Rootstech, Salt Lake City
What a day, my head is spinning with all the information and probably jet lag and lack of sleep. No photos of beautiful Salt Lake City today as it was dark when I left the hotel and dark when I returned. This morning’s first keynote speech was from Steve Rookwood, Company President and Chief Executive Officer of FamilySearch International. I saw him speak in 2012 and he is a very good speaker. He spoke of his family and shared photos and memories of them, particularly of his father. His message was to engage our younger family members in family stories and therefore history by giving them 1 to 2 minute bites of family history.
He told us that over 25,000 people were registered for Rootstech and of that 7,000 were under 18 years of age. Following Steve was Bruce Feiler who has written the Council of Dads and the Secret of Happy Families amongst many other achievements and challenges. He followed on with the theme that sometimes the best way to tell a story is by telling a short story. He gave the example of using family games and photos to engage younger children. Successful families communicated and talked a lot. He also talked about his father and how he had sent his father a question a week to answer about his father’s life which had given his father a purpose and left a legacy of his history for the family.
Bruce had a quote ‘everybody dies, but not everyone lives’. So very true.
After Bruce a film came on of Stan Ellsworth, a history teacher who is the compere of American Drive. From what I can gather he rides a harley around and interviews people. He looks like a typical biker. The next moment there was the sound of a motorbike and he rode his harley through the audience up to the stage to introduce the next keynote speaker. This was Paula Madison.
Paula came to thank the FamilySearch team for the work they have done with records that enabled her to find her family. She was brought up in Harlem, New York, part of a black family with a Chinese mother and no extended family. This was her story of finding her Chinese family that now goes from no family to a family tree back to over 1000BC. Amazing! She was emotional as her uncle that she had found only a few years ago had just passed away and she was leaving tonight to arrive in China 4 hours before the service to honour him. She has written a book and made a documentary about her story called ‘Finding Samuel Lowe’. Paula has an impressive background, named as one of the 75 most powerful African-Americans in Corporate America in 2005.
I attended sessions throughout the day the best was by Tom Jones, introduced as the foremost American genealogist and his talk lived up to expectation. His main premise was that all genealogy is inference and that often the indirect research is more compelling than the direct as ofcourse people did not always tell the truth on official documents.
Devin Ashby also gave a good talk on multi-media storytelling, a major theme of Rootstech. Despite technical difficulties with the microphone he imparted a strong and informative message. Again it’s all about sharing and getting the family message out to the youngest in the family. It is better to create interesting interactive histories of short stories rather than long, dry tomes that no one wants to read.
The evening ended with the Crescent Super band featuring Ryan Innes.
Tomorrow promises to be another interesting day and I hope to find some time to investigate the huge exhibitors hall in more detail.