2015-02-12 08.20.04Have you ever wished you could get a glimpse of heaven without having to actually die first? I have!

Here’s news: Heaven is this week in Salt Lake City, Utah, and you don’t have to die to be there!

Heaven is:

  • a zillion people (well, only 20,000+) all interested in family history
  • the major vendors of genealogy products and technology in one hall
  • being taught by the guru’s of the science
  • two MAJOR genealogy conferences: the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference and RootsTech

Today’s keynote session included:

FGS President, D. Joshua Taylor, along with Kenyatta D. Berry and Mary Tedesco, fellow presenters from PBS’s Genealogy Roadshow, reported on the “Preserve the Pensions Fund,” to digitize War of 1812 Pension records. These records are the heaviest used of all the record sets at NARA and contain 7.2 million images. Taylor reported they have raised over 50% of their target goal with $1.6 million left to raise. Once digitized, these records will be available for free on Fold3.com.

Dennis Brimhall, President and CEO of Family Search International reported 21,927 registered for the conference with 170 exhibitors!  FamilySearch has a goal to engage in audiences worldwide by presenting over 600 remote conferences. With the online steam of sessions, RootsTech has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands!

Brimhall also reported that last year 319,000 FamilySearch volunteers indexed 100 million names from obituaries. FamilySearch Record Hints has a 98% accuracy rate of connecting sources to names in the Family Tree.

In partnerships with Ancestry, they will have indexed 800 million Mexican records by the end of this year!  Other partnerships include Find My Past, My Heritage, NEHGS, Family.me, and Global Family Reunion.

Brimhall demonstrated a journey through the new FamilySearch Discovery Center located at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on Temple Square. Plans are in the works to set up similar Discovery Centers in Philadelphia, London, and Seattle.

Mike Mallin, My Heritage’s Chief Product Officer, spoke of the need to create a feeling of discovery among others. He said, “A discovery is a gift of knowledge.” My Heritage plans to be the messenger.

Tan Le, founder and CEO of Emotiv Lifesciences, spoke of the jigsaw puzzle pieces that describe our lives. She shared her journey of escaping Vietnam as a child refugee and relocating in Australia with her mother, grandmother, and little sister. She said, “Yes, history may crush us, but we endured.” The experience taught her to never be locked into the way things are, but to look at how things could be. As a result of her mindset, she has designed ways for the brain to interface with the computer and has won numerous awards for her innovations.

2015-02-12 12.48.41The day was filled with top notch classes, a record setting exhibit hall, and the evening’s opening social featuring Alex Boye and the One Voice Children’s Choir. If you want a taste of what they can do, last year they created a YouTube video of the Frozen movie theme song, “Let It Go.” It was filmed at the Ice Castles at Midway, Utah. You can watch it here.

I used to be afraid of dying, but if this is what heaven’s like, sign me up!2015-02-12 18.39.19