Day 1 of RootsTech started with a general session presented by Dennis Brimhall, President and CEO of FamilySearch International; Syd Lieberman, nationally acclaimed story teller; and D. Joshua Taylor, Business Development Manager—North America for brightsolid online publishing. Brimhall and Lieberman focused on the need to preserve our stories for future generations. Taylor focused his comments on the need to get youth involved and some of the unique challenges we face in our efforts to get them involved.
Dennis Brimhall asks an important question
After sharing some insights into the growth and dissemination of RootsTech and sharing some of the accomplishments achieved in 2012, Brimhall asked a powerful, thought provoking question. He asked the audience to ask themselves, “What would our great-great-grandchildren wish we would have done?” He then focused on the many stories and events that make up the lives we are living now; the photographs, the journals, and the stories that are remembered and shared with each other. Without our efforts to preserve our stories, the records and the photographs that document our stories, our great great grandchildren will be at a loss to know who we are. They will find it hard to relate to us or appreciate that part of us that makes up who they are. Without the stories we will be nothing more than names with a few dates and places attached to our name.
Brimhall shared stories about his father and some of the remarkable experiences he went through as a WW II bomber pilot flying bombing missions over Germany. He talked about how his daughter recreated and documented those experiences, which resulted in a book about her grandfather. These stories helped her grandfather come back to life through the collecting and researching of those important life events that in part, defined who he was.
Brimhall closed his remarks by telling us that we MUST bring more people into family history, and that stories will lead the way.
Syd Lieberman shares the power of personal and family stories
Syd Lieberman is a nationally acclaimed master story teller. His skill in story telling made his presentation a wonderful experience. He shared personal stories of friends and family. His stories were so filled with emotion and passion that no one listening to could deny the power that such story telling has on all who hear them, especially young listeners.
Lieberman delighted the audience with stories that were simple, yet were charming and engaging. His stories helped paint images of his subjects that were so real that it felt like you were there, watching him being ticked by his father or eating chicken wings with his mother. His message was powerful and motivating. It was simply this; share your stories! Tell your children about the family and what you and others went through. Help them see the world through your eyes and the eyes of their grandparents, their aunts and uncles. We can all expand our children’s love of family with storytelling.
D. Joshua Taylor invites us to learn how to engage our young people in family history
Joshua Taylor understands what a remarkable gift young people have to offer the world of family history. Taylor came into this world with a library card, a census record and a burning desire to discover his family roots. By his own admission, at a remarkably early age he was content to spend his day in a library reading census records rather than out playing baseball.
Taylor pointed out that young people will love family history but it must be presented to them on their terms. That means they need to see it in quick sound bites, on YouTube, in Tweets and on blogs. He points out that the kids of today live in a very different world than what many of us middle aged genealogists grew up on. They want things fast and they want the whole answer to their genealogy questions NOW. OK, they might be willing to wait 15 minutes but don’t make them wait any longer than that.
We face a whole new challenge as we try to engage young people in family history. Once they have an experience discovering the life of an ancestor they will want more, but the challenge for us will be getting them involved enough to get them hooked.
Generation Y has much to offer. We just need to know how to come into their world of technology and use the tools they are familiar with. According to Taylor, this presents some remarkable challenges, but the pay off will be worth it.
Watching today’s general sessions on line
For those who would like to watch this morning’s general session, visit www.rootstech.org. They will be available within the next day or two.