What is RootsTech & Why Should I Go?

This year has seen an explosion in genealogy shows, events or conferences and the one I’m most excited about is #RootsTechLondon, a conference or exhibition taking place at ExCeL London from 24th to 26th October. I’m proud to be supporting the event as an ‘ambassador’. But what exactly is RootsTech? And why should you be excited about it?

RootsTech London poster

I first heard about #RootsTech on Twitter. Many of the fantastic American genealogists that I follow were tweeting about the talks they were attending. My twitter feed was full of great tips and the hashtags #RootsTech and #NotatRootsTech were plastered all over my feed. I’d never heard of RootsTech before, but I knew I had to find out more about this event that had created such a buzz.

So what is RootsTech? Well, to quote their own literature, it’s:

“a 4-day event held annually in Salt Lake City, Utah, dedicated to celebrating family and discovering family histories”

RootsTech is hosted by FamilySearch, whose website www.familysearch.org, will be familiar to almost all genealogist as an amazing resource for both records and information.

However, as exciting as a 4 day genealogical event sounds, what really attracted me to RootsTech was the way the show really engaged, and promoted, the latest tech in the family history industry. In this age of speedy computers and apps at your finger tips, keeping on top of genealogy tech can be challenging. Personally, I love learning about tools that can help me both pursue and manage my research. I believe the right technology can help us, not only work faster, but more efficiently. Furthermore, the right tools can help us look at our data in new ways and to share our findings.

RootsTech is all about the tech


Stay up to date with tech, after all, as beautiful as this old typewriter is, it’s functions are somewhat limited compared to today’s laptops and genealogy software.

Visiting RootsTech’s website, at www.rootstech.org/category/technology and www.rootstech.org/video-archive I found a plethora of recorded sessions from previous years. Watching these talks, which cover a huge range of topics, really captivated me. I wondered why an event on such a large scale hadn’t yet made it’s way across to the UK. As much as I enjoyed sampling the videos shared here, I yearned for more. I knew that had I been able to attend the conference in person, I’d have been able to listen/watch so many more talks. But more than that, I’d have been doing so whilst surrounded by a multitude of other genealogy enthusiasts – and no doubt I’d have learnt from their experiences.

Talking to others is a FAB way to learn. It’s INCREDIBLE how everyone can watch the same talk & come away with different ways of applying that learning to their research. #genealogy

It’s only through meeting and interacting with others that you can tap into all those different ideas.

I knew that attending an event in Salt Lake City, Utah was well out of my time and budget constraints. I also wanted an event that would cater to my more (dare I say it – restrained?) British taste. I’m sure you can imagine my elation when I discovered that RootsTech was coming to London. Even more thrilling, they were asking for speakers and ambassadors. I quickly registered my interest and applied to be an ambassador. I was delighted to be accepted and am proud to be part of a team of very varied and illustrious genealogists.

I'm proud to be an Ambassador for RootsTech London

Traditionally the US RootsTech has featured a host of talks and workshops, a large hall packed with exhibitors providing demos, freebies, useful tips and hints, plus a selection of keynote speakers. These keynote sessions have featured celebrities and aim to be “uplifting” and “inspiring”. RootsTech London attendees can expect the same benefits, with 150+ sessions or classes, and over 100 stalls in the exhibition hall. The sheer size of the ExCel is a testament to the scale of this event. This is not a rehash of previous genealogy events but something new and different – something monumental.

RootsTech London takes place at excel London



Keynote speakers are promised too. But for those who may be worried that this is going to have an American focus, please be reassured that RootsTech London is not just an ‘American export’. Ambassadors were recently treated to a video presentation delivered by one of the key conferences organisers. Within this video, RootsTech revealed the careful market research they’d completed before deciding to host their conference in London. They recognised both the UK and the European appetite for a large, well run, genealogy event. However, they also realised that the tastes of an American audience are often different to those of a British or European cultural background. This is a London conference and not an American show simply being set in the UK.

The UK and European feel to this event can be seen in the list of classes already confirmed, such as: “English Country Bumpkins! Tracing Rural Ancestors” by Else Churchill and “Sources and Structures for successful genealogical research in Germany” by Dirk Weissleder. Some of the speakers, like Myko Clelland and Jonny Perl took part in the 2019 Utah expo and you can check out their videos on the RootsTech website, here and here. I can’t wait to see their talks in person in London in October.

Nick Barratt, of BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? fame has already been confirmed as a featured speaker. I can personally attest to Nick’s brilliance – he knows how to bring a subject to life and how to keep his audience engaged. Indeed, another one of the features of the Salt Lake City conference has been the inclusion of celebrity keynote speakers. They aim to be “uplifting” and “inspirational” and I’m excited to see which celebrities will be featuring in #RootsTechLondon. I’m looking forward to this, not because I’m particularly into celeb spotting, but because often these persons are amazing public speakers. I’m looking forward to having my imagination sparked and for catching some contagious enthusiasm!!

Nick Barratt will be a key speaker and emcee for RootsTech London


Key Note Speaker: Nick Barratt

If you are interested in attending RootsTech then purchasing your tickets sooner rather than later is preferable. At time of writing (May 2019), RootsTech are offering a special early bird price so now is a great time to grab a ticket. Visit www.rootstech.org/london to register. Be sure to follow #RootsTechLondon on Twitter and let me know if you are attending, I’m sure there will be lots of #TweetUp #MeetUp opportunities.

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