RootsTech Connections 2021 has been a great conference so far. This free online experience brought together in record time by FamilySearch in response to the pandemic has brought genealogists, new and not, together in a comfortable, accessible learning space.
Everyone involved certainly rose to the challenge and exceeded our expectations. It's interesting to see how the pieces were put together and to see how presenters, vendors, exhibitors and attendees are using and even stretching the spaces.
2021 Attendees: 501,203 people from 226 countries!
The Main Stage streams have been translated into 11 languages and there are classes in almost 40 languages, including ASL. To search for class sessions in a specific language, go to this RootsTech Connections page. All English sessions can be auto-translated.
After opening in the evening, Thursday, the 24th, I explored the Expo Hall, eager to see 'what's' new'. I watched several presentations, met up with attendees visiting the 'Surnames and one-name studies' Chat Room which the Guild of One-Name Studies set up, and I had a good listen to some of the 12 finalists in the RootsTech Song Contest.
After the first song I heard, I said, "Surely nothing could beat that one', but not so! All different; all moving. Don't forget to vote for your favourites!
All in all, the first night I stayed up at RootsTech till early
Today, Friday, the 25th, I mainly sat in on classes, dropped into the Guild Chat Room several times, and explored the Expo Hall again.
Then I headed off to attend the regular Guild of One-Name Studies Friday Pub Chat. Never a quiet moment there! Today, for example, we talked about copyright/rights, DNA, FamilySearch, My Heritage, Legacy Family Tree software - and as always, Jaffa cakes.
As a nice break, I was then able to attend the 21DayConnect Desktop Diner, sponsored by the Family Connections Experiment. This is an example of an innovative way to extend the virtual conference and encourage face-to-face discussion.
I was in two different rooms - all had fun menu titles. The first was "Eat Your Vegetables—Ethical Considerations" with RootsTech presenter Lynn Broderick. Most of the discussion concerned DNA testing.
The second room was with Thomas Macentee, always ready to answer questions and demonstrate tips. I saw the other day someone somewhere commented that they never leave one of Thomas' talks without something new and I say the same. (Sorry, if you said that let me know. I'll be happy to give you credit.)
Later in the day, I roamed around the Innovators Portal. I'll probably say more about that later. It is one of my favourite places at RootsTech.
But I will tell you some of my overall Conference favourites so far.
On the Main Stage presentations, Sunetra Sarker's Keynote discussion was broad-ranging and insightful.
Some class sessions have been grouped into series. In the Homeland Heritage series, I quite liked "Heritage Discovery in London" by Russell Lynch AG®. A useful reminder of the genealogical and personal value on the ground research brings to family history.
I enjoyed these two very well-presented sessions. Each left me impatiently thinking of further research to do. I recommend them to all:
"Girls Must Feed Pigs: Things Our Ancestors Thought and Said" by Darris G. Williams
"Documenting Underrepresented Family Stories" by Larissa Lam and Baldwin Chiu
In the Expo Hall, I first decided to explore the FamilySearch booth and since I've been considering working more in FamilySearch, I watched the group of FamilySearch Memories demos with Denis Francesco Modugno and Jenny Yazzie.
Clearly, I've been missing out. Denis demonstrated finding recipes there! That's one thing I have lots of and this would be a great place for them.
In no particular order, my other favourites in the Expo Hall were Goldie May, a genealogy research assistant, available in a free version or, with a subscription, additional functions. I was very taken with this, especially as it is set up for collaboration. And if you, like me, have families who filled out the 1900/1910 USA censuses, check out the way Goldie May can help you 'find' missing children in 1900 and 1910.
I was also intrigued with the amazing interactive digital family trees that Bright Branches offers, featuring art, photographs and what I'd call 'special effects'. My kids might like these. (And they have big TVs.)
Lastly in the Innovators Portal, my favourites were these four:
Goldie May -described above - Richard K Miller
Color Restoration - My Heritage
Computer Assisted Indexing - FamilySearch (converting hand writing into searchable text)
Connections Idea Generator - Family Connections Experiment
I have been tweeting as have many others. Hashtag #RootsTechConnect
I wasn't able to attend #Rootschat tonight but check out the RootsTech Connect discussions there.
See you all tomorrow. Bright and early! Don't forget your lunch.