Conference combines genealogy, technology to help people discover their roots

Posted at 6:25 PM, Feb 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-08 20:37:55-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The big genealogy convention is wrapping up in Salt Lake City Saturday; the fourth annual RootsTech convention drew an estimated 12,000 people to the Salt Palace.

The goal of the convention is to show the advancements in genealogy as well as new resources that have become available.

Technology has turned genealogy into a booming business, and that's what RootsTech is about. It's a global family history convention where people of all ages see the latest innovations, allowing them to discover and share their family stories.

“So it's very interactive," RootsTech Manager Jen Allen said. "It brings those people to life. It’s not just names and dates anymore, which is great."

And it isn’t just about filling out a chart and finding who and where your ancestors once were, sites like billion graves can help you find where your deceased ancestors are today.

“All of this data in cemeteries is disappearing due to vandals, weather, and urban sprawl," said Brian Moncur, who is the chief technology officer for "We were losing information on headstones that was very important to family history work."

An example that could only exist with satellite locators on smartphones, has created an app that allows volunteers from all over the world to snap a photo of a headstone and log its GPS location.

“Which now also allows us to search to see who is buried nearby," Moncur said. "So it just helps with the family history work in general and gathering that information all around the world that's quickly disappearing."

“I also liked the storytelling booth,” Convention goer Crystal  Pugmire said.

She's talking about family For a fee, the creators make high-definition documentaries that tell the life story of a loved one.

“Interviewing the person, their family, reading the journal, and telling their whole life story and putting it together in this documentary that's television worthy and that will preserve someone's story,” said Kelli Horton from

It's the fourth year FamilySearch has presented the RootsTech conference, which has become the largest family history conference in the world. It draws an estimated 12,000 to downtown Salt Lake City and thousands more streaming online.

“If you don't know where you're from, you don't know where you're going, and I think about that a lot because I don't know my family on my dad's side and I’m not familiar with the history yet, so it's good to find out that and move forward and be able to teach your kids,” Pugmire said.

For more information about RootsTech, visit their website.