Two budding genealogists in opposite hemispheres caught the genealogy bug and connected online and finally in person at RootsTech. Caitlin Gow, a 24 year-old genealogy blogger from Brisbane, Australia with a delightful Aussie accent, graduated with a bachelor of criminology and criminal justice. At the same time, Caitlin became involved with genealogy at the age of 18 when she was infected with the genealogy bug and is now a confirmed family history nerd.
Caitlin started her own genealogy blog in 2012, and soon was doing YouTube videos about her passion for genealogy in August 2013 in conjunction with national family history month in Australia. She has belonged to FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) for about a year. It has been her dream to cross the seas to attend RootsTech “someday” and she knew 2015 was THE year because both FGS and RootsTech would be held jointly in Salt Lake City and now that she was done with college, she treated herself to the trip as a graduation present!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (so to speak), 20 year old Dalton Smith was attending college in Dallas, Texas where he plans to focus on Naval Architecture – if you don’t know what that is, it means he wants to design ships! But, alas, he too caught the genealogy bug at the age of 16 when he followed his long time desire to understand where he came from and what ethnic groups he is made of by having DNA testing done for his four grandparents, a great grandmother and himself.
Dalton is a fan of and follows FGS and first heard about Caitlin when he received a link from FGS to one of her YouTube videos about her upcoming trip to RootsTech. When Dalton saw that another person in his age bracket was as passionate about genealogy as HE was, he decided to contact Caitlin through social media channels and they decided to try to meet up two weeks later when they would both be in Salt Lake City.
“I had never met another physical person my age that was into genealogy” said Caitlin, so it was exciting to connect with another “buggy” young adult, and she was happy to take him under her wing and introduce him around with contacts she has made through her FGS associations. They were stoked to see teenagers at RootsTech and feel like technology makes genealogical research more attractive to young people.
I asked what their favorite classes were so far at RootsTech, and Caitlin said hers was attending her idol, “Legal Genealogist,” Judy Russell’s FGS class. In fact, she sees Judy as a role model for combining her legal career and genealogical interests and hopes to interview her for her blog. Likewise Dalton feels the attention to detail needed for architecture is an asset for a possible dual career as a genealogist.
I asked about their heritage. Caitlin said she has a lot of Scottish heritage, but when she mentioned her mother was from Texas, I asked if it was possible that she and Dalton might be related. They hadn’t even looked into it, but when they were handing me their business cards, Caitlin saw a family name on Dalton’s card and found a possible connection! They both have ancestors with a common last name from Alabama. They might soon be saying, “I’m a Cousin!”