Roostech 2018, Salt Lake City.

Rootstech is unlike any other family history show anywhere in the world. For starters it’s a lot bigger. The official figures released after the event show a whopping 17,210 people registered, and a further 26,000 people came for the Family Discovery Day on Saturday. That’s more than 43,000 people attending and a big increase on last year. In fact it was so busy it was actually difficult to get around the convention centre! But one of the big recent developments at Rootstech is the number of people who live stream the sessions, and they have recorded 111,699 live stream views so far. These numbers are unlike anything else worldwide.

The next thing that makes it very different, is its a proper American convention, with lots of high profile speakers from TV, Music, Sport and more to start every day. Coupled with the glitz and razzmatazz of the Exhibit hall, you quickly realise you’re not in Kansas anymore. You’re in Utah! And the Mormon church’s genealogy arm, Family Search goes to incredible lengths to make everyone welcome. Have a look at their round up of the event here https://youtu.be/fM1OLBP6YSo

Overall the Exhibit hall was a very busy place. When those attending Rootstech got time to take a break from the more than 200 presentations and sessions they would stroll through the two massive halls filled with companies, societies, educational bodies, volunteer groups, public archives, libraries and business start-ups all with products and services to help them on their journey. There was a degree of professionalism about all the exhibits this year that I haven’t seen before. It looked like a proper trade show!

The Irish Family History Centre was the only exhibit from Ireland this year, and our dedicated team were run off their feet. Well done Paul and Caitlin. We saw a 44% increase in sign-ups to our newsletter over last year, showing the level of enthusiasm for Irish genealogy is continuing to thrive.

I was the only speaker from Ireland this year, although I am pleased to say there were Irish presentations from other experts based outside Ireland, like BCG Chair, Rick Sayre, or my colleague Myko Clelland from Findmypast. I gave two specifically Irish sessions. One on the Digital revolution in Irish genealogy detailing the story of how Irish records have become available online over the last 15 years, what is now available, and what is yet to be done. My second was entitled Prosecuting Dissent which looked at the importance of security records for Irish genealogy. I also gave a third presentation on Unlocking Roman Catholic Records which was focused on US and British Catholic records in general, but also shows how valuable they are for tracing migration, specifically Irish. It was recorded too so can be viewed here: https://www.rootstech.org/video/unlocking-roman-catholic-records

So you can find out what I’ve been doing with  Findmypast’s Catholic Heritage Archive.

Take a look at https://www.rootstech.org/ and find out more about what you missed. Hopefully I’ll see you in Salt Lake city for Rootstech 2019!

The view of the Rootstech convention centre from my hotel room on Sunday 4th March as we started our journey home.

By Brian Donovan

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