Rootstech. Who is it for Anyway?

Rootstech. Who is it for Anyway?

Finally recovering and processing Rootstech 2018 and time to write my summary. After reading various comments and blogs about the conference, mainly people confirming (after seeing pictures of the crowds), that they would never attend Rootstech and complaints about the lines getting into classrooms, etc. I realized that there is some confusion on who Rootstech is really for.

Rootstech’s organizer’s FamilySearch, know that serious genealogists, whether they are professionals or hobbyists, are still going to go to institutes, attend other genealogy conferences, watch webinars, etc. regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen at Rootstech. While Rootstech provides some classes that would appeal to the experienced researcher, you are not the target audience – they welcome you and want you to attend of course, but your are not the target audience.

I have attended every Rootstech from the beginning, lots of bumps, starts and stops along the way, but overall I have always been excited about what FamilySearch was trying to do, which the theme of this year’s Rootstech perfectly states, “Connect. Belong.” Rootstech has done more to bring more people into the family history pool than anything or anyone else. This means more consumers and clients for those who sell genealogy services and products. This means greater demand for more innovation, technology and services. A demand that innovators and corporations will rise to meet. This means more people to join societies and attend other conferences as they grow in genealogy maturity.

Interviewing Scott Hamilton. Such an awesome human being!

But, my real love of Rootstech is personal. Yes, as a Rootstech ambassador for many years, I have had some spectacular opportunities to meet some pretty cool people, (this year’s Scott Hamilton has to be one of my all time favorites). But, it is not those nice perks that make me love Rootstech. (FYI, I work hard as an ambassador, and I know my fellow ambassadors do as well for those perks).


Fellow Rootstech Ambassadors Bernice Bennett and Peggy Lauritzen.

Fun with Belgium genealogist Marie Cappart.

Ambassadors working hard at the Media Hub.

I have been doing genealogy for over 30 years. My husband and family are super supportive of family history and I am very blessed because of that support. By support, I mean, they supported me doing it, not them. My husband and daughters have come to a few of the Family Discovery Days held on the Saturday at Rootstech. They visited the exhibitor booths and enjoyed the entertainment.

This year, my husband attended all 4 days of Rootstech AND took classes. He actually said the words, I never thought I would hear him say to me, “I want you to teach me how to do family history research.” Never thought it would happen folks, and I know that without Rootstech, it is doubtful this would have ever happened.

Rootstech is for Everyone

Rootstech is for everyone – the reluctant, the stick-your-toes-in-very-beginner, the intermediate and yes, even you advanced ones, the ones who like to grumble about the crowds on one hand and complain about how to get people interested in joining their societies on the other. This is where we lovers of family history can take our whole family! This is where we can get them started! There is literally something for everyone, from Mariachi bands playing in the streets lined with food trucks, to big productions of big bands and dancers celebrating the Greatest Generation that everyone will enjoy, to outstanding presenters on a variety of genealogy subjects.

I remember when I was on the board of directors for Story@Home, when we helped bring stories to Rootstech, back when it was ALL about the technology, not a story to be found. I remember lots of genealogists grouching about stories then. Show me one single genealogist who got started in the field without a story! Stories are what get us started, it help us feel a need to know how and where we belong. THEN, we go to records to figure out the chart, and the smart ones look for the stories in the records. We woo our families to their family ancestors with their stories. When we do it right, they will learn to love the records, not for the sake of records, but for the part it plays in their family’s stories.

This year’s Rootstech did not have as much as a technology emphasis, but growth was still evident. 2 companies, though they are not new to Rootstech, their growth and innovation is new. MyHeritage has made some great new strides with their new MyHeriatge Chromosome Browser, and their DNA Quest, offering free DNA kits to adoptees to reunite with their birth families are all game changers.

JoyFlips that is both a web and a mobile app that allows you to share unlimited photos and stories for FREE. Yes, you can archive and save them for no cost.

While Rootstech may not be the place you go to advance your personal genealogy education, (though you will learn lots of new things about the technology available). Maybe you should plan to take your family and introduce them to the field in such a fun and inviting way as Rootstech offers. Maybe you will hear those magic words from your family members, “teach me.


  1. Excellent post and I agree with you totally! While I’m the one who does the research in my family, my husband always accompanies me to RootsTech (every year except the first year) and loves the Keynotes, the Entertainment and visiting with and learning from the Vendors. There truly is something for everyone. I didn’t mind standing in line for an hour and a half to Register, or for 15-20 minutes to get into a class as I thought the content of every class was worth it! It takes planning to get into the classes and events and get a good seat, but I plan my experience well in advance to attending the conference. And it goes smoothly, I get to do all I’d planned and come home feeling very nourished, educated, motivated, and fulfilled. I already can’t wait for next year’s fun!

  2. Anne Hopkins :

    My first year at Rootstech. It is an event where miracles happen. I hope to attend (crowds and all) next year. Truely amazing and inspiring!

    • I am so happy that you got to experience Rootstech for the first time! It is huge, overwhelming at times and it is truly a place where miracles can happen. Hope to see you next year!

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