Monday, February 8, 2016

About Stories at RootsTech 2016

There were two presentations at RootsTech this weekend that I thought dovetailed into each other.  The first was Bruce Feiler's keynote address on Thursday.  His presentation was interesting and entertaining but for me, the heart of his ideas came toward the end when he spoke of integrating family stories into our everyday lives.  Not just stories about the good, happy, easy times, but also stories about the hard times, the times of sorrow, the times when we or someone in our family overcame a challenge.  I liked his ideas about how stories of our experiences help us create, and possibly direct, our memories.

I first "met" Bruce through a New York Times article a few years ago and, being strongly impressed, wrote the post, Good Reasons to Tell Family Stories.  Here, below, you can watch all (or part) of his keynote address.

The other presentation that impressed me so strongly was David Isay's Friday keynote about StoryCorps.  He tells what it is, how it came about, and showed several videos that were recorded at StoryCorps locations.  Most impressive is that all the videos are being saved at the Library of Congress.  Watch his address to learn more.

After listening to both presenters the thought that settles on my mind is that there are different kinds of stories we can tell about our own lives and/or the lives of our ancestors.  Some are the big stories of our lives, stories about the major events, the monumental moments, the stories that will stay with us forever for having effected us so strongly.  Other stories are of little events, brief interactions, tiny experiences from our lives, stories that, in one way or another, made us who we are.

I think both are important to record.  (It matters not whether we have a receptive audience now:  sometime someone will appreciate and perhaps take inspiration from our lives.)

Julie Goucher's Book of Me meme a few years ago was helpful because it offered prompt suggestions to record stories.  But then a journal's a great way to record stories, too (which makes me ask myself why I'm not currently writing in a journal on a regular basis).  When I was writing my own Book of Me posts one of my daughters commented that she liked those best of all my posts. 

Our descendants will appreciate our stories, which can be powerful and provide insight into our personalities.  Are you recording your own stories?  Are you recording your unwritten ancestors' stories?


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Full Noggin after RootsTech 2016

I enjoyed watching the live streams of RootsTech this past weekend.  My poor noggin is on overload, full to the brim at the moment:   considering, thinking about, and pondering all the information to which it was exposed, especially that garnered from presentations about researching.  Over time I'll process it and put it to use, sharing as I go along.

To add to it, I've been looking at the syllabi for presentations I couldn't see but wished I could have attended.  (Sometimes I am truly aware of an aging brain.)

I can't imagine what it must have been like to be in Salt Lake City for RootsTech.  Not only mental overload but also exhaustion!

There's more to come about my RootsTech experience.  If you missed watching the stream this weekend you can see videos at both the RootsTech's Innovator Summit Video Archive 2016 and on youtube (type "RootsTech 2016" into the search box).

By the way, is it RootsTech or Rootstech?  I see it both ways.


Copyright © 2009-2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Getting More from RootsTech When You Can't Be There

Are you stuck at home, feeling disappointed that you won't be able to attend RootsTech in person?  Many of us family history bloggers will (once again) miss this premier genealogy conference year.  Nothing will make up for the interaction between other family historians and genealogy bloggers but if it's education we're interested in, there are several ways you can partake of the RootsTech experience from home.

RootsTech offers a live stream of four or five presentations each day.  See the list and time schedule here.   There is no fee nor registration required for these presentations.  Not only can you watch live, you'll be able to watch again later.  As I watch I take notes during presentations, but I usually can't keep up with the notes.  I find watching a presentation a second time fills in the gaps that I missed during the first viewing.  Another benefit of listening twice (or more) is that I can focus on just one ancestor using the information from the presentation (instead of my mind being scattered across several ancestors from different locations, time periods, etc.)

I was completely satisfied with the live- streamed presentations until I looked at all the other offerings and then I became wistful, desirous to be at RootsTech.

At the link above you can see the courses listed in a variety of ways:  Sessions, Speakers, Title, and ID#.

On the left sidebar there are more categories:  Session Type; Days; Track (Getting Started, RootsTech, Innovator Summit, or Family Discovery Day Tracks); Class Category; Family History Skill Level; and/or Technology Skill Level.

If you find a presentation you find a presentation you wish you could attend, note the course number.  You may be able to learn more about what's offered and discussed in the course.

Go to the RootsTech home page and look to the lower right where and you'll see a photo with a green background (shown at right).  Below the photo is the link Class Syllabus.  With the number of the course you'd like to learn more about in hand, you can find the syllabus, view it online, or print it.  Sometimes a syllabus will offer a lot of information, other times very little.  But for me, it's worth taking the time to check.

Every year, RootsTech chooses individuals to be Ambassadors.  Often, they are genealogy bloggers who write about their experiences and the presentations at the conference.  This year's ambassadors are listed here.  Some are geneabloggers.  Read their blogs during and after conference days to see what they share about the conference.  These are a few of the blogs/bloggers I know:  Amy Johnson Crow, The Ancestry Insider, Dear Myrtle, Genealogy's StarJana's Genealogy and Family History Blog, GeneaMusings, and Family Cherished.

There are bloggers who attend RootsTech who are not ambassadors but who write and post about their experiences, the courses they attended, etc.  Generous guy that he is, Randy Seaver of GeneaMusings has, in past years, written round-up posts listing many, many other bloggers' posts about RootsTech.  We can only hope that he does so this year.

Are there other ways that you participate in RootsTech from home?  If so, I'd love to hear about them.


Copyright © 2009-2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 1, 2016

February Birthdays and Marriages Among My Relatives and Ancestors

While preparing this list of birthdays and marriages of family members and ancestors across several generations, I've been thinking about celebrations that may have taken place for the births, birthdays, marriages, and anniversaries.  I try to imagine them but fail.  How I wish for a glimpse into times past.

Living Family Members
February 26   Elaine W.

Foremothers and Forefathers
February   8, 1892   William Carl Robert (Bob) Meinzen
February 14, 1807   William Bickerstaff
February 27, 1913   Lee Doyle
February 27, 1913   Leila Doyle (1913-1913)

Among My Collateral Lines
February   1, 1907    Edna Vandegrift or Vandergrift
February   2, 1893    Edward Morris
February   2, 1928    Marcella Gerner
February   7, 1893    Sudie Jane Coss
February   9, 1910    John F. Froman and Rebecca Lynch
February 11, 1900    Margaret H. Meinzen
February 13, 1875    Hannah Elizabeth Meinzen
February 14, 1859    Peter Armitage
February 14, 1914    Veronica June Meinzen
February 15, 1856    Joseph Laws
February 17, 1878    Benjamin Robert Hashman
February 17, 1879    Della Virginia Gerner
February 18, 1902    Sarah Meinzen
February 18, 1942    William D. and Doris M.
February 23, 1878    Rachel Ann Thompson
February 26, 1866    Douglas S. Bell
February 27, 1915    Charles Fredrick Gerner
February 28, 1911    Cora Elizabeth (Cory) Bickerstaff

Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, dear ancestors!


Postcard courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Copyright © 2009-2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Planning My RootsTech 2016 Schedule

RootsTech, that conference of all genealogy conferences, begins this Thursday.   I'm excited to attend and have been looking at the schedule to see the offerings.  My selection would be broader if I were to attend in person but because I'll be receiving the conference via live stream at no cost from the RootsTech website my choices are limited.  Still, I want to know what's on the schedule.

These are the sessions I plan to view (with Eastern Standard Times noted).

RootsTech General Session with Stephen T. Rockwood, Paula Madison, and Bruce Feiler

RT5352  Seven Unique Technologies for Genealogy Discoveries with Mike Mansfield

RT2390  Best Websites and Apps for Local History by Amy Crow

GS4310  What’s New in Family Tree for 2016 with Ron Tanner

RootsTech General Session with Josh and Naomi Davis and David Isay

GS2345  Proven Methodology for Using Google for Genealogy by Lisa Louise Cooke

RT7450  Finding Elusive Records on with Robert Kehrer

RT1431  My Ancestors are from Britain– What do I do next? with Myko Clelland

This day will be a bit more challenging because both RootsTech and Family Discovery Day sessions will be offered and the schedule of several sessions overlap.  I know I'll be able to view any sessions later.  The Family Discovery Day sessions are directed toward members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and will probably present a more spiritual aspect of family history though all can watch and learn from them.  They will be streamed at

RootsTech General Session with Michael Leavitt

Family Discovery Day Opening Session with Elder Dale G. Renlund, Sister Ruth L. Renlund, and Sister Ashley Renlund (at
RT2560  Become a Master Searcher on Ancestry by Anne Mitchell
Family History Discussion with Sheri L. Dew and Sister Wendy W. Nelson (at

RT1792  Homespun and Calico:  Researching our Foremothers with Peggy Lauritzen

GS1532  Five Steps to Identify a Family Photo with Maureen Taylor
(This may have changed to:  RT2230  Using the Genealogical Proof Standard for Success with James Ison)  [Which may be better since I have so few old family photographs.]

I'm especially excited about the presentations by . . .  well, I guess I'm looking forward to all of them.  Each will have something to offer that I want to learn. 

Next, I'll be looking for the syllabii for these presentations.

Will you attend RootsTech, either in person or from home?


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved. .

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Readers, Followers, and Google Friend Connect

Google is making some changes to blogger again.  This time they're discontinuing Google Friend Connect for those who do not have Google accounts.  I didn't think this would effect me much but I've noticed that I have fewer friends and followers now than a few weeks ago.  If you'd like to be my friend and follow My Ancestors and Me through Google Friend Connect, you'll need to create a Google account, come to my blog, and click to become a friend.  If you don't, I know I will miss you!

Many people follow blogs with a reader these days.  Some of the popular ones are bloglovin', feedly, and The Old Reader.  And I know others receive emails every time a new post is published.  I usually read blog posts with feedly and sometimes with bloglovin' but I jump over to blogs to leave comments.  Often, though, at my blogger dashboard I scroll through the newest posts.  I love Google Friend Connect and seeing the friendly faces of followers in my sidebar -- and your sidebars when I visit your blogs.  I hope you'll choose to continue to follow My Ancestors and Me or, if you're new, choose to begin following it with your Google account.

If you have a blogger blog and want to learn more you can read the post about Google Friend Connect changes here.

As always, thanks for visiting!


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Since It's National Chocolate Cake Day . . .

. . . I thought I'd share a recipe that's been a favorite in our family for more than two decades.  It's a never-fail recipe for a moist cake.  We always bake as cupcakes but the recipe works in an 8" square pan, too.

Double Chocolate Snack Cake

In a mixing bowl combine:
  1 2/3 c. flour
  1 c. light brown sugar, packed
  1/4 c. cocoa
  1 tsp. baking soda
  1/4 tsp. salt

Add and beat till smooth:
  1 c. water
  1/3 c. oil
  1 tsp. vinegar
  3/4 tsp. vanilla

Pour into an 8" square greased and floured pan or spoon into twelve paper-lined cupcake molds.

On top sprinkle:
  1/2 c. chocolate chips

Bake cake for 30 minutes, cupcakes for 20 minutes.  Test with toothpick for doneness being sure to miss the chocolate chips.

Cool on wire rack (or eat warm if you don't want to wait that long).

Yum!  No, double yum!

I hope you enjoy National Chocolate Cake Day.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Two Degrees of Separation - Saturday Night Genealogy Fun on Sunday

Randy Seaver hosts Saturday Night Genealogy Fun weekly on his blog, Genea-Musings.   Last night's fun assignment was this:
Using your ancestral lines, how far back in time can you go with two degrees of separation?  That means "you knew an ancestor, who knew another ancestor."  When was that second ancestor born?

This is an interesting assignment to me because only two of my grandparents were alive when I was born, and no great-grandparents.  Which means I've met only two living direct-line ancestors older than my parents!  Below are both direct-line ancestors and collateral lines.  Either way, the span of  years is short.

Direct Ancestors
I knew my maternal grandfather, William Carl Robert Meinzen, who was born in 1892 and died in 1979.  He knew his father, Henry Carl Meinzen, who was born in 1837 and died in 1925.  There is a span of 113 years between my birth and the birth of my great-grandfather.

I knew my grandmother, Emma Virginia Bickerstaff Meinzen, who was born in 1893 and died in 1973.  She knew her grandfather, Ellis H. Bickerstaff, who was born in 1840 and died in 1907.  There is a span of 110 years between the birth of my great-great-grandfather, Ellis H. Bickerstaff, and my birth.

Collateral Lines
I met my paternal grandmother's sister, Della Virginia Gerner, once (or possibly twice) as a child.  She was the daughter of Fredrick K. Gerner and Elvira Bartley.  She was born in 1874 and died in 1968.  Her maternal grandfather was Dixon Bartley, who died in 1899.  He was born in about 1806.  Between Dixon's birth and mine there is a span of 144 years.

I met my paternal grandfather's sister, Emma Doyle Lengauer, when I was a child.  She was born in 1886 and died in 1956.  She lived near her paternal grandfather, Andrew Doyle, who died in 1908.  He was born in 1836.  There is a span of 144 years between his birth and mine.

Sometimes I think about the stories my great- and great-great-grandparents may have told their children and grandchildren -- stories that would have spanned a century or more -- and that they never passed down to me!  Henry Meinzen was born in Germany.  Imagine what his childhood and youth might have been like in the mid-1800s.  Imagine the stories Andrew Doyle could have told of England in the mid-1800s.  Even stories of every-day activities would have been interesting.
It is a sad loss.

Of course, it's possible that Henry, Ellis, Dixon, and Andrew were like my own parents and didn't tell stories of their childhoods.  Either way, it's sad.

Thanks for hosting Saturday Night Generalogy Fun, Randy.


Copyright © 2009-2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...