Skip to main content

Top Ten Reasons to Be Thankful for #RootsTech

Photo: The Salt Palace Convention Center with a rootstech logo wrapped around part of the building
Last week, I attended RootsTech again. Each year I go, I get more and more out of the world's largest genealogy conference. Ten years ago, three thousand people showed up for the first RootsTech. I don't know the official count this year, but it was closer to ten times that. Not only has RootsTech expanded in participants, it has grown in other ways. Last September, RootsTech met in London, England, for the first time, and it was recently announced that there will be another conference across the pond this November. If you live in the UK, or need an excuse to visit, mark your calendars for November 5-7! 

If a trip to England isn't in the cards this year, maybe a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, next February would be more likely. Next year's RootsTech will be held February 3-6, 2021. 

If you haven't been to RootsTech before, you might be wondering what all the hype is about, so for this week's Ten Things of Thankful post, I thought I'd bring you a Top Ten list: Top 10 Reasons to be Thankful for RootsTech!

10. Swag. From the cool, Relative-Race-sponsored backpack given to all registrants, to candy on vendors' tables, or drawings for computers and other prizes, it would be impossible to leave RootsTech empty-handed.

9. FamilySearch app, specifically the Relatives at RootsTech feature. Thanks to that app, I learned that I had more than 6,000 cousins at RootsTech with me!

8. Energetic vibe. Believe it or not, there was palpable energy at this genealogy conference, and at no time was this more evident than Wednesday night, when tens of thousands of next-generation family historians descended upon the conference center. 

Photo: A crowd of people swarm the Salt Lake Convention Center for RootsTech

7. New products. From MyHeritage's  introduction of their colorizing technology for old black and white photos, to Keepsake DNA, a company that uses forensic technology to lift DNA off of old items, the Expo Hall was filled with the latest tech and genealogy items.

6. Volunteers and Staff. Everywhere you looked, you could find volunteers wearing "Ask Me Anything" T-shirts. Those volunteers did everything from giving directions to handing out snacks to bringing wheelchairs to tired seniors. And they did it all with a smile!

A young woman wearing a blue "Ask me anything" t-shirt walks with another woman. (Photo courtesy of RootsTech)
Pulling off a huge event is no easy task, but the RootsTech folks made it seem like it was no problem. Even though the Salt Palace was undergoing a major construction project and some temporary restrooms had to be brought in, that situation just inspired some "live like your ancestors" jokes. There even was a "What kind of toilet are you?" online quiz. (Middle Ages Garderobes and Pits, if you must know--though as a thankful-for-indoor-plumbing kind of gal, I question the validity of the results.)

Photo: A sign pointing the way to the restrooms. Underneath the directional arrow is the text,"Curious about the evolution of the toilet? Ever wonder which toilet you would be in another life? We thought so. Find out with this quiz. Open your camera app and scan the QR code to take the quiz."

5. Genealogical helpers. Coaches Corner by Trace offered free one-on-one consultations with genealogists. Speakers had time for Q &A at the end of classes, or offered to stay afterwards for discussion. Even attendees provided suggestions to others on how to solve family history mysteries. 

4. Classes. From very beginner classes that explained what a family tree was, to advanced DNA panel discussions, RootsTech had classes for everyone. The wealth of knowledge was overwhelming!

3. Keynote speakers. This year, not only did we hear from Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch, we also were privileged to hear addresses from Leigh Anne Tuohy (the mother who Sandra Bullock portrayed in The Blind Side), David Hume Kennerly (Pulitzer-prize winning photographer), and Emmitt Smith (NFL Hall-of-Famer). On Friday night, we also were entertained by comedian Ryan Hamilton. These presentations were definitely a highlight of the week!
Leigh Anne Tuohy, photo courtesy of RootsTech

David Hume Kennerly, photo courtesy of RootsTech
Emmitt Smith, photo courtesy of RootsTech

Theme. This year's theme was The Story of You. Throughout the week, we were reminded to take time to share our own stories. Steve Rockwell stated, "We don't just study family history; we live family history." We saw examples of individuals sharing their stories through comedy, photography, painting, dance, videos, and the written word. 

Photo: RootsTech attendees write in journals on the "What's YOUR story?" wall. (Photo courtesy of RootsTech.)

And the number one reason to be thankful for RootsTech:

1. Surrounding yourself with the feeling of family. RootsTech combined the history of the past with the technology of the future, all while encouraging living in the present. That feeling of connection through generations was seen in the smiles of the attendees. 

Truth be told, there are plenty more reasons to be thankful for RootsTech.  I'm so thankful I could attend this 10th anniversary year of RootsTech. As an ambassador, RootsTech gave me a pass to attend, and also sponsored a giveaway so one of my readers could also attend. I was able to meet the giveaway winner (also named Kristi, coincidentally) and we discovered we are 9th cousins. We took a quick photo, which I would share with you, except I am having technical difficulties with some of my photos. I'm thankful that RootsTech shared some of their professional photos with me to use in this blog post. 

If you missed RootsTech this year, don't worry; you can access free video archives of select presentations on the RootsTech site

Have you been to RootsTech? What are some of your reasons to be thankful? 

Linking up to the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop this week with me:
The Prolific Pulse
MessyMimi's Meanderings
Carin's Gratitude
Backsies is What There is Not
The Wakefield Doctrine
A Season and a Time

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


  1. Studying family has always been something i wanted to do, but have no time to devote to it. Someday.

    1. I'm always willing to help you. It's easier than ever to research, with so many records available online.

  2. Great recap of a wonderful week with you!


Post a Comment

Conversations are so much nicer when more than one person does the talking. :-) Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts; I'd love to hear from you!

Popular posts from this blog

Ten Things of Thankful: Even in Times of Uncertainty

  A railroad switch point on the tracks at the Golden Spike National Historic Park There is a lot I don't know. I don't know who will lead the United States for the next four years (at the time I'm composing this post, that hasn't been determined yet.) I don't know when covid cases will stop rising in my state and start decreasing. I don't know how challenging situations will turn out. There is much uncertainty in life. Living in limbo-land is hard. It's emotionally exhausting. It can be immobilizing. My body seems to think chocolate is the answer, but I know that isn't a long-term solution. What do I need in times like these? I need to REMEMBER . 1. R esilience. People are resilient. I am resilient. I'm thankful for resilience. 2. " E ach Life That Touches Ours for Good." So many people, both those I know in "real life," and those I have only met virtually, have taught me, encouraged me, and been examples to me. I'm thankful

Ten Things of Thankful: Dad's Influence Edition

Infant-me, sitting on the wood floor, looks up at my dad, who is sitting on a brown sofa and smiling down to me Here in the United States, it is Father's Day weekend. I did not realize until recently that Father's Day was not officially made a holiday until 1972. 1972! Now, while I realize that many people consider 1972 eons ago, I do not. I'm glad that fathers have a day of recognition now, because they surely deserve acknowledgement.  I thought for this week's Ten Things of Thankful post, I would list ten lessons I'm thankful my dad taught me. My dad is a teacher. Not only did he impart his knowledge to countless junior high aged kids throughout his career, he taught--and still teaches--my siblings and me. He is not a preachy teacher; he's a humble man whose lessons I feel like I learned through osmosis. When he would get home from work, we'd all sit down as a family for supper. Often, our phone would ring, and on the other end of the line would be a paren

Ten Things of Thankful: Summer Strawberries and Procrastinated Projects

A brilliantly-colored dark pink and purple fuchsia blossom You would think that by the time a person reaches my age, she would not be surprised by the passing of time, yet I find myself nearly constantly amazed that a certain amount of time has passed--whether that be a week, month, year, or couple of decades. Earlier this year, I planted a garden. Yesterday I harvested my first strawberry. Earlier this year, I also planted fuchsia starts, and now the flowers are blooming. How is that possible? (And why am I surprised?) Sometime around the turn of the century (and it still seems strange to use that phrase about the year 2000), we bought a circa 1935 dresser. It needed some TLC, but had a cool curvy front. This past week, I finally got around to applying some Restor-A-Finish and Feed-N-Wax, and now the dresser still looks old, but not dilapidated. I still need to apply some hide glue to some loose pieces, but I'm counting progress as a win. For as long as I can remember, I've be