RootsTech 2024 Looked Like a European Nightclub at Times

My nephew back home had no idea that RootsTech was a party until he saw some of my RootsTech photos. “Why does it look like you’re in a European nightclub?” he wanted to know.

Well, let me tell you! The RootsTech team worked hard to create atmosphere, community, connection and places to share stories so we all got the most out of the in-person family history conference at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah.

My ties to Salt Lake City are complicated. Some of my ancestors arrived in Salt Lake City 175 years ago in 1849. For western US history, 175 years is an impressive stretch of time. Of course, our Native American friends, who were here first, can claim a much longer heritage with the region. Since I only have a tiny bit of Native American ancestry from the Iroquois nation in New York State and perhaps from an unknown tribe in Indiana, I will stick to the stories I know more about.

I was born in Salt Lake City, but I only lived there as a baby, and then I grew up outside of Utah. My grandparents on my mother’s side lived in Ogden, Utah, and on my father’s side they lived in Corinne, Utah. I had an aunt and cousins in Salt Lake City, and we would visit Utah at least once a year, usually in the summertime for a week. Salt Lake City felt foreign to me. I considered myself a Southern California girl, and an Arizona girl. Never mind that my 3X-great-grandfather Edward Phillips and and 3X-great-grandmother Hannah Simmonds were the first permanent settlers of Kaysville, Utah around 1850, or that another set of my 3X-great-grandparents, Robert Harris and (Hannah) Mariah Eagles were also a longtime Kaysville family. Never mind that my grandma, Bernice Gibbs Anderson, is credited with the establishment of a National Historic Park (Golden Spike, Utah), one of about 10 women in American history who get that nod. Never mind that my dad sang in the Tabernacle Choir in 1960, or that he grew up in Corinne and attended Box Elder High School in Brigham City, Utah. Never mind that my mother, who was born in Junction City, Kansas, was the valedictorian at Logan High School. A few of those things I had heard in passing, but they didn’t really sink in as adding up to a big part of who I am, deep inside. The “Utah DNA” is strong.

Fast forward to a plane trip to Salt Lake City about 12 years ago. As the plane circled Salt Lake City, I could see landmarks I recognized. All of a sudden, it hit me and I remembered the words to a Sam Payne folk song: “These are my people, these are my people…and I’m no stranger here.” The connection I had never felt to the place of my birth was suddenly tangible. I still didn’t know the city that well, but I could imagine as a seventh generation Utahn (on my Mary Presdee Phillips line) what the previous six generations had gone through for me to be where I am.

My annual trip to Salt Lake City for RootsTech is a highlight of the year for me now. I have been privileged to be asked to present at RootsTech for five years in a row now, and I am so grateful for that honor.

After my second presentation this year, a young woman came up to me trying to control her emotions so she could speak. She said that she had been struggling to find the best way to help young single adults find fun and easy family history activities that they enjoyed, and that she hadn’t known what to do. She said that after my class, now she knew what to do. I told her that even if she was the only person who benefited from that particular presentation, all the preparation to teach it would have been worth it to me. That is the payoff, when something I share makes a difference and improves someone’s life!

As I taught “5 Ways to Mine Relatives at RootsTech: Get the Most Out of Your Connections,” I literally found more ways to connect with my relatives. I sent messages, I met up with some of my new relatives, I cross-checked them with my DNA match lists as sometimes they’ll see a FamilySearch message from me and respond. I started a Cousins’ Club on Facebook for descendants of Robert Harris, Jr and Hannah Maria Eagles. It is estimated there are over 200,000 of us, so we have a ways to go to find more of them, but it’s a start!

10 Ways to Find Your Groove

You can watch my second presentation which was recorded at this link: 10 Ways to Find Your Groove—Help Others Navigate Family History Activities They Will Love. It’s billed for beginners, but really it is for everyone, so that is why I tweaked the subtitle. I found activities I have been turning to in the past couple of weeks and I’ve made a lot of progress on my family history. If you sign up for the free online RootsTech registration, then I hope you will give my presentation a thumbs up if you find useful tips.

Stay tuned for more RootsTech 2024 moments!

1 thought on “RootsTech 2024 Looked Like a European Nightclub at Times”

  1. Haha, love the “European night club” question! I’m sure is was an awesome feeling knowing that someone benefited from one of your presentations; I’ sure there were more! HOw great that you could feel the connection to your birthplace! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.