RootsTech 2018 – Review

Last weekend, Dr. Rolf Sutter and I came back with many new impressions from the RootsTech 2018 in Salt Lake City.

This year I travelled to this event for the first time. That’s why it was the size of the show that really impressed me. During the congress, there was a total of 320 lectures, always 20 lectures at the same time, from which one could choose. In total, more than 30,000 people visited the RootsTech in these 4 days. But I was also impressed by the importance of family research in the USA, the technical possibilities and the enthusiasm of the people for our topic. This is all very fascinating for me.

Events for invited guests

Networking has a high priority at RootsTech. On the eve of the opening day, Dr. Sutter and I were invited to the media dinner. There were also other events for invited guests. On Friday morning we followed an invitation to the VIP breakfast. There we had the opportunity to sit at the table with Steven T. Rockwood (President and CEO FamilySearch International) and exchange views with him and other leaders of the large family research companys.

Technical developments

Also in terms of Technology, the industry in the US is felt to be much further than we are in Europe. Thus, there was a separate hall at the fair only for companies offering technology solutions around the topic of family research. In a conference app, visitors were able to find everything they needed to know about RootsTech – the app took them to the workshops, showed who was in the exhibition hall and much more. There was even a list of participants in the app, with the help of which participants could connect and find. It also provided information about the keynote speakers, the restaurants and all the lectures and happenings of the day.

DNA analysis

Another big topic was DNA analysis. Large vendors had special RootsTech offers for test kits that they can use to test their DNA. It is very easy to make this test: Since our DNA is in all cells of our body, some saliva on a cotton swab is enough to determine it. In fact, a lot has happened in recent years in the field of DNA analysis in family research.

There are already numerous success stories in which relatives could be located through this process. DNA analysis is particularly useful when written evidence of origin has been destroyed or can no longer be traced back to adoptions.

Of course we want to incorporate all these impressions into our work here in Germany as well. RootsTech was a very inspiring event from which many new ideas could develop in the near future. Finally, I would like to thank the generous Mormon Church invitation, especially from our friends David Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer, FamilySearch, and Michael J. Hall, Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer, FamilySearch.

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Written by Harald Heimbach

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