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Inside Roots Tech: The World's Largest Genealogy Conference

Written by Susan Huff, Icelandic Roots Genealogist

Susan Huff in front of waterfall in Iceland
Susan Huff

Be sure to wear your best walking shoes when you come to Roots Tech because you will be covering a lot of ground! Roots Tech 2020 was held in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 26 to 29—just before everything shut down because of COVID 19. It is estimated that over 30,000 people attended from all over the world.

This was my second year attending the largest family history conference in the world. Both years I spent one day as a volunteer in the FamilySearch area of the Expo Hall where I was able to help Roots Tech patrons learn more about FamilySearch and participate in some of the fun family history activities that FamilySearch provides. One very popular activity was where you could select a photo from different places in the world where your ancestors came from, project that photo on the green screen, and take a picture of you in that location as if you were really there. Then the photo is uploaded to your phone or email. You could record a family history story in a sound booth and upload it to FamilySearch. There were lots of interactive activities to learn more about your family tree. There were many computers set up where volunteers like me could help people learn how to use FamilySearch.

I helped a woman who was visiting from the Philippines find records of her grandparents and attach them to FamilySearch; she was so excited to learn more about her family and see how many resources were available to her through FamilySearch. Another woman I helped was from Houston, Texas. She was looking for her half-brother who was born in Salt Lake City whom she had not seen since she was a child. I found an obituary for her deceased sister-in-law that was loaded with family information for her. She was thrilled with all she was able to learn about that branch of her family tree.

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This year’s theme, The Story of You, was focused on preserving your own personal story for generations that follow. Family history starts with you—your personal history, your story. Next, family history includes your parents, siblings, children, grandchildren—your family of origin plus the one you created with your spouse. Then it includes your extended family back through generations. Roots Tech targeted all of these different aspects of family history.

Here’s why I love Roots Tech and family history work:

  • Family history is not boring.

  • It is not laborious.

  • It is not just for old people.

  • It is not just for someone else to do.

  • Family history is exciting!

  • It is fun!

  • It is for old people and young people—for all people!

  • Family history is for YO