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2018 RootsTech in Review: Thursday

To watch the full keynote session for Thursday click here.


2018 RootsTech in Review: Wednesday

Historical Vital Records are Online and Accessible

Genealogy research has come a long way since people have sat in a dark room and hand scrolled through microfilms on a reader. Most family history information we seek is online and easily accessible. In fact, most of the records found in online databases have been indexed or typed. We don’t have to struggle to read old handwriting or figure out the layout of a specific record. Online research is so painless, I sometimes tell myself that if I can’t find a record online quickly, just wait a while and try again later.

While we currently have easy access to millions of indexed online records from databases like and, sometimes the records we want are online but require more effort to get information. Some countries, especially European countries, have invested time and money into making digital images of historical vital records like birth, death and marriage records available online.

That is great news for genealogists. The records are accessible online, but they are sometimes not indexed and written in the native language of the country with old handwriting styles that can be difficult to read. I submit, that with patience and a few helpful online resources, most of us amateur researchers can access these records and find out more about our families. Try not to worry about fluency in the language of the country you want to research because most vital records use a specific, small vocabulary that can be learned as you become familiar with records.

FamilySearch’s Research Wiki is a great resource to find out what historical vital records are available for countries of interest. The Research Wiki homepage allows us to search by country. On a country’s Wiki homepage we find instructions for locating and reading handwritten records. We also find links to word lists that will help us understand the vocabulary used in the records.

Some archives provide free online access like Denmark’s National Archives, other countries charge a subscription fee to access online archives. Either way, there are many records online for us to access.

For a test run, take a look at Denmark’s National Archives using the guide below and see if this type of research is something you might want to try.

How to Use Denmark’s Online Archives Website (download PDF instructions here)

FamilySearch Research Wiki

Welcome to the Genealogist’s Travel Information Center: FamilySearch Research Wiki

The FamilySearch Research Wiki is more than a free collaborative website for genealogists to share information. It is a premier website that offers extensive research help to orient genealogy enthusiasts worldwide.

Here are a few of the information highlights you will find on FamilySearch Research Wiki:

  • Record collections with record selection tables
  • Links to vital records databases
  • Hints and ideas about how to find ancestors
  • How-To-Guides for doing specific country research
  • History of countries to inform research
  • Research forms to help you gather information

The Research Wiki is updated frequently, welcomes your contributions and is moderated by experts in the genealogy field.

To access the FamilySearch Research Wiki go to and click on the Search tab and select Research Wiki. Access to the Research Wiki is free and does not require an account.

When seeking information about your ancestors, consider using the Research Wiki as your go to information center to help you decide what to do or where to go next in the your search to find your family.

RootsTech 2018 is Live

RootsTech, the largest global family history conference, is now live!

View online now at

Turn Facts into Stories: The Family History Writing Studio

As a genealogist of sorts, I collect facts and details as part of my research. If you have engaged in family history research at any level, you too are a gatherer of family information. What do you do with the information you find? Do you organize it, shuffle it about, and then wonder who will want it?

As much as I write for personal and professional reasons, I feel daunted with the idea of writing family history stories. Even though I write a lot, I don’t see myself as an engaging storyteller. So if I’m not a storyteller why would I attempt to write stories? Most of us appreciate a good story, well written or well told. And we remember stories. Stories stick. Family history stories give us a way to share our genealogy research with family members of all ages.

Fortunately for me I discovered a great writing resource in The Family History Writing Studio. The Family History Writing Studio is a website focused on helping us learn to write engaging family history stories regardless of our writing experience. While some of the website content requires a modest purchase, there are many free resources available. The Family History Writing Studio has actually motivated me to consider writing a family story . . .

Take a look at The Family History Writing Studio and see if you can find the family story teller inside you. And you might like to join in the Family History writing challenge 2018 during February.

Jumpstart Your Family History Journey in 2018

The Family History Guide is a free online resource for those of us who want to start genealogy or who want to get back into genealogy this year. The website provides free tools for learning about family history and for researching your family on a single website. The website is user friendly and full of great content to teach, encourage, train, and inspire you to progress in your family history research.

The Family History Guide is a website that represents a best-in-class learning environment for family history. Its scope is broad, but its focus is narrow enough to help you achieve your goals, step by step. Whether you’re brand new to family history or a seasoned researcher—or somewhere in between—The Family History Guide can be your difference maker. (

I signed up for The Family History Guide blog to get the latest news about family history and related topics. I receive weekly blog posts via email. Check out this recent blog post:

Are you ready to make 2018 a fantastic family history year?

Take a few minutes to check out the Family History Guide now here.

The Family History Guide mission statement: “Our mission is to greatly increase the number of people actively involved in family history worldwide, and to make everyone’s family history journey easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable.”


New Developments in the Family History Guide – Bob Taylor

The Family History Guide: A Timely Resource

The Family History Guide is a free online resource to help you succeed with your genealogy. Regardless of your family history focus, skill level, or interest, the Family History Guide provides helpful resources conveniently accessible on a single website.

“The Family History Guide is a website that represents a best-in-class learning environment for family history. Its scope is broad, but its focus is narrow enough to help you achieve your goals, step by step. Whether you’re brand new to family history or a seasoned researcher—or somewhere in between—The Family History Guide can be your difference maker.” (

As explained on useful resources you’ll find on the website include :

  • Over 1,200 Goals for learning, supported by over 2,300 flexible Choices
  • Step-by-step instructions to make learning easier
  • Links to over 2,400 videos and articles from FamilySearch, Ancestry, and more
  • QUIKLinks that take you to record searches from multiple sources, with a single click
  • Project Tracker sheets and Training materials for self-study or group instruction

I recommend watching the introductory video of the Family History Guide and exploring the website to see if it might be a beneficial family history resource for you.

Give the Gift of Memories

The holidays are here and many of us are shopping and planning for gifts for family and friends. As you think of what to give your family, consider giving them the gift of family memories. Share a family story or family photographs that can be enjoyed over and over.

There are many ways to do this. I like to give gifts that use family photos and I’m a fan of digital photo books. Why not add a family story to the photo. No matter how you share your memories, you will give a gift that will matter to your family.

Below are two websites that I use to create digital photo books:

Shutterfly provides a lot of design options and offers holiday promotions.

Costco Photo Center is less expensive than Shutterfly but still offers enough design options. No shipping costs if you pick up finished photo books in a Costco warehouse. You can order photo books and have them sent to any warehouse for family to pick up and purchase.