RootsTech 2018: “Connect. Belong.” Another Year in the Books.

Dalton and Caitlin are cousins who live on different continents but converge at RootsTech!

As a genealogy technology conference, RootsTech 2018, with live-streaming, social media interaction, and a global emphasis, delivered once again. The theme was “Connect. Belong.” and from many accounts this is exactly what happened as we close the book on another year.

“Relatives at RootsTech” was a big hit with attendees connecting with many cousins! The success of the app depended on how deeply an attendee was connected to the FamilySearch Family Tree so while some had a plethora of cousins, others had none. A few that thought that they would not find any cousins, found at least one or two. Some messages were sent, some contact information was exchanged, some screen shots were captured for later consideration. “Relatives at RootsTech” was a benefit for those in attendance, but the program upon which it is based, Relatives Around Me, is a relatively new feature on the FamilySearch Family Tree app that you may want to experiment with at your next genealogy event or maybe just at a neighborhood gathering. There is one caveat—the results are only as accurate as the FamilySearch Family Tree.

For those #NotAtRootsTech, I am starting to see posts containing photos of items won by virtual attendees. The #NotAtRootsTech experience may not be the same, but it is the next best thing to being at the conference. For those who missed the live-streamed sessions, they’re now available at RootsTech.org. Other sessions were recorded, but not live-streamed, and are also available.

As I mentioned in a post leading up to RootsTech, attending this conference can be overwhelming. There is so much to hear, see, and do. It is impossible to do it all. Knowing your “why” for attending can make all the difference. It is a strategy that I use each year and it works. I have never been disappointed.

One of my goals this year was to connect with my genealogy community of friends—the ones who share a passion for family history, love to hear the latest ancestral stories, and brainstorm ways to break down brick walls. Many of us know each other online but we’ve never met in person. It can be quite humorous to see someone and remember their handle but not their name. Jenna Mills, a.k.a., @SeekingSurnames, suggested that I wear my trademark as a mask so that I would be easily recognized. I never thought about it before, but it could be fun. Maybe next year. :-)

Since I am the self-proclaimed “Human in Salt Lake City Reporting on RootsTech,” I would like to introduce you to some of those in attendance this year:

What would a genealogy conference be without at tree? Seriously, I met RootsFinder in 2017, but this year I insisted on a photo capturing his roots. Look around on social media and you will find that most photographs cut off his roots. This is totally contrary to the purpose of a conference like RootsTech. :-/

When I caught up with Scott Fisher, of @ExtremeGenes, and Judy Russell, a.k.a., @legalgen, they were discussing their plans for the Innovation Showcase. I may have overheard a word or two about the predictions but I was sworn to secrecy.

I connected with Hilary, a.k.a., @Genemeet, Cheri Hudson Passey, a.k.a., @CarolinaGirlGen, Marie, a.k.a., @histfamilles, and Melanie, a.k.a, @ShamrockGen at the Media Dinner. We welcomed Melanie as a new RootsTech Ambassador this year!

It is great to schedule time to sit and chat. This particular chat included Cheri, @JasonHewlett, who is incredibly entertaining and MC’ed RootsTech, and @LauraLHedgecock. Cheri and Laura are also on the board for the @GeneaBloggersTribe.

I also connected with Angie, a.k.a., @arodesky, and Ruth, a.k.a @PassionateGenea, at the @Living_DNA booth. Living DNA was a platinum sponsor this year with announcements that included an incredible conference price and an upcoming feature, Family Networks, using DNA results, gender, and birthdate to populate the family tree. Angie is a Living DNA U.S. ambassador. Ruth is the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference Program Chair this year. The conference will be held June 1-3, 2018 in Guelph, Ontario.

One of the wonderful aspects of RootsTech is that it attracts family historians from all 50 of the United States as well as 42 countries this year. @JennyAJoyce, from Australia, brought Jaffas to share. Thank you, Jenny! Yum!

Although we’ve had plenty of interaction on Twitter, this was the first time I had the opportunity to meet Jenna, a.k.a., @SeekingSurnames (and a @Chiefs and @Royals fan), and Beth, @BGWylie. Just an FYI, #genchat will be held tonight on Twitter at 8 p.m. MT. Follow the hashtag and @_genchat, too! Join us!

Long over due, I finally connected with my good friend True Lewis, a.k.a., @MyTrueRoots. True is a former U.S. Army Veteran and co-host of @BlackProGen.

Unlike those who blog or who are active on social media, Debbie and Glen serve as writers for FamilySearch. They also double as bouncers for the Media Hub so when I took this photo they had their eye on someone. Glen’s most recent post for the FamilySearch Newsroom is titled, “Quest to Find the Painting of the Ship Brooklyn.”

When I was sitting by Ellen, I had no idea who she was! But then as we began to talk I realized that we were Twitter friends. Meet the Family History Hound! She a “Hound on the Hunt” and she doesn’t want you to “bark up the wrong tree”.

Marian Pierre-Louis attended RootsTech for the first time this year! I know Marian from her blog, Marian’s Roots & Rambles, the fact that she solved Geoff Rasmussen’s “Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown’s Parents” and as a current host of Legacy Family Tree Webinars. It was great to connect!

Michelle, @SoSleuth, and I met back in 2015 when she was an ambassador for the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference held in Salt Lake City in conjunction with RootsTech. It was great to see her again. Meeting up at conferences is like a family reunion. This year RootsTech was on its way to verifying this simile as fact with “Relatives At RootsTech.” I may not be related to Michelle by DNA, but I claim her as family anyway!

In the final hours of the conference I was wrapping up the conference with these wonderful women: @MichelleGoodrum, Tierra Kellow, a.k.a. @Pressingback, @AmyJohnsonCrow, Lara Diamond, @larasgenealogy, and Kenyatta Berry, @kenyatadb. Although I can name the year that I connected with each of these women, whether an old acquaintance or new, the important fact is that we each belong to the family history and genealogy community. :-)

And, where would we be without the RootsTech team! They work hard each year to put together this conference, striving to improve that which needs improvement. The 2018 statistics are in and there were 17,210 registrations, 111,699 unique live-stream views, 38,288 unique households that watched the live stream, 125 unique countries that watched the live stream, 11,237 tweets using #RootsTech, and over 26,000 Family Discovery Day participants!

Participants could not help but be aware of some of the challenges this team faced this year with the changes and growth, but they’re on it! They’re working toward a better onsite and virtual experience for everyone next year! RootsTech will be held February 27-March 2, 2019 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Early bird registration will open September 2018. Hope to see you at RootsTech 2019!

FYI: I have identified Twitter handles for many that I mention in this post, but the highlighted handles are linked to their respective blogs or other relevant information.

About RootsTech
RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I am designated as an official ambassador to the RootsTech Conference and, as such, I am provided complimentary admission and other services to accomplish my duties. Nevertheless, I have been with RootsTech since its inception and with its predecessor for many years as a paid participant. As always, my coverage and opinions are my own and are not affected by my current status. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Copyright © 2018. Lynn Broderick, a.k.a., the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

8 thoughts on “RootsTech 2018: “Connect. Belong.” Another Year in the Books.

  1. It was also my first year as an Ambassador. But not my first RootsTech conference.
    Plans for next year’s conference already underway.
    I am commenting using my One Name Study blog log in so to clarify I am Hilary Gadsby a.k.a. @genemeet

    • Hi, Hilary! I didn’t realize that it was your 1st year as a RootsTech ambassador because you blended in so well as an FGS ambassador in 2015. :-) I will make note of it & edit the body of this post to reflect accuracy. I look forward to seeing you again next year!

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