BYU staff and students participated in RootsTech

RootsTech pic
Utahns learn more about family history innovations in the Expo Hall at RootsTech. (Photo courtesy of Lloyd Eldredge, RootsTech 2013)

SALT LAKE CITY — The fourth annual RootsTech convention brought social media and data analysis innovations with BYU ties to Salt Lake City.

RootsTech is a global convention where visitors learn about family history. This year it ran from Feb. 5 through Feb 8., and participants attended classes about technology that is available to assist in family history work as well as browse vendor stands in an expo hall.

“The premise of RootsTech is to create a forum where visitors can discover how to make connections with their families across generations,” Paul Nauta, RootsTech Public Affairs Manager, said.

Jill Crandall, Director of the Center for Family History and Genealogy at BYU, is heavily involved with RootsTech. Beside her work as a genealogist, Crandall is the creator of Research Ties, an online tool for entering and organizing family history research. Crandall came up with the tool while searching for a solution to her own research needs.

“I’m very frustrated about the fact that research logs have been done by hand forever, and nobody has ever created a program that researchers can use,” Crandall said, “I designed an access database to track the people, sources and other pieces of information I was gathering while working on my thesis.”

Crandall said she was inspired to turn her idea into an enterprise because many of her colleagues requested copies of her database for their research.

“I decided to go ahead and turn it into a commercial product because I felt like everybody needed it,” Crandall said.

Crandall taught a class about Research Ties, participated in a panel about game-changing trends and run a vendor booth in the expo hall where she demoed Research Ties.

She also believes that any BYU student can benefit from using Research Ties.

“Anybody who is doing family history research can benefit from this tool, definitely not just family history majors,” Crandall said.

One of the events at RootsTech is the Developer Challenge, a competition for creators of family history technology. Last year, Crandall was a finalist in the challenge. This year, Nick Perry, BYU MBA student and Founder and CEO of Storeeze, will compete in the Developer Challenge.

“Storeeze is the solution to common frustrations with social media. People are frustrated with the excessive size, impersonal nature, and how much time they are wasting sifting through throwaways posts on social platforms.” Perry said, “Rather than help people to connect with hundreds of others, Storeeze helps people to more deeply connect with thirty or so people who they care about most.”

Perry believes that Storeeze is a perfect fit with the purpose of RootsTech.

“Genealogists are looking for stories of the past, but we are hoping at RootsTech to be able to encourage people to create their own personal histories. Through the Storeeze platform, users can collaboratively create personal histories,” Perry said, “Connecting with people in the present as well as across generations is what Storeeze is able to do.”

Paul Nauta agrees that family history is about more than discovering birth and death records of ancestors.

“If you look at genealogy as names, dates and places, the dash between a birthdate and a deathdate is where you find photos, memories and stories. That’s family history,” Nauta said, “Even the most boring day in our lives will be a fascinating and probably very inspiring to our posterity.”

To find schedules and sign up for classes visit


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