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 2017: Come Celebrate 10 Years with Us!

RootsTech 2017 is the biggest genealogy conference of the year, and Genealogy Gems will be celebrating in a big way! Here’s your chance to win fantastic prizes, and join in even from home through our live-streaming, as we celebrate 10 years and 200 episodes of The Genealogy Gems Podcast.

RootsTech 2017

RootsTech is being held on February 8-11, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is sponsored by FamilySearch International and is a conference that brings together family history lovers and technology innovators for a truly one-of-a-kind event.

RootsTech 2017 Exhibit Hall: Visit Genealogy Gems Booth #1039

Free 30 Minute Sessions
Join us for our famous power-sessions at our booth #1039, very close to where we were located in the hall last year!

Here’s what you can look forward to this year:

Rootstech Booth #1039 Schedule Free Classes

Not able to make it to Rootstech in person? Join us for a selected classes via live-streaming via the free Periscope app, or on our Facebook page.
Look for the Periscope symbol next to the live-streamed sessions on the schedule above.
(All time listed are Mountain time)

Prizes!

As part of our 10th year & 200th episode celebration, you will have a chance to win fantastic prizes at every session in our booth. This is thanks to the generous genealogy community and our podcast sponsors! Here’s what you can win:

Thursday, February 9

  1. 10:15 AM – Beginning Genetic Genealogy with Diahan Southard
    Your DNA Guide Video Series ($29.95)
    Getting Started Quick Guide ($8.95)
  1. 12:15 PM – 5 Ways to Jog Memories with Sunny Morton
    Story of My Life workbook ($19.99)
    Famicity Premium Subscription ($95.88) This is a brand new, private family social network. Think of it as your family’s Legacy Center!
  1. 12:40 PM – Naturalization Records with Amie Tennant
    RootsMagic 4 CD Set ($119.80) includes RootsMagic Software from our long time and valued sponsor, the spectacular RootsMagic!
  1. 2:30 PM – German Ancestral Villages with Jim Beidler, video from Family Tree University
    Trace Your German Roots Online book ($21.99)  Fabulous resource for Germany research!
    Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies book ($15.95) Lisa Louise Cooke’s hard to find first book.Google Drive and other tips
  1. 4:00 PM – Google Methodology with Lisa Louise Cooke
    The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox book, Second Ed. ($24.95) Lisa Louise Cooke’s Google Methodology in one complete and updated volume.
    Genealogy Gems Premium Membership (New or renewal) ($39.95) Includes over 30 class videos and over 140 exclusive Premium podcast episodes!

Friday, February 10

  1. animoto how a genealogy society can grow membership10:15 AM – Creating Family History Videos with Lisa Louise Cooke
    Animoto Subscription ($96.00) You’re going to flip for this tech tool! Click here to learn more right away.
  1. 12:15 PM – Your Ethnic DNA Pie with Diahan Southard
    Exciting DNA themed prize to be announced soon!
  1. 12:45 PM – Genealogy Jackpot with Sunny Morton
    SnagIt Software by Techsmith ($49.95) Lisa uses SnagIt constantly, and you’re going to love it for genealogy! Techsmith tools are tops!
    Ultimate Family Tree Chart Templates CD ($29.99) Every genealogist needs this from the #1 genealogy magazine, Family Tree Magazine.
  1. 4:00 PM – Mastering Ancestry.com video from Family Tree University
    Genealogy Gems Premium Membership (New or renewal) ($39.95)
  1. 5:45 PM – Journaling & Scrapbooking Tech with Amie Tennant
    FlipPal Mobile Scanner ($149.99) You’ll flip if you win this wonderful prize from our good friends at FlipPal.
  1. 6:15 PM – Organize with Trello with Drew Smith
    Organize Your Genealogy book ($25.99) After you win the book, Drew will sign it for you!

Saturday, February 11

  1. 10:15 AM – “Big 4” Databases with Sunny Morton
    Findmypast Premium Subscription ($239.50) You don’t have to have just British ancestors to love this prize!
  1. 2:05 PM – Google Earth Strategies with Lisa Louise Cooke
    Google Earth for Genealogy Video Series ($24.00) This series will help you go into the genealogy geography stratosphere after learning the basics from Lisa’s session.
    Genealogy Gems Premium Membership ($39.95)  7 of the 30 video classes included are on geography and genealogy, like Time Travel with Google Earth! Sweet!

Saturday Starting at 12:15 p.m.
Pick up an entry form, fill it out, and bring the completed form to our booth starting at 12:15 on Saturday for a chance to win our GRAND PRIZE and get our FREE syllabus e-book with all of our booth session handouts. No purchase necessary, and you must be present to win.

Grand Prizes – Saturday at 12:45 PM

3rd Grand Prize: 1 Complete MyHeritage Subscription ($250.74) AND MyHeritage DNA Test Kit ($99.00) from our wonderful podcast sponsor. Thank you MyHeritage!

2nd Grand Prize: Discovery Research Package from Legacy Tree Genealogists ($350.00) Hit a brick wall? These experts will help you bust through! The winner will receive 3.5 hours of research in a digital format which includes: preliminary analysis on your family tree or DNA; discovery of what records are available for the area and time period of interest; development of a research plan; and some work towards your research goals.

1st Grand Prize: 1 Year Ancestry.com World Subscription ($298.00) AND Ancestry DNA Autosomal Test Kit ($99.00) An amazing duo from our friends Ancestry.com.

Book Signings: All Week

mobile genealogy bookLisa will also be signing copies of her books, including her books Mobile Genealogy: How to Use Your Tablet and Smartphone for Family History Research
and The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Second Edition. Sunny Morton will be available to sign her new book, Story of My Life. Diahan Southard will also be there answering your DNA questions!

RootsTech 2017 Classes: All Week

Lisa Louise Cooke and her regular Genealogy Gems team members will be teaching several sessions:

Wednesday:
3:00 p.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: Google Books: The Tool You Should Use Every Day!  Location: Ballroom C
3:00 p.m. Diahan Southard: DNA: The Glue that Holds Families Together  Location: Ballroom J

Thursday:
11:00 a.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: Organizing All This Stuff (Beginner)  Location: 155D Getting Started Pass
1:30 p.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: Eliminate the Eye-Rolling with These 7 Awesome Apps!  Location: Ballroom C
3:00 p.m. Diahan Southard: From Click to DNA Connection (Lab)
5:00 p.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: 5 Amazing Things Google Earth Can Do for Genealogy (Rootstech Demo Theater, Exhibit Hall)

Friday:
3:00 p.m. Sunny Morton: Comparing the Big 4 (Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage, FamilySearch; Location: Ballroom B
3:00 p.m. Amie Tennant: Crowdsource with Social Media Breaks Through Walls; Location: Room 251D
3:00 p.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: Google Search Power Strategies (Rootstech Demo Theater, Exhibit Hall)
4:30 p.m. Diahan Southard: From Click to DNA Connection (Lab)

Saturday:
11:00 a.m. Lisa Louise Cooke: How to Create a Free Google Earth Map Collection; Location: Ballroom G
11:00 a.m. Diahan Southard: Let Your DNA Tell the Story
11:00 a.m. Amie Tennant: Troll Virtual Cemeteries & Using Cemetery Records; Location: Room 254A
1:30 p.m. Sunny Morton: Relatively Recent Relatives: the 20th Century Search; Location: Room 150

We can’t wait to meet as many of you as possible! We hope you have a marvelous experience at RootsTech 2017.

Famicity Kickstarter: A Private Social Network for Your Family

Join the Famicity Kickstarter Campaign and create your own family “legacy center.” It’s a private, social network designed for extended family members to tie their past, present, and future stories together into one!

Last year at the RootsTech 2016 Innovator Showdown, one of the semi-finalist entries really caught my eye. It was Famicity, a free, private website for families, where you can share pictures, videos, memories and family activities—what founder Guillaume Languereau describes as a “legacy center.” It’s for everyone, not just the few in the family who may be interested in genealogy, even though you can indeed build or import your tree and share it there.

Everyone wants to stay in touch with their family, but it can be difficult to do so on social networks sites that don’t offer the desired level of privacy, or want to take ownership of your precious photos, and other precious information. Famicity is trying to make it easier for you to share your cherished family memories–from the present to the distant past–simply and privately, with all the relatives who helped you create them.

What is Famicity?

Famicity is a social network designed for the collection of family memories, without the feed clogging ads of Facebook! It’s designed to protect, manage, and continue your family’s legacy, no matter where you are in the world. You can share photos, videos, and precious moments with your entire family with privacy and peace of mind.

Famicity is a beautiful private social network where your family can upload and share:

  • Your family tree;
  • old family photos (for free), videos, audio, and documents (requires subscription);
  • new photos (for free) and videos, audio, or documents of the latest family events (requires subscription);
  • and messages and stories.

You can even create sub-groups within your family network so family members can participate as they wish, and sensitive information can be controlled. These groups are also great for sharing daily errands, commitments, and goals. And yes, you can opt to share to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram if you wish.

How does Famicity work?

Every person has a profile. Each person can add pictures, stories, and videos to share their stories and add to the family legacy. But the best part is, it’s all about privacy, so it’s invitation-only for your relatives, with no advertising. It can’t be searched or accessed by the public – just your family.

Each invited person can see and comment on the content that has been shared to each of the profiles. And the site is designed to be easy-to-use for all ages. By creating your family tree on Famicity, you make a map of your family’s history, choose who can see your photos and videos, and only your invited family can comment on them. It’s the perfect tool for those who want to share and enjoy their history with one another, a next-generation family photo album and history book wrapped into one!

Becoming a Famicity Member

The company has been very successful in France where it was launched, and Guillaume Languereau is now working to bring the new English platform to the United States and Canada. I’ve been watching it progress over the past year, and now they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to support their U.S. launch. Kickstarter offers genealogists a way to become early adopters of Famicity, and help them reach their “legacy center” goals.

The Kickstarter campaign begins today, January 30, 2017

Update: The Kickstarter campaign has ended.

LaVar Burton to be Keynote Speaker at RootsTech 2017

RootsTech 2017 is already wowing us with their recent announcement of Friday’s keynote speaker, LaVar Burton. Not just known for favorites like Reading Rainbow and Star Trek: The Next Generation, LaVar has been known by millions for his role as Kunta Kinte the 1977, ABC mini series, Roots.

2017 RootsTech keynote speaker

I can hardly wait until Friday, February 10th, 2017 when LaVar Burton is introduced on stage as a keynote speaker at RootsTech! One of my childhood favorites, I grew up listening to him share his love of reading in Reading Rainbow and teaching his best friend, Data, how to be more ‘human’ in the popular TV show, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Mr. Burton is excited about the opportunity to speak at RootsTech where he plans to share personal stories about Roots, Star Trek, and his Reading Rainbow foundation. He also plans on sharing stories of his mom and her commanding influence on him. He says,

“The story of Roots traces a family’s journey from Africa to America and back. At RootsTech, I’ll share some of my own journey of family, storytelling and the influence of African culture on my American Experience.”

RootsTech Keynote Speakers and More

Lbooth_imageaVar Burton is the first RootsTech Keynote Speaker to be announced for 2017. More speakers will be announced over the coming weeks.

If you haven’t heard, registration has already started for the RootsTech genealogy conference in Salt Lake City. Visit www.rootstech.org to register or learn more.

Be sure to come by and visit the entire Genealogy Gems team in the Expo Hall. We have some very special things planned for the event. Stay tuned!

RootsTech 2017 Open for Registration

It’s that time of year again! RootsTech 2017 is officially open for registration.

RootsTech 2017

Each year, eager genealogists around the world excitedly wait to get the message that RootsTech registration is officially open. Well, here is your special announcement: As of September 15th, registration for RootsTech 2017 is now open!

What is RootsTech?

RootsTech is an annual family history and technology conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Speakers and attendees from all over the globe descend on the Salt Lake Valley to learn and share innovative and new tools in genealogy.

In 2016, the event attracted more than 28,000 attendees in-person from all 50 US states and 30+ countries. RootsTech 2017 will be held February 8–11 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The popular Innovator Summit and free Family Discovery Day are also open for registration. The website for registration can be found at RootsTech.org. Early bird pricing is $159.00, so don’t delay! Early bird discount pricing is available for a limited time on 4-day passes at just $159 and $189 for the RootsTech plus Innovator Summit pass. Passes for the Getting Started track start at $49 for a single day and $69 for a limited 3-day pass. All passes include access to the popular expo hall and morning keynote sessions.

The 4-day conference will offer over 200 lectures from top instructors in the field, including four of our Genealogy Gems team members, Lisa Louise Cooke, Sunny Morton, Amie Bowser Tennant, and Diahan Southard.

In addition to lectures, some hands-on computer labs and interactive activities can also be enjoyed.

Other Events at RootsTech 2017

RootsTech is for everyone, young and old. The expo hall and other entertainment events are just the beginning!

You and your entire family may enjoy Family Discovery Day. This event takes place on Saturday, February 11, 2017 and is designed for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a free and fun day event including messages from Church leaders, engaging classes for all ages, and evening entertainment. Family Discovery Day attendees will also have access to all the interactive activities and exhibitors in the RootsTech expo hall. Registration is required.

If you make it out to RootsTech in February, be sure to come by the booth and see us. As always, we have some really special things planned as we do a little celebrating of some of our Genealogy Gems milestones. Stay tuned!

Gems at RootsTech 2017

rootstech-2017-ambassador-badge

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