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Rootstech 2024 review

Rootstech 2024 review

As I write this, I’m still in a snowy Salt Lake City. It’s the day after Rootstech 2024. This was my first visit to the world’s largest genealogy conference, but definitely not the last.

Utah State Capitol building

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Rootstech is part trade show (a full Expo Hall of stands for every sort of genealogical product, organisation, software and some quite random stuff), part intense genealogy school (workshops, lectures, mini-sessions on methodology, genealogy, country-specific records and of course DNA). Some classes are recorded, most are not, but there’s lots of web-only content. They also feature keynote speakers from the big sponsors (like Ancestry, Familysearch, MyHeritage, Findmypast) and the world of sports/entertainment. I didn’t know most of the latter but it was a thrill to hear Kristin Chenowith sing live.

Everyone who is everyone in the genealogy world (at least in the US) attends this conference. I got to meet a lot of people who I’ve looked up to over the years, especially in the DNA field, as well as lovely people I regularly interact with on social media. Here’s just a flavour of them interspersed with some shots of the venue – I didn’t get a selfie with everyone! It was great to finally meet my IIGS boss, Angie Breidenbach and some of the school’s students.

I gave two presentations but neither was recorded. I’ve had super in-person feedback and was very pleased with how they went. My ‘Anatomy of a Hint’ talk was on early in the morning but people still showed up. I’ll definitely be giving this talk again. I also went to a lot of classes myself. A particular highlight was a workshop on how to navigate unexpected DNA disclosures with clients, something I’ve had to do a few times.

As a speaker, I got to attend a nice dinner on the evening before the event began. It was a great networking occasion, but very strange to have a meal without alcohol, tea or coffee (Mormons generally do not imbibe, though you’d never know it from the amount of coffee outlets!) We even got some fun speaker gifts.

I also really enjoyed the MyHeritage Friends party with lots more networking, this time with drinks! Some of the personal highlights of the whole weekend for me were:

  • a tour of WATO+ from DNA Painter’s Jonny Perl, which has already shown that a hypothesis for an unknown parentage case has 100% likelihood of being correct
  • a tour of the new Banyan DNA from Leah Larkin, which allows complex relationship prediction from multiple DNA testers
  • News that MyHeritage will soon allow sharing of test results with experts (this will really help with clients)
  • News that Ancestry will soon show the shared match centimorgans (something other sites offered and greatly adds to the analysis process)
  • Visiting the FamilySearch library for the first time. This really deserves it’s own post though.
  • A panel talk celebrating 25 years of genetic genealogy. You can watch this here.

The Salt Palace venue is enormous and the huge team of Familysearch staff are to be commended on how well it was all managed. However, I do think the food options really let the venue down. Not a huge amount of choice, with very long lines and concession staff who didn’t seem to know how to work cash registers. I wasted nearly an hour on 2 separate days queuing. Next year, I’ll do some tips in advance for people going to Rootstech for the first time.

If you weren’t able to attend, there’s a massive library of recorded content from the last few years as well as 2024. My previous webinar from 2022 (A Scavenger Hunt through Irish records) is there still. The dates for next year have been announced already: 6-8 March 2025. See you there!

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