February 28, 2018
Writer: Matthew Christensen
Every year FamilySearch hosts the largest family history conference in the world known as RootsTech. The event attracts participants globally to Salt Lake City and this year marketing and communications manager Tyler Stahle anticipates over 70,000 participants from over 50 countries, including the United States. In an interview with BYU-Idaho radio, Stahle emphasized both the scale and importance of the conference.
"It has become the world's largest family history conference," Stahle said. "It's really a place for anyone who has any level of interest in family history, whether a beginner or a seasoned pro."
The RootsTech conference covers a four-day period, staring Wednesday, Feb. 28 and going through Saturday, Mar. 3. It offers over 300 classes that cover a wide range of family history topics, including how to use census records in research as well as how to use Instagram and other social media to preserve your own family history.
"Family history isn't just old records and studying microfilm in a library," Stahle said. "We're all doing family history when we document our lives and record our journals and document our lives on Instagram and on Facebook."
Additionally, each day will feature a keynote speaker to kick off the classes and events, including FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood, founder of Humans of New York Brandon Stanton, Olympic gold medalist and broadcaster Scott Hamilton, and Harvard professor and host of PBS television series "Finding Your Roots" Henry Louis Gates. Additionally, international singer and songwriter Natalia Lafourcade will take the stage on Saturday morning.
While family history is integral to the doctrine and faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and while FamilySearch affiliates with the Church, Stahle emphasized the high level of interest in family history globally amongst people of all faiths and denominations.
"Gates is not a member of the Church," Stahle said. "But he was blown away by the Family History Library in Salt Lake. We have classes for all faiths and different religions and people who have an interest in family history. We're all from somewhere."
Stahle encouraged people everywhere to participate online who may not otherwise be able to in person. You can find the livestream of RootsTech on their website: rootstech.org.
You can listen to the full interview with Stahle below.