Why do we crazy genealogists do this anyway? More than half a million of us just this week? I wondered if a bunch of people signed up just because RootsTech was free, and then wouldn’t attend, but according to the FamilySearch people in our speaker’s group, that’s not the case.
The official counter stopped updating at the beginning of RootsTech, so we don’t know how many people have actually signed up. I do know that my number of Relatives at RootsTech has increased from 44,337 on the first full day to 57,906 today.
That’s an increase of about 31%. If you extrapolate and multiply the 501,000 people registered when the counter stopped, that means there’s more than 650,000 registrants, 150,000 of whom who signed up during RootsTech.
That’s the approximate size of these US cities:
- Oklahoma City
- Las Vegas
Put another way, that’s more than three times the size of Salt Lake City that has about 200,000 residents.
No one, but no one, expected anything like this.
So why do we do this?
It connects our souls.
I want to share with you this amazing, short video, here. This box of found pictures provided photos of ancestors long dead to descendants in an Alaska indigenous community that didn’t even have cameras in the 1950s and 1960s.
Like the man in the video said, genealogy connects our souls. That connection sustains us. Through tough times. Through pandemics. And bridges death. It connects us through the people we know or knew to the ones we didn’t.
That’s why genealogists seek ancestors. We carry part of them in us – their DNA, their eyes, their hands perhaps, their smile and yes, maybe even their souls.
Genealogy, and specifically, DNA helps us to find them. Genetics identifies what parts of us come from them.
DNA Learning Center Activities
Through the DNA Learning Center Activities at RootsTech, I discovered the fun Traits Tree. Check it out. You may learn something you didn’t know about genetic traits. Who else has them in your family?
Who doesn’t love the Jelly Bean (er, I mean Gene) Machine at RootsTech where you can learn about autosomal DNA inheritance?
You can’t eat them this year, but you can still learn about autosomal inheritance in this fun little Jelly Genes app.
You can also connect to Learn.Genetics.
If you want to learn about the science behind DNA, Learn Genetics at the University of Utah has provided this great reference, including classroom materials.
I’m embarrassed to tell you that I’ve only managed to watch 2 or 3 sessions and part of one keynote.
What have I been doing and what have I accomplished? I wonder the same thing.
- I’ve answered literally hundreds of questions in the chat rooms from my sessions and other rooms where I volunteered. I’m not positive that being able to direct message speakers, especially without notification capability was a good idea. Most people are kind and patient, understanding that this is not a slumber party and speakers, even genealogy speakers, must sleep from time to time. 😊
- I made a list of all of the Y and mtDNA lines that I need in the closest 7 generations, allowing me to make the best use of my time working with Relatives at RootsTech.
- I was VERY disappointed to discover that I could only see how the top 300 Relatives at RootsTech were related to me. Personally, I think this is one of the best features. I would LOVE to be able to sort those relatives by ancestor. I was told that this app is better on the phone, so I would hope that the online version could be enhanced to provide what the phone app does for future conferences.
- Using the app, I discovered a cousin in the Netherlands on my Dutch line that I didn’t know existed. I hope they answer.
- I built a wonderful playlist for myself. If I watch just one presentation a day, every day, I’ll be done sometime around the first of August with individual sessions, and that’s before I watch the 16 series that have more than one session each.
This is a wonderful gift. Something every single day to look forward to. I can probably watch and listen to some while I’m quilting or cleaning or doing some other task that doesn’t require my full concentration.
I know RootsTech Connect 2021 was different and bumpy and sometimes difficult – for you and trust me, for the speakers too. But it has also been a growing experience.
We’re on the other side of it now. Warriors – and we survived. And you know what – it just might be the best RootsTech yet because it’s not really over.
I hope next year we can all be gathered back together again in Salt Lake City – in person but also incorporating the best of this year of forced change. By that I mean, inclusive so that RootsTech can again be a global event. Wouldn’t you love to actually be able to see the speakers live as they present?
I’ve been sharing my DNA garb with you this week. Today, I’m sharing something a bit different.
I ordered this absolutely stunning woven Kente cloth from Ghana. I’m sure you see the helix.
This cloth represents so much to me, personally.
First, we all descend from Africa.
We are all related.
We are all connected.
We are humankind.
This cloth represents hope to me – reaching into our common past – and extending into the future.
A future that hopefully includes a trip to Salt Lake City for RootsTech next year.
One of the reasons I’m so passionate about Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA and love it so very much is because that is the only avenue we have to connect ourselves back into the distant past – beyond the mists of time. Crossing that veil into antiquity, before surnames and before genealogy as we know it. Yet, it’s there, within our reach and DNA opens that door.
Stretching back and informing us about our family in the distant past. Telling the story of their path, their journey and their struggles that led to us.
We are woven together by the tapestry of life, through our ancestors, both recent and distant. And yes, their DNA is interwoven in us as well. Individual threads of them that created each unique one of us.
Kente cloth at its best.
May your ancestors bring you hope and love and inspiration.
I’ll share with you next year what my ancestors inspire me to do with this wonderful hand-woven fabric that represents their collective lives. Yes, my ancestors walk with me in this way too.
Every. Single. Day.
I actually did manage to watch the closing session with Steve Rockwood. He’s not only the FamilySearch CEO, but he’s an incredibly gifted speaker. I don’t want to say more, but I hope you will be able watch even though it’s lengthy.
If you like music and songwriting, this is definitely for you. Music reaches places that words cannot.
One last thing – you absolutely will not get through this final session dry-eyed. “Love me like it’s 1961…..” and that’s just the beginning. Just get the box of Kleenex.
Let me close these four days of RootsTech Connect 2021 by sharing these thoughts.
Give us hope.
We are not alone.
Let us heal.
Connect our souls.
Thank you so much.
DNA Purchases and Free Transfers
- FamilyTreeDNA – Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA testing
- MyHeritage DNA –Autosomal DNA test
- MyHeritage FREE DNA file upload – Transfer your results from other vendors free
- AncestryDNA – Autosomal DNA test
- 23andMe Ancestry – Autosomal DNA only, no Health
- 23andMe Ancestry Plus Health
Genealogy Products and Services
- MyHeritage FREE Tree Builder – Genealogy software for your computer
- MyHeritage Subscription with Free Trial
- Legacy Family Tree Webinars – Genealogy and DNA classes, subscription-based, some free
- Legacy Family Tree Software – Genealogy software for your computer
- Charting Companion – Charts and Reports to use with your genealogy software or FamilySearch
- Legacy Tree Genealogists – Professional genealogy research
- Genealogical.com – Lots of wonderful genealogy research books