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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Entries in rootstech (3)

    Tuesday
    Feb072012

    RootsTech Field Trip to the Utah State Archives

    A visit to the state archive Research Center was at the top of my Salt Lake City ToDo List during RootsTech week, but it was tough to take time out to meet that goal.

    First, there was the ever-present pull of the Family History Center and RootsTech itself. Then, there were the informal meet-ups where new research strategies were brought out for consideration. Finally, it was COLD for a Californian to be out there walking away from the hub of activity.

    I was running out of time by the time I headed toward the glowing railroad depot sign at the end of the street. I only glanced at the Archive address, noting “Located within the historic Denver & Rio Grande Depot.”

    Anyone who attended RootsTech or has walked up and down West South Temple Street (in front of the Radisson) has surely noticed the glowing Union Pacific sign that anchors the end of the street. I incorrectly assumed train = train and headed toward the giant logo. It was a nice walk, although I did end up at the Gateway Mall and the only Depot I found was a nightclub.

    Nice Sign, Wrong Place

    The historic Union Pacific Depot has been renovated and is now a center for shopping, dining, and entertainment.  I needed to be at the Denver & Rio Grande Depot, about a half mile south of the UP Depot.

    If you’d like to visit the Utah State Archives and are staying near the Family History Center, I suggest you take the Trax light rail which stops not far from the Archives on West 200 South.

    The historic Denver & Rio Grande Depot is home to the Utah State Archives and a local favorite, the Rio Grande Café. I savored both.

    Home of the Utah State Archives and Research Center

    Depot interior hosts photo and art exhibits.

    My goal at the Research Center was to examine directories for the years my grandmother lived in Salt Lake City and to see if I could find any other records for her during that time. I may have been hasty with the Archives address, but I did spend some time with the website searching the online databases.

    The Research Center holds records in two distinct divisions:

    Utah State History – manuscripts, photographs, books, and maps about Utah and the West

    Utah State Archives – historic state and local government records in Utah, from 1850 to today (including vital records, divorces, naturalizations, and more)

    The online collection also includes an extensive photograph collection that I plan to look at more carefully from home.

    I was able to search online and find several records I wanted to personally examine: the divorce case between Arline and Albert Edwards, and an unexpected file for Albert Edwards for housebreaking in 1898.

    The Archives staff was extremely helpful in locating the records, especially when it became obvious that the divorce papers didn’t seem to be on the indexed microfilm roll. Instead, my record was one of several that were poorly filmed. The archivist recalled that someone had been in last week also looking for files on that roll; they were located in the original hardcopy form in one of six boxes retained by the Archives and still available from the previous researcher. What luck! He brought me the box in a few minutes and I was soon photocopying the original court filing.

    The Archives will allow photocopying, but not photography.  They also offer research services if you are unable to come to the center in person.

    The Research Center is open Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm, and located in the historic Denver and Rio Grande Depot at 300 S. Rio Grande Street. It ‘s a lovely walk from the Family History Center.

    View walking out of the Research Center toward
    the snowy mountains, probably hasn't changed much 
    since my grandmother's time in 1917. 

    Monday
    Feb062012

    RootsTech for the Sorta-Geeky

    Although attending the RootsTech Technology Genealogy Conference was the reason I went to Salt Lake City last week, I found that the event itself was only part of my total conference experience. Some of the most rewarding sessions I attended were casual meetings in the hotel lobby, sharing a meal around a table, or trading ideas in the hallway. I tried to attend several presentations, I really did, but many were "above my pay grade" and a few were even standing-room-only.

    RootsTech is billed as a "cutting edge conference" with "something for everyone," and the scope of classes attempted to take in all skill levels of genealogists and tech users. At my house, I am the IT Department. I install and upgrade software, try to fix network glitches, provide instruction, and generally stand between frustrated users and our tech equipment. But, alas, I am not a programmer. I don't speak C+, don't know NoSQL, Neo4J or Graph API. Those words kinda scare me. This made selecting sessions a bit difficult. I figured right off, that if the session title was in a foreign language, I probably should avoid it. Later, I discovered I had missed some good topics that I might have understood. Ratz.

    I had also hoped to find someone at RootsTech working on a solution to crowdsource personal transcription projects. Last year I stumbled on an entire movement working to develop software for projects like Transcribe Bentham and Papers of the War Department. I didn't realize that I had been employing crowdsourcing four years ago when I enlisted my high school english students to help transcribe Arline's letters. . . but that is exactly what it was. Each person who indexes items at FamilySearch, annotates a document at Fold3, or adds information at FindAGrave is participating in a crowdsourcing project.

    Ben Brumfield is a genealogist who has developed an open-source program that will allow individuals to collaborate on personal transcription projects. It's called From the Page and has tremendous potential for family historians looking to advance a personal archive project. Other crowdsourcing programs like Scripto and T-Pen seem targeted for specific projects such as medieval manuscripts or academic archive transcriptions. Ben has plans to release a version of From the Page tailor-made for projects like mine, and I can't wait to see it live.

    Meanwhile, I checked out the RootsTech exhibitors looking for anyone who might have a similar feature to offer, and discovered the new Discovery Stream at Mocavo.com that might work for this use. This is an innovative idea that allows users to easily upload material. What do you say, Developers?

    When I wasn't sleuthing in the Exhibit Hall or attending sessions, I was working on a few of my own research problems, namely The Case of the Disappearing Husband and Finding Fanny. I made a bit of progress on both tangles, stay tuned.

    Thursday
    Feb102011

    Virtual Attendance at #RootsTech 2011

    Family Search earns an A+ for opening RootsTech 2011 to virtual attendance by those of us unable be in Salt Lake City this week for the live event. I have already enjoyed the opening sessions from HP's Shane Robinson and the visionary introduction from Jay Verkler, along with accompanying Tweets from those attending in person, and online.

    As Verkler remarked, things are possible today "in the cloud" that we could only have imagined a few years ago, and the future looks limitless.

    I especially like the opportunities for innovation and collaboration that will be available at the conference -- internet cafe, un-conference meet-ups, playground -- and I think a lot of us will be watching to see what comes out of these opportunities. Genealogists are looking for developers to listen and respond to their requests, especially regarding data transportability, citation standards, and mobile access.

    I hope FamilySearch and other technology companies will let us know what products and features are a direct result from fires sparked at RootsTech 2011.