Having just posted about the exhibition at RootsTech I should mention a few other things that happened on Day Two. Jeanette and I had been invited by FamilySearch to a VIP breakfast event at 7.00 a.m. This was a who’s who of genealogy event, so we felt very privileged to be in the same room and on the same tables as some very important people in genealogy. Jeanette sat next to the D Joshua Taylor, Business Development Manager for FindmyPast.com. Josh develops and evaluates US content for FindmyPast and fosters partnerships between FindmyPast US and the family history community. Joshua is very much involved in the digitisation of British Newspaper by brightsolid, the parent company of FindmyPast. I was on the same table as David Rencher, FamilySearch’s Chief genealogist, as well as with an application developer and others.
There was another Keynote session, which included a speech by Tim Sullivan of Ancestry. Tim used the speech to talk about the many aspects of Ancestry’s offerings but also to make some announcements, including that Ancestry is committing at least $100m over the next five years to acquire and digitise records. In addition they will be working with FamilySearch to digitise and index over 140 million pages of U.S. probate records covering 1800 to 1930. Ancestry also published over 1.7 billion records in the last year, including over 1 billion names from city directories.
Following on from the conference Jeanette and I went to dinner with IAJGS Preisdent Michael Goldstein and discussed various things including the merit of including the word ‘unknown’ or leaving a blank against a fact in a family tree. My preference was for ‘unknown’ or blanks, Michael’s was for including something even if based on assumptions, so long as the assumption was explained in the sourcing. After a while I think we agreed to disagree (or not in Michael’s view)!
After dinner, Jeanette and I went to the Family History Library for a special extended library session to do some research. Over 1700 people had booked for the session and for free pizza (we didn’t have the pizza as we’d already eaten). Having gone onto the British Isles floor of the library, I overheard a discussion at the enquiry desk about whether a family from France that went to Haiti were actually Jewish. Not the sort of conversation one expects to hear in the British Isles section but an excellent chance to jump in and help out all the same. After looking at the family tree and then at JewishGen’s Family Finder (JGFF) we concluded that there was a good chance of the family having been Jewish back in the early 1700′s and having been a family expelled from Spain or Portugal. We also were able to suggest people on JGFF that the person might contact. Another act of random Jewish genealogy kindness done.