Tuesday, February 14, 2017

RootsTech: The Great Genealogy Pilgrimage

[Note: My Kith N Kin is moving! Though this site will remain open, new genealogy techniques, articles, and more will now be posted to The Genealogy Reporter. Come on over and subscribe!]

It's that time of year again. RootsTech 2017 was a big success!

RootsTech, the largest genealogy conference in the world, could be considered the great genealogy pilgrimage. Some 20,000 plus genealogists of all levels and all places around the world, gather in Salt Lake City every February to learn, educate, see what's new, and socialize with like-minded individuals.

This year was no different and I wanted to bring you three things I gleaned from RootsTech 2017.

1. Lots of newbies. Wow. I was amazed at how many people came by the Genealogy Gems booth to say that they were new to genealogy. I wondered, "What is it that is inspiring more people to want to search out their family history?" Perhaps one reason may be the DNA craze. I think the AncestryDNA commercials are really making an impact on television watchers. And, AncestryDNA autosomal DNA kits were at the low cost of $49.00 at RootsTech! People were going nuts buying these DNA tests!

Not only were they buying AncestryDNA kits, but the other big name tests as well; MyHeritage DNA, 23andMe, and FamilyTreeDNA. I was reminded in a lecture by Diahan Southard, that it is important to test with as many DNA companies as you can. (See her RootsTech lecture, here.) This is because you don't know which of your matches, or long lost cousins, is swimming in what pond. In other words, if you only test with AncestryDNA and a key cousin has only tested with 23andMe, you may never find each other! Of course, that's where GEDMatch comes in. I will let you read more about that, here.

2. There's an app for everything. We joke about "There's an app for that," but it is really true. Genealogists are finding new ways to use apps for finding, sharing, and preserving their genealogy. The Innovator Showdown, held the day before the main events, is a group of innovators from around the world competing for $190,000 in prizes. This year, it was OldNews USA that one first prize.

OldNews USA was designed for both the genealogist and the history enthusiast. It makes getting started with historical newspaper research easy. You can learn more about OldNews USA, here. And, for even more tips on how to find and use newspapers for your genealogy research, read Lisa Louise Cooke's digital ebook titled "How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers."

One of my two lectures at RootsTech this year included a class titled "Crowdsourcing with Social Media for Genealogy." I focused on using Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for genealogy and how using these apps/websites allows you to crowdsource and overcome your biggest genealogy brick walls. If you are a member of Family Tree Webinars, you can see my lecture for free. If not, you can download my lecture for a small fee, here.

The bottom line is, our mobile devices and access to the internet is changing the face of genealogy.

3. Family history makes people cry. Oh my goodness. I have never felt such a strong spirit during a keynote address than I did when Lavar Burton spoke. It resonated with so many of us. He was presented with his family history by my friend, Thom Reed. When that happened, there wasn't a dry eye in the room. I mean it! You can watch a bit of Lavar's address, here.

Family history is a powerful and deeply meaningful activity, which is why I believe it has the power to change our lives. Learning of our ancestors and their stories will help us better understand ourselves, our circumstances, and our future.

Planning for RootsTech 2018

If you have a chance to start saving and planning for next year's great genealogy pilgrimage (RootsTech 2018 - Feb. 28 - Mar. 3,) I encourage you to do it. If you didn't know, there are even some ways to attend for FREE. Many genealogy bloggers offer prize drawings for free tickets to RootsTech and even better, you can apply for grants and scholarships to help defer the cost.

Cyndislist has a large list of opportunities for genealogy monies. Some of these are scholarships, some are grants, and others are awards. Thomas MacEntee of High-Definition Genealogy offers a monthly grant called The Genealogy Fairy. This grant provides individuals and organizations that are pursuing "worthwhile genealogy projects" a $500 amount to pursue that goal. You could apply for any of these and use that money towards your trip to RootsTech...a very worthwhile genealogy goal in my mind!

RootsTech is the place to be and I hope to see you there next year, friends!

One more thing. If you have a brick wall in your research, attending classes at RootsTech (in person or virtually) will bring them down. Just look how much I've learned by clicking on any of the titles below:

"Pension Applications vs. Pension Application Files"
"Finding Missing Children in Your Family History"
" 'Finished' Family Line is Questioned"


  1. Thank You, Thank You! I have been a genealogist for over 40 years but I learned new things on this Blog. I have given statewide lectures on cemeteries and written 32 articles on cemeteries in Scott County, Missouri, but I am somewhat inactive in public since I retired. I will now have my DNA tested at 23 and Me after watching the presentation on various DNA testing. When it says "traits" I am wondering if that would also show "attributes or talents" inheritated, like musical abiliies, visual arts, and the like.

    I am now retired and have moved to Louisiana to be near my daughter and do not engage in one-on-one genealogy anymore. I really miss it but I am meeting cousins through Ancestry.com and have a meeting with a newly found cousin in March. I appreciate your advising about grants, scholarships and other financial opportunities to find help in attending RootsTech. It would be fantastic to attend RootsTech and to get reconnected with genealogist again. In my past professional career I was a featured speaker or session leader for Corporate Travel World and Business Travel News Annual Conference, which waived the conference fees and I attended every year. I miss interacting with audiences. I am sure you understand what I am talking about.

    Again, thank you and I compliment you on an eye-catching header that brought me into you Blog. I am 1+ and following your blog. God Bless You for your work!

    1. Margaret, Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to leave a comment. When it comes to DNA research, I think it is amazing! I don't think our ancestors could have imagined all we would learn about them!
      I do hope you make it out to RootsTech some year soon. It is the genealogy highlight of my year! If you get there, be sure to look me up! Thanks for following!


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