It has been an incredible four days at RootsTech 2016! Although it is the largest family history conference in the world, it feels more like an enormous party. We were inspired during keynote speeches, cried as touching family stories were shared, expanded our knowledge in over 200 classes, tapped our toes to some great musical performances, and marveled at the incredible innovation and technology of the genealogy world. It’s a very exciting time to be involved in this industry!
The expo hall was a genealogy enthusiast’s paradise, as it hosted exhibits from hundreds of organizations – among them our very own Legacy Tree Genealogists booth! We thoroughly enjoyed sharing our enthusiasm for genealogy with countless conference-goers who stopped by. We stayed busy answering questions and providing free onsite consultations; people were excited to learn how we can help them break through those “brick walls.”
Our own DNA expert and RootsTech presenter, Paul Woodbury, was quite the rock star of the Legacy Tree booth, as many people lined up to speak with him after attending his classes. In one of his lectures, he helped RootsTech attendees learn how to develop a DNA testing plan to best achieve their genealogical goals. Additionally, he taught a hands-on computer lab class about chromosome mapping, which is a way to determine which segments of your DNA came from which ancestors. In fact, Legacy Tree is developing software to tap into this new technology and enrich our ability to help our clients learn about their ancestors. It will allow us to determine what percentages of DNA were passed down from which grandparents, and where those chromosomes overlap, using DNA tests from an individual and a grandparent from each side. Legacy Tree fans participated in a contest to get those three DNA tests along with a genetic inheritance chart and report for free. They entered by posting a selfie or picture of a grandparent, child, or grandchild to Facebook with the hashtag #legacytreeDNA.
In addition to those DNA classes, patrons were treated to a wide range of topics in the hourly classes, running the gamut from beginner tips and useful technological tools to more advanced methodology. Whether learning to plot ancestral gravesites on Google Maps, utilize the parish registers of England and Wales, find an elusive immigrant ancestor, or incorporate audio recordings into more traditional research, there truly was something for everyone at all skill levels.
Each day at RootsTech began with a giant general session featuring a variety of amazing, entertaining, and inspiring keynote speakers. Media executive Paula Madison expressed heartfelt gratitude to the genealogical community for providing the means for her to find her long-lost family in China with only six weeks of research!
New York Times columnist and author Bruce Feiler confirmed something we at Legacy Tree truly believe: families who know and celebrate their heritage are the most successful. The Josh and Naomi Davis family, famous in the blogging world, encouraged us to get out there and tell our stories online. And there was not a dry eye in the room when David Isay from StoryCorps played very touching audio interviews that made us want to sit down for a good chat with Grandma and Grandpa as soon as possible.
We also learned that the Dalai Lama once substitute-taught former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt’s Sunday School class, and that presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin only recently, to her extreme delight, found out through genealogy that she is related to 15 U.S. presidents. They both gave engaging speeches on the final day of RootsTech.
Genealogists can, in general, be a pretty subdued group, but you wouldn’t know it as the crowd grooved to the soulful jazz music of the Crescent Super Band and singer Ryan Innes on Thursday night. On Friday, the sounds of bagpipes and ukuleles filled the expo hall for a cultural celebration. And finally, we enjoyed the Innovator Showdown, where new genealogy tech companies competed with their products for some really impressive grand prize checks and bragging rights.
All in all, we’ve had a great experience this week mingling with almost 30,000 of our closest genealogy friends. Were you here, too? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page! If you didn’t make it this year you can watch many of the events and classes online at rootstech.org.
No matter if you’re a family history beginner or a longtime researcher, please join us next year for the RootsTech party, held February 8-11, 2017 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Consider hiring Legacy Tree Genealogists for your family history needs. Brick walls, DNA analysis, foreign/onsite research, translation, probate, adoption, and immigration are all specialties of ours. Our trained and educated professional researchers are ready and waiting to help you solve that family mystery. Contact us today for a totally free consultation.