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FGS and RootsTech this week

Any national conference is enough to make a genealogist feel like a kid in a candy store.

There’s just so much to choose from… and you don’t want to miss a thing.

It’s always an overwhelming task to try to figure out what sessions to listen to, where to go.

And this week the word “overwhelming” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Because two national conferences are going on, side by side, at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City.


The Federation of Genealogical Societies 2015 conference begins Wednesday with its general session on “Successfully Embracing the Future.” RootsTech 2015 kicks off the same day with its Innovator Summit.

It’s going to be big. It’s going to be noisy. It’s going to be so much fun.

But just so you won’t miss anything, here’s The Legal Genealogist‘s list of presentations that focus on law, ethics and related topics. Not that it’s a special interest of mine or anything…

Wednesday, February 11

1:30 p.m., FGS-W-116
The Ethical Genealogist
by Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL
Handling family secrets, tales of living people, crediting others’ work: learning how to deal with the ethical challenges of family history in the 21st century. (Recorded)

Thursday, February 12

11:00 a.m., RT-2280
How Old Did He Have to Be…?
by Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL
Is this man John the father or John the son? Knowing a person’s age is often the key to distinguishing between two same-name people. But if no record gives a birthdate, the law may tell us how old he was.

1:30 p.m., RT-1290
Accessing England’s Probate Records and Indexes Online
by Apryl Cox
Probate records are an incredible source for linking family members together. Indexes for many of England’s courts, and some probate records, are online. You will learn how to determine which courts to search and how to find their indexes online.

1:30 p.m., RT-1816
Infamy in the Family: Online Tools to Help Identify Family Members of Ill Repute
by B. Douglas Conley
Disreputable professions and unpopular personages, such as murderers, prostitutes, British loyalists, and slave overseers, can appear in family trees and hinder accurate research due to family embarrassment. Learn online resources to transform the infamous into the understood without hiding truth.

3:00 p.m., FGS-T-215
Problem Solving with Probate
by Thomas Jones PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS
A wealth of records are created to distribute property after a death. Attendees will learn how to use probate records to identify people, trace, them, and flesh out their lives. (Recorded.)

3:00 p.m., RT-2281
Making a Federal Case Out of It
by Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL
Even genealogists who understand court records often overlook the wealth of detail in the records of the federal courts. From bankruptcies to copyrights to patents to cases in admiralty jurisdiction and more, federal court records merit a close look.

4:30 p.m., RT1670
The Margarine Moonshiners from Minsk: How Curiosity and Persistence Uncover Buried Secrets
by Tammy Hepps
After uncovering ancestors imprisoned for selling margarine as butter, I had to expand my research skills dramatically to unravel the mystery. Learn how you, too, armed with your natural curiosity and persistence, can connect discoveries into amazing results.

4:30 p.m., FGS-T-221
Access to Vital Records is Under Attack! How Can You Help?
by Jan Meisels Allen, Jan Alpert FNGS, Frederick E. Moss JD, LLM
Sponsored by Records Preservation Access Committee
Vital records are being threatened at both the state and federal level. Learn the status of pending legislation and how you can influence the outcome. (Recorded.)

Friday, February 13

10:30 a.m., F-301
Gentlemen Judges: The Justices of the Peace
by Judy G. Russell JD, CG, CGL
Landowners, but legal laymen, America’s early justices of the peace, served up ground-level justice and local governance, creating records unparalleled for genealogists. (Recorded.)

10:30 a.m., GS1205
Right or Wrong: 6 Things You Need to Know about Picture Sharing Online
Maureen Taylor
Upload, post, and share. Watch for pitfalls of permissions, resolution, and reuse. This seminar covers resolution rules, the dangers of right click copying, the ethics and safety of picture sharing, popular photo sharing platforms, and citing your photos.

1:00 p.m., FGS-F-313
Scandals in the Family
by Audrey Collins
Records in The National Archives (UK) and elsewhere reveal some scandalous details about the private lives of two English families, the Boyntons and the Keelings.

4:00 p.m., FGS-F-320
Using Tax Records for Genealogical Problem Solving
Michael Lacopo, DVM
Tax records are seldom utilized and are often dismissed as boring and insignificant. They can solve MANY genealogical dilemmas and should be a primary source to utilize. (Recorded.)

4:00 p.m., FGS-F-323
Genetic Genealogy Standards
by CeCe Moore
Under the guidance of Blaine Bettinger and CeCe Moore, a committee has developed standards for the use of genetic genealogy by the genealogy community. This presentation will review those standards. (Ethics.)

4:00 p.m., RT1922
Genealogists, Technologists, Privacy Advocates: We REALLY Need to Talk!
by James Dempsey, Frederick Moss, JD, LL.M.
As a society, we must balance competing interests for access to public records with our individual personal privacy interests. Technology presents both challenges and possible contributions to finding enduring solutions in this effort to strike an appropriate balance.

Saturday, February 14

2:30 p.m., RT1400
Digital Library on American Slavery: Accessing Pre-Emancipation Court Petitions Concerning Enslaved Individuals, Their Families and Environment
by Janis Forte
This lecture demonstrates how to conduct an exhaustive search using this online database of 1790 through 1867 southern court and legislative petitions. These petitions describe the lives and issues of free people of color and those enslaved. Participants develop skill building and learn to examine the companion research guide.

4:00 p.m., FGS-S-416
Martha Benschura: Enemy Alien
by Judy G. Russell JD, CG, CGL
Not all our ancestors were naturalized. The ones who didn’t suddenly became suspect when war divided their native countries from their new residences, creating the kinds of records genealogists love. (Recorded.)

4:00 p.m., FGS-S-417
How the Public Land Survey System Shaped Our Country
by Billie Fogarty M.Ed.
Ever noticed the patchwork quilt effect of the farms when flying over the Midwest? Discover why this is the case and how to decipher those legal descriptions. (Recorded.)

4:00 p.m., RT1479
Do I Own My Ancestors? Copyright, Attribution, Plagiarism, Sharing, and Claims to Research Ownership
by James Tanner
You will learn legal and ethical limits surrounding genealogical research, data, and online family trees defining exactly what you do and do not “own.” The focus is on copyright, attribution, plagiarism, and their relationship to the need for sharing data.


If the session says RT, it’s a RootsTech session and you need a RootsTech pass. If it says FGS, you need an FGS pass. And if you got one of those passes and now want the other one too, it’s just $39 as an add-on. If the session says GS, you can attend with the low-cost Getting Started pass.

(And tomorrow… I promise… the straight DNA sessions…)

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