16 February 2015

RootsTech 2015 - My Impressions

This is my second year attending RootsTech. I am lucky because the conference is held about 45 minutes south of my home in Ogden, Utah. I don't think I completely understand how lucky I am to have all of the great genealogical access that I do from living here.

I attended this years conference with my wife Rachel, aunt Connee, and my cousin Cari. The funny thing is that I didn't know Cari until I met her in Salt Lake. Connee and Cari have been friends for many years. They are in a quilting group together in St. George, Utah. The night before the conference Cari was setting up her FamilySearch account and they realized they we have a common ancestor.

In my little bubble of the world I don't know many people that are as enthusiastic about genealogy and family history as I am. This years RootsTech seemed much bigger than last year. I realize that this was two conferences in one with the Federation of Genealogical Societies or FGS conference at the same time.

The classes were very full. I realize that is the point of a conference but I found that if you were not early to the sessions you did not get a seat. I also realized that if I got into a session and wanted to leave and try another I would not make it into the other session.

I soon realized that my wife, a reporter for our local newspaper, had much better access to speakers, seating, food, and open space than I did. I quickly finagled a media pass and spent much of the conference as her shadow. She said she enjoyed this year's conference much better than last year. I am not sure that I did.

I ran into many of the bloggers who I follow. Dear Myrt, Randy Seaver, and Dick Eastman to name a few. It was a thrill to meet them.

My wife and children had pictures taken with A.J. Jacobs,  Noelle Pikus-Pace and David Archuleta. They were thrilled to have access to meet the. They were also impressed with how kind and open they all were to talk about themselves and their genealogy.

I don't think I accomplished much of what I thought I would do at the conference. Last year I attend all but one class, spent an extended evening at the Family History Library copying documents for my files, and attended all of the opening sessions way in the back of the room. This year I only attended three classes, missed the opening of the conference, didn't step foot in the Family History Library, spent more than half my time in the Expo Hall, and had great seats to most of the general sessions.

Right now I feel my biggest takeaway from RootsTech is the exposure that my wife and children got from attending. It has been somewhat difficult to get them to appreciate genealogy. They don't like the puzzle of work like I do. I do think they got the message of the importance of telling stories, learning about your families, and some fun tools that they can use. I think that for beginners this is a great start. My wife told me that I can worry about the facts but she wants to tell the stories and make sure our children know them too. I think for now I can live with knowing that a seed of interest has been planted. I think that this was a major reason FamilySearch and the LDS church are putting on the conference. So for them, mission accomplished.

As for me, I am not sure. I think I will like this years conference much better as time goes by. I will watch the online sessions and review my notes. I will blog a little and continue my work. By the time next years conference rolls around I am sure will like this years better.