RootsTech is for Everyone: Getting Started

And these were just my (distant) relatives! A total of 500,000+ people attended RootsTech Connect in February 2021.

Wow! This event was a game-changer.

Even if you’re not the family historian, please keep reading. Because, in case you feel you’ve missed out, you haven’t!

Even if you're not the family historian, there's something at RootsTech for everyone. And it's not too late to participate! Click To Tweet

A genealogy conference for everyone

RootsTech was already the largest family history and technology conference and trade show, with 30,000 people from all over the world attending the February 2020 event in Salt Lake City (just before COVID changed everything).

And they already provided a virtual component, whereby one could participate in a limited number of Main Stage events and concurrent Sessions remotely. (I’ve attended other conferences in person, but this one I’ve attended only virtually.)

But RootsTech Connect (as it was called this year) was ALL VIRTUAL and ALL FREE…..with over 500,000 participants! And they were all there for different reasons – to connect and collaborate with close and distant relatives; to learn about basic (or obscure) areas of genealogical interest; to celebrate diversity and cultural traditions; and to learn how to tell their family stories. (Note to self: Create a session based on my forthcoming book for next year’s conference.)

Good news

Although the conference is over, IT’S NOT TOO LATE to register, and ALL THE SESSIONS will be available until just before next year’s conference in February 2022!

(NOTE: Some, but not all, of the benefits of registering were conference-weekend-specific. I will spare you the details, except to mention my favorite feature that will be going away soon is an app called Relatives at RootsTech. That’s where I got the featured photo in this post. The reason I believe I had 45,667 relatives at RootsTech – granted, many are 11th cousins twice removed — is that 1) we’re ALL related if you go back far enough, and 2) most of my researched family tree branches extend back to Colonial America, and those ancestors have had a LOT of descendants over the past few hundred years!)

I had a few relatives elsewhere in the world, too.

Getting started

I will grant you that it can be completely overwhelming to absorb all that is possible to learn, see, and do on the RootsTech website.

Just take it one topic or feature at a time. There’s no rush.

How to get started:

  1. Register for RootsTech here. (I was already a FamilySearch user, and used my existing account to log in. If you already have an account, you should use the same email for this event.)
  2. Take a few minutes to orient yourself. If you click this link — Learn How to Use the RootsTech Site — registered or not, you will see a series of short videos explaining the various features of RootsTech.
  3. In addition to the tabs across the top of the page(s), don’t forget to click the Menu, where you will see more, including FAQ. Click to each area briefly just to see what’s there.

So many sessions!

They advertised 1500 sessions – which, if they count every little vendor product demo, and song entry, and the nifty new Ancestry series, Genealogy in a Minute, along with the longer educational sessions (which also vary in length), I suppose that could be true.

Search Sessions by title, speaker, or topic by clicking here.

Topic examples include: Interviewing relatives, Church records, Jewish, Beginner, DNA, Irish, Mexican, African American, Slaves, Cemeteries, Cultural Traditions, Storytelling, Photos, Recipes, Adoption, Free Research, Tools, Societies, Kids ….. these were just some topics off the top of my head that I searched for, with good results, and I could think of topics all day long. People always seem surprised when there’s an aspect of genealogy I DON’T know about. Are you kidding me? If you poke around you will see that there is an infinite number of specialties, and NO ONE claims to be an expert at ALL of them!

You can download a complete list of session titles here. (It will give you ideas of things you want to search for.)

Add sessions to your Playlist

You can search sessions – and watch them — without registering. But, if you do register, you will have access to the “My Playlist” feature. You can save sessions to your playlist and watch them anytime during the rest of this year. If you DON’T see the “+ Add to Playlist” button next to a session, you are NOT registered. (Or, you will see it, and click it, and be reminded to register.)

Next in this series

How many parts will there be to this blog series? Who knows?

I, too, have all year to explore and bring recommended sessions, features, vendors, and speakers to your attention!

If you are looking for something in particular, and can’t find it, contact me and I’ll help you. (What you seek may, or may not, be available at RootsTech).


Have YOU participated in RootsTech Connect?

What was your favorite session/feature/vendor/speaker so far?

What are you still looking forward to?

Copyright 2021  by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life.
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  1. Sabrina Quairoli on March 1, 2021 at 11:45 am

    I’ve never used RootsTech. I will have to check it out. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Janet Barclay on March 1, 2021 at 11:54 am

    Thank you so much, Hazel! I signed up but got completely lost when I logged in. These tips will definitely help.

  3. Sheri Steed on March 1, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    I’m so excited about this post. I was registered for Roots Tech – my first time ever – but I wasn’t able to participate because we were busy moving my mom into an independent living facility. I’m so happy to know that I can watch at my leisure.

  4. Seana Turner on March 1, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    500,000 participants? Holy, moly! I had no idea that genealogy was so popular. This event sounds incredibly THOROUGH. A little something for everyone, and given the “free” price point, easy for beginners to just dip their toe in. Just today I got an email from my mom with a family tree for my father’s side, starting with my grandparents. It is interesting to look through and see it all.

  5. Melanie on March 1, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    Woo! Should I ever decide to go down this rabbit hole, I’ll be re-reading this post to know exactly what to do!

  6. Linda Samuels on March 1, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    I’m with Seana. 500,000 participants! That speaks to a HUGE interest in genealogy. I also relate to Melanie that this sounds like the rabbit hole of all holes. However, for those that love genealogy, RootsTech seems like THE source for everything. Knowing that you have been working on your own family history for a while, I’m guessing this conference must feel very much like being a kid in a candy store. Enjoy exploring. And kudos on your upcoming book. I wish you all the best of success with it.

  7. Julie Bestry on March 2, 2021 at 3:38 pm

    Before last year, I wasn’t interested in my family’s genealogy at all, mostly because I thought we couldn’t trace anything back further than my mom’s grandparents and my father’s parents. However, thanks to two (unrelated) bored friends who love genealogy, I learned a lot of random details about relatives I’d barely heard of (a great uncle who was a famous Vaudeville star?) and little tidbits about relatives I did know (like how my mom’s father was robbed of $250 in the 1930s because he didn’t trust banks and had all his money in his pocket)! I can definitely see how this online conference has been embraced both by genealogy lovers and novices!

  8. Janet Schiesl on March 3, 2021 at 9:31 am

    I’m going to pass this information on to a couple of colleagues that would love this conference. So much great information!

  9. Elizabeth Cox Nielson on March 5, 2021 at 10:21 am

    I just searched for you. You and I are 11th cousins once removed. That’s pretty far, but it’s still fun!

    I’ve been really enjoying RootsTech. Thank you for this extra information so that I can use the site better.

    • Hazel Thornton on April 4, 2021 at 10:09 am

      Very cool! Yes 11th cousins is pretty distant, but it doesn’t really matter how far back the connection is in terms of possibly being able to help each other break down a brick wall!

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