FamilySearch has been helping people find their ancestors for over 100 years, but the nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never participated in anything quite like this before. FamilySearch is hosting a new annual conference called RootsTech that begins in Salt Lake City today. The goal of RootsTech is to foster innovation in the world of genealogy technology.
“FamilySearch is committed to working with others to provide the records and resources that help people discover their family history,” said Jay L. Verkler, chief executive officer of FamilySearch. “We believe that one of the best ways to achieve that goal is to encourage new technologies that can make it even easier for people to find their ancestors.”
RootsTech grew out of an effort Brigham Young University began several years ago with its Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy. BYU is now a key partner in this new conference, along with other leaders in genealogy and technology, including Microsoft, Dell, Ancestry.com, brightsolid, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society.
Nearly 3,000 people are expected to attend RootsTech, which will be held in the Salt Palace Convention Center. The unique conference appeals to genealogists of all skill levels, who can learn new technology-based approaches to their research. The event will also attract the creators of genealogy-related technology, who can get feedback from peers and users on their ideas and creations.
RootsTech will help developers and others who create technology that is used by a broad swath of family history consumers to learn about the challenges facing the genealogy community. According to Verkler, that’s what makes this conference truly unique.
“The purpose of RootsTech is to encourage innovative technology solutions in the fields that have a bearing on genealogists. Therefore, attendees will find that the conference topics and discussions apply to a wide variety of disciplines,” Verkler said.
The format of RootsTech is designed to encourage collaboration and discussion. There will be a variety of classes and hands-on workshops for both genealogists and technologists, as well as demonstrations and virtual sessions. Verkler will be one of the keynote speakers at the conference, along with several other leaders in the technology and genealogy world:
- Shane Robison — executive vice president and chief strategy and technology officer at Hewlett-Packard
- Brewster Kahle — founder of the Internet Archive and the Open Content Alliance
- Curt Witcher — historical genealogy department manager at Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana
These keynote addresses will be streamed online for free at RootsTech.org.
In conjunction with the conference, free training is being offered to Church family history consultants, family history center directors and Church congregational leaders. On Saturday, 12 February, Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be speaking to this group regarding the principles in the new Leader’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work: To Turn the Hearts.