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RootsTech Presenter Interview: DearMYRTLE

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[Editor’s Note: we continue with our series of interviews with various genealogy industry personalities who are presenting sessions at the upcoming RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, UT, February 10-12, 2011]

Here is a brief interview with DearMYRTLE who will present Virtual Presentations: Second Life on Thursday, February 10, 2011. DearMYRTLE is the nom de plume of Pat Richley-Erickson, author of DearMYRTLE’s Genealogy Blog, and DearMYRTLE’s Joy of Genealogy. Active in online genealogy circles since 1985, Pat has been writing as DearMYRTLE since 1995 and is considered one of the top genealogy bloggers in the country. A retired post-secondary computer instructor, Myrt and her husband split time between their homes in Salt Lake City, Utah and Alexandria, Virginia, doing onsite research at archives and libraries along the way. Find Myrt on the web at

While many genealogists and family historians are pretty Internet savvy, many have never heard of Second Life. Could you give a brief description of the Second Life program?

Second Life is a free online “virtual reality” where you choose an avatar, and navigate throughout the environment meeting others in real-time to discuss topics of mutual interest. In Ol’ Myrt’s case that’s GENEALOGY!

How active is the Second Life genealogy community? What types of activities take place on line?

The genealogy groups in Second Life are very active, including a Sunday night gathering at the “Family History Centre”, in addition to Monday and Tuesday evening meetings each week at “Just Genealogy”. Six other meetings are scheduled throughout the month at various locations in Second Life. The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) has a Second Life Chapter meeting at “Just Genealogy” on the 2nd Thursday night each month as well.

second life

You’ll find me in Second Life as a svelte blond, Clarise Beaumont. I am seated in the front left, with others as we gathered recently around the “Just Genealogy” fire pit to discuss trends in genealogy software. We may as well be creative while learning!

Can you give us an example of how genealogists have used Second Life to improve their research?

Second Life genealogy groups work just like real-life genealogy societies. We feature presentations by well-known genealogy experts and other experienced researchers. We also hold how-to workshops. Being “virtual” means there is zero commute.

Busting through genealogical brick walls happens when several minds tackle the challenges. Where one has experience with an ancestor’s locality, open discussions the next genealogists who is new to that type of research. That’s the sort of thing the genealogy displays and discussions nurture among participants in Second Life.

Interestingly, the APG Chapter provides a forum for members to practice new PowerPoint presentations for peer review. We also discuss methods for marketing our professional services, and routinely discuss as different aspect of the genealogical proof standard.

How long have you been using Second Life?

I initially joined Second Life in 2007, to attend caregiver support group meetings. At the time our father was on hospice. These meetings really helped, particularly since I wasn’t able to get out much to visit with people.

From there, my interest in family history led to the discovery of how useful Second Life can be in the lives of many who are almost too busy to attend another genealogy society meeting. Perhaps the time we save in the commuting can be used to file all those documents and photos we’ve been collecting?

For more information about how to join Second Life, see DearMYRTLE’s Interested in Actually Joining Second Life?

Finally, give us your thoughts on RootsTech and its importance to the genealogical community.

Meeting together in the unique RootsTech setting uniqurely permits developers to see how genealogists use products and services for research, recording and sharing family history. Hands-on workshops like mine about Second Life demonstrate the practical ease of use for this innovative method of learning more about family history research.

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.

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

5 thoughts on “RootsTech Presenter Interview: DearMYRTLE

  1. I tried out Second Life a few weeks ago, joining as the redheaded rocker “Maisey MacBain”. I had all kinds of problems. Maisey’s hair flashed off and on from red to brown and when I’d try to fix it, Maisey’s face would morph! I thought I’d uninstall the program and download it again and that ended up causing a problem with my computer’s registry…at least I think that’s what caused it. I spent quite a few hours on two different days just trying to get my avatar right with no success and ended up giving up on it. I may retry on my laptop, could be the desktop has a problem. :-/

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