RootsTech 2019 Recap

Amazing. Exhausting.

Thrilling. Tiring.

These are just some of the words I found myself thinking as I was experiencing my “happy place.” In case you don’t know it by this name, it is also called RootsTech. This event was held in Salt Lake City, Utah from February 27 through March 2, 2019.

This was my second year attending RootsTech and my first year serving as an Ambassador. I also helped out for the second year at the Heredis booth in the Expo Hall (will talk about this in a later post). There were definite perks to being an ambassador: closer seats to the Keynote Speakers, free pass to RootsTech, pass to giveaway (see photo below of myself and my giveaway winner, Judith), paid lunches, chances to interview key figures in the genealogy world, among others. Despite all of this, I feel that the fact that I was an “ambassador” did not color or rather skew my view of this years RootsTech.

Since last year was the first year I attended, it is what I have to base this years experience off of. I will say without a doubt, this years RootsTech was above and beyond last year’s experience. (And I had tons of fun and loved last year’s). When I look at the pros and cons of RootsTech, the pros are a definite frontrunner.


  • So much help available. Wherever you turned, there was a friendly face wearing a blue shirt asking how they can help you.
  • No waiting in lines to get into classes/talks. This year they eliminated the badge scanning to get into classes thereby making it seamless to get in and out of classes. I think this also helped to make the general mood of the event a happier one. Everyone was calm and relaxed.
  • Wide variety of classes to choose from. Once again I had a hard time just choosing one class that I wanted to take in a particular time slot. Many times I would choose a couple and then wait until the day of to choose.
  • RootsTech app. I can’t rave about this app enough. Even if you were not at RootsTech you must check it out. It will give you a great overview of all the classes there were as well as access to the handouts. A must!
  • Larger rooms for talks = less chance for you not getting a seat. The RootsTech crew knew which classes were going to be the more popular ones so they made sure to give those classes the larger venues. Made for much more happier participants.
  • Later time for Keynotes meant a greater attendance. I remember last year there not being a full house for many of the keynotes since they were at an earlier time. This year the keynotes were at 11am which was a great idea. A packed house for all great speakers. When I saw Martin Luther King III (a complete surprise and previously unannounced) walk onto the stage I was speechless!

Cons (but not really):

  • Family Discovery Day on Saturday means free admittance which means LOTS. OF. PEOPLE. Saturday can be crazy. But as long as you are prepared for it, it really is okay. I personally like seeing all the kids come out with their parents. It is especially neat to see the multi-generations all there. Family history is about FAMILY so this day is important for the growth and future of the field of genealogy.

Overall, RootsTech was exhilarating. I always say that I have a RootsTech hangover afterwards. It is a crash course in All. The. Things. to do with family history but it also puts that fire back in your belly of why you do what you do. Why you are interested in your family’s past? In your family’s story?

It is not just for today. But for the future as well.

Lastly, if you are at all interested in viewing the keynotes, a sampling of the wonderful talks, and/or just get a general feel of what it means to attend RootsTech, I highly encourage you to watch not just this year’s session but you can also watch past year’s as well. Simply click on this link and enjoy! As a gentle reminder, you can still purchase a virtual pass for 18 recorded sessions from RootsTech 2019. Then you can view them at your convenience whenever and wherever you want. Don’t miss this chance!

Be sure to mark your calendars for the TENTH Anniversary of RootsTech! It is definitely an event that you must experience at least once!

Everybody Loves Raymond Star Coming to RootsTech 2019!

Another RootsTech 2019 Keynote Speaker has been announced and it is a good one! Patricia Heaton! She is the Emmy-award winning actress from such hits as Everybody Loves Raymond and most recently, The Middle.

Want to know what to expect when Ms. Heaton gives her talk on Thursday, February 28th? I recently learned that Patricia lost her mom suddenly when she was 12. Her mom was 46 and had a brain aneurysm. She describes this devastating loss as something that made her more independent and gave her the spirit of perseverance in her tough career as an actress. I can relate to this since I too lost a parent at a young age. I look forward to her talking more about this aspect of her life as well as being a mom to four sons now young adults.

What I always enjoy about the RootsTech keynotes is that they provide another side to a celebrity. RootsTech affords them a chance to talk about their personal lives a bit more than they usually would. The theme of RootsTech is Connect. Belong. This causes the speaker to talk at a deeper level to the audience. We then feel connected to them in a way we initially would have thought was impossible. Especially when they are so famous and I am so famously not. I am excited to hear Ms. Heaton’s talk and discover more of our mutual connections.

Still not registered for RootsTech? There is still a chance! Register Here!

Not able to attend RootsTech? You will be able to catch all the keynote speakers plus select classes from the comfort of your home! Check out the streaming schedule here. No pre-registration required. Free!

Let’s Get Social! Genealogy and Social Media

Genealogy is more about making connections between the past and the present and sharing stories within the two then it is about the filling in the blanks of certain life events. Have you ever thought of using social media as a tool in the gathering of these stories and a means of making those vital connections? Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are just some of the outlets that you should be using as an active family historian.

I know most of you know about Facebook. If you aren’t on it yourself, you have probably heard about it especially recently in the news. Despite the privacy concerns, I still think Facebook is a worthwhile tool to help you connect with living relatives as well as classmates and/or friends with whom you may have lost touch. Did you know that you can form your own private Facebook group on whatever topic you desire? Say you would like to form a group from one of your family branches that has annual reunions. Facebook is a great way to communicate with those family members. You can then easily share photos within this private group after the event. You could also form a group on just a surname that you are researching. Invite a bunch of folks that are looking into the same line and exchange new research hits and misses all within the group.

Twitter. It is not just for our current president! If you have never dipped your tow into the waters that are Twitter and you have n interest in genealogy, you really must dive right in. The water is fine and full of nice and welcoming like-minded individuals! Twitter is a great place to ask general research questions as well as the chance to talk with actual genealogical librarians in real time. One account I highly recommend is David Allan Lambert’s ( He is the Chief Genealogist at NEHGS (New England Historic Genealogical Society) based in Boston, MA. One neat thing that happens on Twitter is called Twitter Chats. These happen on a scheduled date and time and can cover an array of topics. One chat that I enjoy participating in is #GenChat. This is the chat that specifically covers genealogical topics. #GenChat happens usually twice a month on Fridays at 9 p.m. Central Standard Time. #GenChat has covered topics related to RootsTech, finding female ancestors, and records found specific to certain locations among many others. They are fast-paced conversations but are fun to follow. The moderator will usually post a question and all can chime in their answer using the same hashtag of #GenChat. Simple search “genchat” in the Twitter search box to see all the recent tweets.

The last social media channel that you may be ignoring is Instagram. Instagram is very popular with the younger crowd but don’t let that give you an excuse to not give it a look. Instagram is a photo platform which makes it perfect to share all your old photos. I enjoy posting photos of not just my ancestors but also my research process and how I got started in genealogy. A wonderful account to check out on Instagram is Save Family Photos ( On their home page they state that their mission is to “save and share family stories, one photo at a time.” Many times they will repost photos that others have posted on their personal Instagram accounts. Their mission is one that I think all of us as family historians would agree with. I believe that through posting your family photos on a site like Instagram you will not only be sharing them with relatives but also helping to save and share the story that lies behind that photo. Since Instagram is very popular with teens and up, I believe that when you share your family photos on that platform you are then meeting them where they are at. You could then help plant a seed of knowledge and perhaps curiosity into their family tree that maybe wasn’t there before.

Another aspect for all of these social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) is that it is a way for you to learn more about businesses that cater to the genealogy market. There are so many small businesses that make gorgeous family trees (check out at for an example) and other unique pieces of art that are of interest to the family historian. Simply search genealogy or family tree on any of these platforms and see what comes up.

So I urge you to give each of these outlets a glance. There are benefits to each one. Try one out this month and see if it is a good fit for your interests. If not, delete your account and try another one. Make some connections and see your family tree grow!

I would love to connect with you!

Find me on Facebook:

Read my tweets on Twitter:

View my photos on Instagram:

**Leave a comment and let me know which social media outlet you use the most for your family history interests!**

[Note: this article was originally written by myself, Angie Kelly, for the June 2018 issue of the Newsletter of the St. Clair County Genealogical Society]

Love Reading Old Diaries?

If you enjoy reading Tillie’s Tales of the 1930s, I highly encourage you to check out the website Paper of the Past. Mandy is a scrapbook collector who shares the stories of those who wrote in them on her Instagram page. She brings to light what might have been forgotten and/or discarded.

Starting tomorrow, June 16th, she will be emailing excerpts each week from a diary she discovered that dates to 1891. The author, Leona, is 16 when the diary begins and lives in Houston, Texas.

You can subscribe to these emails by clicking here.

Thanks again for your ongoing support of Tillie’s Tales.

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