Why I Attend RootsTech Year After Year
I am preparing for my fifth RootsTech, and inquiring minds (mostly my husband) want to know why I keep attending year after year.
“Don’t you already know all there is to know about family history and genealogy?” they ask.
Well, no, I don’t know it all.
While I had contemplated going to RootsTech prior to 2014, I never actually went. Every year I found myself questioning whether or not it would be a worthwhile investment. “I already know all there is to know,” I’d tell myself.
I figured that I could get by doing family history how I’ve always done it—by myself because no one else in the family is interested. OK, that’s not entirely true. My dad was interested, but everyone else? Hardly. And my definition of family history was about research and names and dates and keeping track of random bits of information about people I never met. Looking back, I can see why no one else was interested. Sounds kind of boring.
Eventually, I registered for my first RootsTech conference and went by myself. The conference day arrived, and as I made my way into the first session, I quickly figured out that there were thousands of others who were interested in family history. And not only were they interested, they were passionate about it. As I began visiting with my seat neighbors, I found that some of them had also experienced feelings of doing it all alone. Others came because they wanted to start doing family history and didn’t know how to start. Within a few moments, we found commonality and friendship—a connection that taught us that we all belong in this endeavor together.
That first day at RootsTech I discovered that I’m not really alone in this work. I was also humbled to learn that I really didn’t know all there was to know about family history.
There will always be something new to learn. There will be new technology, new techniques, and most importantly there will always be another’s viewpoint, suggestion, or idea.
Have you thought of attending RootsTech and haven’t yet attended because you thought there wasn’t anything for you there? I’m living proof that there’s a place for everyone at RootsTech. Here are some of the things I’ve learned as I prepare for my fifth conference:
- You could spend all day every day in the Expo Hall visiting with vendors and not see them all.
- You could go to a class in every time slot and not see 5 percent of the classes offered.
- You could connect with a new person every hour and make a new friendship and you would not meet even a tenth of the attendees, all of whom have amazing stories and backgrounds.
- You could pass by thousands of people and not even realize they are your distant cousins.
Family history, to me, is still names and dates and random bits of information about complete strangers; but it is also stories and photos, DNA, family recipes, heirlooms, and the daily moments of teaching my children the lessons learned from previous generations. I live and breathe family history every day in the often mundane tasks of baking great-grandma’s cookies, being a multigenerational gardener and family canner, and sewing using skills passed through generations.
RootsTech is a huge, fun family reunion. Together, we laugh and cry as we are taught by inspiring speakers and each other. So, put on a pair of comfortable shoes, grab a water bottle, wear your best smile, and come join the world’s largest family history event, where if you come with a rookie mindset, you will find that there will always be something new to learn.