RootsTech 2023 app. Here is a screenshot of the app's homepage.

As you can see, the app has tiles titled My Show Planner, Classes, Speakers, Expo Map, Exhibitors,, Relatives at RootsTech, Restaurants Nearby, and Notifications. I'll show you what you'll find after clicking on these different tiles. But first, I'd like to point out that you can access some of these by clicking on the menu icon (three horizontal lines) at the top left and by clicking on the icons at the bottom of the homepage.

I clicked on the menu icon and this menu list appeared.

Clicking on "My Show Planner" brings me to this screen with the following list: Exhibitors, Calendar, Show Features, Products, and On-Site Photos.

Each of the items on this list are clickable live links. The Calendar shows you the events that you've added to your Show Planner. Here's my Calendar so far.

I added an Exhibitor on my Show Planner and this is what it looks like when I clicked on "Exhibitor."

Now I'll show you how to add items to your Show Planner.

To add Classes, click on "Classes." This is what you'll see.

You can scroll through the list of classes or search for them by Speakers, Date, Type, or Booth Demos. This is what you'll see when you click on "Type."

I added a class in the "Live Webinar" category.

After finding a class I simply clicked on the blue "Add to My Show Planner" tile.

If I change my mind, I can removed the class from my Show Planner by clicking on the blue "Remove from My Show Planner" tile.

Because I added the class to my Show Planner, it now shows up in my Calendar.

The same process is used to add Exhibitors to your Show Planner as well.

To remove an Exhibitor from your Show Planner, simply click on the blue "Saved to My Show Planner" tile. It will toggle back to the blue "Add to My Show Planner" tile.

There is more to explore in the RootsTech 2023 app, but this post is getting long. So, I'll share more about the app in Part 2.

If you haven't downloaded the RootsTech 2023 Mobile App yet, here are the links to the app:

Thanks for reading!


© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

RootsTech 2023 Keynote Speaker ~ Sean Astin

Have you heard the exciting news? Sean Astin will be a keynote speaker at RoostTech 2023! Yep, that Sean Astin, who played Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I love those movies! Sean Astin is a successful actor who has played various roles in film and TV.

Sean Astin will be the RootsTech 2023 keynote speaker on Saturday, March 4, 2023 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

If you haven't registered for RootsTech 2023 yet, there's still time. Here's the link to register: Register for RootsTech 2023.

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, February 18, 2023

RootsTech 2023 Keynote Speaker ~ Me Ra Koh


It has been announced that Me Ra Koh will be a keynote speaker at RootsTech 2023. Me Ra is a famed portrait photographer and will be the keynote speaker on Friday, March 3.

As stated in the FamilySearch news release, "Koh rose from humble beginnings, including physical and emotional challenges, to become a famed photographer featured on Oprah, Live with Kelly & Ryan, and other popular television shows, sought after photography expert, best-selling author, Disney Channel host, and one of the first two women photographers to be Sony-sponsored. Her family portraiture work has been featured in galleries in London, New York, and Los Angeles, and published in The New York TimesThe Huffington PostMartha StewartParenting, and Women’s World."

"She is also a sought-after motivational speaker whose inspiring story weaves in and out of personal tragedy, homelessness, and a period in a psychiatric hospital to a successful life as a wife of 25 years, a mother of two young adults, and the co-owner with her husband Brian Tausend of the renowned FIORIA portrait studio in Frisco, Texas, whose sole purpose, she says, is to celebrate people's resilience."

To learn more about Me Ra Koh, click on this link:

If you haven't registered for RootsTech 2023 yet, there's still time. Here's the link to register: Register for RootsTech 2023.

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 3, 2023

How to Create Your RootsTech 2023 Virtual Class Schedule


RootsTech 2023 is less than three weeks away. I am attending virtually this year and have begun to create my virtual class schedule.

Today I'd like to show you how to create your own virtual class schedule.

First, go to and sign in to your RootsTech account. Then click on the RootsTech 2023 tab at the top of the page. On the dropdown list, select Calendar.

You will be taken to The 2023 Calendar page that contains a list of classes.

To learn about a class, click on the class tile and it will expand, as you can see in the screenshot above. To select a class, simply click on the plus sign for that class. If you change your mind and want to delete that class, click on the "X" in the pink circle.

You can select classes based on the day and then by Main Stage and Sessions. 

To view your class schedule, click on the triangle at the top of the page.

And there it is. Your playlist, or class schedule, will be listed in this page. As you can see, I only have a few classes listed. I'm not finished adding classes to my schedule yet.

If you haven't registered for RootsTech 2023, there's still time to do so. The price for attending RootsTech 2023 in-person is still $98. That's the early bird price. Virtual attendance at RootsTech 2023 is free. To register to attend RootsTech 2023 in-person or virtually, click HERE.

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved



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