GeneaBloggers Members at RootsTech 2013

RootsTech 2013

Many genealogy bloggers are expected to attend RootsTech conference starting March 21-23, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. This includes the Official RootsTech Bloggers as well as other bloggers attending the event.

This year, DearMYRTLE will be the official sponsor of the famous “blogger beads” and we can’t wait to see what she picks out for this year’s version! In addition, there will be special events organized just for members of GeneaBloggers so please use the registration form below (or click here) to get your name “on the list!” We’ll be updating the list of members of GeneaBloggers attending RootsTech 2013 below as information comes in.

Count: 83

Lisa Alzo
The Accidental Genealogist

Harvey Baker
Saving Memories Forever

Jill Ball
Android Genealogy
Ku-ring-gai Historical Society

Karen Ball
Ball Bureau

Carolyn Barkley
Genealogy and Family History

Nancy & Biff Barnes
Stories To Tell Books Blog

Lynn Broderick
The Single Leaf

Candice Buchanan
Greene Connections

Bruce Buzbee
RootsMagic Blog

Laila Christiansen
Slekt og slikt!

Amy Coffin
The We Tree Genealogy Blog

Audrey Collins
The Family Recorder

Lisa Louise Cooke
Genealogy Gems

Kim Cotton
Walking Your Tree

Crista Cowan
Family History In Real Life Blog

Grant Davis
The Stephen Sherwood Letters

Jean-François de Buren
The de Büren Family
The Grand Tour

Elyse Doerflinger
Elyse’s Genealogy Blog

Kathryn Doyle
California Genealogical Society and Library blog

Dick Eastman
Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

Valerie Elkins
Family Cherished
Japanese Genealogy Blog

Banai Lynn Feldstein
The Ginger Jewish Genealogist
Utah Jewish Genealogical Society

Larri-Anne Fonoimoana
Samoan Genealogy Group

Deborah Large Fox
Help! The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors!
Spilling the Family Beans

Karen Glass
Family History With A “Looking” Glass

Dick Halsey
Dick’s Genealogy & History Corner

Holly Hansen
Family History Expos

Tammy Hepps

Jean Hibben

Daniel Horowitz
MyHeritage blog
Jewish Graveyard Rabbit

Ancestry Insider
Ancestry Insider

Becky Jamison
Grace and Glory
Canon City Family History Center
Gramma’s House

Fran Jensen
Heart of Story
Benjamin Kingman Curtis

Torill Johnsen

Patrick Jones
Frequent Traveler Ancestry

Jenny Joyce

Cecily Kelly
Letters to My Grandparents
Cone Chronicles

Tonia Kendrick
Tonia’s Roots

Susan Kitchens
Family Oral History Using Digital Tools

Barry Kline
Trippin’ Over Roots

Peggy Lauritzen
Always Anxiously Engaged

Leslie Brinkley Lawson
Genealogy and Other Thoughts

Thomas MacEntee
Destination Austin Family

Sue Maxwell
Granite Genealogy

Michael McCormick
Enduring Legacy Genealogy

Anne Mitchell
Finding Forgotten Stories

Roger Moffat
Roger’s Ramblings

Lisa Moncur
Billion Graves

CeCe Moore
Your Genetic Genealogist

Sonia Meza Morales
Red de Antepasados

Rosemary Morgan
London Roots Research

DearMYRTLE’s Genealogy Blog

Mark Nicholls
Jewish Ancestors Blog

Penny OKeefe
Idaho Genealogical Society

Mark Olsen
MyHeritage Blog
WorldVitalRecords Blog

Denise Olson
Moultrie Creek Gazette
Moultrie Creek Books
Moultrie Journal

Gene Pennington
Pennington Research Association
Marin County Genealogical Society

Bret Petersen
Branches of OUR Tree

Carol Petranek
Spartan Roots

Donna Potter Phillips
Tikas Thoughts and Teachings
Eastern Washington Genealogical Society

Liz Pidgeon
Yarra Plenty Genealogy

Donna Pointkouski
What’s Past is Prologue

Geoff Rasmussen
Legacy News

John D. Reid
Anglo-Celtic Connections

M. Diane Rogers
CanadaGenealogy, or, Jane’s Your Aunt
Postcard Craze

Heather Rojo
Nutfield Genealogy

Jane Rollins
Kitchen Sink Genealogy

Nancy Schlegel
More Time for Genealogy

Randy Seaver
The Geneaholic
Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe

Nancy Shively
Gathering Stories

Helen Smith
From Helen V Smith’s Keyboard
Postcards From Mary
Historical Medical Miscellany

Drew Smith
Genealogy Guys Podcast

Rhiannan Stahnke

Michelle Taggart
A Southern Sleuth

James Tanner
Genealogy’s Star

Kathleen Tesluk
Voices From A Distant Past

Alona Tester
Lonetester HQ
Genealogy & History News

Becky Wiseman

Gayle Wolcott
Genealogy Dragnet

Russ Worthington
Family Tree Maker User
A Worthington Weblog
My Tombstone Collection

Richard Young
Family History Tech

Renee Zamora
Renee’s Genealogy Blog

And remember to stay tuned here at GeneaBloggers where we’ll be listing the latest RootsTech news and posts (and tweets with the #rootstech hash tag).

Disclosure: I have been designated as a RootsTech Official Blogger which entitles me to certain perks including free registration and more. Please see Disclosure Statements for more information on my material connection with RootsTech, FamilySearch and other genealogy vendors.

©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Why I Won’t Be Speaking at FGS 2013


Rejection is never easy, but I’m posting about not being selected to speak at the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ Annual conference in August 2013 in a proactive way since I know I’ll eventually be bombarded with questions from members of the genealogy community in person and on social media channels.

Am I disappointed?  Sure.  Am I devastated? Not in the least.  I could go and sulk or act out publicly and go on a rant, but I’ve taken time to put this into perspective since I was informed of my rejection last night. Earlier in the week I was informed that none of the sponsored lectures I had submitted for clients were accepted.  So I had a sense that many, if not all, of my personal topics might be rejected as well.

I’m Not Entitled To Speak Anywhere. Period.

Some might say that since I am a genealogy speaker of some notoriety, and that I am a board member for FGS, and that Ft. Wayne, Indiana is right in my back yard, that I should “get to” speak at the FGS 2013 conference. Oh how I abhor those two words which are so overused in today’s society.

When I was growing up, it was made very clear to me that I was entitled to nothing in life. Not because of who I was or who my family was. Much of what I encountered in life would be according to my efforts and abilities in combination with luck and providence.  That’s just the way it is and I still believe that.

I consider it an honor when I am selected to speak at an event, whether it is a one hour lecture in front of five people at a genealogy society or at a large conference in front of 1,000 people. I am blessed by the fact that I have presented close to 100 lectures and webinars in 2012 and will probably do the same in 2013 and years to come.

The program committee at FGS 2013 has to make decisions based on the topics and speakers they think are best for their event in order to not only attract the most attendees, but to provide quality genealogy and genealogy society management education.  I look forward to seeing the final list of selections and I know that many of my colleagues will be presenting some great lectures.  I look forward to attending as many of them as I can.  Yes, I’ll be going to FGS 2013.

What I Had Hoped to Present

In case you’re wondering what I submitted to the FGS 2013 program committee, here is the list of topics:

  • 21st Century Marketing for Genealogy Societies
  • Genealogical Uses for QR Codes
  • Introduction to Webinars
  • Staying Safe Using Social Media
  • Tech Initiatives for Genealogy Societies
  • The Genealogy Cloud: Which Online Storage Program
    is Right For You
  • The Homestead Act and Genealogy
  • What Every Genealogist Should Know About Copyright
  • Your Society’s Presence on Facebook

In addition, I submitted these sponsored lectures:

  • Collecting the Fabric of a Life
  • Metadata for Digital Images
  • Pinning Your Family History

The ironic part is that all of the sponsored lectures and several of my personal lectures were accepted at the upcoming Ohio Genealogical Society’s annual conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, April 25-27, 2013.

The Genealogy Conference System Has Its Flaws

This is not sour grapes on my part.  Anyone who has had discussions with me about the genealogy industry and genealogy conferences knows that I’ve been critical of certain aspects of these industry events. Most are run by volunteers and non-profit organizations which have served us well in years past, but as the genealogy business grows, a need for more professional methods and practices may be needed.

  • There is a need for a better notification system.  I was informed by a colleague on Sunday evening that she had been selected to speak at FGS 2013 and asked which lectures I was presenting. I figured that not all the notices had been sent which was confirmed via my email to the Program Chair. Either a system of sending notifications a few at a time was used (which doesn’t make sense given today’s technology) or someone just didn’t want to inform me of my rejection.  Either way, there needs to be a better mousetrap.  Given the amount of work that speakers put into making proposals, there needs to be an efficient way of notifying those who submit lectures and each submitter, including those rejected, should receive a notice at the same time.
  • Genealogy conference program committees are unpredictable. Some would even say “out of touch,” but I’m not sure I would go that far. I’ve attended national conferences where many felt a particular person had no business lecturing, but was able to do so because of some little letters after his or her name.  I also don’t understand why qualified African-American genealogists are blatantly overlooked each year as speakers on the national level. I’d love to see each and every conference, large and small, publish its guidelines as to the selection process including who is on the program committee. Transparency would go a long way in building confidence in the process and ensuring the best possible education for the genealogy community.

I’m Okay With This. Really.

I was honored to receive a personal phone call from a FGS Board member last evening apologizing for my not being selected.  I said there was no need for an apology and that I realize that I can’t get every speaking opportunity.

I always turn rejection into rebound.  This is what my ancestors did and this is what I’ll continue to do. It is part of survival and a key part of my success.

©2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Can We Get Real About Genealogy Conference Attendance Numbers?

open thread

[Disclaimer: While reading the post below remember that I am NOT wearing any hat related to genealogy conferences or genealogy societies . . . these are merely my observations in the genealogy industry as the owner of As many readers know, I want to make sure the genealogy community is having honest and valuable conversations about the issues that impact us as genealogists.]

This week’s topic for Open Thread Thursday is:

Have you ever attended a genealogy event such as a week-long conference or an all-day workshop and somehow the publicized attendance numbers just don’t jive with what you can see with your own eyes at the event? Have you been in an exhibit hall where there are supposedly X number of attendees and your impression is that the number is more like Y?

What are your thoughts on attendance at genealogy events in general? Do you think that conference and event planners prop up attendance figures, and if so, why? Should vendors at these events insist on a report as to number of registered attendees, number of walk-ins, etc. after the event?

Finally, do you think that in general genealogy events are seeing a decline in attendance in the past few years? Is it the economy? The popularity of genealogy webinars?

Post your responses in the comments or at a post on your own genealogy blog and place the link here in the comments.

* * *

While I may be in a precarious position here since I volunteer as publicity person for several genealogy events and societies, as someone who tries to get our community to view current issues from all angles, I feel the need to speak up about the topic of attendance at these events.

Do You See What I See?

When I am at a genealogy conference or event, I use my observations and analytic skills to figure out what the “real” attendance is.  I can factor in a bigger exhibit hall over last year.  I do a head count when I am in each lecture.  If handouts are left on seats before a keynote address, I can count those that are left behind.

The fact is this and it has to be said: genealogy event attendance is down over past years.  Some events have seen a more drastic decline than others.  Yes there are  many factors such as geographical location, the economy and others, but come on . . . let’s admit what’s going on and have a serious discussion about attendance at genealogy events.

The Emperor Has No Clothes

As I often say, genealogists are smart cookies and we can smell bologna and cheese a mile away.  We are researchers at heart after all.  We do our homework.  We look, we observe, we analyze.

The planners of genealogy conferences are doing the genealogy community and industry a disservice by not being honest about attendance figures.  In my mind, it is much like “realtor geography.”  It means that a dump of a place in a high-crime area which borders a better neighborhood is marketed as being in that good neighborhood.  Think Beverly Heights instead of Beverly Hills.

I’d love to see an organization be up front and admit that it didn’t have the numbers expected and reveal the actual figures.  There is no shame in this.  It can be done without affixing blame. We – vendors, societies, genealogists – all need this info if we are to move our field forward and understand why some events are not successful.

We are only deceiving ourselves by not being honest about genealogy conference attendance.

What The Genealogy Industry Is Telling Me

The facts tell me that some vendors, even big ones like, are cutting their conference exhibit budgets and looking for new and different events at which to appear instead of the usual annual conferences.

In addition, more and more vendors are doing the math and when they add up what they see it doesn’t match what the conference organizers are telling them.  I’m seeing certain vendors pass on some events where they’ve always appeared and they are being more selective in terms of where they set up shop.

Perhaps the economy has had an impact, but it might be more than that.  Has the “portability” of genealogy attendance impacted “brick and mortar” events? I mean webinars that make it easy to participate in workshops and lectures from the comfort of one’s own home or office.  While a webinar will never replicate the in-person experience of seeing your favorite genealogy speaker, the concept has made genealogy education available to the masses and in a convenient format.

Or perhaps the genealogy conference concept needs updating. Are we “doing what we’ve always done” and seeing a diminishing return on the investment? Many of these events rely upon thousands of volunteer hours.  What if professional conference planners were used to improve efficiency? What if the volunteers could then return to running society projects and providing member services to help improve the society and maintain it as a vibrant part of the genealogy community?

Finally, what if genealogy events went more radical?  Have we been following what other industries are doing with their events? What about offering a Groupon deal on registration to bring in new folks to the event? What about using a ticket-per-seat option to guarantee a seat in the most popular lectures?

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this: if we want to find the answers, we need to admit there is a problem.


This is a great topic for this week’s Open Thread Thursday! And please, if you have a topic you’d like to see discussed among your genealogy blogging colleagues, please contact us and we’ll take it under consideration.

Disclosure:  Please see Disclosure Statements for more information on my material connection with genealogy vendors and organizations.

©2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee