Select Page

And there are these law-related talks…

So it’s off to the races at RootsTech Connect 2021.

In case you’ve missed the hype over the last few weeks, the absolutely huge all-virtual RootsTech Connect 2021 is now officially underway in all time zones. With more than a half-million people registered around the world, it’s the biggest genealogy event ever.

There are main stage keynotes and cultural events going on live just about around the clock — just use this RootsTech Connect 2021 link to get there. Open up the Menu in the upper right hand corner and you can choose Calendar to see when those live events are taking place. There are literally dozens to choose from…

Then there are the class sessions. Hundreds of them. In many different languages, even. Those are recorded and will be available online for a full year so you don’t have to give up eating or sleeping to watch all the ones you’re interested in. And oh boy will there be a LOT of class sessions you’ll be interested in.

You can find the sessions using the Sessions search (there’s a link in the menu at the top of each page to search the sessions) — just put in a topic like law or DNA and it will output the choices. If you’ve registered, you can then add any session you find to your playlist to watch at any time.

RootsTech law sessions

Now… this search has a glitch. A big glitch. It says you can search by title, speaker or topic but it doesn’t work for many speakers. So don’t use this to find speakers. Instead, open up that Menu in the upper right hand corner and choose Speakers. Search for your favorite speakers there. Each speaker has a speaker page where their sessions appear, and you can add them to your playlist once you find them on those speaker pages. (My speaker page is here.)

Each session also has a chat room which will be open only during the live portion of RootsTech Connect 2021 — meaning today through Saturday (using US times). The speakers will be checking those chat rooms periodically to try to answer your questions, so check ’em out. But remember — that’s a live feature so you’ll need to be registered and logged in, and it’s only during the three days of the live conference.

The Legal Genealogist of course is going to spend time with all the law-related sessions, and here are the ones you might want to add to your playlist:

Finding the Law: Using Google Books, presented by yours truly. Genealogists need to look at the law at the time and place where a record was created. Misunderstanding legal context may make us miss records critical to our research or miss clues hidden in the records. But finding laws can be really complicated! Using the right tool—even the right version of Google—makes the job easier. This session explains how you can use Google Books to find law information for your chosen period. This session’s chat room is here.

Finding the Law: Court Cases through History, presented by yours truly. Even ancestors who may never have been recorded in land or other property records often found themselves involved in court cases. They may have been parties in civil cases, charged with a crime, or witnesses for their neighbors and friends. Adding court cases to our family histories often gives much greater depth, breadth, and color to the stories of our ancestors. Finding the court cases themselves is often challenging but rewarding for the genealogist. This session’s chat room is here.

What Genealogists Should Know about the Laws of Slavery, presented by Amy Tanner Thiriot. Biddy Mason and Hannah Smiley Embers were enslaved when they and their children helped settle Utah and California in the 1840s and 1850s. They gained their freedom in a dramatic court battle in Los Angeles. Biddy Mason and Hannah Smiley Embers were among the hundreds of enslaved Black pioneers of the American West. Documents about their lives and the lives of their friends help show which records may be available for those enslaved in the United States and what the records mean. The presentation quickly highlights some of the important legal concepts related to chattel slavery in the United States and what that means for estate, census, and manumission records. Whether you are researching slaveholders or the enslaved in the United States or encounter slavery while researching a community, a knowledge of the history and laws of slavery will help you understand historical and genealogical records.

Immigration and the Homestead Act: Finding Your Ancestors, presented by Amber Kirkendall, Jonathan Fairchild. Brought to you by Department of the Interior: The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed individuals to claim 160 acres of American public domain land for free, as long as they lived and farmed on it for five years. From 1863 through 1986, millions of individuals from across the world staked their claim to “the American Dream” under this law. Many immigrant groups established ethnic homestead communities—and because of the requirements to file claims, extensive records including vital records, immigration records, military service records, and legal records were kept for every single one of these homestead claims. This session will teach attendees about the role the Homestead Act played in immigration, provide information about ethnic homesteading settlements, and how to find and utilize Homestead Land Entry Case Files and the General Land Office Records.

Analyzing Probate Records: Finding Our Ancestor’s Stories, presented by Cheri Hudson Passey. Probate Records can shed light on your ancestors even when there’s no will. Learn how to use these records to find clues and help answer your research questions.

Researching English Workhouse Records, presented by Sylvia Valentine. A two-part series that explains the concept of Poor Law in the 19th century and discusses how and where to find surviving records and explores a variety of workhouse record types created in the 19th century. What type of information do they contain, and how can they help you understand the lives of ancestors with connection to the workhouse?

English Probate Records Pre-1858, presented by Caroline Gurney. Would you like to find the names of your ancestor’s wife, children, siblings, in laws, and other relations, all listed in one place? To know what clothes he wore, the animals and crops he raised on his farm, or the layout of his house? English probate records can provide wonderful insights into the lives of your ancestors and help you break down brick walls in your research. This class provides an overview of the different types of probate records found in England from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. What information do they contain, when were they created, where can you find them, why should you use them, and how can you access and understand them?

English Equity Court Records, presented by Dr. Nick Barratt. A three-part series examining the English equity court records — a fantastic resource for finding information about your ancestors. These records are held at the The National Archives and can be searched there. The presentations include an introduction to the Equity Courts and their purpose, including the Courts of Chancery, Exchequer, Request, Star Chamber, and Augmentation; the initial processes of the Chancery Court, including the Bill of Complaint, Answer, Rejoinder, and Replication, which are together known as pleadings; and the process of gathering evidence in a Chancery Court case and the records that would result, including Interrogatories, Depositions, Affidavits, and Exhibits.

Courthouse Records: One-Stop Shopping for Family Secrets, presented by Patti Gillespie. A fascinating story of an individual with a secret is told in a well-paced introduction to documents found in courthouses. Birth, death, and marriage certificates, probate and wills, land, court case documents, and guardianship papers are part of these stories. The benefits of courthouse research become clear to the researcher not familiar with these documents.

There are others I’m sure I’ve missed, so spend some time searching for descriptive terms in the sessions search and for speakers you’ve enjoyed in the Speakers search menu item.

There’s enough to keep you busy for … oh … maybe a year beyond the three days of this conference.

Just sayin’ …

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “RootsTech Connect 2021 underway,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 25 Feb 2021).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email