Breaking Genealogy News from the RootsTech Conference

By Allison Dolan

If you’re watching RootsTech sessions online from afar like I am, or you’re there and so busy you can barely catch a breath, here’s a news digest to help you catch up quickly:

  • The Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott, shared family stories and photos during Thursday’s opening session. At the end of their talk, Family History Library director Diane Loosle shared details about the brothers’ Scottish ancestry.
  • Last night’s Mormon Tabernacle Choir event was a tribute to the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, with show tunes from The Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, South Pacific and others. It even featured Hammerstein grandson Andy Hammerstein. I’m sorry to have missed it!
  • Friday celebrates African-American heritage. Actor Levar Burton, known for his portrayal of Kunte Kinte in the original television series “Roots,” delivered a powerful talk about storytelling and the humanity that connects us. Thom Reed from FamilySearch shared family history about Burton’s grandmother and his second- and third-great-grandparents.

  • The Innovator Showdown Finals featured “Shark Tank”-style (though a little less intense) presentations and panel interviews from six entrpreneuers in genealogy technology, with impressive cash and in-kind prizes for top contenders. Prizes went to:
    • People’s Choice: Kindex (searching documents won the award)
    • Third place: Double Match Triangulator (analyzing DNA)
    • Second place: QromaTag (adding stories to photos)
    • First prize: OldNews USA (mobile searching of online newspapers)
  • FindMyPast announced its Catholic Heritage Archive of records from Catholic churches around the world. Just released are 3 million records from the archdioceses of Philadelphia and Westminster and Birmingham in Britain. Also included are the Irish Catholic Church registers that were published last year.
  • MyHeritage unveiled its new Photo Discoveries feature today. Essentially, it presents users with a set of photographs of their relatives from family trees contributed by others. Premium Plus or Complete Subscribers can add up to 10 photos per Discovery to the matching profiles in their family tree, in a single click.
  • The Journal Nature Communications published a study by Ancestry DNA that “reveals post-colonial population structure of North America.” It identifies genetically related clusters of individuals and their migrations over time. This technology can make possible detailed historical portraits of the lives of Ancestry DNA customers.