Why I loved RootsTech London!

Looking back at RootsTech London

It’s that time of year again. It’s getting close to Christmas and I am still trying to catch up with my work that pays for my fantastic family history adventure. Plus I have so many other commitments. Seems to happen every year since I started going to genealogy conferences.

I have a big pile of wallpaper books to add to our online catalogue, The Wallpaper People. I’m trying to catch up with many updates for the Caloundra Family History (CFH) website including process documents for the membership renewals. Our membership officer has been waiting patiently for months. I’ve had no time for TravelGenee Instagram or Pinterest. Sad, especially when I love reading other’s family history on Instagram. And that is only the beginning of the things I need to do.

You can do it Fran cartoon

So why do I make myself suffer every year with this end of year rush to get things done?

It is because I enjoy conferences so much that I put myself through the stress of worrying I am not going to catch up when I have been off conferencing.

Rootstech London was no exception. It was awesome so I want to tell you why you need to make time for conferences too.

You get to connect

Nearly 10,000 people went to RootsTech London. Connecting was different for me in London compared to Salt Lake City. Typically I talk to loads of people next to me in sessions and go to a few paid-for lunches. I like to get the table talking about where they are from, why they like family history and many other conversation starters. In London, I found neighbours in the sessions less interested in talking. Perhaps it’s an English thing. I still had many chats including one with some of the Donny Osmond “groupies” in that keynote session. Donny was a good way to attract the non-family historian and introduce them to family history.

I was glad that families with children came on Saturday. It is great for us “oldies” to see that family history is not all about old documents and sources. We can forget that we need to enjoy it too – play games – make memories and connect with the younger generation.

You get so many sessions to attend

What would a genealogy conference be with its educational sessions? As with the Salt Lake City conferences the conference team did a wonderful job selecting the sessions. The choice covered a wide range of topics such as DNA, research methodology, genealogy tools and records from so many places. Too many to name now. The sessions covered a variety of skill levels from beginner to professional.

This broad range of sessions meant that I found many suitable for my own research interests and skill level. The greater issue was which ones to select when I had more than one at the same time that interested me. I am sure most people would find topics to interest them. Even when I think a session is not suitable, I will attend. They frequently end up great sessions or much better than I expected. The lesson is “don’t judge a session by its name” or just the presenter.

I love to go to #RootsTech because of all the sessions I can attend. From DNA to research methodology, migration to archives and loads more. #familyhistory @RootsTechConf Click To Tweet

RootsTech App LondonThe RootsTech App

Writing about the session reminds me of the RootsTech App. Left is a snapshot of some of the material held in the London section of the app. I have been using the app for a number of years now and it was no different for London.

I selected all the sessions that interested me before getting to the conference. The selected sessions are viewed in “My Schedule”. I starred the exhibitors I wanted to visit. It is easy to search for particular speakers that I like and to find what topics they are presenting on and when.

Plus I checked out which of my genimates were attending, once they got into action on the app too. We become friends and shared information.

I referred to the app for the speaker notes while at the conference to see what more notes I needed to take while attending. Then, after the conference, I refer to notes for sessions I did and did not attend.

That was just a few of the uses I had for the RootsTech app in London.

Professional Free Help

Attending London RootsTech gave me the opportunity to get some free professional help from Trace.com in the Coaches Corner. Before the conference started they offered bookings for one free 25-minute consultation across a variety of topics – mainly countries. I selected France to find more before I ventured down another branch in my family tree.

In conjunction with the session I did on French archives that I mentioned in the Day 1 London Rootstech post, this will be helpful when I start my research on my great grandmother, Amelia Bretel. She was born in Jersey in the Channel Islands and the story is her parents came from France. I got clues on how to progress my research correctly and thus avoid mistakes when I start researching this branch of my tree.

In addition to Trace.com, The Society of Genealogists run an appointment system for free advice on their stand. Being able to book help is another reason why I love well-organised conferences like RootsTech London. While you can get exhibitor help at conferences this is typically on an ad hoc basis. Having appointments takes help it to the next level.

The exhibition, extra free demos and giveaways

One of my favourite spots at Rootstech London was the exhibition area. I wandered the hall many times all three days of the conference. I chat with both vendors and fellow attendees.  There were many free talks and demos to attend.

Find My PAst free demo at Rootstech London

There were free sessions running all day long by exhibitors so the people that decided to attend for the free exhibition section of the conference definitely got a worthwhile treat.

I had to stop myself eating the sweets and I do collect giveaways that I will find useful.

It was all about our own history

I did enjoy the keynote speakers and the conference MC, Nick Barrett. What I liked is that they shared their own family stories and how we can engage with others to help them appreciate history.

The keynotes speakers confirmed to me how important it is to research and document my family history. I talked my about some of the keynote talks in my earlier RootsTech London posts.

It was all about family, friends and acquaintances

Family – First I finally got to meet my DNA cousin Brian Ireland. We found each other via our ANcestry autosomal DNA tests a few years ago.  Since then we have spoken on the phone and emailed a number of times. With some traditional genealogy we worked out we have the same great grandfather, James Ireland. After the conference, I went on the train north and stayed with Brian and Christina. We had a great time chatting.

Fran Kitto and Brian Ireland
Friends – How lucky was I to have to fellow Caloundra Family History members at RootsTech London.  Valerie Thornton (left, below), our president and Pauleen Cass (right below), a fellow blogger at Family history across the seas. Click the next link to check out Jill Ball’s interview with Valerie on YouTube. Or catch up with fellow ambassador and a regular conference buddy Sharn White. We always have fun sharing on Twitter. Why not join us on Twitter at @sharnwhite and @travelgenee?

Valerie Thornton (L), Fran Kitto (Middle) & Pauleen Cass (R)

I also had a number of Aussie, UK and USA friends to catch up with, when we had a chance. Fellow ambassadors hanging around in the Media Hub was an opportunity for quick chats.  Jill Ball, AKA Geniaus,  organised a dinner for an Aussie’s meetup the Wednesday prior to the Rootstech starting on Wednesday. A few non-Aussies friends, RootsTech and other conference regulars joined us.

Acquaintances – Here is a pic of many of the Aussies that made the trip to the UK for Rootstech London. So many are friends now as I have met them at various conferences over recent years. What is good about family history conferences is that you meet people with a common interest and they become good friends. Some of us are even wearing our blogger beads – another way to connect and find genimates with a common interest, blogging. You can sure see us coming with our beads and ribbons.

Aussies at RootsTech London

What next?

So why did I start this post summarizing my time at RootsTech London with how far behind I am with my work and family history society commitments. It’s to show you that if you say you have not got time for a fantastic conference like RootsTech then you reprioritise your goals so you can go too. There is no way I am going to get old wishing I had done this or that. Plus I would love to see you there.

Hi, my name is Fran and I am a family history conference addict. (Sorry about all the gushing over RootsTech London – It was really good and I really am a conference junkie!)

I am not suggesting you become totally selfish. You still need to pay the bills and do the (critically) important things.

Before Rootstech London, I had already booked my flights and accommodation to go to RootsTech in Salt Lake City in 2020. I am now looking out for what other conferences are coming up in 2020. New South Wales, Auckland or Christchurch in New Zealand perhaps.

To reduce my stress perhaps I should just stop volunteering and setting myself so many tasks to do, so I can catch up. What do you think? Leave a comment. I love to hear from you.

RootsTech Lo don Ambassadoe BadgeDisclaimer: As a RootsTech London Ambassador I receive free event registration and other ambassador privileges in return for promoting it in various social media forums, at events, and on my blog. I paid for my own flights and accommodation.

The views and opinions expressed in the blog are my own.

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Why I loved RootsTech London!