Saturday, January 15, 2022

SLIG 2022 Sponsor Highlight: AncestryProGenealogists

Janell Esplin, Talent Acquisition Manager with Ancestry, and a panel of four staff members answered SLIG participants' questions on Thursday about applying to and working for AncestryProGenealogists.

Highlights from questions and answers included:
  • Interested and qualified researchers are invited to apply with AncestryProGenealogists even if they are not certified or accredited. Although credentialing is valued, applicants should emphasize their professional experience both in and out of genealogy.
  • Applicants are encouraged to present themselves honestly in their applications and interviews. Don't oversell your research or language abilities.
  • Managers are looking for persons who have sound project and time management skills and the ability to work well with others, in addition to research skills.
  • One good way to get your foot in the door with AncestryProGenealogists is by becoming part of their contractor database of researchers who might be contacted to pull records locally.
Information about current openings and application procedures can be found at
Janell Esplin can be contacted at

We thank Janell and the panel members from AncestryProGenealogists for taking the time to meet and talk with SLIG participants. A special recognition also goes to AncestryProGenealogists for their ongoing support of SLIG overall, and this year's sponsorship of the Military course.

Janell Esplin is Talent Acquisition Manager at Ancestry, leading a team of recruiters who actively support Ancestry's Content, Family History Business, DNA Science and Operations, Legal and Member Services. She has brought over 75 genealogists into the Ancestry family and over 200 other persons into other openings across the organization. She has a passion for supporting her team and business partners to ensure that candidates have a great experience working with Ancestry. Before joining the Ancestry family, Janell was a recreation director in the human services field. Janell holds a bachelor's degree in behavioral sciences: psychology from Utah Valley University.
AncestryProGenealogists panel members:
  • Deena Darst: Research Team Manager (specializing in Heir/Forensic research)
  • Noah Lapidus: Genealogist (specializing in Souther African-American research)
  • Brian Schellenberg: Research Manager (specializing in German research)
  • Margaret Crymes: Research Manager (specializing in United Kingdom research)

Thursday, January 13, 2022

SLIG 2022 Sponsor Highlight: FamilySearch

SLIG Night at the Family History Library has been a longstanding SLIG tradition. This year, David Rencher, Lynn Turner, and the FHL staff provided us with an online night at the FHL, including a virtual tour of the library highlighting recent enhancements.

Highlights from the opening plenary:

  • David Rencher, FHL Director and FamilySearch Chief Genealogical Officer, spoke about some of the changes necessitated by COVID shutdowns and protocols. FHL has a new set of webpages and has made their lookup service and research helps available remotely.
  • Lynn Turner, FHL Assistant Director, led viewers on a virtual tour of the library and provided additional details;
Highlights from the breakout sessions:
  • General Topics (David Rencher and Lynn Turner):
    • RootsTech
      • RootsTech will be virtual in 2022 with over 1,200 presentations, including many in international languages. (
      • Registrants will have free access to all sessions through the end of 2022.
      • Future RootsTech formats are difficult to predict, with a hybrid format possible.
      • Offering RootsTech virtually extends its reach much farther than is possible in person.
      • Last year, about 5,000 research consultations were done during the RootsTech week. This year, the target is to do 8,000 consultations.
      • On-the-ground teams have intentionally sought out presenters in other parts of the world.
    • Collections (Bria Corry and Natalie Reese):
      • The collections team includes six to seven full-time employees, some interns, and volunteers.
      • The book digitization team is moving in-house to the FHL, hoping to digitize 10,000 books this year.
      • Anyone can donate a book, PDF, or Word document. Societies sometimes make large donations. (
      • Items in off-site storage can be requested to be pulled for use. Those items then remain in the library.
    • International–B1 and B2 floors (Debbie Gunter and Raymon Naisbitt):
      • It doesn't matter which floor you are on; you can request a specialist from any geographic area, and they will come to you.
      • The international reference section has been consolidated on one floor.
      • All maps are now in one location on B1.
    • U.S./Canada–2nd and 3rd floors (Jason Harrison and Todd Knowles):
      • Statewide census books and family genealogies are back on shelves.
      • Almost everything is on the shelves, though some rare or unusual books are in Special Collections.
      • FHL is revisiting agreements, as many contracts were made before digitizing technologies.
We greatly appreciate the efforts of the FHL staff in making this virtual visit possible and FamilySearch for their ongoing support of SLIG as a course sponsor.


David Rencher, CG, AG, FIGRS, FUGA, is Director of the Family History Library and Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch. A professional genealogist since 1977, he is one of the rare few who have earned both credentials: Accredited Genealogist with ICAPGen in Ireland research and Certified Genealogist with the Board for Certification of Genealogists. He is the Irish course coordinator and instructor for the Institute of Genealogical Research (IGHR), the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), and the British Institute of the International Society of British Genealogy and Family History. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1980 with a BA in Family and Local History. He has served as a member, a director, and/or an officer of a multitude of genealogical organizations. David has been named a fellow by the Utah Genealogical Association and the Irish Genealogical Research Society.

Lynn Turner, AG, is Assistant Director of the Family History Library. Lynn graduated with a BA in Family History and Genealogy from Brigham Young University with an emphasis in Spain and Latin America. He is an Accredited Genealogist through ICAPGen in Spain research.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

SLIG 2022 Sponsor Highlight: MyHeritage

MyHeritage What's New, Power User Tips & Open Q&A 

Daniel Horowitz of MyHeritage gave us a fast-paced review of recent updates as well as a sneak peak of what is coming in Wednesday's sponsored presentation. 

Tree Highlights include:

  • Customized tree and improved list views
  • Sharable report views the relationship between any two individuals in the tree 
  • User control over smart match icons and settings
  • Photo list view allows editing of information, sorting, and filtering
  • Consistency checker
 DNA management highlights include:
  • DNA labels (a highly requested item)
  • Managed DNA kit pull-down menu in match view
  • Match filter by relationships, matching ancestral locations, and more
  • Profile list export to Excel for external analysis and management
Daniel also noted that many new records are "coming in from all over the world using transliteration technology to find relatives."

We sincerely appreciate MyHeritage's ongoing support of SLIG through sponsorship and their willingness to come to share updates important to further our research.


Dedicated to genealogy since 1986, Daniel Horowitz is involved in several crowdsource digitization and transcription projects and holds a board-level position at The Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA). Since 2006 Daniel has been working at MyHeritage liaising with genealogy societies, bloggers, and media, as well as lecturing, and attending conferences around the world.

SLIG 2022 Sponsor Highlight: FamilyTreeDNA

FamilyTreeDNA Updates and Open Q&A 

Janine Cloud, Group Projects Manager, gave us an overview of FamilyTreeDNA's updates and initiatives over the past year at Wednesday's sponsored presentation. 

2021 was a "Year of Change." New ownership, a new management team, and several product enhancements topped the list.

Product enhancements include:

  • Introduction of myDNA Wellness - uses the Family Finder data to provide insights about fitness, nutrition, sleep, and more.
  • An updated matching algorithm for Family Finder data, with modifications to match thresholds and a new match page layout
  • Updated Y-DNA and FamilyFinder pages
  • Updated MyOrigins with 90 populations
  • Chromosome painter with a view of both continental regions and super populations
  • Support videos
Projects and Initiatives:
  • This past year FTDNA reached landmark levels with Y-Haplotree. This pedigree of human ancestry now has 50,000 branches and over 460,000 variants.
  • In progress is the Million Mito Project - the tree of womankind. FTDNA is presently evaluating the sequences in the database to make it dynamic like the Y tree. 
We sincerely appreciate FTDNA's ongoing support of SLIG through course sponsorship.


Janine Cloud, a fifth-generation Texan and registered member of the Cherokee Nation, became interested in genealogy when a grade school assignment to complete a pedigree chart prompted her to question family members about her ancestors. She started working at FamilyTreeDNA in 2011 where she created the Group Projects - Events team she now manages. Janine has given presentations at conferences such as the National Genealogical Society Conference, RootsTech, and RootsTech London, as well as numerous local organizations.

SLIG 2022: Plenary Session Highlights

"If You Can't Find Your Own Family History, Steal Someone Else's"? 


Anyone familiar with Genealogy Standards published by the Board for Certification of Genealogists might question the sanity of that statement. 

Yet, F. Warren Bittner kicked off SLIG 2022 with a western-themed, historically-accurate case study demonstrating the need to do just that! 

Utilizing diaries, letters, journals, and documents taken from the lives of others, Warren fleshed out the details of the elusive life of Samuel Thompson, correcting a few "documented" inaccuracies along the way.

Samuel was born in Pomfret, New York in 1813 and died in Vernal, Utah in 1892. One of his earliest experiences as a fairly-new member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was participating in "Zions Camp" in 1834. Or was it? In spite of dozens of biographies stating otherwise, Warren demonstrates that Samuel was actually in Kirtland, Ohio building a temple at the time. 

Over a decade later, Samuel was at Sutter's mill when gold was discovered. Or was he? Turns out he was actually at Sutter's Fort, about 45 miles west.

That's just the tip of the iceberg, but you can quickly see where this is going. Warren researched his way through Samuel's published life sketch of migration, marriage, persecution, gold discoveries, and wars, to find a much more accurate history. And where actual records existed, but details lacked as is often the case, Warren utilized what he calls "stolen history" to weave together an accurate picture of Samuel's life.

The moral of the story? Don't steal someone else's history. Oh wait. Do steal someone else's history. Well, that's confusing! How about: don't inaccurately attribute historical events to someone's life, but once you have accurately documented events and no details to fill in the storyline, do "steal" from the diaries, letters, and documents of others to bring your ancestor's story to life.

Or something like that. 

Thanks, Warren, for a very informative evening!


F. Warren Bittner, MS (History), is a genealogical researcher, educator, and author. He is a Genealogical Researcher at AncestryProGenealogists, where he specializes in German and German Immigrant research. He is former owner of an independent research firm, and previously worked for the Family History Library as the German Collection Manager.

Warren has coordinated German research courses for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). Known for his extensive research in German and US archives and repositories, Swiss records, and his expertise in late nineteenth-century New York City research, Warren has lectured widely at national conferences and society events. He is published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, is a former trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and a former member of the board of directors for the Utah Genealogical Association.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

SLIG 2022: Experiencing the FHL Virtually

Challenging times require creative solutions. And the Family History Library has outdone itself this time!

Priority Service: Over the next two weeks – SLIG week and the week to follow – SLIG students and faculty will receive virtual VIP treatment as it relates to record requests (SLIG week) and online consultations (SLIG week and the week to follow). 

Additionally, the Family History Library has created a virtual event to replace the evening we had planned in person.

SLIG Night at the FHL
Wednesday, January 12th, 5:30 pm MST

  • Presentations:
    • David Rencher, Family History Library Director and Chief Genealogical Officer, will do a welcome presentation that will include new happenings at FamilySearch, the Family History Library, and RootsTech 2022.
    • Lynn Turner, Assistant Director of the Family History Library, will do a virtual tour of the Family History Library and highlight exciting new services and changes.
  • Breakouts:
    • To wrap-up the FHL night event we will have 4 breakout rooms to answer general questions in the following areas:
      • David and Lynn - discuss general topics related to the FHL, FamilySearch and RootsTech 2022
      • Collection Team - two members of the FHL Collections team will be available to answer questions about books, films, fiche, maps, etc. Come learn what it takes to move more than 250,000 books and add another 20,000 books to the shelves of the FHL.
      • International Team - two members of our reference staff will be available to answer questions related to our B1 an B2 floors. A lot has happened with where things are and services provided on each floor, come and learn about these changes, and ask these FHL staff members questions related to these floors.
      • U.S./Canada Team - two members of our reference staff will be available to answer questions related to our 2nd and 3rd floors. A lot has happened with where things are and services provided on each floor, come and learn about these changes, and ask these FHL staff members questions related to these floors.

Thank you Lynn and David for helping us have access to, and information about, the Family History Library in our 2022 virtual environment!