Sunday, March 4, 2018


Wow, what a week!  I started out by flying to Phoenix where I spoke to Arizona Jewish Historical Society's Phoenix Jewish Genealogy Group. It was a great group with some good questions about endogamy. As a bonus, I got to hang out with Emily Garber.  And then off to Utah and RootsTech!

I flew into Salt Lake City, dropped off my bags, and went straight to the Family History Library. Mondays with Myrt was broadcasting, and lots of genealogy friends were in with her or hanging around outside, and it was great to catch up with everyone.  We then went out to lunch (I found an apple that I could eat—SLC isn’t the most kosher-friendly city in the world), and then I went back to the library for the next few hours. 
Mondays with Myrt (and a lot of my genealogy friends)
Tuesday I went with 3 other ambassadors for a road trip into the mountains of Utah. The views were spectacular. And there may have been screams of “turn there!” when we saw a sign for a cemetery.
Utah is gorgeous!
When we got back to SLC, we checked in and got our badges. The lines were quite long, but as a speaker/ambassador, it was pretty quick to check in. 
All Registered!
That evening I went to the Media Dinner. Thank you to RootsTech for arranging for me to get a kosher meal! 
My food
Everyone Else's Food
At that point, there were 14,200 tickets sold for RootsTech to attendees from all 50 states as well as 42 countries!  And more people registered over the following few days as well. 

If you want to see the keynotes and a selection of the classes given this year, you can—check them out here!  It'll be well worth your time.

The next morning started early for me, as I was teaching in the first time slot. I arrived early to make sure that I wouldn’t have any slide issues, and then I wandered around the convention center looking at the activity.  My talk went well (I think!) with some good questions during and afterwards.

I spent some time with Brooke Ganz of Reclaim the Records, and it was great to catch up with her!  She’s doing some great work obtaining records for the genealogy community. 

Wednesday night and Thursday morning we had Megillah reading at RootsTech!  I saw a few people walking by and peeking in to see what all the noise was!  Thanks to RootsTech for reserving us a place to meet up.
Getting Ready for Megillah!
Before Thursday’s Megillah, I went to the keynote. It started with MyHeritage’s Aaron Godfrey who announced several new initiatives, including to give free kits to adoptees and relatives of those given up for adoption. 
Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York)
Then Brandon Stanton, the brains behind Humans of New York, came on stage.  He spoke about his background, which eventually ended up with working in the financial industry. He realized that his self-worth was caught up in the markets. He loved to do photography and to capture people’s stories. And now he does that and is able to support himself doing so.

I had to run from Megillah to a group interview of Brandon Stanton. Check it out here: 

I then went to explore the Expo Hall which gets larger each year. There were hundreds of exhibitors, and I made sure to check out all of the booths. Pretty incredible!
View of (only a small part of) the Expo Hall
Some of the busiest booths were those selling DNA kits. Hopefully this results in lots of good new matches for people!  I may not have been able to avoid purchasing some DNA kits. Yes, I have an addiction; I acknowledge that!
I briefly met Johnny Perl (of DNAPainter—which I keep meaning to blog about) and Roberta Estes (who briefly mentions our meeting here).  DNA people always end up being the nicest people!

On Friday morning, I got to participate in an interview with Scott Hamilton. He is an adoptee, who talked about his feelings about potentially finding his birth family, as well as a bit about his own children and his cancer diagnoses. Since there was no Megillah, I got there on time. Interview is here:

I spent a lot of time in the Media Hub, listening to some of the other interviews going on, doing some of this writing, and talking to other Ambassadors. They are a great group of people from around the world with an incredible breadth of genealogical knowledge.  I got tips on some sites that should help in my own research (and if they do, look for future blog posts right here) and got exposed to research in areas that aren’t as familiar to me (like Native American, African-Canadians who were loyalists and ended up in Canada after the US Revolutionary War, and more).
This Year's Media Hub
There were lots of bloggers at RootsTech, and I found some new ones I’ll start to follow. Here’s some of the bloggers, thanks to GeneaBloggersTRIBE!
Some of the Bloggers at RootsTech
We had decent weather (for Utah in the winter) all week. But flying out Sunday was interesting. 
Salt Lake City Airport, Sunday Morning
We actually left the gate on time but didn’t take off for 1.5 hours because of de-icing and runway plowing. That made a long flight that much longer!  But I am home, laundry is in, and now it is back to the real world.  Only 51 more weeks until RootsTech2019!

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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  1. Sorry to have missed Purim party . . . envious you got to be near my skating idol, Scott! What a terrific conference.

  2. Great summary of what sounds like a great week! Your talk was excellent by the way and gave me some much needed info and tips on working with my half brother's Jewish ancestry/DNA results which is proving to be quite the puzzle! Have a great week!


  3. It was great sharing time, Purim and Shabbat dinner with you and the ensemble. The endogamy research you have begun promises to lead to new ways of evaluating our DNA linkages. I believe that with the data you are collecting and analyzing we will soon have a paradigm for more accurately identifying and dating our shared ancestry.

    We are all very fortunate that you have outstanding genealogical knowledge, math expertise and analytical skills as well as somehow managing to find the time to accomplish all of this!

    Thanks on behalf of your many friends and frustrated endogamous readers!

    1. It was great to spend time with you, especially after you abandoned me to warmer climates.

  4. What a great week. So glad you're part of the GeneaBloggersTRIBE leadership team and that you're my friend!

    1. It was so nice seeing you. Did you see you made a cameo in a photo above??