SALT LAKE CITY — It’s a family historian’s paradise.
More than 5,000 patrons have already registered to attend the third annual RootsTech Conference, a three-day event for people of all ages interested in learning the latest information on family history and technology, held at the Salt Lake Palace Convention Center from March 21-23. Within its first two years, RootsTech grew to become the largest paid family history conference in the United States.
“RootsTech is unique because it is a world-class conference appealing to a worldwide audience with different but similar interests in one package,” said Paul Nauta, public affairs director for FamilySearch.org and a spokesman for the event. “There truly is no other conference like this anywhere.”
Last year, more than 4,000 people from 46 U.S. states, six Canadian provinces and 23 additional countries attended the conference. Another 50,000-plus participated online in live streaming sessions. Nauta anticipates this year’s event will surpass those numbers.
“The conference has experienced significant growth in its three years of existence – about 1,000 more attendees each year, not including online viewers,” he said.
This year RootsTech is planning to provide something for everyone, whether an avid genealogist, someone who is just getting started, a person interested in telling and sharing personal or family stories, or simply someone curious about the latest technologies that will help a person better connect with family roots.
“We have more than 250 sessions and a dynamic atmosphere that appeals to people of diverse ages – youth to seniors – professions, interests and skill levels. It is organized according to your interests and skill levels,” Nauta said. “We hope people come with questions, expectations and discover the answers, resources and contacts they seek and need. And of course, we hope they have fun.”
In addition to a variety of interactive classes and workshops featuring professional speakers, there is free family history training for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and priesthood leaders. Elder Allan F. Packer of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Bradley D. Foster of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, and Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the First Quorum of the Seventy, along with members of the church’s Family History Department, will all host sessions during the conference.
There will be youth classes and activities, including a Saturday evening LDS devotional with Sister Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women general president, for youths ages 11-18.
A free mini concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will take place Thursday night as part of the conference.
A main theme at the conference will be storytelling, with a number of sessions devoted to capturing stories, Nauta said.
“Not everyone is interested in research, or the thrill of hunting for ancestors,” Nauta said. “Stories of our ancestors' triumphs, trials and humorous moments bring them to life for us. They motivate and inspire us and endear us to them. We will remember the stories of our ancestors far more and longer than we will names, dates and places on a family tree. Learning how to capture and tell those stories will memorialize them for all future generations.”
For those unable to attend, a small number of the popular sessions and other conference events will be streamed live and free online. Prices, registration, a conference schedule and streaming information can all be found at www.rootstech.org.
“Attendees come from all over the world literally to participate in person or they can dial in to a small sampling of some of the top sessions streamed live via the web,” Nauta said. “It's an incredible mix and it all comes together dynamically and enticingly.”