Member Impressions: RootsTech 2016

This is the first in a series of posts written by chapter members about various major genealogical events they have recently attended.

This “Member Impressions” is written by Margaret Eves.

Margaret Eves (MLIS) is CEO of Video Genealogy (, a company offering training and resources on sharing ancestor stories with video.  She started her career as a film and video producer and editor.  After completing a masters degree in library science she worked in school and public libraries where, along with teaching information literacy and research skills, she shared her passion for genealogy through classes and programs for teens and adults.  Margaret lives in Marietta with her husband and two sons.

Note: Several of the RootsTech sessions were recorded and are currently available online for free. Links are included; at some point videos may be removed and the links will no longer work.

RootsTech 2016 Impressions

Being a first-time attendee to RootsTech this February combined with my first visit to Salt Lake City was a bit overwhelming, but overall a great experience. Here are some impressions that stand out from my time there.

Highlights from the keynote speeches included a guy riding in on a motorcycle, an African-American lady sharing her search for her Chinese ancestors, and author Bruce Feiler’s fun speech that included how kids benefit from hearing family history stories.

A main theme from this year’s conference was telling family history stories visually and in a way that engages the next generation in their family history. This trend was reflected in many of the newer products and companies in the Expo Hall.

Multiple companies showcased platforms that allow families to share photos privately and crowdsource memories and comments from family members about the photos or media. Companies offering various versions of this concept included:

Other products of note:

The Family History Guide <> – I was amazed I hadn’t heard before about this FREE, very comprehensive, well-organized, rich resource. Not only great for beginners, it can also remind experienced researchers of a resource they could be overlooking. Click on an index topic for links to resources from a variety of sites. A semi-finalist in the Innovators Showcase, they have no plans to monetize their site. – a way for families to crowdsource amongst themselves the transcription and indexing of letters and other family documents and records.

Shotbox <> – a foldable light box for photographing and digitizing books and objects.

There’s been a lot written in blogs and articles about the Innovators Showdown, so I won’t cover that here, but it’s worth a Google search to read about the winning products.

I did attend several good classes, with the most memorable being the Digital Public Library of America and Multi-Media for Genealogists.

I managed to get a 15-minute audio interview with D. Joshua Taylor (who was gracious and wonderful), so that made my trip to RootsTech 2016 a success.