RootsTech first-timer

Early check-in – 4,000+ people

It’s my first year at RootsTech, and with around 15,000 genealogists attending, the first day was a bit chaotic for me! I’ve made some new connections, and run into several friends from various states.

My husband is attending with me and it’s the first genealogy conference we’ve attended together. He’s driven me to several (SLIG, i4GG, SoCal Jamboree, etc.) but now he’s looking into the tech products for genetic genealogists like me, to figure out what is missing and what is needed that he can develop this year.


Wednesday morning arrived and I wasn’t completely sure where I was going. I had no clue of the lay of the land of the large Salt Palace convention center!

English Parish Records

I ended up in “Making the Most of English and Welsh Parish Records” presented by Myko Clelland of Find My Past. I learned about naked burials, bastardy records and many other things!

Next, I went to “Using MyHeritage to Drive Genealogical Discovery” presented by Michael Mansfield and Uri Gonen. I am so surprised that there is much more to this site that I was not utilizing, such as SuperSearch and Book Matching. Now I know how to use the Smart Matches and Record Matches instead of ignoring all the notices! This presentation wasn’t about the DNA part of MyHeritage, but it was very useful and a big announcement was made about beta tree sync of MyHeritage and FamilySearch for a subset of users.

Lunch at City Creek: Nordstrom Grill, right? Wrong! 50 minute estimated wait. Blue Lemon: Very long line, we heard, so we set off in the direction of Harmon’s Grocery for the deli, but then turned around as .4 miles seemed far. Back to Blue Lemon and the long line. Definitely packing lunches from now on, or grabbing a salad at a kiosk in the Salt Palace.

I had a bit of a setback with a case during lunch, and so I found my way to “The Emotional Side of DNA Testing” and sat back and absorbed. The following are some of the tips shared:

Seek first to understand, then to be understood. ~Steven Covey

Summary of what this quote means from a book report on Joanne Lang’s blog: People form opinions based on their own experiences. Unless they work to understand the other person’s perspective, they can see or experience the same thing and have totally different viewpoints as they’re understanding “autobiographically.”

  • Manage your expectations.
  • Think outside the box. Examples: Oral history, court papers…
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Know your limitations.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t find the connection. Sometimes you’ll never find the common ancestor with a DNA match as it’s too far back, but you still know you’re related and are “cousins.”
  • Be nice!
  • Don’t share dirty laundry on social media.
  • Having difficulty coping with results? Seek professional help (adoption or misattributed parentage specialist).
  • Control your imagination.
  • Share with a trusted friend.
  • Talk to your cousins. Meet as many DNA cousins as you can.
Me and Connie Gray

And then I found my original search angel mentor, Connie Gray of Texas, who had been in a different class. I texted, “I need a fellow search angel hug! I just had a rough patch.” I got a good hug and we had a little chat about working with searchers and best practices.

I made my way to a low wall where some people were sitting. My feet needed a rest. I happened to sit next to Diane Gould Hall. I found out she was a genealogy blogger (Michigan Family Trails), so I asked her how long she’s been blogging, how often she blogs and many other questions. She graciously filled me in on some successful blogger tips. She lives in Southern California, and we’ve attended *i4GG at the same time, but had not met.

*Institute for Genetic Genealogy, produced by CeCe Moore and Blaine Bettinger in December 2017 in San Diego

Next up: “You’re on Social Media. Now What?” presented by Amy Johnson Crow

This was not even on my “maybe” list as there are so many choices each hour, but I am very glad I heard most of this one, as she showed us numerous things that I need to do better for my blog, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest posts. For instance, I need more images and videos, no posting anything without an image, shorter posts, shorter paragraphs, subheadings, no cross-posting and more.

DNA Innovation Competition!

Holy cow, why was this out in the hall with only about 50 people watching? It should have been on the Main Stage with thousands of people watching. It could have been the pre-show if not part of the main show. If I hadn’t walked by right as it started, I would never have realized that was it, and we came from another state primarily to watch this. My husband actually missed it as he was saving seats in the Main Stage area where he thought it would be.

There were six companies or products in the running. Three were announced as finalists.

  • DNA Painter – Jonny Perl from London
  • RootsFinder, which just developed a DNA product after hearing of the competition a couple of months ago
  • It Runs in My Family company, with a very enthusiastic founder. Energetic, captivating pitch!

Two of the three judges were professional genetic genealogists Angie Bush and Paul Woodbury, whom I know from classes at SLIG (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy – DNA Boot Camp) and Southen California Jamboree DNA Day.

Each finalist made a three-minute pitch and then the judges could ask questions. After huddling for a few minutes, the judges made a decision.

DNA Painter – Jonny Lang – won the $15,000 first prize. The runners-up tied to win $7,500 apiece.

I am a huge fan of DNA Painter and I use it all the time, so I was excited for Jonny. Congratulations!

Innovation Showcase (Not the same thing as DNA Innovation Competition)

I made my way to the Main Stage for the Innovation Showcase with Steve Rockwood of FamilySearch. It was typical large convention style, with a host, music, lights, and introductions of representatives of the five large DNA companies. LivingDNA made a big announcement of $49 DNA kits (regular price was $159; this is the lowest it’s been), plus another popular announcement of Family Networks (cousin matching) coming soon, possibly 2nd quarter of 2018.

Finally, the Exhibit Hall was open from 6 pm – 8 pm. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected in most areas. We were able to talk to many of the company reps and find out what was being sold or offered. The LivingDNA booth was jammed with a herd of people to get the low-priced DNA kits. I’ve already tested there (along with my Uncle Max), but we are interested in getting more kits or a voucher as we believe in this company and their high-definition DNA test. We heard more from the other DNA company reps in the Demo Theater.

4 thoughts on “RootsTech first-timer”

    1. Hi Marian! Yes, Myko Clelland’s “Making the Most of British Isles Parish Records” session was so good! I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog! Do you have a blog and if so, what is the link? What other sessions did you like the most?

  1. Hi! I enjoyed reading your post. I’ll be attending RootsTech for the first time in 2019. And speaking on DNA! It was great to read so many specifics.

    And, I recently met Connie Gray and she’s a great mentor!

    I just started a new website,, where I’ll be sharing more about my new Leeds Method of DNA Color Clustering. And, I’m attending quite a few events over the next 6 months, so maybe I will meet you at one of those! I’m enjoying looking at your website as I work on really putting mine together.

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