Getting Ready for RootsTech 2020

So the “end of year crazy season” has been and gone, added to that Australia’s insane bushfires, the Christmas that didn’t happen, as well as New Year – it’s no wonder I haven’t even bothered to think ahead to my upcoming trips until just a few days ago, and I have suddenly realised that there’s only 5 weeks till I leave for the US to go to RootsTech, and only 38 days till it starts. Seriously how did that happen??

So I actually sat down and got to work on listing what I need to do before heading off to the airport.

Before I get to that, let me start off by saying that in my 30+ years of going to genealogy conferences (I started young thanks to my family’s business), this will be the VERY FIRST time I will be going as a delegate, rather than an exhibitor … and I must say it feels very, very weird! Anyway I know I’ll enjoy it, and I look forward to going to some talks, and catching up with friends.

So here’s a list of some of the things I came up with (in no particular order).

1. Downoald RootsTech app
This one I have just DONE! Woohoo, one thing cross off my list.

2. Look at app
I have started looking at it, but I’m going to need more time to browse through the 300 or so talks, shortlist those I’m interested in, then go through the big list of exhibitors. Or I could just wing it and get to what I do!! We’ll see …

3. ESTA (immgration visa)
Before I do either of the above I really should do my ESTA application, as that’s needed to allow me to get into the US. For this I just need to head to US Customs & Border Protection website (, fill in the details, pay their fee, and I should have it soon afterwards.

the Family History Library, Salt Lake City

4. Research
I’m actually going to the US a couple of days early. Partly so I not so jet-lagged when RootsTech starts, but also hoping to get a day or two of research in at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (ie. you know, the Mecca for genealogists), so I need to work out what I want to research and come up with some plan, or else I really will just be wasting my time.

here’s what I was researching at the FHL, last time I was there, in 2017

5. Research – part 2
In reality I’ll probably pick up the research I did when I was these 3 years ago. But I need to find it, review it, and work out specifics of what else I’m looking for. Oh an enter it into my genealogy program. That’d be useful if I actually did that.

6. Autograph book
I must buy a new autograph book. Every RootsTech that I’ve been to, along with a few other major events I’ve attended, I’ve taken an autograph book for people to sign in. And being the introvert that I am, I have used it as a way to meet people, as well as creating a wonderful record of those I met there.

7. Accommodation
I booked my accommodation probably about the middle of last year (you need to book SOOOOO early to stay at the hotels near the Salt Palace), but it’s always best to double-check they have your booking prior to arrival. So I must send them an email to check this.

8. Weather
I must check the temps for Salt Lake City. It’s wintertime over there now and they usually have snow (they did this week), so no doubt it’ll be cold. But after having so many 30C-45C summer days here in my corner of Australia, anything in the 20s now feels cold to me … but I also know their buildings are hot – so wearing layers is always the way to go. Still I’m going to have to dig deep, and dust off my winter clothes I think.

9. Shoes
Comfy (and preferably warm) shoes are an absolute must. The Salt Palace is HUGE and from past experience I know just walking around the exhibiton hall you NEED comfy shoes, let alone going from one end of the building to the other for talks!! So I must head to the shops and get a new pair of sneakers.

There’s plenty more little things I can think of, but this will do for this list. As it is the research part will keep me busy between now and when I leave anyway.

As life has been a combination of busy and tragically sad, I can’t say I’ve been in the mood to get excited about going … but I’m starting to now. I’m really looking forward to catching up with friends from around the world, and meeting others for the first time.

I already feel that it’ll be a week long party of catch-ups and exhaustion, but that’s all part of it, and I will have 24 hours of flying (3 flights) to get home, to try and catch-up on some sleep.

And for those not going to RootsTech, while you don’t get the catchups, you can still enjoy and learn from the talks, as they have just announced their Virtual RootsTech Pass. So for US$129 you can watch 30 sessions from your own home. You can check that out here.


RootsTech 2019 From Home – #NotAtRootsTech

Next week the genealogy world converges on Salt Lake City, Utah in preparation for the world’s biggest genealogy conference, RootsTech 2019, which runs from Wednesday 27 February through until Saturday 2 March 2019.

With an expected attendance of around 25,000 people coming from 37 different countries, there’s 300 classes on offer, and over 200 exhibitors to check out – RootsTech really is something else, and nothing I’ve been to compares.

Sadly, I’m not going this year. I did make it in 2013, 2015 and 2017 (you can read about them here), and considering my first time was a “once-in-a-lifetime-bucket-list-thing”, I can’t believe I’ve made it there three times already.

Anyway, this year I’ll be a part of the #NotAtRootsTech crowd. And while I know it won’t be the same, I’m determined to still make the most of it, and ‘participate’ from home. At least when I’m not working anyway.

So how can I (and you) participate in RootsTech when we’re not at RootsTech? There are a few options.

Firstly, you can watch the Livestream Live. There’s 22 presentations being livestreamed, but if you’re on Australia, you;’ll need to be dedicated as due to the time difference the streams start at 3.30am (Sydney time) and go through till around lunchtime.

Here’s a link to the list of livestream talks with both the US time, and the Australian time for each, and click here for more details on each of the talks.

It is expected (although not 100% guaranteed as I can’t find it written anywhere) that these talks will all be available to watch later in the video archive.

The RootsTech website lists the following classes as being recorded (but not live streamed). they say that recordings of these will be posted shortly after RootsTech 2019 concludes and will be available in the video archive.
– Blending Family History and Technology with the Art of Storytelling
– Descendancy Research: Another Pathway to Genealogy
– Making Memories of You
New York Research Essentials
 – You Can Do DNA
– How to Write Your Life Story in Five Pages or Less
Heirloom, Documentation or Junk: What to Keep or Toss
S.O.S. (Save Our Stuff): Stories and Heirlooms
Families Discovering Family History Together
Writing and Publishing a Family History: Ten Steps
– Artificial Intelligence in Photo Management (and How It Can Boost Metadata)
– Breaking through Brick Walls in Scottish Research

If you’re super excited for RootsTech and can’t wait for it to start, why not watch the recorded and keynote sessions from RootsTech 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. They’re all there!

This a new feature they’ve brought in this year. For US$129 (which is approx AU$180) you can buy a Virtual Pass, and this gives you access to 18 presentations. From a look through the topics they are different from the Livestream ones, and different from the “recorded classes” sessions – so it would appear that these are EXTRA ones, just for those who pay.  They say “with the virtual pass, you’ll have access to the online recorded sessions from the conference. You can watch playbacks from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone device whenever and however you’d like!”

The list of talks covered by the Virtual Pass are:
– Chromosome Mapping for Absolute Beginners—Jonny Perl
– Must-Use U.S. Records at, FamilySearch, Findmypast, and MyHeritage—Sunny Morton
A Deep Dive into Understanding Your DNA Results—Blaine Bettinger, Angie Bush, Jonny Perl
The Surname Is Key: History of Surnames and Conducting Surname Research in Germany—Dirk Weissleder
One Touch Genealogy Research: Handle a Record Once—Thomas MacEntee
You Need Both! Uniting DNA and Traditional Research—Angie Bush and D. Joshua Taylor
Chromosome Mapping Tips and Techniques—Blaine Bettinger
Deeper Analysis: Techniques for Successful Problem-Solving—Elissa Scalise Powell
The Magic of German Church Records—Katherine Schober
My Ancestors Are from Germany, and I Don’t Speak German—Tamra Stansfield
When Details Disagree: 8 Ways to Resolve Conflicts—D. Joshua Taylor
20 Hacks for Interviewing Almost Anyone, and Getting a Good Story—Joanna Liddell and Karen Morgan
Going Dutch: Finding Families in Online Records of the Netherlands—Daniel Jones
Beyond the Mists of Time: Sources for British Medieval and Early Modern Genealogy—Nick Barratt
The Combined Power of DNA, Records, and Family Trees—Jen Baldwin, David Nicholson, Diahan Southard
The Genealogist’s Google Search Methodology—Lisa Louise Cooke
Jewish Genealogy: How to Start, Where to Look, What’s Available—Lara Diamond
Slave Traders, Speculators, and the Domestic Slave Trade—Kenyatta Berry

For details on the Virtual Pass, or to buy one, click here.

The geniepeeps who head to RootsTech are a very online social bunch, and you’ll no doubt find them Tweeting, Facebooking, Instagraming, and Blogging all the way through. But my advice is to head to Twitter, (yes, you will need an account, but it’s free) then type in the hashtag #rootstech or #rootstech2019 in the search box up the top and watch the tweets come up. Also type in #notatrootstech and you’ll find others also ‘participating’ from afar.

There’s plenty of tweets going on about it already, here’s a screenshot of a few …

Search results for #rootstech on Twitter

So there you have it. So from Wednesday to Saturday if you’re in the northern hemisphere, or Thursday to Sunday for those of us down south – it all happens. So let’s enjoy it, and learn from so many of the world’s best genealogy presenters.

And don’t forget to share your experience of #NotAtRootsTech with others. You can do this via your own private Facebook page, on public social media, or if you blog, why not blog about your RootsTech experience from afar.

So if you don’t make it to Salt Lake City by next week in time for RootsTech 2019, but you really, really, really wanted to go – you might like to consider going to RootsTech 2019 London in October 2019. While not quite on the scale of their US one, it’s still going to be a huge show, and would be awesome to attend. You can read about that here.

#NotAtRootsTech, But I Want to Be

The world’s biggest genealogy event, RootsTech, has just begun, but I’m not there. To say I’m missing it, and my friends is an understatement.

Why am I not there? Well I did go in 2017, and there is a lot of sea between Australia and the US, so it takes time to save dollars for those big plane trips … not to mention that Congress (the big Australian genealogy event, but not even in the same league as RootsTech), is on the next week in Sydney … and I’ll be going to that.

So I look at my Faceboook feed and see so many friends who are there enjoying the sights, sounds and catch-ups of it all. Sigh … next year! I will get there next year!

Anyway, so what makes RootsTech THE. MUST. ATTEND. genealogy event for so many from around the world?

For me it is the socialising. The breakfasts, the dinners, even lunch if you’re lucky enough to get some (yes, it gets that crazy). Even the drinks after the day has finished. It’s the time where you get to catch up with friends (and make new ones) from all around the world. It’s the time where you’re not racing from one talk to the next, or trying to make your way around the expo hall … but the times when you can just sit and chat to someone one-on-one or just a small group of people. I have made great friendships from meeting at RootsTech.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many, many awesome talks, and SO much to learn from the awesome speakers. And the Expo hall is something like you wouldn’t believe. It’s a place that seriously takes days to work your way around it all, it’s that big. But catching up with “my people”, my friends, my geniebuddies is what makes me want to be there.

“But I don’t like crowds” some people say. Well nor do I thanks to being the quiet little introvert that I am. And when you hear numbers like 30,000 people pre-registered for RootsTech it’s phenomenal, but no doubt off-putting for some. But there is so much happening simultaneously that you don’t see 30,000 in the same place all at once.

Still I would be there tomorrow if I could be. Crowds included.

the geneablogger group photo from RootsTech 2017

The place, the people, the talks, the speakers, the exhibitors, the competitions, and even the research at the nearby Family History Library … all of that make it an amazing trip!! One that should be on your bucket list.

The vibe you get from being there is like nothing I’ve ever experienced at other genie events, and I’m already counting down to RootsTech 2019, which will be from 27 February- 2 March 2019 if you want to mark it on your calendar.

But don’t take my word for it. Follow the #rootstech or #rootstech2018 hashtags on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or elsewhere … and see what those who are there are saying about it.

And while I know it’s a little too late for most to take part in RootsTech 2018 if you’re not already there, have a read of some of the reasons to attend … and keep it in mind for 2019 or 2020!!
8 Reasons to Attend RootsTech 2018
6 More Reasons to Attend RootsTech 2018

RootsTech 2017 – The People You Meet

For me the best part of RootsTech is the people. Yes, were are many, many, MANY thousands of people who attended (around 30,000 they say), and no, I didn’t meet them all … but I did get to catch up with quite a number of friends, as well as meeting a bunch of wonderful people for the first time.

This is a collection of photos of some of the people I met. Some were were taken at lunches, others at dinner, a number at RootsTech itself, and a few at after parties. Please note they’re in no particular order. Enjoy!

Helen Smith and Kerry Farmer, during a brief break at the Family History Library

Helen Smith and Kerry Farmer, during a brief break at the Family History Library

myself with fellow Aussies Graham Walter and Helen Smith

myself with fellow Aussies Graham Walter and Helen Smith

I caught up with Daniel from MyHeritage

I caught up with Daniel Horowitz from MyHeritage

I met the always lovely Crista Cowan from Ancestry (aka The Barefoot Genealogist)

I met the always lovely Crista Cowan from Ancestry (aka The Barefoot Genealogist)

I was so excited to finally meet Amy Johnson Crow ... in person (hence the cheesey face)!

I was so excited to finally meet Amy Johnson Crow … in person (hence the cheesey grin)!

dinner with friends

dinner with friends (photo courtesy of Jennie Fairs)

selfie with Louis Kessler

selfie with Louis Kessler

I admit I did feel rather tiny when I met Aaron Johnson, the creator of Shotbox

I admit I did feel rather tiny when I met Aaron Johnson, the creator of Shotbox

Ruth Blair from Canada, and Carole Steers from England getting set for Day 1

Ruth Blair from Canada, and Carole Steers from England getting set for Day 1

L-R: Helen Smith, Carole Steers and Audrey Collins

L-R: Helen Smith (Aus), Carole Steers (England) and Audrey Collins (England)

40 - Christine Woodcock

Christine Woodcock from Canada, showing me her Scottish fingernails, that match her business card

41 - Alona, Helen and Dear Myrt - photo jill Ball

Helen Smith and myself, were interviewed by Pat (aka Dear Myrt) for her Mondays with Myrt Google Hangout (photo courtesy of Jill Ball)

42 - blogger lunch #1

Jan Gow (NZ), Audrey Collins (England), Lisa Christensen (US), and Roger Moffat (US, ex-NZ) at the geneablogger lunch

45 - blogger lunch #5

Helen Smith (Aus) and Cheri Hudson Passey (US) at the geneablogger lunch

46 - blogger lunch #6

Laura Hedgecock (US), Jenny Joyce (Aus), and myself (Aus) at the geneablogger lunch

Dick Eastman and Alan Phillips at the Unlock the Past stand

Dick Eastman and Alan Phillips at the Unlock the Past stand

48 - Jill Ball

Jill Ball with her impressive stash of ribbons

49 - Laila and Alona

I was excited to catch up with my friend Laila from Norway

50 - some of the FMP team

this was a rare moment when the Findmypast team weren’t flooded with people

51 - at our stand

Fran Kitto (left) missed the Australian group photo, so we did this one with her, myself, and Pauleen and Peter Cass

52 - Helen Smith, Katherine Willson, and Alona Tester

I’m with dear friends Helen Smith (Aus), and Kathryn Willson (US)

love the outfits, but really don't know how our ancestors managed wearing that attire

love the outfits, but really don’t know how our ancestors managed wearing that attire

Peggy Lauritzen and Pat Richley-Erickson, with Maureen Taylor photobombing in the background

Peggy Lauritzen and Pat Richley-Erickson, with Maureen Taylor photobombing in the background

Congrats to Louis Kessler, 3rd place in the Innovator Showdown

Congrats to Louis Kessler, 3rd place in the Innovator Showdown

Randy and Linda Seaver

Randy and Linda Seaver

Brian, Laura and Paul from Eneclaan (Irish Family History Centre)

Brian, Laura and Paul from Eneclaan (Irish Family History Centre)

Roger Moffat being as colourful as always

Roger Moffat being as colourful as always

Kathy and Shannon from GenerationStory, my neighbours in the Expo Hall

Kathy and Shannon from GenerationStory, my neighbours in the Expo Hall

selfie with Cousin Russ

selfie with Cousin Russ

Thomas MacEntee and AC Ivory, enjoying a sit down after it all

Thomas MacEntee and AC Ivory, enjoying a sit down after it all

the bloggers at DearMyrt's "After RootsTech Geneablogger Party"

the bloggers at DearMyrt’s “After RootsTech Geneablogger Party” (photo courtesy of Lilian Magill)

As someone told me, “RootsTech brings us together from around the world”, and it’s true, with people from around 40 different countries attending this year.

The geneablogger community, as well as the wider genealogy community is such a wonderful group to be a part of. So friendly and so welcoming. And thank you for allowing me to be a part of it.

Well that’s all for RootsTech 2017 from me. But for a whole heap more reports, be sure to check out Randy Seaver’s compilation of other bloggers reports here.