Monday, March 23, 2015

RootsTech “Celebrating Families” / Watch Sessions Online

It has now been a month since RootsTech wrapped up, and what an experience it was! This year’s theme was “Who Inspires You?” You can now watch full presentations from RootsTech 2015 on their website.

It was my first time attending RootsTech, and as part of the 2015 Ambassador Team, I was able to visit with some of the keynote speakers and participate in Sofa Chats with them. I walked away excited and ready to share my stories and continue on my journey of discovering my past.


Here is a recap of the highlights from RootsTech 2015 that left me feeling inspired:

Wednesday: Family Discovery Center

2015-02-11 11.36.55[3] YourPhoto[6]

To kick off and get excited for RootsTech, I got a preview of the new Family Discovery Center “The Museum Of  ME!”  in the downtown Salt Lake City Joseph Smith Memorial Building (formerly Hotel Utah). You can read about that here.

“Who Inspires You?”

1O3A7207_C[10]Keynote speaker Tan Le had the audience in tears when telling about her childhood
and what has inspired her throughout her life.

20150212_104815I wrapped up day one in a separate blog post, and you can read about it here

To watch Thursday’s keynote and opening speakers Dennis Brimhall, Mike Mallin, and Tan Le for FREE, visit the RootsTech website.

It was exciting to meet Kenyatta D. Berry, co-host of Genealogy Roadshow





Friday: “Discover Your Story”

_Z2U4355"Family history is more than a family tree," said Joshua Taylor, one of the keynote speakers
for Friday morning. "Our stories collectively make up what makes Family History.”

Friday morning’s keynote speakers were Joshua Taylor, from Who Do You Think You Are and Genealogy Roadshow, among a lost list of many other things, and Laura Bush with daughter Jenna Bush Hager.

2015-02-13 11.31.59You can read a recap of the Bush’s keynote address in a separate blog post from February 13, 2015.

Joshua Taylor is known as a rock star in the genealogy world, and has been doing genealogy and family history since the age of around 11 years old.

"Family History should not be about searching, it should be about finding," Taylor said. "It's what you do with data that makes all the difference."

Taylor talked about family history being “intensely personal". He shared a story about when he was young and he would steal the cheese and grater from the fridge. He could often be found sitting in his bedroom with cheese. While doing his family history, he uncovered an ancestor named William Heaps, and discovered that this specific ancestor was imprisoned for stealing seven pieces of cheese!

“This is not your grandma's hobby anymore. It's everybody's hobby.” - Joshua Taylor

Watch Joshua Taylor’s keynote address on the RootsTech website.


Saturday: “Celebrating Families Across Generations”

Saturday morning kicked off with the announcement from Shipley Munson with FamilySearch of the results of the Innovator Showdown. Learn more about the results and the apps on the RootsTech website.

I am a cousinNew York Times best-selling author and editor of Esquire magazine, A.J. Jacobs, presented his theory that we are all cousins with the “I Am A Cousin” campaign in preparation for the Global Family Reunion happening this June in New York City. Proceeds for the Global Family Reunion go to Alzheimer's because it's a disease that affects family history. Our family histories are being lost because of this terrible disease.

Jacobs was approached on the street by a stranger that said he was his 12th cousin, and it got him interested enough to dive into family history. He started researching people all over the world and found how he is related to each one of them. When he called to schedule an interview with George Bush Sr., he told them “I am his cousin!” and of course they allowed him the interview.


“The interconnectedness of human kind… will lead to a kinder world, once it sinks in that we are all one big family,” Jacobs said. He explained that it’s hard to dislike or be unkind to somebody if you know you’re related. It makes you think twice about the way you feel about them.

Jacobs also talked about the time period in his life where he decided to live every rule and law of the Bible, and how the concept of gratitude changed his life.

"You start to realize there are hundreds of things that go right every day that we take for granted, and we tend to focus on the three or four things that go wrong,” Jacobs said.


Donny Osmond was also a keynote speaker for Saturday morning, and serenaded the crowd with a song or two. He talked a lot about his family history and how researching his family history has become an important part of him. While on tour for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, he worked on family history in his hotel room during his spare time between rehearsals and performances.

"The more you discover about your ancestors, the more you discover about yourself," Osmond said. "If you're fortunate to have your grandparents with you, email them! Call them! Find out what your grandparents were like when they were young. Find out what their personalities were like."

He shared a story of his 2x great grandma, who he learned from his “never say never” attitude and confidence throughout his life. He talked about the person that inspires him, and that was his father. You never know when the stories you record will inspire somebody to keep on going.

“What matters most is the love we give to our families,” Osmond said. “What really matters is not having fame but being whole and sharing the life lessons along the way, and making memories to inspire others to do the same. It's the love that lasts. Stories last. Who you are, lasts.”


My favorite part about Saturday’s session was that my entire family met me at RootsTech and spent the afternoon with me as part of Family Discovery Day!

Family Discovery Day was a free one-day event provided on by the LDS church for families to attend together and hear motivational speakers, participate in interactive activities and learn more about their family heritage by attending with their family.

My kids (ages 9 and 11) especially loved the closing event with David Archuleta and Studio C. They were star struck, to say the least! David Archuleta wrote a beautifully inspiring song about family history, which inspired my daughter to start looking into her own history and finding her story.

Mark your calendars for RootsTech 2016, happening at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City February 3-6, 2016. Each year it keeps getting bigger and better, and I can’t wait to attend again next year!

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