Family History Fanatics Highlights From RootsTech 2019

There are so many highlights from RootsTech that it’s hard to pick which ones were the best. This year was definitely a good year for Family History Fanatics at the RootsTech conference.

One of the things that made it amazing was that we focused on our strengths. We concentrate on teaching classes, creating content for YouTube channel, and visiting with friends and fans.

Andy Lee in action teaching labs at RootsTech 2019

Teaching Classes -- Labs

Andy taught a lab entitled “Creating a DNA Triangulation Table.’ Labs are an add-on fee to the RootsTech conference. The labs filled up the first week that registration opened! RootsTech kept asking Andy if he’d be willing to teach a second, third, and finally a fourth lab. (Each lab sold out quickly long before the conference happened!) Compared to previous years, fewer folks could attend labs. It’s no surprise that DNA classes filled up quickly.

Andy kept answering questions, even when the lab was ‘officially’ over

Andy enjoyed each of his labs and the staff assigned to assist with his class. One perk of the extra set of hands in the rooms was that on the third class, the helpers knew the presentation and helped Andy explain something he had explained in session two a little better. They worked together to make the lab worth the extra fee attendees paid.

Teaching Classes -- Live Stream Attempt

Andy and Devon Noel Lee teaching at RootsTech 2019. Photo courtesy of the RootsTech Conference staff.

On Wednesday afternoon, we attempted to live stream our class about YouTube. We normally live stream and edit video on a computer we affectionately call “Gamer.” Gamer doesn’t leave our home because of its high price tag to replace it if anything should happen to it. We took “Blue Heaven” instead. Now Blue Heaven is a workhorse, but it doesn’t have the graphics processing power as Gamer.

Sadly, when it was time to go live, Blue Heaven couldn’t deliver the class to YouTube. However, Blue Heaven was able to record the class which we have since made available on our YouTube channel for your viewing pleasure.



YouTube: A Library of Learning and Family Bonding<a href="https://youtu.be/EEF4STBh_ns"><img src="https://blog.familyhistoryfanatics.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-youtube-lyte/lyteThumbs.php?origThumbUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FEEF4STBh_ns%2F0.jpg" alt="" width="560" height="295" /></a>

Watch this video on YouTube.


Wondering why I’m on the floor? My leg injury throws off my balance. Climbing the steps and walking on the shaky stage scared me during this session. I managed for my solo lecture, however, Andy insisted I stay on solid ground during this class. I’m glad I did.

Teaching Classes -- Lecture

On Thursday morning, I scrolled through my Instagram feed and realized that I had to teach that day! My tired brain thought I was teaching on Friday. Thanks to planning messages in advance of the conference, I knew where I needed to go.

So glad I posted this invitation to Instagram!

In any case, I enjoyed teaching the class entitled “How to Magnify Hidden Stories in City Directories.” I absolutely love City directories. If you haven’t figured that out yet, then you have to watch the videos on YouTube about City Directories.

  1. How to Find Ancestors in City Directories on Ancestry

  2. Finding Your Ancestors in City Directories

  3. Using City Directories to Research AROUND the 1890 US Census in Genealogy

I enjoy teaching this class because not only do I show how to find city directories and research in them, but I take things a step further! If you know how to piece details together, you can find amazing stories in city directories. Based on class feedback, I think I’ll keep creating classes focused on extracting the stories the records wish to share with you.

Visiting With Dear Friends

One of the reasons why I like a super conference in Utah is that it brings together some of my friends from around the US. By not having a booth, I was able to relax and chit chat with friends I haven’t seen in way too long. Last year, I could only offer a few moments to friends because I needed to make sales. This year, folks had my full attention on Friday and Saturday.

I love my neighbor a ton and a half!!! Note to self: Check photos before leaving.

The first friend meet-up was with my former Iowa neighbor Linda! While I stuffed my face, my friend filled me in on where’s she’s been and where’s she’s living. During RootsTech she spent the mornings at the conference and the afternoons at the Family History Library with some friends. What a great plan. (Wish RootsTech offered more morning classes for those who followed this plan).

Meet my ‘daughter’ from Iowa. Isn’t she a darling? She’s all grown up and I’m proud as a peacock.

Seeing my ‘daughter’ rates as my second favorite highlight of all RootsTech. When I lived in Iowa, I served as a youth leader for girls aged 8-12. The girls became my daughters as we were together for 3 years. Sadly, when they grew up (became 12), I didn’t work with them any longer. Then to top things off, we moved from Iowa and I wasn’t there to attend their graduations, mission calls, and weddings. HOWEVER, RootsTech brought me in contact with one of my daughters who is attending BYU-Provo.

She is lovely, confident, and beautiful and when I spied her in the crowded RootsTech hall there was no one else but her, her smile, and my tears. (Yes, I am such a watering pot.)

Once I knew my daughter would attend RootsTech on Saturday, I protected the schedule with deliberate might. I wanted as much time as I could possibly give to visiting with my ‘daughter. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss our meet up for anything on the planet. Thanks to RootsTech, this moment happened.

Meeting Fans at RootsTech

In October 2018, we awarded Four-Day Passes to two winners. Caleb’s pass went to the greater genealogy community. My pass went to a loyal newsletter subscriber.

2019 Family History Fanatics Pass Winner -- Jo!!!

Jo won the community pass. Andy and I enjoyed meeting her. Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious. It made me feel good that she likes our content so much that she was telling strangers throughout Rootstech to make sure they subscribe to our YouTube channel. I gave her a handful of our cards to serve as our ambassador. Thanks, Jo!

Meet Patricia, the woman who watched every one of our YouTube videos, even the ones she’s not particularly interested in. Thank you Pat!!!

Patricia Rye won the loyal newsletter subscriber pass. She also gives fantastic hugs! Hearing how much she was enjoying the Rootstech experience was a treat. She was also on our YouTube: A Library of Learning and Family Bonding class, smiling all throughout the class. Pat watches nearly all of our 300+ videos, including the scrapbook ones that she has no particular interest in. Thank you, Patricia, you’re the best!

Meeting Twitter Fan Lynette, while Brett Weiss from Photos, Movies, and More photobombs us!

One cool highlight happened while walking through the Expo Hall. A stunning brunette named Lynette stopped Andy and me and said, “Hey! I think I follow you on Twitter!” (Did our large print branded shirts help her recognize us?)

Jokingly, I quipped, “You should follow us on YouTube.”

She said, “That’s how I know what to watch on YouTube!”

Lynette, you definitely made Andy and I feel like superstars. Thanks so much.

Dinner with Colleagues

One of the things Andy and I have started when we travel to conferences is to have dinner with a colleague. Andy was in charge of this year’s choice and he chose so well. We dined with Dr. Tim Janzen and his stunning and charming wife.

The Janzens chose the Lion House in downtown Salt Lake City. We were told that the rolls are delicious, and it did not disappoint.

The Janzens are very knowledgeable about DNA, and Andy was in hog heaven swapping stories about DNA. Mind you, much of the discussion was a little over my head. My fatigue from three days of a mega-conference also set in. I nearly fell asleep at the table. I hope I didn’t come across as rude as I stifled yawns. We’ll have to meet up again on the first night (or breakfast. I’m better during breakfast.)

As dinner wrapped up, Dr. Janzen asked about my leg because he is a medical doctor by trade. He checked out my scar, asked the drugs I took post-surgery and during recovery. He also named a few different options to continue making the scar vanish and calm my cranky nerve that is still giving me fits. When Tim went into doctor mode, it was endearing.

These RootsTech Highlights were Personal

There are so many things that happened at RootsTech that I will definitely share another post, or two. Thanks for letting me indulge in the highlights that really have nothing to do with the actual conference.

David Taylor, Family Nexus


Our 2018 RootsTech Pass Winner Deborah


Dana Leeds, of the Leeds Method of DNA clustering


Lynn from That’s So True, YouTube channel


Alessandro of Bella Italia Genealogy


Jarrett Ross for GeneaVloggers

What were your highlights? I’d love to hear about them regardless of whether you were in Salt Lake for RootsTech or watching from home, like our son Caleb.

With Caleb taking four college classes as a middle teenager, he had to stay home at watch #NotatRootstech. His tweets of the live-streamed sessions were fun and engaging.

#RootsTech2019

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