***RootsTech is the world’s largest genealogy and family history conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is a four day conference hosted by Family Search. RootsTech 2020 was held February 27 – March 2, 2019.***
I must admit that the first two days here at RootsTech have been jammed packed. And if I’m being completely honest I was starting to feel the effects of it this morning. We stayed three blocks from the convention center, so we just walked there and back every day plus all the walking in the convention center and all the standing in at the expo hall. My feet and back weren’t too happy with me this morning. But I didn’t let that stop me from getting the most out of this experience. I looked over today’s schedule last night and nothing really caught my attention, so I decided that today would be a great time for me to go to the Family History Library. The Family History Library has the largest collection of genealogy and family history material in the United States. So the question wasn’t if I was going, but when would I be going? And today was the day.
Yesterday I had an appointment with the Coaches Corner. This was a free 20-minute consultation with a professional genealogist from Trace that was provided in the expo hall. During this consultation, I wanted to figure out how to go about finding the death date of my 2X great grandfather. I brought all the information I had collected with me to the consultation including an index of his marriage certificate. My genealogist, Tina, looked at my print out then pointed out that the index had a page number on it. So she suggested that I should go to the Family History Library and look at and review the actual marriage certificate. She looked up the call number of the microfilm I needed. I had already made a list of what I wanted to research, so I just added that to the list.
I arrived at the Family History Library around 9am and told the greeter that this was my first visit to the library. I was given a short tour by one of the volunteers, and she then assisted me with locating the microfilm, the microfilm readers, and the copy center. Unlike other libraries/archives I have been to, I was able to retrieve as many microfilms as I needed myself. So it was really nice to be able to pull all the microfilm I wanted at once instead of getting them one at a time. The first microfilm I looked at was Alabama marriage records 1890-1899. Since I had the page number from my printout of the index, it took less than five minutes to find my ancestor’s record. Next up was a Gathering of Picketts of Virginia. This film I had actually ordered through the Family History Center two years ago before they discontinued that service. I was looking for a will of my ancestor’s slaveholder hoping to find his mother in his estate records. But unfortunately, the enslaved people weren’t listed by name. Then lastly I looked at the Alabama 1900 voter registration list.
I was then able to take all the films that I wanted to copy or save to my flash drive to the copy center. Once I got to the copy center, I ran into my new genealogy friend, Olivia. I had met her the night before at the screening of Gina’s Journey. So it was nice to see a familiar face on a very busy day. Also in the copy center was Nicka Smith from BlackProGen Live. Not only did she help me with learning how to use the microfilm reader, but the three of us were able to have some good conversation about genealogy, our goals, research methods, and the future of genealogy. I always enjoy myself when I go to the library to research but to say this was by far the best experience I have had yet would be an understatement.
I spent a couple of hours at the Family History Library. I had lunch at the expo hall then headed over to the Sons and Daughters of the US Middle Passage booth. I told the president that I would volunteer at the booth if she needed me to, and she asked if I could help out on Friday afternoon. I was more than happy to help. I worked the booth for a few hours. I got the opportunity to give attendees information about the organization. The Sons and Daughters of the US Middle Passage is a fairly new lineage society, so I would have the chance to talk about the organization, the application process, and what the mission of this organization is. But I was pleasantly surprised that I got the opportunity to answer questions about genealogy research in general, African American history, and slavery. I really enjoyed the time I was able to help out at the booth. It was nice being able to answer questions, hear people’s stories, and telling my own story of how I became a member. This experience also reminded me that I have a great deal of knowledge about genealogy and historical facts of the United States and slavery in the United States.
I ended up staying in the expo hall until it closed at 6pm. I didn’t attend any sessions today. Today I was able to do some research and be a genealogy social butterfly. That’s one of the things I love about the RootsTech experience, there are other things to experience than just sitting in sessions. There are many sides to genealogy; the actual research, the social aspect of genealogy in sharing stories, and the historical foundation needed. Today was one of the few times I was able to participate in all the sides of genealogy. It’s hard to believe that day three is over, and I only have one more RootsTech day left.
To read my RootsTech day 1 recap click HERE
To read my RootsTech day 2 recap click HERE
To read my RootsTech day 4 recap click HERE