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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
FamilySearch instructs genealogy enthusiasts in a workshop during RootsTech 2012 family history conference in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 3, 2012. This year the conference is March 21-23.

How long has it been since you sharpened your skill saw, so to speak, in genealogy? One cannot prune unfruitful limbs on a family tree with a dull blade. Out-of-date approaches and techniques are like a dull blade, giving a lot of work to do but getting us nowhere. It makes it difficult to open up lines and find early ancestors.

It may be time to sharpen the blade and assess your research if you want to shape your family tree and get the right limbs to branch out.

Two skill-sharpening genealogy conferences will be held soon in Salt Lake City.

The first will be RootsTech 2013, scheduled for March 21-23 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The next will be the Family History Expo Retreat at the Plaza Hotel, scheduled for April 8-12. Both sites are less than a block away from the Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City.

This year, RootsTech is being retooled to appeal to both young and old participants.

Anybody with an interest in family history is invited, particularly beginners. Updated information will be given on the new Family Tree process, and items that help expedite research work will be discussed. Speakers from companies “all over the country” will be speaking.

Also invited are family history consultants from various wards, branches and stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Youths have been sent online invitations to hear the Sister Elaine Dalton, Young Women general president of the LDS Church, speak.

There will be exhibits and concession stands for products and services by suppliers, as well as online research membership.

Last year's RootsTech conference brought 4,000 attendees from 46 states, six Canadian provinces and 23 additional countries. There were 50,000 sessions of streaming views. More than 90 bloggers from Australia, Canada, Israel, Britain and the U.S. were there, and 93 percent of the attendees said they were satisfied with the value of information received during the conference. There were 20 official sponsors. This year, organizers say the conference will be even better. To learn more or register, go to rootstech.org.

On April 8-12, the Family History Conference Expo Retreat will be at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel, 122 W. South Temple. Holly Hansen, president of Family History Expos, said the week will feature classes to help participants get started with their research.

I will be giving the first class in the hotel classroom on April 8 at 8 a.m. regarding the layout of each floor at the Family History Library. Other professionals will be Arlene H. Eakle, Sharon D. Monson and James L. Tanner.

Also, there will be opportunities to hook up with expert researchers through the “Ask an Expert” booth. Participants can ask the experts questions about their lines where they have been stuck. Or ask questions on lines they have been working on that just don't make sense because of something missing in the information.

All of the classes will be taught in the hotel classroom. Classes will include “Navigating Through the FHL,” “The Family Search Catalog: Key to the Collections,” “How to Ask for Help”; “Setting Goals to Focus Your Research”; "Using Microfilm and Microfiche”; "Understanding the Records"; and "Making Use of a Research Log." The schedule of classes can be found online at: www.familyhistoryexpos.com.

Genealogy graduate Russell Bangerter is president of Ancestral Connections, Inc. at ancestralconnect.com. He is a professional genealogist, author and speaker and adviser to Treasured Souls to Keep at treasuredsoulstokeep.com.