RootsTech conference shows technology’s impact on genealogy


A unique combination of  young, old, international and innovative people joined together in Salt Lake City to contribute to the ongoing work of family history.

Participants at this weekend’s RootsTech Conference had the opportunity to learn about the immense impact technology can have on genealogy.

The staff, who registered participants throughout the conference, estimated more than 4,300 people attended the event — double last year’s number. Twenty-four countries were represented at the conference. This is the largest family history conference in North America.

[easyembed field=”Photogallery”]McKay Lindsey, a BYU student planner who helped register participants, said the staff had seen old folks, students, missionary couples and even men wearing kilts come to the event.

“This job is a blast and we have a lot of fun,” Lindsey said.

Past the registration area, the exhibit floor housed many vendors who represented family history organizations. Billion Graves, PhotoTree, GenDetective and StoryKeep were a few of the vendors who offered innovative solutions to family history work.

Doug Butts, a vendor from a company called Genealogy Wall Charts, kept busy at the conference promoting their creative way to display family history charts.

“People see the same chart time and time again,” Butts said. “We provide different templates so genealogy is made fun.”

Genealogy Wall Charts is a website where customers can create and order hundreds of personalized family history charts that look decorative enough to display.  The large charts are similar to fan charts with the individual’s ancestors circling around their name.

Participants swarmed the booth to print out a free wall chart offered only at the conference.

Martha Mercer, a vendor from a bookstore that sells books to historians and genealogists, said they sell how-to books, reference books, maps and other tools.

“I am interested in social history,” Mercer said. “I want to know why people made decisions and how people lived.”

Lauren Mahieu, a conference attendee from California, purchased two books on genealogical writing on the expo floor.

“I came to increase my knowledge like everybody else,” Mahieu said.

Above the expo floor, conference rooms were filled with hundreds of people who gained insight on subjects such as podcasts, the future of FamilySearch and database search.

Ken Baker said he attended the conference to learn more about blogs and websites.

“The classes here have been great,” Baker said. “The conference exceeded my expectations.”

Baker noted several speakers as “animated and inspiring” as he learned about developing a story line for writing family histories. He ended the day at the conference in search of an Irish ancestor using innovative search techniques on a conference computer.

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