***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 26 – February 29, 2020.***
It seems like I have been planning for RootsTech 2020 since I left RootsTech 2019. Time has really flown by because it doesn’t seem like it’s been a year. RootsTech officially started on Wednesday, but for me, it started on Tuesday evening. Since I was selected to be an ambassador for this year’s conference, I was invited to the media dinner on Tuesday. It gave me the opportunity to meet the other ambassadors and put faces with the names I had seen in emails and on social media. I arrived at the Salt Palace Convention Center early, so I could walk around and reminisce about the wonderful time I had at last year’s conference. Seeing this year’s theme ‘The Story of You’ on the outside of the building and people already walking around with their RootsTech conference bag brought a smile to my face and memories of last year to my mind.
The Family History Library is only a couple of blocks from the convention center, and they had extended hours this year (closed at 11pm M-W of the conference). So I headed to the Family History Library after the media dinner to get in some research. I arrived at the library around 8pm thinking that since it was dinner time there wouldn’t be many people there. But I was very wrong, in fact, the place was packed and I had to make two trips around the computers before I found an empty one. I had my research plan with me, so I was able to find the microfilm that I needed in a timely manner. Like always, time flies when you looking at microfilm, so before I knew it, it was almost 10pm. So I packed up and headed back to the hotel for dinner and to look over my tentative schedule for the next day.
Wednesday morning came sooner than I wanted, but I got to the Salt Palace just before 9am. As I’m waiting to cross the street, I get a text from my genealogy buddy, Tiffany (also known as Madam Ancestry), that she had made it to the convention center. We met a couple of years ago and work together for the AAHGS social media. Although genealogists and family historians are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, it’s always nice to have someone that you know to hang out with. She was still at the registration desk when I got to the convention center, so it wasn’t hard to find her. We both planned on going to the same 930am session, so it was a great start to the conference.
I had back to back sessions on Wednesday. Luckily I had downloaded the RootsTech app to my phone which made finding room numbers so much easier. I had an hour for lunch in between sessions, so I grabbed a pizza from a vendor that way I didn’t have to leave the convention center. After lunch, I still had two sessions left before the general session at 430pm. Once the last session ended, I headed to the general session. I noticed the hat the man in front of me was wearing and recognized that it was Dick Eastman from Eastman’s online newsletter. I decided to introduce myself, and we talked for about 15 minutes about the value of going into libraries and courthouses for research before the general session started. Keynote speaker CEO of Family Search, Steve Rockwood. He spoke on 10 Year RootsTech Celebration. He explained how RootsTech started back in 2011 with only 3,000 attendees and described the evolution of the conference from then to today. Although I don’t know the official number of attendees at this moment, but the expected number of attendees is 16,000 with and additional 24,000 people registered for Saturday’s Discovery Day.
The expo hall opened from 530pm – 8pm after the keynote speaker on Wednesday. It was open from 10am-7pm Thursday and Friday, and Saturday’s hours were 10am – 3pm. The expo hall is where you will find all the vendors. There were all types of companies there from the big DNA companies to smaller companies featuring any and everything genealogy related. Genealogy and historical societies were also present in the expo hall as well as authors, podcasters, and bloggers. I was able to sit in on the interview of Thom Reed, Family Search Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer, where he discussed Family Search new project, Reclaiming Our African Roots (R. O. A. R.). Then I had a 715pm appointment with Coaches Corner sponsored by Trace that was also located in the expo hall. I was able to get a 25-minute consultation with a professional genealogist for free. My genealogist, Dave was able to get me some good information on how to better research AME churches in Alabama.
Once the expo hall closed at 8pm, I thought I would put some of what Dave explained to me to work. So I walked down to the Family History Library to do some research and left just before 10pm. Once I had gotten back to the hotel, I realized just what a long day it had been. I took a look a the RootsTech app to finalize my schedule for the next day. Feeling even more excited for day 2 I finally went to bed.
Sessions I attended:
- Introduction to Land Records presented by Angela McGhie
- Forget What You Have Been Told and Do Something presented by Andrew Lee
- Finding My Story: Adoption and Family History presented by Amie Tennant
- Gathering Documents to Join a Hereditary Society Commemorating Enslaved Ancestors in the United States presented by Dr. Evelyn McDowell
Click HERE to read RootsTech 2020 Day 2 Recap
Click HERE to read RootsTech 2020 Day 3 Recap
Click HERE to read RootsTech 2020 Day 4 Recap