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Genealogy ‘Idol’ Quest Takes Place Feb. 2 in Utah

News Northwest Corner Journal




Elizabeth Clark. Photo by Kathryn Boughton.

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FALLS VILLAGE—Who says genealogy is a stodgy pursuit? Not Elizabeth Clark of Falls Village, who has been selected as one of four contestants nationwide in the first-ever Genealogy Idol competition scheduled for Feb. 2 in Salt Lake City, Utah, being presented as part of the RootsTech Conference.

For those not conversant with family research, Salt Lake City is a Mecca for genealogists. It is the headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints—the Mormons. Because the LDS believes that baptism into their faith is necessary for souls to reach heaven—an act that can take place retroactively—the church has dedicated decades to researching the genealogical records of countless families. The church’s archives in Salt Lake City contain some 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books and other formats; more than 4,500 periodicals and 3,725 electronic resources. Records are available from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Clearly, the city is a natural for this conference, and this competition.

Mrs. Clark, who has been interested in history since childhood and who has worked on her own family’s genealogy for two decades, entered the competition almost on a whim. She signed up for the RootsTech conference, planned for Feb. 2-4, because she had never been to Salt Lake City and because “I so need to be out of my house on that date [the second anniversary of her husband’s death].”

The conference is designed to bring technologists together with genealogists, so they can learn from each other about the challenges faced in family history research. At RootsTech, technology developers, genealogists and family historians share information about emerging technologies to improve research. “There are two tracks at the conference,” she observed, “users and developers. Who better to tell the developers what we need than those who use the programs. My whole [business] background is in technology, so I thought it would be worthwhile to go and hear what they are saying.”

A friend encouraged her to enter the competition as well, a suggestion she at first pooh-poohed. But then, over Christmas, she decided it would be safe to enter because “there would be so many people taking part from all over the country.”

The contestants were required to propose topics in three categories: favorite technology tip; a genealogy story of serendipity and a technology Web site or blog. The four finalists were chosen based on the excellence of their submissions and will compete against one another live Feb. 2. The winners will be chosen by the public, which is invited to watch the one-hour event on computers and to vote. People can register for the event free by going to http://tinyurl.com/6uvutzk. Space is limited to the first 1,000 people to join the Webinar that day at 3:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Two of the contestants will participate live at RootsTech. The other two will use Webinar technology to participate from their homes. Each contestant will have three minutes to make a demonstration. The one with the most votes will win both the title of RootsTech Genealogy Idol and a free Flip-Pal Mobile scanner from Legacy Family Tree.

Ms. Clark, a native of England, and her late husband, who came to the United States from China as a child, both have rich ancestries. While she said she is selective in the lines that she chooses to trace because she wants to be sure of their accuracy, she said that her husband’s family can be traced some 20 or 30 generations and is housed in the Chinese Department of Cambridge University as an example of the precision of Asian family records.

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FALLS VILLAGE—Who says genealogy is a stodgy pursuit? Not Elizabeth Clark of Falls Village, who has been selected as one of four contestants nationwide in the first-ever Genealogy Idol competition scheduled for Feb. 2 in Salt Lake City, Utah, being presented as part of the RootsTech Conference.

For those not conversant with family research, Salt Lake City is a Mecca for genealogists. It is the headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints—the Mormons. Because the LDS believes that baptism into their faith is necessary for souls to reach heaven—an act that can take place retroactively—the church has dedicated decades to researching the genealogical records of countless families. The church’s archives in Salt Lake City contain some 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books and other formats; more than 4,500 periodicals and 3,725 electronic resources. Records are available from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Clearly, the city is a natural for this conference, and this competition.

Mrs. Clark, who has been interested in history since childhood and who has worked on her own family’s genealogy for two decades, entered the competition almost on a whim. She signed up for the RootsTech conference, planned for Feb. 2-4, because she had never been to Salt Lake City and because “I so need to be out of my house on that date [the second anniversary of her husband’s death].”

The conference is designed to bring technologists together with genealogists, so they can learn from each other about the challenges faced in family history research. At RootsTech, technology developers, genealogists and family historians share information about emerging technologies to improve research. “There are two tracks at the conference,” she observed, “users and developers. Who better to tell the developers what we need than those who use the programs. My whole [business] background is in technology, so I thought it would be worthwhile to go and hear what they are saying.”

A friend encouraged her to enter the competition as well, a suggestion she at first pooh-poohed. But then, over Christmas, she decided it would be safe to enter because “there would be so many people taking part from all over the country.”

The contestants were required to propose topics in three categories: favorite technology tip; a genealogy story of serendipity and a technology Web site or blog. The four finalists were chosen based on the excellence of their submissions and will compete against one another live Feb. 2. The winners will be chosen by the public, which is invited to watch the one-hour event on computers and to vote. People can register for the event free by going to http://tinyurl.com/6uvutzk. Space is limited to the first 1,000 people to join the Webinar that day at 3:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Two of the contestants will participate live at RootsTech. The other two will use Webinar technology to participate from their homes. Each contestant will have three minutes to make a demonstration. The one with the most votes will win both the title of RootsTech Genealogy Idol and a free Flip-Pal Mobile scanner from Legacy Family Tree.

Ms. Clark, a native of England, and her late husband, who came to the United States from China as a child, both have rich ancestries. While she said she is selective in the lines that she chooses to trace because she wants to be sure of their accuracy, she said that her husband’s family can be traced some 20 or 30 generations and is housed in the Chinese Department of Cambridge University as an example of the precision of Asian family records.

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