RootsTech, a global family history event celebrating families across generations, starts in one week and I am totally freaking out. There will be over 20,000 people at RootsTech over four days and the number of education sessions is overwhelming. I think I'm a few breaths shy of hyperventilating.
I’m reading through the keynote and class speaker bios and to be perfectly honest, I have never heard of most of them because I am quite new to the genealogy world. So my apologies in advance to the speakers & educators as I won’t recognize nor geek out over any of you. At least, not yet. I am very excited to hear and learn from every one of you and impressed by the vast experience and knowledge you all have to share.
I’m a newbie. Forgive me.
My interest in family story telling and genealogy research ignited just over a year ago when I started sharing my ancestors letters & photos. Instinctually I knew they were important to not only me, but so many others. I suppose the universe telling me something as starting this blog gave me the opportunity to maximize two of my favorite skills, writing & researching. I have underutilized them in the past years and did’t quite realize how much I missed the joy they brought me until this blog.
Because of this blog, I am one of about seventy-five people selected to be an Ambassador for RootsTech, which essentially means in exchange for a complimentary pass to attend, I have the privilege of helping promote the event. I'm thrilled for the honor but feel guilty that I have not posted more on the topic. I suppose it’s because in many ways, I feel like an interloper. More so as I read the bios of other Ambassadors who are professional genealogists, speakers, authors, and bloggers more accomplished than I.
But, yesterday, my sister, who is hard to impress, told me she was “very impressed” by all my genealogy work, and I realized, I am now one of “them.” Those people that tell family history stories to strangers, gets excited about tombstones, marriage certificates, ship manifests, old postcards, census records, mysterious names and places. A puzzle solver. A challenge junkie. A dot connector. A genealogist. A storyteller.
And I am thrilled. I may not have as much professional training nor years of experience tracing ancestral roots, but I’m a very quick learner. RootsTech is giving me an opportunity to expand that knowledge even more, and I can’t wait.
Over 222 Speakers
There are over 222 speakers and I'd love to listen to and chat with all of them, but there just isn't enough time in 3 days. These are a few at the top of my list:
David Isay - Keynote Friday Feb. 5th. - Broadcaster, author, editor and founder of StoryCorps. Founded in 2003, StoryCorps is an award-winning organization that provides people the opportunity to record, share and preserve their life stories. They have already archived and preserved 60,000 interviews at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
(I'm actually listening to one as I type. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G)
Paula Madison - Keynote Thursday Feb. 4th - Chairman & CEO of Madison Media Management consultancy group - Her background and story are so remarkable. I'm can't wait to hear more from her and see her upcoming documentary Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China.
Rorey Cathcart Professional Genealogist, Speaker at The Who Hunter and Director & Education Committee Chair for Federation of Genealogical Societies. - Her speaker session is titled Your Brick Wall is not as Tall as You Think. Since a few of my walls feel like The Great Wall of China, I'm really looking forward to hearing her expertise.
D. Joshua Taylor Genealogist, Speaker, President for the Federation of Genealogical Societies and featured genealogist on Who Do You Think You Are. - He's teaching Genealogical & Historical Societies to The Rescue. I can't wait to hear his tips. (And to hear back from a few I have contacted in the UK.)
Myko Clelland Family Historian, Partnership & Outreach manager, FindMyPast - My grandparents came to the US from the UK in the early 1900s, so my interest in the UK is massive. I'm so lucky that I have 100 years of insight into their personal lives, but there are still so many questions left unanswered. I'm excited for his session: My Ancestors Are From Britain - What do I do next? Plus, If you aren't already reading it, Myko's Twitter feed @DapperHistorian, it is genealogy infotainment at its finest.
Allison Dolan Publisher, Family Tree Magazine - Lisa Louise Cooke, CEO Genealogy Gems - Jenna Mills, Genealogist Desperately Seeking Surnames: Their Session DIY Small Business Guerrilla Marketing Strategies looks very intriguing. (The more people I can get to read this little blog, the more likely I'll find some letters that my ancestors wrote to others!)
Innovator Showdown - I love new technology. I love new tools. I can't wait to hear from the Innovator Finalists to see who wins the live audience vote. Last week I tried many of the finalists tools online. Some are quite innovative. Right now I'm leaning towards TapGenes or Studio by Legacy Republic as my winners.
Did I mention I'm excited to hear all of the speakers?
Planning A Schedule
Looking at the session options I’m feeling that panic again. There are so many choices! Whether you are an amateur, a pro or a techie, there is a class for everyone. So I’m trying to figure out, for this RootsTech, which everyone am I?
Though I have over two decades of business experiences in management, sales and marketing - with genealogy, I am technically, a “beginner.” So for my first RootsTech, I’m going to try to experience a little bit of everything they have to offer.
My mission at RootsTech is to:
- gather more knowledge and tools to research my ancestors
- discover new technology to preserve & share my ancestors stories
- inspire others to share their family history
- seek opportunities to further my passion for storytelling & sleuthing
- meet some amazing people
If you aren’t using the RootsTech app on your phone or the scheduling tool on their website, drop everything and do it now! The calendar is very easy to use to browse & search the classes, narrow your interests, and create the perfectly scheduled experience. You can even add personal time so you don’t forget to hydrate and fuel your body. Be sure to use the phone app at the show so you can be paper free.
If you are like me and having a hard time selecting classes, or find two or three classes that overlap - review the syllabus for each to see which is the best match for you. And if you still want to attend two at the same time, many of the syllabus contain a ton of information you would learn in the class so you won't feel heartbroken if you miss it. Click here to review the RootsTech Syllabi. (Before you knock syllabi, syllabuses and syllabi are both ok as the plural of syllabus.)
I'll definitely be at all the KeyNote Sessions but I'm still deciding on a few session spots. I've only been reading about all the speakers and sessions for 2 hours now. Um, seriously. Two hours. I'm so afraid I'll miss something good. Here's a sneak peak at what I've narrowed down to:
Good luck making your selections!
Can’t make it to Salt Lake City? Great news! RootsTech will live stream a number of the sessions and after the conference, recording will be posted on the website for a limited time. Click here for details.
If you see me at RootsTech, say hello!
Happy Genealogy Hunting!