Top 5 Sessions from the 2017 Fall Virtual Conference

By Andrew Koch

back of school bus

Back-to-school season is in full swing, and school-age kids aren’t the only ones who can learn something new. Family Tree University’s 2017 Fall Virtual Conference is coming up next month, with 16 presentations from top genealogy educators that will make you want to reach for a pen and fresh notebook. Best of all, you can access all the conference’s presentations and materials from the comfort of your desktop. And you’ll receive copies of all the presentations, allowing you to revisit lectures whenever you want.

All 16 presentations are worth listening in to, but here are the five Fall Virtual Conference sessions I’m most excited about:

1. ‘Which Test is Best?’ by Shannon Combs-Bennett

When MyHeritage DNA entered the DNA testing scene last November, researchers gained a fourth big-name choice for where to send their saliva. With all those options (AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe and MyHeritage DNA), what’s a researcher to do? Shannon will discuss the pros and cons of each company so you can select the test that best meets your genetic genealogy goals.

2. ‘5 Google Secrets Revealed’ by Lisa Louise Cooke

Sure, you can find records and resources on sites like and But what else does the web hold? Google guru Lisa Louise Cooke shares some strategies for tracking down hidden genealogy gems using the Internet’s largest search engine. (Also watch out for Lisa’s “Big Pictures in Little Details” live keynote presentation on Sunday.)

3. ‘Things to Purge and Save’ by Denise May Levenick

When I was kid, I collected bottle caps—and by “bottle caps,” I mean toppers from literally any old water or Coke bottle. I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder, and that reluctance to throw things away has bled over into my genealogical life. Denise, who’s written two books on archiving family photos and heirlooms, has techniques that will help even the stingiest archivist like me sort out what’s worth keeping and what isn’t.

4. ‘Marriage Records’ by Gena Philibert-Ortega

As someone still somewhat new to genealogy, I feel my head spin when someone tries to explain to me all the kinds of marriage records. What’s the difference between a certificate and a registry? And what are banns? Gena will discuss all the different types of marriage records, plus what alternatives you can research if records are missing.

5. ‘Cloud Technology: Preservation and Organization’ by Jennifer Alford

Two facts: Most of my genealogy research is on my laptop, and hardware failure is a question of when, not if. So my ears perked up when I first heard about using “the cloud” in genealogy. Jennifer shares tips for organizing your valuable data using cloud services, giving you peace of mind.

The Fall Virtual Conference runs Sept. 15–17, and you can sign up for the weekend in our online store. And for extra bang for your buck, use the code VCANDREW30 at checkout to save $30 off your registration.