top of page

Free Videos & Roots Tech Scoop!

RootsTech is a genealogical convention put on every year by FamilySearch featuring lectures as well as product demos. It was free to attend online and the videos remain available on their website. The sessions are all about an hour long, and the presenters do their best to cram as much info in as possible, and most of them also have a downloadable syllabus to make note-taking easier. Following are your convention "swag bag" of free goodies - some highlights and links to some videos.

rootstech  logo copyrighted by FamilySearch

My favorite session was "Irish Family History Is Easy! Seriously" by Brian Donovan of FindMyPast. Anyone who has spent any time researching Irish ancestors would be skeptical of this title, but he gave some great tips in his "light hearted talk" which I did NOT watch live as it aired at 3am my time! The syllabus includes all of the sites he recommends. You can watch it with this link

Jonny Perl of and The Shared cM (centimorgan) Project that we have talked about before told us about third-party DNA tools for family research. This, of course, included DNAPainter which can be used for free, but if you want to make full use of it's truly mighty powers you need a subscription (currently $55 a year).

The coolest toy I played with at DNAPainter is "What Are The Odds?" This is an ADVANCED tool, and you have to have done full tree research to get anything out of it. You can upload one Gedcom (family tree map) at a time for free. You manually add the number of matching cMs for each person you know in the tree, and then ask a question, such as "Who Is Leslie's Great Great Grandfather?" It will generate a number of possibilities aka "hypotheses" of who your unknown ancestor might be.

Hypotheses of Ancestry by WATO
Image from WATO copyright by

The results are the computer's best guess based on what you entered, so always remember Garbage In = Garbage Out! And you still have to interpret the results. I entered the info on 9 distant cousins, in order to try to narrow down which of the 18 known ancestors MIGHT be my 3rd Great Grandfather. I got back 82 hypotheses! Each one has a score indicating likelihood, the red boxes above show 0 possibility of being correct based on what I entered.

Using my own brain I was able to confirm my greatest suspicion that there was an unknown sibling or even better a half-sibling. Good news and bad news, right? I know which direction to take my research now. For more info about this program and others check out this video from RootsTech:

You can always count on author Diahan Southard of to take what seems complicated and break it down so it makes sense. She has a large collection of videos at FamilySearch (and her website) that you will find useful! This link will take you to her in the RootsTech library.

I was delighted to see my favorite new author Nathan Dylan Goodwin was working on a session with Diahan called "Genealogy Solves It (GSI)!" but disappointed to learn that it was not a streamed event. Her website promises future GSI events and you can sign up to receive the info. N.D. Goodwin writes GENEALOGY MURDER MYSTERIES! So, much to my husband's chagrin I'm sure, even when I am not online researching, I am reading about genealogy! His books are available on Amazon.

MyHeritage DNA Blog screen shot

MyHeritage launched their new cM Explainer (TM) in time for the show, and it is AMAZING! You can just cut right to the chase with visual aids about how you and a DNA match are related! Click on the image to go to the MyHeritage Blog page to read about it, or log back in to your tree and see what has done to make our genealogy lives better! They also have other new tools like DNA Clustering.

For information about how to use the giant encyclopedia at the Research Wiki at FamilySearch, watch this video ("A crash course on the FamilySearch Research Wiki straight from the genealogists on the FamilySearch Wiki Content team. This power hour will give an overview of the Research Wiki, then dive into case studies showing you how to use the Wiki like a pro - wherever your ancestors come from around the world.")

DNA Helix

Lots of DNA testing sites are currently having a sale that coincided with RootsTech. Check your favorite one to see if there is a deal to be had on additional kits.

When you log in to your free FamilySearch account at the RootsTech site you can scan the videos and add the ones you are interested in to your "playlist." It will save your list for you and you can check back on them easier.

RootsTech 2024 is already scheduled to start on leap day, next Feb. 29th!

This was a great opportunity to learn new technologies, and the FamilySearch video library is expanded for us to go back and reference as often as we like. Did you attend? What were your favorite sessions?


Hope you are having fun with your research! If I can help you out, let me know! Always a free quote.


Leslie Ryan

No compensation is received for any of these links or references.

No copyright infringement is intended. Please don't mess with the proprietary images!


bottom of page