My Experience at RootsTech 2018

Introduction: In this article, Gena Philibert-Ortega writes about the recently-concluded RootsTech 2018 genealogy conference – even though she couldn’t make it to Utah, Gena attended the conference “virtually” and thoroughly enjoyed herself. Gena is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.

RootsTech 2018 is over and what a great conference it was! Plenty of education, demonstrations, networking, discounts, giveaways, and enthusiastic family historians. Best of all, I “went” to RootsTech without ever leaving the comfort of my home.

How did I do that? I took advantage of the streaming live sessions, the app, and the networking found on Twitter. You know the best part? You can still benefit from RootsTech 2018 even though the conference has been over for a few weeks.

Photo: the GenealogyBank booth at RootsTech 2018
Photo: the GenealogyBank booth at RootsTech 2018. Credit: Scott Spencer.

Watching RootsTech

Many great presentations were livestreamed as they happened at RootsTech. What presentations are still available? Not every presentation was filmed, but the ones that were are excellent – and include keynotes by Olympic champion Scott Hamilton; Finding Your Roots host and Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr; Humans of New York creator Bandon Stanton; and singer Natalia Lafourcade.

Other presentations span the topics of DNA, World War II research, beginning genealogy, copyright, social media, and English records. Yes, there are more topics than what I’ve listed! Check out the RootsTech 2018 Videos website for the complete list and links to each video.

Actually, there are two ways to watch RootsTech archived videos. You can enjoy the recorded presentations from the RootsTech 2018 Videos page I just mentioned, or you can watch the FamilySearch YouTube channel. There is also a RootsTech 2017 Videos website.

What were my favorite presentations this year? It’s really hard for me to pick, but I did enjoy hearing more about the work of Humans of New York creator Bandon Stanton. I like that he’s recording the stories of everyday people in New York and beyond. I think as family historians we get so focused on the dead that we forget the importance of the stories of the living. It’s a good reminder that we need to record the stories of our living family as well.

Once you find the presentations you want to watch you may also want to follow along with the presenter’s handout. Just download the RootsTech app from your device’s app store. From the app you can download presentation handouts.

Tweets Galore

Social media is one way to virtually “attend” a conference and RootsTech is no exception. Consider incorporating microblogging social media website Twitter into your genealogical education plan. By following the RootsTech account (@RootsTechConf), or the hashtags #RootsTech and #NotAtRootsTech you can learn tips from presentations viewed onsite and from home.

Photo: RootsTech 2018 tweets
Photo: RootsTech 2018 tweets. Credit: Gena Philibert-Ortega.

If you’re not sure what a hashtag is, it is any word or phrase preceded by the pound sign (#). These hashtags allow users of the social media website to find specific posts that have to do with their interests. In the case of genealogy, you may want to do a search on Twitter for #genealogy or #familyhistory. In the case of the RootsTech Conference the hashtags #RootsTech and #NotAtRootsTech (used by those watching from home) can be valuable.

Genealogy Tip: Don’t forget to also follow GenealogyBank on Twitter, @GenealogyBank. I would also recommend following your favorite presenters on Twitter or Facebook. It’s on Twitter that they may post genealogy tips throughout the year that can be helpful to your research.

Don’t Forget RootsTech 2019

RootsTech 2019 will be held February 27–March 2 2019 at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. Even if you can’t attend next year you can still watch the livestream from the RootsTech website – and follow along with those at RootsTech and those watching from home via Twitter. RootsTech has a monthly newsletter you also may be interested in. You can subscribe to it via the RootsTech website.

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