RootsTech 2018 Recap
Legacy Tree Genealogists had an exciting and busy week at RootsTech 2018, the largest genealogy conference in the world. Conference-goers gathered in Salt Lake City, Utah by the thousands, from around the world. We enjoyed mingling with so many others who share our passion for genealogy.
The theme of the conference was “Connect. Belong.” We had the opportunity to connect with many attendees at our booth in the Expo Hall, where we also provided question and answer sessions on various topics, including genealogy research in Germany, France, Switzerland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Ireland and more.Legacy Tree Genealogists was once again invited to participate as a RootsTech Ambassador for 2018. As such, Legacy Tree president Jessica Taylor and marketing manager Amber Brown were invited to attend the Media dinner Tuesday evening, where they had the opportunity to mingle with other ambassadors and get a sneak-peek into the exciting events planned for the coming week.
Hundreds of classes were offered at the conference, including several popular sessions about genetic genealogy presented by our own Paul Woodbury. He also served as a judge for the DNA Innovation contest held on Wednesday, which Legacy Tree Genealogists sponsored.
Wednesday events also included a Legacy Tree Live session on the Legacy Tree Genealogists Facebook page where recruiting manager Katy Barnes and senior manager of research, Elly Catmull, answered questions about working for the world’s highest rated genealogy research firm. Check out the replay of the broadcast here, where we discuss required experience, benefits, open positions and more!
Thursday’s keynote speaker was Humans of New York blogger, Brandon Stanton, who described his unique work of photographing strangers he meets on the street and telling their stories. He stressed the importance of being willing to ask our loved ones about the tough things they’re going through and learning to listen to the people around us. You can watch the entire keynote at this link: http://bit.ly/2I0j7Fc .
Our partners at MyHeritage hosted a lunch Thursday, where they made several important announcements, including the addition of 325 million important historical records to SuperSearch™, upgrades to their Chromosome Browser and perhaps most exciting, the launch of DNA Quest, an initiative to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through DNA testing. As part of DNA Quest, they are giving out 15,000 MyHeritage DNA kits — worth more than one million dollars — for free, with free shipping, to eligible participants. Read more about this announcement here.
Conference-goers had a chance to relax and enjoy a tribute to The Greatest Generation on Thursday evening, with memories, photographs, dance, and music from the 1940s. Members of the audience who are part of The Greatest Generation stood and were recognized with applause.
On Friday morning, we were treated to a speech by Olympic Gold Medalist, Scott Hamilton. He shared the touching story of his adoption at six weeks old by a loving couple, his trials through loss and health challenges, and the influence of mentors and coaches who helped him become a figure skating champion. He eventually became the father of two biological children and two adopted children, who came into his life through his wife’s humanitarian work in Haiti following the earthquake there in 2010. The full keynote can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/2F8ZVmV .
Friday night MyHeritage hosted a RootsTech After Party, this year with a roaring twenties theme. Guests were treated to swing dancing, a phenomenal live band and DIY fedoras and headpieces. Gangster attire and feather boas were plentiful as members of the Legacy Tree team hobnobbed with other industry professionals in all states of twenties-era attire.
For the final day of RootsTech on Saturday, many children, teenagers, and families, joined the conference for Family Discovery Day. The Legacy Tree booth was especially popular as genealogy enthusiasts of all ages received free DNA balloon crowns and were encouraged to ‘Strut their Strands.’ The balloon crowns were created with the help of some of the children of our own Legacy Tree team members.
The Saturday keynote address was presented by professor, author, and host of the PBS series Finding Your Roots, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. He explained that his interest in family history began when he was nine years old on the day he first saw a photograph of his enslaved ancestor, Jane Gates, who died in 1888. He also saw her obituary that day, in which she was described as “an estimable black woman.” After looking up the word estimable in the dictionary later that night, he decided he wanted to be estimable, too, like his ancestor. If you’d like to view his address, the livestream is available to rewatch here: http://bit.ly/2FWeMCB .
Natalia Lafourcade, a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter from Mexico, also spoke and sang at the Saturday morning keynote session. She shared the beautiful song, “Remember Me,” from Disney’s Coco. She recounted that her father, who was from Chile, told her she was the descendant of a French pirate who came to Chile. On stage, FamilySearch presented Natalia with some information about her ancestry. They confirmed, to Natalia’s delight, that she was indeed a descendant of a Frenchman who came to Chile, though not as a pirate, but rather a plasterer. You can check out her amazing performance here.
The celebration of Latin American heritage continued throughout the day with activities like Mexican dancing lessons and face-painting in the style of Mexican sugar skulls. The day and conference culminated with a spectacular performance of music and dance entitled “Mi Familia. Mi Herencia.” in the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Thousands of people from the community, including many of Latin American descent, joined RootsTech attendees for the lively concert which involved hundreds of performers including a mariachi band, children’s choir, Andean folk music ensemble, and Latin American dance troupe. And of course, the celebration wouldn’t have been complete without a giant piñata descending from the rafters!
Being at RootsTech reminded us why we love helping our clients “connect and belong” through discovery of their own family history. We look forward to RootsTech 2019, scheduled for February 27 – March 2 in Salt Lake City and hope to see you there as well! For a list of additional conferences we will be attending in 2018, check out our previous blog article here.
Legacy Tree Genealogists is the highest-rated genealogy research firm in the world. Our genealogists are passionate about helping our clients connect and belong. If you have hit a brick wall in your family history research, our experts can help. Contact us today for a free quote.