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!

RootsTech 2019 – All the Things!

In less than two weeks I will be in route to the mecca of all things genealogy. Also known as Salt Lake City, Utah and RootsTech 2019. This will be my second time traveling to this fine city. My first time was last year for RootsTech 2018. That was also the first time I had traveled alone in over 15 years. It was quite the experience.

I am looking forward to having the same wonderful time as I did last year. Have you checked out the schedule yet? If you are going to RootsTech and haven’t downloaded the RootsTech app yet, go do that now! It is a plethora of information all in the palm of your hand. Even if you are not planning to attend RootsTech this year, I still encourage you to check out this app. It gives you a great overview of the event plus you can download the flyers that are available to all (whether or not you are an attendee).

To make it as simple as possible for you, the RootsTech team has put together a series of YouTube videos that do a great job of describing the event and how best to prepare for it. Plus, they have put together a survival guide that is a must read.

Here are the must-check-out links to make RootsTech 2019 the best one yet!

Lastly, don’t forget to vote for your favorite video submission for the RootsTech FilmFest ’19 contest. The winner will receive a trip to their ancestral homeland!! Take some time and watch these 2-5 minute videos. They will inspire you and compel you to dig deeper in uncovering those family stories that are just waiting for you! Please NOTE: Today (2/14) is the LAST day to vote.

Check out all the videos here and VOTE!

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!

RootsTech 2019 News and Updates

As many of you know, I am a 2019 RootsTech Ambassador. What that means is that I get to share with you all the wonderfulness that is RootsTech when it happens (February 27 – March 2, 2019) as well as give you the inside scoop of the speakers and contests that will be occurring.

It was announced last week that Saroo Brierly will be the keynote speaker for Friday, March 1st (there is a different keynote for each day of the conference). Did you see or hear of the 2016 Oscar Nominated movie Lion? It is based on Mr. Brierly’s life as an accidental orphan in India who is adopted by an Australian couple. The movie is excellent and I am so excited to hear Mr. Brierly’s talk. What is neat about RootsTech Conferences and their keynote speakers is that not only do you get to hear their story but also the awesome folks at Family Search research the speaker’s family history. A little of that story is then revealed to the speaker and the audience live on stage. It is quite thrilling to see his or her reaction.

You can read more about Saroo Brierly and why YOU will want to hear him speak live by clicking here.

What if you won an ALL-INCLUSIVE trip to visit the home of your ancestors? It can happen through entering a contest sponsored by RootsTech and Deseret News. They are looking for short videos (only 3 minutes or less) that showcases what you think it means to Connect and Belong (the theme of RootsTech). There will be three categories: Youth, Amateur or Professional. The grand prize is an all-inclusive trip to the homeland of your ancestors. The top ten finalists will also win a free four day pass to RootsTech where their video will be judged. Click here to get all your questions answered and how to enter!

Finally, there is still time to purchase your pass to RootsTech! Be sure to follow me on Facebook for the latest news.

Register and purchase your tickets here!

Remembering Our Ancestors’ Birthdays

Today, November 5th, is a special day around here. It is Bertille “Tillie” Anne Brand Klein’s birthday! She was born on this date in 1914.

Do you acknowledge your ancestor’s birthdays? If so, how? I tend to only remember/acknowledge those relatives that I knew personally. My grandparents and my father are the birthdays that I remember. I take a moment to think of them and how they affected my life. I enjoy sharing photos with others on this special day in my loved one’s life. Many times I am not the only one that remembers them and I thoroughly enjoy hearing others memories. Many times I hear stories that I had never heard before. That is a true blessing!

As for Bertille aka Tillie, you, my dear reader, know her by her words. By her chronicling of her small town of Hecker during the 1930s. She is most likely pretty one-dimensional in your mind. But if you knew her..

If you knew her you would have loved her. I was blessed to have known my grandmother for over twenty years. She lived with us for the last five or so years of her life. So I was able to develop a relationship that went beyond familial. It was a true friendship.

She was a quiet soul that enjoyed listening. Being a teenager/twenty-something, I enjoyed having her listen to me. Listen to me complain about my step-father, my Texan boyfriend, my college woes, etc. etc. So many troubles I thought I had then and she was always there.

Take a moment when that date comes up and remember whose life you used to gather to celebrate then. Take that moment to still celebrate by raising a toast or looking at old home movie or sharing a photo.

Remembering those who came before us is good for the soul.

Did you know Bertille in real life? I would love to hear your memories of her! Please share below.

Dreaming of RootsTech? Enter my GIVEAWAY for a chance at a FREE pass! Giveaway is NOW CLOSED!

Enter For Your Chance Here!

As many of you know I have the honor of being a RootsTech ambassador for the 2019 RootsTech Conference. It is a mecca of all things genealogy! A chance to see amazing speakers plus be surrounded by those who appreciate the connections and sense of belonging that comes from researching your family’s story.

One of the perks of sharing all the goodness that is RootsTech is that I get to grant one of my lucky winners a FREE 4 day pass to RootsTech to be held from February 27 through March 2, 2019 (a $299 value)!

Pass includes the following:

  • Over 300 classes
  • Keynote/General Session
  • Expo Hall
  • Evening Events

Pass does not include the following:

  • Transportation to and from Salt Lake City, Utah and/or the Salt Palace Convention Center
  • Lodging and Food
  • Paid Lunches
  • Paid Labs

If you have already purchased your ticket, I encourage you to still enter! You will be reimbursed your ticket price. Win! Win!

This giveaway will end on Friday, October 19, 2018. PLEASE NOTE! This giveaway is NOW closed. Thanks to all that entered!

P.S. You will want to get your tickets to RootsTech sooner rather than later, a little birdie told me that the ticket prices will be going up soon!

It’s Try-It! Illinois Time! Don’t know what this is? Read on!

Do you live in Illinois? You might be able to access genealogy databases for FREE during the months of October and November!
Try-It! Illinois is sponsored by the Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian, Jesse White, as well as the Illinois State Library. It offers library users the opportunity to discover and evaluate a wide variety of online databases.
The genealogy specific ones are Fold3 (military records), Chicago Tribune Historical archives,, MyHeritage Library edition (similar to Ancestry) plus many more!
So how do you access these great resources? First, contact your local library and ask for the Try-It! login and password.
Then go to After you have logged in, click on SUBJECT and scroll down till you see Genealogy and Family History. Pay attention to the specific log-in instructions for each database you choose.
Happy Exploring!

Giveaway Time on Facebook!

Join me over on my Facebook page!

Did you know that October is Family History Month? Yet another reason I love this month! There is nothing better than the weather getting a slight chill in the air and cozying up with a soft blanket while reading a good book. Do you agree?

Over on my Facebook page, I am running a giveaway for a copy of the newly released historical fiction book. Grandmother’s Fan, written by a loyal Tillie’s Tales reader, Sandy Eckart. The book is “the story of a beloved family quilt, told from its own perspective and spanning four generations across 90 years. From the moment of its creation, the quilt is able to hear the activities around it. It learns of the world by listening to its family’s interactions and soon longs to view its surroundings and the people it has come to know and love. A request by a ghostly visitor to the household unleashes a series of events that impact the quilt in ways it never thought possible.” [as described on the book’s website]


I love how she was inspired to write after acquiring the quilt that she based the book on at her grandmother’s estate auction in Prairie du Rocher, IL. This book uses fictional names for areas that are mentioned in Tillie’s Tales journal entries, but a keen reader might be able to figure out their actual names.

I encourage you to head on over to my Facebook page and enter to win a copy for yourself! The giveaway is open until THIS FRIDAY, October 5, 2018.

RootsTech: What is it and why should you go?

What if I told you of a conference you could attend with 27,000 of your closest friends and all you talk about is family history? This place does exist and it is called RootsTech.

I attended RootsTech (held annually in Salt Lake City, Utah) for the first time this past February. It was amazing and overwhelming and amazing and fun and amazing and mind-expanding and amazing.

Did I mention amazing?

RootsTech is held the last week of February and encompasses 4 days of workshops/seminars (over 300+!), an enormous expo hall, inspiring and enlightening speakers all centered around one thing. Making connections through knowing your family’s story.

You can read more about all the benefits to attending here.

I am already planning to attend RootsTech 2019. This year I will be serving in the role as a RootsTech Ambassador. This means that I get to share with you who the keynote speakers will be as soon as it is released. I will also be sharing all the goodness that is RootsTech – what is different this year and what has been made better.

Best part? I will be able to giveaway a pass to RootsTech! Look for more details on this in early October (also known as Family History Month).

If you are like me and want to get your tickets now at the early-bird price (a savings of $110 on regularly priced tickets), then be sure to click here and get your tickets today! (P.S. If you win my giveaway and have already purchased your pass, you will be reimbursed for the price you paid for your ticket. Win. Win.)

RootsTech is unlike anything I have ever attended. It is like Genealogy BootCamp but in a good way. No one is screaming in your face but rather looking at your name tag and asking: Are we related?

Feel free to post any questions you may have as well as your own experience if you have attended RootsTech in the past.

I hope to see YOU there!

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]

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