Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Recommitting to My Own Family History

Expo Hall at RootsTech, 2016
I have been in debriefing mode since my return from RootsTech 2016. Looking over my notes, reading through syllabus materials, and shuffling through the many business cards and pamphlets I picked up has been great! But this morning, I decided I wanted to put my experience into one statement. Here it is: My experience at RootsTech recommitted me to my own family history.

As a professional genealogist, I am nearly always working on "someone else's" family history. As a blogger for, I am often writing "how-to" articles to inspire others to search out their families. I try to set aside one day a week for my own family genealogy, but sometimes I feel too tired or too busy. I need to recommit.

At RootsTech, I heard many stories of companies and individuals who are setting aside specific amounts of time for their own family history. Even some big genealogy companies encourage their employees to set aside time each week to work on their personal genealogy.

I was inspired by former Governor Mike Leavitt when he shared his goal to write 1000 personal history stories! And Bruce Feiler, keynote speaker on Thursday, shared that successful families are families who "talk... lot."

It doesn't take a lot of time to start a habit of sharing your personal or family history. Mike Leavitt's 1000 stories were usually only a few key sentences about a particular event in his life. It was a darling story he shared when his young daughter asked, "Do babies come because you get married?" Mike was on his way to a meeting and didn't want to short-change the conversation so he told her he would love to talk to her about this when he and "Mommy" could talk to her together. She then answered, "You don't know, do you?" Ha, ha!! We all got a laugh out of this sweet little story that was only a few sentences long.

If writing is not your "thing," be the family storyteller. Bruce Feiler stated that successful families talk about what it means to be a family. They share the good stories and the bad. Children who know their family history are more successful and able to overcome obstacles and trials.

My favorite handout from the Expo Hall.
Now that I have proclaimed that I am recommitted to my own family history, here are a few of the steps I want to take.

1.) I will dedicate 3 hours of time per week to sourcing and verifying my old family tree. While doing so, if a story has not yet been provided, I will include a short three sentences about one event in their life.

2.) I will be more consistent about holding the "Ancestor Birthday Bashes" I started last year. These ancestor birthday parties are a fun way to share the family history with the younger generation. (You can read about my epic ancestor birthday bash here:

3.) I will use my personal journal time to make a regular accounting of the extended family happenings at least once a month.

There are many more goals I could make, but I have learned that sometimes "less is more." That just happens to be one of my dad's favorite quotes. See, I'm getting started already!

So, what was your take-away statement from RootsTech this year?

Want to learn more about RootsTech? I think you'll enjoy these helpful articles:
3 Ways to Enjoy RootsTech from Home
RootsTech: The Genealogy Hub of the West
Going to RootsTech for the First Time? Questions Answered

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  1. I have a few tied down Amie! Mainly I took away on what I wasn't doing right or had not added to my research. I learned a few valuable lessons. I think I will do that too. Just sit solely with my Work and tidy it up especially with citing and sourcing. Great Post. I wish I saw that pamphlet. That was Cool. Thanks for all the kindness you extending to me. It was like I knew you for a long time. Stay Sweet! True-

    1. You are very welcome True! Isn't it funny how we genealogists just seem to be old friends?! It is a great community and I am so glad we have officially met! Have a super day!

  2. I love your takeaways from Rootstech! I think these are all excellent ideas and have decided to similarly. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Valerie, thank you so much for writing! I wish we would have had some time to talk more at RootsTech. Let's make a "date" for next year!

  3. Great goals! I love the birthday bash idea!

    1. Thank you Cheri! The birthday bash was a huge success and I wrote an article about it here:
      The kids had a great time and I learned a lot myself!

  4. Great goals! I love the birthday bash idea!


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