© 2020 by Roots & Wings Research, LLC

  • Kristin Wenger

Enjoying My Journey at SLIG

The 2019 theme of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy is “Enjoy the Journey.” A fresh coat of snow covers the ground in Salt Lake City today, but my journey to SLIG began on a sweltering summer day with what I dubbed the “Hail Mary Pass.”


The Hail Mary Pass

My original continuing education plan included my first trip to SLIG in 2020; however, when I learned that 2019 would be the final year in which Tom Jones coordinated the Advanced Genealogical Methods course, I reconsidered. I decided upon a “Hail Mary Pass” for registration. If I was quick enough to make it into the highly coveted course (it closed in less than a minute), I would make the trek to Salt Lake. If not, I’d wait until 2020.


One tiny issue. I would not have access to a computer at the moment registration opened. Our family would be on a previously scheduled tour of the University of Pittsburgh for our oldest son’s college search. As the countdown clock ticked down, I relied on my phone and a prayer (not necessarily in that order)! My fingers poised to work through the registration screens as quickly as possible, I knew it was a long shot. A few seconds later, I was gobsmacked to realize I had scored a seat in the class.


And six months later, here I am.

*All photographs are my own unless attributed to another SLIG participant.



A Few of My Favorite Things

My week began with a visit to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Sunday morning before registration opened. As a lifelong vocalist and musician, it was quite a treat to see a live performance of this 360-voice choir with full orchestra.



One of their pieces was “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. What an apt description of my journey at SLIG so far! A few of the favorite things I've experienced are:

  • Meeting new friends and connecting with "virtual" ones I'd met in my Boston University course. According to director Peg Ivanyo, students have gathered from 48 states and 6 foreign countries!

A gathering of students who have previously completed Boston University's Genealogical Research Certificate course

Photograph shared by Susan Hayes in the SLIG Attendee Facebook Group


  • Listening to LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson encourage us to use our skills to “tell the entire story of our American mosaic” and affirm the “inherent worth of every family’s story.” We can use our research to help others understand how truly connected all of us are, a point she highlighted with this surprise DNA revelation:

Photograph shared by J. Paul Hawthorne in the SLIG Attendee Facebook Group


  • Pushing the limits by expanding my knowledge and techniques. I was present when the photograph below was taken as a small group of classmates tackled our homework. No further explanation needed!

Photograph of Derek Wood shared by Susan Hayes in the SLIG Attendee Facebook Group


  • Learning about a wide variety of topics which I can't wait to apply to my research!



  • Taking a tour of the Ancestry ProGenealogists office last night. As one of their remote contractors, it was such a treat to see the official “headquarters” and meet some staff members in person.

Two of my classmates, Elizabeth and Julie, at the Ancestry offices.

Photograph shared by Elizabeth Gomoll in the SLIG Attendee Facebook Group


The Journey Continues

At this moment, I’m on my lunch break on Wednesday, the halfway point of my week at SLIG. I am eagerly anticipating the second half:

  • Two-and-a-half more days of soaking in wisdom from our instructors in the Advanced Genealogical Methods course.

  • A visit to the Family History Library this evening (aka “Mecca” for genealogical researchers) to make use of their vast resources.

  • An event with Legacy Tree Genealogists tomorrow. I hope to meet some professionals with whom I’ve worked remotely in obtaining local records.

  • Our closing banquet on Friday evening, featuring Tom Jones reflecting on his journey as an exemplary professional genealogist.


I am truly enjoying my journey at SLIG because every day is full of my favorite things! However, a few of my favorite people are across the country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. And I can’t wait to journey home to them as we continue to write our own family’s story!