Meeting Genealogy Buddies in Provo – BYU Conference Recap (Part 2)

Meeting Up With Genealogy Friends

Warning: This post might bore you, the reader, as I get a little ‘fan girl’ or ‘groupie.’ I can’t write about my experience at the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy and not mention the speakers that I met. The next post in this series focuses on the attendees!

My first people highlight was catching up Melissa Finlay and Nicole Dyer. These are my Family History for Children Blog Link Up buddies. (To learn more about #FHforChildren, click here.)

I have known Nicole for over two years, and I met Melissa at RootsTech 2016. They’re friendly and encouraging faces. Melissa helped me set up my booth and taught me about booth boxes. Nicole bought a book she helped beta read and might write a review in the future. Beyond that, they made sure that I wasn’t alone at the conference (as I would staff a booth and teach without the aide of my best friend Andy by my side).  I love these ladies and the additional women that they introduced me to at lunch.

Devon Noel, Nicole and Melissa at BYU Family History Conference
Family History for Children Bloggers: Devon Noel Lee, Nicole Dyer, and Melissa Finlay

Another highlight was meeting Janet Hovorka. Janet was so busy teaching classes and ensuring the workers at her booth (Family Chart Masters) were going strong, and yet she made time to chat with me. Janet mentored in setting up my first booth at a genealogy conference. She offered so much advice pre-conference that I knew I would have realistic expectations and start off on the right foot. Janet’s just as friendly in person as she is via emails and chats. I look forward seeing her again at future conferences.

Janet Havorka and Sister
Janet and her sister gave an intriguing presentation about discussing genealogy with adoptees.

 Another thing I loved was spending time in the speaker’s room. It was a nice place to relax, charge batteries, have snacks, and warm up for my presentations. This cozy room had everything myself, and other speakers needed to prepare mentally and emotionally for delivering our best workshops. A basket even had pantyhose and a tie for those who might have an emergency!

The ready room became a speaker’s social.  I enjoyed visiting with Peggy Lauritzen, Michael McCormick, and Suzanne Russo Adams. We discussed genealogy issues in general and as relating to Mormon culture. The BYU Conference was the most LDS-centric genealogy conference I’ve ever attended. I don’t often talk about being Mormon on this site because genealogy isn’t exclusive to one religion. I want to share the love of family history with everyone. But sometimes, it’s pleasant to talk about the successes and challenges of doing genealogy within the Mormon culture.

Another treat was finally meeting in person James Tanner. Two years ago I went to RootsTech and hoped to meet James. Unfortunately, I seemed to be chasing him in endless circles. I would be one step behind him as he’d just left a place where I had hoped to track him down. At BYU, he stopped by just before I taught my first class on Tuesday. As my daughter would say, “I got a little fan girl!”

Reminder to photography the GenealogyTRIBE at your next conference
The hardest part of attending a conference… remembering to take photos of yourself and your buddies.

 Throughout the conference, James and I would chit chat or have lengthy conversations. I went from fan girl to peer. James gave me insights into finding reports that I’ve been begging for and praying for so long. There’s finally a report where family history consultants in local LDS congregations can find view family history activity that is more robust.  The report goes beyond the tradition tracking of submission of names to the temple, which is an important aspect of Mormon theology. The report now includes indexing, adding stories and memories to FamilySearch, and adding sources!!!!

I’m excited about tracking of sources added to FamilySearch. These numbers can assist in teaching Mormons about accuracy in building the family tree. Many family trees are highly inaccurate and placing emphasis on sources can help clean up the tree and improve the quality of temple work.

 I love this new resource and its broader view of temple and family history work. I pray more LDS leaders and family history consultants will use the reports to increase an expanded view of the work of finding names.

I thank James Tanner for personally walking me through how to access the report and sharing with me his insights on the impact this report could have if only stake and local leaders would use it.

Once again, I hope you didn’t mind learning about who I met and what it was like ‘back stage’ as a presenter. The next post focuses on the people presenters love to serve.

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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