A Greek at RootsTech

RootsTech–the largest genealogy conference in the world–provides researchers with a myriad of classes and resources to enhance their skills, and four full days to connect within the genea-universe. It is exhilarating, energizing and exhausting!  Over 13,000 attendees overran the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Exterior of the Salt Palace Convention Center, with quirky ying-and-yang signs

Salt Lake City is the center of the genea-universe, with the massive Family History Library just one block from the Salt Palace Convention Center. I spent several hours at the International Floor, where I digitized some Greek reference books and microfilms. The Library is in the process of digitizing all of its 2.5 million microfilms and hundreds of thousands of books, and millions of these images are uploaded weekly to the FamilySearch website.

The International Floor of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City

With over 300 genealogy-related classes, there was something for everyone…but, many of the sessions were geared towards beginners. I opted for intermediate-advanced classes to improve my research and writing skills, such as:  DNA Chromosome Mapping (I was lost); Netherlands Research (it’s always good to learn research skills in other countries and see what types of records are available); Tips and Tricks for International Research; Choosing Details: The Secret to Compelling Stories (a fabulous session); Town Hall meetings with FamilySearch executives; Battlefield Stories: Writing About Your World War II Ancestors, and others.

The halls were overrun with eager participants; at times it was almost impossible to walk against the crowd.

Jammed in the Salt Palace — over 13,000 attendees!

Several hundred vendors filled the Expo Hall. Attendees could talk with company reps, get hands-on assistance with software, take mini-classes, and browse the newest offerings of techie-tools. I was delighted to see booths featuring Chinese, Ukrainian, African-American, Jewish, German, Canadian and other ethnic groups. Someday there will be a Greek genealogy booth! ❤

RootsTech 2018 Expo Hall

Who Is My Relative?
People were huddled around apps on their phones, not only to keep up with RootsTech tweets and comments, or to decide on the next class to attend, but also to find relatives at the conference. But…these were relatives that they did not know. The FamilySearch Tree app, “Relatives Around Me,” was utilized by attendees to discover how many new cousins were lurking in the same classroom, ballroom, or hallway. Even the keynote speakers had fun with this app, offering a prize to the first cousin who found him/her on the app. One of my genea-blogger friends had 361 cousins in one session!

I had none. Not one. Any Greeks who attended RootsTech were not related to me 😦

A fellow genea-blogger, originally from New Zealand, also had 0 on his app, so we designated ourselves as conference cousins. No one wants to feel left out!

MyHeritage is Rocking!
Executives at MyHeritage made a major announcements which could be life-changing for adoptees. They launched a new website, DNAQuest.org, with the goal of helping adoptees reunite with their biological families. As a pro-bono initiative, MyHeritage is giving away 15,000 DNA kits to those who qualify, through April 30, 2018. Further information is on the DNAQuest website.

New record collections have been added, and a new feature for users of the FamilySearch FamilyTree allows synchronization with MyHeritage to find hints for new records.

And…there is the annual party, held on Friday evening when everyone needs cerebral “RnR.” A band, food, games and prizes make this event fun-fun-fun!

MyHeritage RootsTech Party, 2018

Did I learn anything pertinent to Greek genealogy research? No.

Did I meet any new Greek friends? Yes–one, whose grandfather is from Crete. We are now in touch and hopefully I can get her connected with people who can help her.

Do Greeks belong at RootsTech? Yes! Absolutely! Acquiring sound research skills, understanding DNA and its place in genealogy, learning about new software and websites are all critical components of starting off on solid ground. A large portion of our research begins in the U.S. or our home country, searching records to document our family units in their “new country,” organizing our findings, and determining our original ancestral surname and village of origin. This search begins in U.S. records and must be complete and accurate before we can access records in Greece.

Will I attend RootsTech next year? Of course–please join me!