RootsTech questions: Tips for attending world’s biggest genealogy event

Your RootsTech questions answered here! Attending RootsTech 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah for the largest genealogy conference in the world can be a bit overwhelming. First-time attendees have questions and we have answers. Learn what to expect, where to go, and other must-know details to make the most of this extraordinary family history event.

RootsTech questions from a first-time attendee

I recently received some RootsTech questions via Facebook from a Genealogy Gems listener in Melbourne, Australia. Lesley-Anne has decided to make the overseas trip to attend RootsTech 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. How exciting–and a little daunting! She says:

Morning Lisa, As a result of the many years of listening [to your podcast], my husband and I have decided to attend the Rootstech conference this year. I am wondering if you can advise this first time-attendee on any tips on how to get the most out of this conference? I have been trying to find a list of keynote and breakout sessions available but haven’t had much luck. I know there are huge numbers that attend the Rootstech conference so would prefer not to be queuing on the day for sessions. I’m hoping there will be pre-booking for the sessions?? Keep up your great work. I don’t know how you do all the work that you do plus be a Nanna, mother and wife and also research your own tree. Kind regards, Lesley-Anne

I’m sure Lesley-Anne and her husband won’t be the only newbies at RootsTech 2018. And they’ll all have similar questions on their minds. Here we answer FAQs for her and other first-time RootsTech attendees.

RootsTech 2018 Answers from Lisa Louise Cooke

What’s happening this year at RootsTech?

RootsTech 2018 offers four jam-packed days of fun and learning: Wednesday, February 28 to Saturday, March 3, 2018. Don’t miss the first day! Wednesday is all about technology. There will be classes for all audiences, whether you’re a tech expert or newbie or (like most people) somewhere in-between. At 4:30 pm, FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwoodl will give a keynote, followed by a new event called Innovation Showcase. Prepare for a high-tech “show and tell” of what’s new–and what’s coming–in genealogy technology.

As soon as that’s over, the Expo Hall opens (6:00 – 8:00 pm) for a special Preview, and then remains open all week. At the Expo Hall, meet the biggest names in the genealogy industry and hundreds of other vendors, societies, and services. It’s a stunning, not-to-miss experience, whether you love the energy of the crowd, the glamorous displays, or the chance to talk one-on-one with people from your favorite genealogy companies and services.

The Genealogy Gems booth is known for hosting the ultimate Expo Hall experience! We have our own free class lineup all week long from your favorite presenters. We host great giveaways with valuable prizes you can put right to work for your family history. Click here for the latest updates on our classes, book signings and giveaways. And come by our booth to take advantage of RootsTech specials on our most popular products, including the Genealogy Gems Premium membership (our on-demand Premium video lineup is like having a year’s access to your very own private RootsTech event!).

Throughout the rest of the week, you can expect:

  • World-class keynote speakers: Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton; famed scholar and PBS family history documentary host Henry Louis Gates, Jr; “Humans of New York” writer Brandon Stanton and Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Natalia Lafourcade. (Click here to watch a 2017 keynote by LaVar Burton.)
  • Over 300 RootsTech classes: Classes at all skill levels are offered on traditional family history research skills, DNA, tech tools for genealogy, photos, stories, organizing and more. (Click here to view a fantastic class you missed from 2017: Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton’s “Genealogy Giants” class comparing Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.
  • Free things to do at night, from dazzling entertainment sponsored by RootsTech to late-night research sessions at the Family History Library—the world’s biggest genealogy library is just down the street. (On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday during RootsTech, the library will stay open until 9:00 pm.)

What are the RootsTech 2018 registration details?

You have lots of registration options–from a free Family Discovery Day experience on Saturday to a budget-friendly “Getting Started” four-day pass ($69 promotional price) to the full RootsTech Pass ($199). Click here for a description of all your options.

How do I get the most out of my RootsTech experience?

Best tip from a conference veteran: plan ahead! If you haven’t made your hotel reservation yet, do it right away. The official RootsTech hotels have all sold out, so you’ll need to look a little further afield. Salt Lake City offers excellent public transportation to the downtown RootsTech location at the Salt Palace.

The Salt Palace does have a concession area with several affordable meal options. There are also a few small vendors with sandwiches, coffee, and candy, just outside the hall. You might also like to know that there are several nice restaurants just across the street or within minimal walking distance. The lines are a bit long at times; consider eating a little early or late, so you’re not caught in a “rush hour” for your meal.

Once your basic needs are met, plan your genealogy learning and fun! An online master schedule makes it easy to browse all the official RootsTech sessions and plan the ones you most want to attend. Classes are typically one hour, with a 30-minute break in-between. Don’t forget to include the Genealogy Gems Expo Hall classes in your lineup. An important tip for newbies: at some point, your brain will need a little rest from all the learning. Give yourself breaks to walk around the Expo Hall and visit with new friends you meet.

What about pre-registering for classes?

Lesley-Anne asked about pre-registering for specific classes to avoid long lines and disappointment for filled-up sessions. You must pre-register for any labs you want to take when you register for RootsTech. These are smaller, hands-on classes. If this is your first year, I think you will be more than busy (and happy) with all the sessions included in the regular registration and the exhibit hall. Personally, I would save the extra cost of labs for a return visit. One exception: I definitely recommend Diahan Southard’s lab: “From Click to DNA Connection” (Fri 1:30 pm, taught with Angie Bush).

Unfortunately, you can’t pre-register for the general sessions (keynotes) or regular classes. Seating is first-come, first-served. Classes that are expected to have high demand generally have hundreds of seats available. But if there’s a class or presenter you must see, get to the classroom as early as possible, go right to a seat and stay in it. Since some classes will fill up, have a back-up plan for each hour.

Another helpful tip when deciding what to do: you will receive a digital syllabus with your RootsTech registration. It has all the handouts for the classes that are part of your registration package. So even if the class you want is full—or you’re ready to take a break and tour the Expo Hall—you can still learn from RootsTech presenters. You may wish to print your desired class handouts before coming so that you can take notes on them. Come by the Genealogy Gems booth (#1203) to get the handouts for all our lectures, too!

As Lesley-Anne mentioned, the RootsTech venue is huge. It’s easy to get lost. They do post tons of signs. As the event draws nearer, we will post a map of the Expo Hall to help you navigate to your favorite vendors and societies. Additionally, you will have a map provided to you when you pick up your things at registration.

We hope this has given Lesley-Anne (and you) a better picture of what it will be like to attend RootsTech 2018. It really is an amazing experience! For even more information about RootsTech, view their website and our Genealogy Gems RootsTech page. While you wait, here’s a link to several video interviews I have done over the years at RootsTech. See you there, friends!

About the Author

About the Author

Lisa Louise Cooke is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show and app. She is the author of the books The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Mobile Genealogy, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and the Google Earth for Genealogy video series, an international keynote speaker, and producer of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast.

RootsTech 2018 Pass Giveaway (and More Exciting RootsTech News)

Our RootsTech 2018 pass giveaway is underway! Enter by November 15, 2017 to win a chance to attend the world’s biggest genealogy event for FREE. Meanwhile, there’s more RootsTech news: the class schedule is posted and two keynote speakers have been announced. We think you’ll want to go! The real question is, will you get in for free?

Rootstech 2018 pass Giveaway

It’s time to give away a RootsTech 2018 pass to one lucky Genealogy Gems fan! This is a great prize: all-access admission to the world’s biggest genealogy event at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT, February 28 – March 3, 2018. It’s a $279 value! Keep reading to see how to enter. But first, a quick update on RootsTech 2018.

The Latest RootsTech 2018 News

RootsTech is:

  • A conference. Choose from more than 300 classes on traditional research skills, DNA, tech tools, photos, stories, and organizing.
  • A convention. The biggest names in the genealogy industry share a huge Expo Hall with hundreds of other vendors, societies, and services. All want to answer your questions and show you the latest and greatest tools and resources to help your research.
  • A party. There’s no denying the fun, festive atmosphere of RootsTech. There are world-class keynote speakers (Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton and “Humans of New York” Brandon Stanton) and dazzling evening entertainment (love the 1940s extravaganza this year!).

This short highlights video captures it all. Check it out:

RootsTech 2018 passThe RootsTech class schedule has been published. I’m super excited about classes being taught this year by the  Genealogy Gems team. Just one example: Google Earth guru Lisa Louise Cooke and Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard are teaming up to deliver a powerhouse talk about putting your DNA matches on the map. Click here to see the full Genealogy Gems lineup.

RootsTech 2018 Pass Giveaway

We have a RootsTech Full Registration Pass to give to one lucky winner! This pass includes* access to over 300 classes, keynote/general sessions, the Innovation Showcase, Expo Hall and evening events. (Click here for more info about RootsTech 2018.) All you have to do to enter is take our 5-question survey by midnight (CT) on November 15, 2017.

Can’t attend Rootstech? Enter anyway for a chance to win a 1-Year Genealogy Gems Premium Membership!** Everyone who completes the survey below will be automatically entered to win.

We want your input: We know many people are not able to attend RootsTech in person, and that’s why we hope to make several of our booth classes available on video. Tell us which topics you want to see, and help us continue to make Genealogy Gems the best it can be.

Rules: Must complete survey by 12:00 am CT on November 15, 2017 to be eligible. No purchase necessary. Winners announced and notified on November 16, 2017. *RootsTech 4-Day Pass only covers registration (does not include airfare, hotel, or other expenses). If the winner has already registered for RootsTech 2018, the original registration fee will be refunded. **Premium Membership prize eligible for both new members and renewals. Non-transferable and no cash refund.

Solving Family History Mysteries in Roswell, NM: Genealogy Seminar with Lisa Louise Cooke

You’re invited to join Lisa Louise Cooke for a Roswell, NM genealogy seminar. “Solving Family History Mysteries with Lisa Louise Cooke” will be held on Saturday, October 21, 2017 as the Wilson-Cobb History and Genealogy Library Annual Workshop. Please come! 

roswell NM genealogy Seminar

Roswell, NM Genealogy Seminar with Lisa Louise Cooke

The Wilson-Cobb Library in Roswell, New Mexico is hosting Lisa Louise Cooke for an exciting, informative all-day workshop that will help you solve your family history mysteries! Here’s what’s happening:

What: Solving Family History Mysteries with Lisa Louise Cooke
Where: Roswell Civic and Convention Center, 912 N Main St, Roswell, NM 88201
When: Saturday, October 21, 2017, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (On-site registration opens at 8:30 am)
Hosted by: Wilson-Cobb History and Genealogy Library
Registration: Click here for more information and to register
Bonus: Snacks, beverages and a catered lunch will be served. (Donations gratefully accepted for lunch.)

If you haven’t registered ahead of time, plan to be there at 8:30 am for onsite registration. At 9:00, Lisa will start teaching the day’s class lineup:

Google Tools & Procedures for Solving Family History Mysteries. In this session, we will walk through the process, provide you with the tools, and wow your socks off with real-life examples of Googling success. You will leave this class inspired to revisit using Google for your online searches, and armed with the latest strategies to do so successfully. Not everything is online by any stretch, but even offline sources are more efficiently discovered and accessed when you start online. And the fastest and most effective way to locate online data, whether it resides on a university website or the blog of a distant cousin you’ve never met, is Google!

Update: Google! Everything New That You Need to Know for Genealogy. Google continues to evolve and change every day. In this session, Google Guru Lisa Louise Cooke will give you an update on the most recent Google changes. Then she will unleash advanced search strategies for genealogy that you probably aren’t using, but are ‘must-haves’ in order to get the best results possible. Here are tips and tricks you can put into practice right away.

How to Reopen and Work a Genealogical Cold Case. Become a genealogical detective in this vital session. You’ll learn to track ancestors like a criminal cold case detective, sniffing out holes in your research and getting missing information on the record with cutting edge technology.

Google Search Strategies for Common Surnames. Discover tips and tricks to find your ancestors with common surnames and surnames that double as common words in the English language with Google.  Learn how to weed out irrelevant search results to save time and get to what you want faster.  Then save and automate your searches to run for you! You’ll not only improve your searches, but also improve the chances that the information you post online will be found by other genealogists facilitating collaboration!

Don’t miss Lisa’s Google tips!

Solve more family history mysteries with Lisa Louise Cooke’s top-selling book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox (2nd edition). This “Google bible” for the genealogist tells you everything you need to know to master Google’s many powerful tools. Step-by-step instructions, clear illustrations and inspiring examples will teach you how to get the most out of Google searching (even for common surnames), Google Earth, Google Books, Google Scholar, Google Alerts, Google Translate and even YouTube.

Read these Google genealogy success stories:

An ancestor’s pen name identified–and 69 of his articles found–with Google Books

Two ancestors’ homes found on the National Historic Register with Google Searching

The Colored Farmers Alliance: Social history revealed with Google and Google Books

RootsTech 2018 Registration Is Open! First Look at 4 Full Days of Genealogy Fun

RootsTech 2018 registration is open! Travel plan alert: you won’t want to miss Wednesday, February 28, the new official opening day. Wednesday is all about technology, and it’s aimed at all of us (not just the techie crowd). We are a little bit giddy at the thought. Here’s our “first look” at what to expect for RootsTech 2018.

RootsTech 2018 registration

The buzz has already begun for RootsTech 2018! Here’s our synopsis of what’s going to be great about RootsTech 2018:

RootsTech 2018: “Connect. Belong”
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
When: Wednesday, February 28 – Saturday, March 3, 2018
Hosted by: FamilySearch.org
Registration: Register online ASAP for early-bird pricing

RootsTech 2018: Don’t Miss Wednesday!

Technology day for everyone

Big news: RootsTech 2018 will run for four full days! The dates to mark on your calendar are Wednesday, February 28 – Saturday, March 3. Don’t miss the first day! In the past, Wednesday technology sessions have been targeted at industry movers-and-shakers. This year, Wednesday is still all about technology, but the day’s events have been expanded and broadened for all audiences. There will be an opening General Keynote Session, a new Innovation Showcase, and classes that will appeal to all audiences.

The Innovation Showcase has replaced previous year’s competition. It looks more like a high-tech “show and tell” of even more of the best-and-brightest stars in family history technology. Companies from around the world–from small startups to large organizations–will have a shot at presenting their newest product or service on stage before a large online and in-person audience. The audience will select a “People’s Choice award” via live text voting. (Click here by October 15 to nominate a product or service.)

Wednesday Expo Hall Preview

Make plans to come say hello to us on Wednesday evening at the Expo Hall Preview from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. Genealogy Gems will be there with another ultimate Exhibitor Hall experience (click here to get an idea of what’s coming). The Expo Hall is a stunning, not-to-miss experience, whether you love the energy of the crowd, the glamorous displays, or the chance to talk one-on-one with people from your favorite genealogy companies and services.

RootsTech 2018 Registration: Plan Early for the Best Experience

In addition to what’s new, many great RootsTech traditions promise to continue this year: expect dazzling keynotes, over 300 official RootsTech classes, and world-class evening entertainment. (Click here to watch my 2017 “Genealogy Giants” RootsTech lecture or click here for the recently-released 2017 keynote by LaVar Burton.) More details about this year’s keynotes and performers will be announced in the coming months, so check back with us often. We are official RootsTech Ambassadors and we’ll have the inside scoop on all the latest information and updates.

RootsTech registration is now open! There are lots of registration options–from a free Family Discovery Day experience on Saturday to a budget-friendly “Getting Started” four-day pass ($69 early-bird price) to the full RootsTech Pass ($169 early-bird price). Click here for a comparison of what each pass offers. And here’s a tip from a RootsTech veteran: Make your hotel reservations early! Those downtown hotels fill up so quickly.

Going to RootsTech for the first time? Click here for a RootsTech Q&A with Lisa Louise Cooke.

Genealogy Gems Hard at Work

The Genealogy Gems team can’t wait to see you at RootsTech 2018!

Revitalize and Organize Your Genealogy: Colorado All-day Seminar with Lisa Louise Cooke

Do you want to revitalize your genealogy energy, boost your online research skills, and better organize your many family history discoveries? Join Lisa Louise Cooke at the “Reinvigorate Your Research” all-day seminar in Denver, Colorado, hosted by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado.

Jewish genealogy society

Genealogists seem to face some universal challenges. Like, how to research online more effectively and efficiently. How to organize what you find (especially when discoveries are spread across various websites and in paper files). Knowing which technology tools to invest in, and how to master them. Genealogy and technology expert Lisa Louise Cooke can help you with all these challenges–in person, in fact, at this upcoming all-day event in Denver, Colorado.

Organize Your Genealogy, Revitalize Your Research

Here’s what you’ll want to know about this event:

What: “Reinvigorate Your Research with Lisa Louise Cooke:” Annual All-Day Seminar by JGSCO
Where: Jewish Community Center, Social Hall, 350 S. Dahlia St, Denver
When: Sunday, October 15, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm (doors open at 8:00 am for registration)
Hosted by: Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado
Registration: Register online by October 9, 2017
BONUS: Cost of admission ($20 members/$35 nonmembers) includes continental-style breakfast, snacks, and a Kosher buffet-style lunch.

Lisa’s host, The Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado, has chosen a fantastic lineup of Lisa’s lectures that really do hit on all those pain points we have. Here’s what classes you’ll get to enjoy all day on Sunday, October 15:

get-organized-Genealogy-Gems-Membership

How to Organize All this Genealogy Stuff! Save yourself future frustration and disappointment by putting a solid genealogy organizational plan in place for all the types of items that will be coming your way.

  • Organizing All This Paper! The Physical Items Organization System
  • Organizing All That Genealogical Data! The Family Tree Data Organization System
  • Organizing All These Digital Files! The Digital Organization System
  • Organizing All that Web Information! The Online Notetaking System

Google Search and Google Books: Tools for Every Day. Discover Google search tools and new ways for using them to solve the genealogical challenges you face. Learn the secrets of getting more than you ever imagined from the largest online collection of digitized books–Google Books. With 25 million books, many of which are digitized and fully searchable, Google Books should be the first place to which you turn as you climb your family tree. Learn how to make the most of this goldmine chock full of historical data with little-known techniques.

Time Travel with Google Earth. Get ready to experience old historic maps, genealogical records, images, and videos coming together to create stunning time travel experiences in the free Google Earth program. We’ll incorporate automated changing boundaries, and uncover historic maps that are built right into Google Earth. Tell time travel stories that will truly excite your non-genealogist relatives! You’ve never seen anything like this class!

Future Technology and Genealogy: 5 Strategies You Need. Envision your genealogy as technology speeds ahead into the future. There are five key strategies that you can employ right now that will make the ride easier and the results more exciting than ever. Discover the paradigm shift that will make it easy to find the right technology for your needs and learn how to capitalize on how technology is changing the flow of information.

Bring Lisa Home with You

Genealogy Gems - Family History Podcast and WebsiteI’m sorry if you’ll miss this event–Lisa’s seminar attendees always leave with a new list of strategies they can’t wait to try. (I’ve actually seen people sneak onto their devices during her presentations and start trying the apps, search strategies, and tools she’s talking about. It’s like they can’t wait after she shows them what’s possible.)

You can bring Lisa home with an annual Genealogy Gems Premium membership. Premium members have exclusive access to a packed archive of video classes–including a new class on Google Books and an entire series to help you organize your genealogy “stuff.” You also get ongoing tips and inspiration in her monthly Premium Podcast (and access to all past episodes). It’s the most affordable and consistently high-quality, tech-forward genealogy education around. And you can start trying her tips any time you like.

Georgia Genealogical Society Seminar: Coming Up on September 16

The Georgia Genealogical Society is hosting an all-day seminar on September 16, 2017 in Marietta, Georgia. I’m the invited speaker–and you’re invited, too! Come learn cutting-edge skills and tools you can start using in your family history research immediately. Register online until September 12, 2017.

Georgia Genealogy Seminar

If you can make it to Marietta, Georgia on Saturday, September 16, I hope you’ll join me for an all-day seminar sponsored by the Georgia Genealogical Society. The event organizers have chosen a well-rounded set of classes I’m excited to teach! You’ll get cutting-edge tips on online search strategies, an in-depth newspaper research class, a unique and fun approach to working a “genealogical cold case,” and inspiring, attention-getting ideas to share your family history discoveries with your relatives.

Georgia Genealogical Society Seminar Details

Here’s what you’ll want to know now about this event:

What: All-Day Seminar with Lisa Louise Cooke
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 189 Church St., Marietta, GA
When: Saturday, September 16, 2017, 9:45 am – 4:15 pm (doors open at 9:15 am for registration)
Hosted by: Georgia Genealogical Society; co-sponsored by Cobb County Genealogical Society
Registration: Register online via PayPal by midnight on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, to get the regular event price and the class handouts.

And boy oh boy are we going to dig into genealogy!:

10:15 am: Google Books: The Tool You Should Use Every Day! Over 25 million digitized and searchable free books are at your fingertips with Google Books. Learn how to make the most of this goldmine chock full of historical data. (This is a brand new class in 2017 and was a BIG hit at Rootstech,)

11:30: Get the Scoop on your Ancestors with Newspapers. Yearning to “read all about it?” Newspapers are a fantastic source of research leads, information and historical context for your family history. Learn the specialized approach that is required to achieve success in locating the news on your ancestors.  Includes 3 Cool Tech Tools that will get you started.

(12:30-2:00 pm: Lunch is on your own)

2:00 pm: How to Reopen and Work a Genealogy Cold Case. Become a genealogical detective in this vital session. You’ll learn to track ancestors like a criminal cold case detective, sniffing out holes in your research and getting missing information on the record with cutting edge technology.

3:15 pm: Inspiring Ways to Capture the Interest of Non-Genealogists. If you are researching your family tree but haven’t shared it with your family in a way that sparks their interest, then you are only experiencing half of the joy of genealogy! And if your descendants don’t grasp the importance of their heritage, your hard work may tragically find it’s way to the city dump when you are gone. Don’t just collect your family history and store it away in binders and files! Learn how creative displays and crafts can capture the imagination of your non-historian friends and relatives, while honoring your ancestors. These projects are guaranteed to inspire your family to ask you to tell them more about the family tree!

Click here for more about the event and to register.

4 More Ways to Learn New Genealogy Skills

If you can’t be in Marietta (darn!) on September 16, check out these free options for learning with me and the rest of my team here at Genealogy Gems:

    • Subscribe to my free weekly e-newsletter. You’ll get my free Google research e-book as a thank you gift. Simply enter your email address into this box, and I’ll deliver news, how-tos and stories from my blog, including my popular weekly update of new genealogy records online.

Newsletter Sign Up

  • Listen to the free Genealogy Gems podcast. My flagship audio show has been delivering in-depth stories, research strategies, tech tips and more for more than 10 years–with more than 2 million times worldwide. Why not listen for yourself?
  • Subscribe to my YouTube channel. Watch, learn and be inspired with the many genealogy how-to videos I’ve shared on my YouTube channel.

Thanks for sharing this event invitation with your friends. I hope to meet you in Marietta, on social media or as a new listener or email subscriber!

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