In Retrospect—RootsTech London 2019

Three weeks ago family historians and genealogist gathered to experience the inaugural RootsTech London. Since that time I’ve had an opportunity to reflect on the experience held at the ExCeL Centre located near the London City Airport.

Conferences aren’t new to the U.K. Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE ran for 10 years. Family Tree Live and The Genealogy Show drew crowds of researchers this year, so what could RootsTech London contribute? I wasn’t sure when it was announced, but I am happy to report that the conference was well received. 

I attended the first RootsTech in Salt Lake City in 2011. It filled part of the Salt Palace Convention Center and its focus was on technology as it relates to genealogy. London was reminiscent of the size within the Salt Lake City venue, but that was about it. Technology sometimes brings with it a gray feeling. The nuts and bolts. The algorithms. Engineers had sessions targeted at them while genealogists were introduced to PDF files. I straddled the gap and attended a few sessions on each track. Language was a barrier for most in attendance. Engineers didn’t get genealogists; and genealogists were wary of engineers. We’ve come a long way. While the first RootsTech reminds me of a blind date where you have no idea what to expect, RootsTech has matured the relationship between technology and genealogy. I don’t want to take the relationship analogy too far, but it is as if RootsTech has married these fields and London was like the renewing of vows!

RootsTech provides a four-pillar model for its offering: keynote speakers, educational sessions, the exhibition hall, and evening entertainment. RootTech London was scaled down, but as an international introduction it was barely noticeable. It was a reasonable commute from the city center for some and the venue was perfect for the conference with hotels nearby.

Comic Con was also in town and the ExCeL Centre had strict policies as they managed the two worlds. Depending on the hotel reservation or tube stop, some had to walk outside in the unpredictable weather for a short time. It did not appear to place a damper on anyone. I personally found it a convenient walk to the venue after I enjoyed the hotel’s buffet breakfast reservation. It was a lifesaver since the restaurants within the ExCeL had access challenges for RootsTech attendees. 

The 11 a.m. keynote sessions, carried over to RootsTech London, are my favorite sessions where I can relax and listen to individuals from diverse backgrounds talk about a common subject—family history. I hope that the time change for the keynotes introduced at RootsTech SLC is a permanent part of the conference schedule. Whether the earlier time slot is used to catch an early morning session or to sleep in, it works for everyone. The later keynote times also accommodate those that commute to the venue.

This year’s keynotes were given by Dan Snow, KaDeena Cox, and Donny Osmond. Nick Barratt served as MC each day. The keynotes are still available for viewing at RootsTech.org. I had the opportunity to participate in interviews, but I enjoyed the Meet and Greets offered to all conference attendees for each of the keynotes even more.*

I found it interesting that when Donny Osmond was announced as a keynote speaker, some were asking, who?, why?, yet, after his keynote, Donny did not have time to greet everyone that wanted a photo, an autograph, or ask a question or two. The line was overwhelming long. I spoke with a number of those waiting.

The last person in line was a volunteer. He had to report to his post in 30 minutes. He hoped to meet Donny on behalf of his mother. She is a big fan even from her youth and could not be in attendance. The story goes that Donny and his family so influence this young man’s mother as a teen that she became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When his future mother met his future father, she introduced her love interest to the Latter-day Saint missionaries and his future father was baptized, too. Soon after his parents were married, but his mother did not cease to be a Donny fan. This young man credits Donny and the Osmond family for his very existence. He was disappointed that he would miss the opportunity to meet Donny due to the overwhelming response from other fans. Observing Donny’s interaction with other attendees, I have no doubt Donny would want to meet this young man as well. I have recommended that RootsTech consider using the Lineberty app in the future for the Meet and Greets to avoid long lines and disappointments. It is an app that allows a person to obtain a reservation, receive updates on wait times, and be notified when the time of reservation is near. This will allow attendees to visit other areas in the exhibition hall without losing their place in line.

The educational sessions were found in the auditorium and on the third floor, which was easily accessible by escalator or lift. The schedule had so much to offer. I enjoyed a few sessions focused on DNA; it is the area of genealogy is rapidly evolving and expanding its interests. It’s a challenge for anyone to keep abreast of all the new angles, applications, and legal issues. The DNA panel brought insight to all of these areas, but limited time limited discussion. A couple of those sessions are available for view at no cost on the RootsTech website. There is also a premium virtual pass that offers 20 recorded sessions, three related to DNA, at a nominal fee. 

The exhibition hall was very well organized with incredible offerings including the DNA Basics Learning Centre, the Demo Theatre and the Discovery Zone. There were a number of opportunities for attendees to receive guidance in answering their own research questions.

All of the major genealogy companies were represented, including Findmypast, Ancestry, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage. Direct-to-consumer DNA companies were also represented, including 23 & Me, Ancestry, FamilyTree DNA, Living DNA, and MyHeritage. The Family History Federation, the Society of Genealogists, and American Ancestors were available with their offerings as well as 14 additional societies that could provide information about their organizations and answer any questions. The ability to ask questions in a room of collective genealogical wisdom is one of the greatest benefits of attending a conference like RootsTech.

Exclusively for RootsTech London, the Military of Defense (MOD) offered “service record searches, ordering, retrievals and interpretation, general Records and Medals advice, applications for and issue of Veterans badges and record digitization demonstrations.” This was a popular place as attendee learned that record retrievals that typically take a 3-month turn-around time were promised delivering within three hours. One delighted attendee told me that they received a file within two hours!

RootsTech London evening entertainment consisted of an early 1-hour Friday night performance from Tre Amici. After a long day of interviews and sessions, Tre Amici’s music had the ability to allow me and attendees to sit back and relax. Later evenings could be spent with different organizations getting together at establishments near the venue.

Probably the greatest benefit of attending a conference in person is the opportunity to meet up with old friends and make new ones. Every day at 3 p.m. near the Media Hub those who participate in #AncestryHour on Twitter, which originates from the U.K. Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. GMT, would gather for a Meet and Greet. It was wonderful to meet so many online friends. The crowd grew from Thursday to Saturday as word spread and schedules aligned. It’s a good reason to hope that RootsTech London returns to the U.K. sometime in the near future. Many have expressed interest in making this an annual conference, but there is no official word. I’ll keep you posted. 

Although Relative Race was a sponsor of the conference, its host, Dan J. Debenham, came in the unofficial capacity as an attendee. Nevertheless, you would not know it was an unofficial gig. Not only did he present two 15-minute introductions to the show in the Demo Theatre, he also gave away coveted Relative Race t-shirts and wrist bands to many in attendance. I cannot even count the number of selfies he took with other attendees. Dan was gracious to sit down with me in an interview and discuss the show. If you follow me on Twitter you have already heard some of the tidbits I learned about the show from this interview. There is more to come. Dan even came up with a new idea for the show during our discussion. I’d love to see this idea implemented. The current season is airing now and can be viewed on demand at BYUtv.org. Most of the shows past seasons are also available.

During RootsTech London Dan met with Ancestry to discuss the possibility of taping one episode of a future season of Relative Race in the U.K. I’ve been encouraging the show to go global and it’s exciting to see that there is this possibility moving forward since viewers watch from around the world. It was great to hear all the latest about this engaging and entertaining show. 

RootsTech London was an excellent introduction to the RootsTech brand. There were more opportunities for just about everything genealogy than any one person could access in the limited time. It left many wanting more to come in the near future. 

I would like to extend a thank you and a round of applause to Jen Allen and her team for the excellent planning and execution that resulted in this great conference. I would also like to thank each of the sponsors. They help make the magic happen!

If you have not downloaded the RootsTech app, you may still do so and have access to many of the informative handouts provided by presenters. It is available for iOS and Android. Even though RootsTech London has more to offer, it’s on to RootsTech to be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City February 26-29, 2020. RootsTech Pass Giveaways are going on now! There are more giveaways to come, including mine, so I invite you to subscribe to this blog! 

*Actually, I was one of many in attendance where time limited the opportunity to meet Donny, but Donny and I did briefly speak to one another in passing and he was willing to hold Henry the Sleuth, the genealogy sloth, for the ambassador photo op so I have no complaints.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am designated as an official ambassador of the RootsTech Conference and RootsTech London. 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.”

© 2019 Lynn Broderick, a.k.a., the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

RootsTech: an Update on Two Events

There is a lot going on as the RootsTech team launches early registration for the 10th anniversary of RootsTech held in Salt Lake City while preparing the final details for RootsTech London, so I thought I would combine the two announcements into one! Here’s the scoop:

RootsTech 2020

The RootsTech Ambassadors are launching coverage of RootsTech 2020. For many family historians it’s the most anticipated genealogy/technology event of the year! This year’s theme is “The Story of YOU.”  RootsTech will be celebrating 10 years of pursuing our family histories together. Even if it hasn’t personally been a decade for you, it’s fun to look back and see how much the field has advanced in preservation, access, technology, and science, and, most importantly, the family connections made through these advances.

Early registration is open now! It is scheduled to end October 11, 2019. In the past Team Registration has gone into overtime, but why take that chance? For best pricing, register today!

Here’s the official press release with the details!

RootsTech 2020 SLC Opens Registration

FamilySearch International has announced that registration for RootsTech 2020 Salt Lake City is now open. RootsTech is a popular 4-day annual family history and technology conference where individuals and families are inspired to discover, share, and preserve their family roots, heritage, and stories. The 2020 conference will be held February 26–29, 2020, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. For more information, visit rootstech.org/salt-lake. Discounts are available for early registrations…

RootsTech 2020 will celebrate its 10thanniversary and the distinguished honor that it is the largest genealogy conference of its kind in the world. The conference will feature a full lineup of inspiring and well-known keynote speakers, over 300 informative sessions, including hands-on computer workshops taught by industry professionals; interactive activities and helpful exhibitors in the expo hall; and entertaining events—all designed to inspire and empower personal family discoveries.

Conference Details

The theme for RootsTech 2020 will be “The Story of YOU.” Many of the classes, keynote address, and venue décor will reflect this theme.

“At RootsTech, we believe that the stories we’re creating and preserving today are just as important as the stories of our ancestors,” said Jen Allen, event director. “Reflecting on and celebrating each of our personal journeys is an important part of family history that we are excited to explore at the 2020 conference.”

RootsTech 2020 will also introduce learning forums—new class sessions covering a variety of specialized topics including: records access and preservation, innovation and technology, and DNA. One of these forums will be offered on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

RootsTech 2020 will officially begin on Wednesday, February 26 with class sessions beginning at 8 AM MT. Wednesday’s general keynote session will begin on the main stage at 4:30 p.m. Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International, will be the featured keynote speaker.

General keynote sessions on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will begin on the main stage at 11 AM MT and will lead directly into the lunch hour.

Read more about what’s new at RootsTech 2020.

Pricing

Early bird discount pricing is available for a limited time on 4-day passes at just $169 (a $130 discount on regularly priced passes). Single day RootsTech passes are also available for $99. Both one-day and full conference passes include access to the popular expo hall and keynote sessions. Early bird pricing ends October 11, 2019.

Family Discovery Day

Registration for Family Discovery Day is also now open. The event takes place on Saturday, February 2[9], 2020, and is designed for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This free 1-day event includes inspiring messages from Church leaders; engaging classes for families, youth, and young single adults; and evening entertainment to inspire and help families make family history connections. Family Discovery Day attendees will also hae access to all the interactive activities and exhibitors found in the RootsTech expo hall. Event details, including speakers and class sessions, will be made available soon at RootsTech.org. The event is free, but registration is required.

RootsTech London

RootsTech London will be held at the ExCel London October 24-26, just 36 days from now, and the RootsTech app has been updated! It contains the schedule and other pertinent information for this conference. Although the syllabi/handouts are not yet listed in the app, the documents are scheduled to be uploaded in early October and will likely contain helpful family history tips for everyone, even those #NotAtRootsTechLondon. If you already have the app installed on your device, you can update it simply by opening the app, selecting RootsTech London 2019, and clicking “open.” If you haven’t downloaded the app, it is available at the App Store or on Google Play.

If you haven’t heard yet, Dan Snow, Kadeena Cox, and Donny Osmond will be keynote speakers. Steve Rockwood, CEO at FamilySearch International, will also address the RootsTech audience. There’s still time to register. So if you’ll be in London, join us for this inaugural event!

There are still many announcement forthcoming. Subscribe to this blog for continued updates or follow me on Twitter for more expedient notifications as information becomes available.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am designated as an official ambassador of the RootsTech Conference and RootsTech London. 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.”

© 2019 Lynn Broderick, a.k.a., the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

I’m almost too late to give away a 3-day pass to RootsTech London!

It’s true! I’m almost too late to give away a 3-day pass to the inaugural RootsTech London genealogy conference! The conference will be held Thursday, October 24th through Saturday, October 26th, 2019 at ExCel London! See RootsTech.org for further details. 

My deadline for the giveaway is August 16th, so there’s still time. It’s going to be simple! 

Recently I posted a photo to Instagram of an interactive board I discovered on a wall in the hallway leading to my research destination. It asked a simple question. “If you could say anything to one of your ancestors, what would it be?” I also posted a series of photos with responses given by unknown individuals. Some who saw the post added their own thoughts.

This question has been fun to think about, so if you would like a chance to win a free 3-day pass to RootsTech London, here is what I ask you to do:

respond to the question in the comments below

OR

go to this specific Instagram post and submit a response of your own

OR

find this post pinned to my Twitter profile and post your response as a comment

OR

find my neglected Facebook page and do the same

OR

connect with me via my Let’s Talk Family History page, which rarely is neglected.

Since it is impossible to have been to RootsTech London and speak from personal experience, I can’t report on the actual event except what is posted on the site. I can tell you that the RootsTech team does an amazing job each year to host a spectacular event. RootsTech London will mirror the elements of RootsTech held Salt Lake City and this is what I have I looked forward to each year for the past decade:

  1. Keynote addresses from individuals whose life experiences and successes are varied. RootsTech has brought in speakers from the tech industry, the science community, the writer’s circle, the political realm, the entertainment industry, the sports arena, the bloggers’ sphere and, of course, the field of family history and genealogy. I have never been disappointed. RootsTech London will host Donny Osmond as a keynote speaker and a few that have yet to be announced, but I hear are not to be missed! 
  2. RootsTech offers a customized learning opportunity with over 150 sessions from which choose. A common problem for those attending is that there are too many choices and the participants are given the difficult task of choosing one favored session over another. The good news is that if a session fills quickly, there is always another quality session to attend.
  3. The Expo Hall provides the greatest gathering of organizations, societies, and vendors to explore the latest in the field of family history and genealogy. For those who loved WDYTYA Live, this will be your happy place.

This 3-day pass allows entrance to the daily keynote addresses, your choice of over 150 RootsTech sessions, entry into the Expo Hall, and all of the evening events. This 3-day pass does NOT include transportation to and from the conference, lodging accommodations, meals, or any other expenses that you may incur. It’s just the 3-day pass.

Again, how do you enter this giveaway? It’s simple.

If you would like a chance to win, here is what I ask you to do:

respond to the question in the comments below

OR

go to this specific Instagram post and submit a response of your own

OR

find this post pinned to my Twitter profile and post your response as a comment

OR

find my neglected Facebook page and do the same

OR

connect with me via my Let’s Talk Family History page.

Participants may submit more than one entry if the entries are submitted separately. Each entry is one chance to win. This contest is void where prohibited.

Not Your Cup of Tea?

If you’re not interested in responding to the question above, but you’d like a chance to win, send me a description of one of your genealogy touchdowns, a.k.a., genealogy happy dance moments. Tis’ the season for genealogy football and another way to enter.

What is a genealogy touchdown?

In my opinion, there is no better way to connect with others about family history than to share a brief replay of a genealogy touchdown—that glorious moment when research came together, you entered your genealogy end zone, and you felt like spiking the ball in celebration (a.k.a., doing the genealogy happy dance as it has been described for generations). This option is open to all interested in family history and genealogy, including those who do not like American football, but it is void where prohibited. Football terminology is not required and entries may be of any length. Submit entries via my Let’s Talk Family History page. Each entry is one chance to win. Participants may submit more than one entry if the entries are submitted separately.

I ask your permission to include quotes from your entry in future posts. If your submission is used, proper attribution will be given. If you’d rather not be quoted or you would rather remain anonymous, please indicate this with your submission or through the Let’s Talk Family History link. The more you enter, the greater your chance to win!

As mentioned, this contest is void where prohibited. Please remember that I will not use your contact information for any purpose other than entering you into this contest and to notify you if you are the winner. The contest runs from Monday, August 12, 2019 to Friday, August 16th, 2019 at 5 p.m. MT. 

The winner will be notified that evening by whatever means they entered. If you have already registered for RootsTech London and your entry is drawn, RootsTech will reimbursed you for the full amount that you’ve prepaid.

Enter today! Good Luck! Hope to see you at RootsTech London!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am designated as an official ambassador to the RootsTech Conference and RootsTech London. 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.”

© 2019 Lynn Broderick, a.k.a., the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.