©2021 Donald R. Snow - Last updated 2021-03-07

Don's Freeware Corner articles are printed in the UTAH VALLEY TECHNOLOGY AND GENEALOGY GROUP (UVTAGG) Newsletter TAGGology each month and are posted on his Class Notes Page where there may be corrections and updates.



RootsTech Connect 2021, , was the first entirely virtual and completely free RootsTech.  RooteTech started in 2011 and I was a presenter at the first 7 or 8 of them which were in-person conferences in the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah.  This year, 2021, was the first year it was completely virtual and completely free because of the Coronavirus-Covid-19 world-wide pandemic.  The later in-person conferences had 20,000-30,000 attendees, but this virtual one had over 1 million attendees and they were from 242 countries around the world.  It was a major success by any measure.   During the 3 days, 25-27 Feb 2021, there were more than 1,500 classes and keynotes from more than 250 presenters and these were done in several languages with translations and subtitles in  more. 
This Freeware Corner article discusses the website and how to use it.


The FamilySerch engineers had to build their own website for the conference due to the predicted numbers of attendees and it is really well-done.  They thought of lots of things to make it helpful to us world-wide. The website and classes will remain online all year and will be free for everyone. There were keynote talkss, class sessions, Expo Hall for vendor products, and more.  It is a major source of instruction, help, and inspiration for family historians and many other people.  Here's a screenshot of the Home Page -- .     .

At the center of the top is a button labeled Website Tutorials which takes you to several short (5-15 minute) video tutorials.  These are well-done and you'll be amazed at the wealth of things you can do on the website and how to do it.  This includes everything from finding sessions by speakers or topics to how to watch any session with subtitles in another language.  If you want to watch my class with subtitles in Swahili, you can.  (Well, maybe not.  I haven't really checked to see if Swahili is on the list.)  I strongly recommend that you watch each of these tutorial videos.  This website is phenomenal.


You don't have to sign in to watch anything, but if you do, you have more options. There is no charge and they don't ask for a credit card number to sign up for an account. If you have a FamilySearch account, either as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or one of FamilySearch's free accounts for others, you can link your RootsTech account to your FamilySearch account. One advantage of linking these two accounts was to be able to do the Relatives at RootsTech activity which used your FamilySearch family tree information.  This will be discussed later.


There were more than 1,500 classes given and in several languages, besides the 7-8 keynotes, and all of these are online and available to watch at any time. You can find topics by clicking on the Sessions button at the top and then browsing or do a search for any keywords.  Some of the more popular topics and, especially, how to get started, are listed in the Guide Me button.  These include Getting Started, FamilySearch, Ancestry, MyHeritage, DNA, doing genealogy for various ethnithities, and many other series.  These save you from having to search through everything yourself.  But searching is easy to do.  Just click on Sessions and enter your search terms in the Search box, e.g. getting started, censuses, vital records, location, or how to use some website or software program.  The emphasis for the entire conference was on Connections, so there is a plethora of information about finding relatives, local customs, food, stories, and more.  Whatever you are interested in about family history or countries of many other things, there are probably several classes related to the topic.  Besides being a help for genealogists, I see this as a major help for schools, students, and parents for information about people, history, and countries.


With a RootsTech Connect 2021 account you get a My Playlist.  There are buttons on most sessions and items to click to save the link of that item to your account and help you keep track of what you are interested in.  The button, My Playlist, at the top of the Home Page takes you to your list and it remains with your account all year.  This gives you an easy way to organize items and classes you have seen or want to see.  When you see something you want to come back to later, just click the Save to My Playlist and you can get to it easily later. It is really helpful, but I have about 200 sessions in My Playlist since I keep seeing things that I want to look at later.  It will take me a year to just go through what I have there now and I keep finding more that I want to look at.  I don't know if there is a way to organize your playlist, i.e. alphabetize it or put it in folders, but it's handy to have a way to save what you are interested in. 


This was a fun activity where it connected you to others attending RootsTech Connect 2021 by going back 10 generations of ancestors of each of the attendees and seeing if they had ancestors in common.  This used your FamilySearch Family Tree information, so it required people to link their RootsTech log in with their FamilySearch account.  Less than half of all the attendees signed up for this activity, so it had less than 500,000 participants at the end.  The last time I checked, I was related to more than 110,000 others in this group so about 1 in every 5 of these was my relative!  After seeing that I was related to so many, I started checking to see if the presenters I watched were my relatives and many were.  I did screenshots of the numbers of my relatives as it built up.  You could only see the first 300 relatives in your list, but you could enter any name or surname in a search box and see if that person was on your list. There was a chart and maps that showed how many relatives you had from each country.  I discovered that people I've known for years are my relatives!  That's making connections! 
I also found that 92 people named Snow attended RootsTech Connect 2021 and that must have included people who had not signed up for the Relatives at RootsTech activity.  The Relatives at RootsTech activity was only for the conference and is gone now.  It was supposed to remain until 20 Mar 2021, but as of today (7 Mar) it is no longer there. 


One of the video turorials mentioned above discusses this in detail, but you can turn on different language subtitles.  Hence, even though the session is in a given language, you can read subtitles in another one.  Most of the classes are in English, but many that pertain to certain countries and their genealogy were given by local people in those languages.  In my class I also mentioned how you can read all the class notes on a webpage in another language by using the free Google Translate. You just copy the URL of the website into Google Transste, set the languages, and click on the URL in the right panel and everything is translated into the other language. This continues for all links in the document until you enter a new URL in the browser address bar.


This is where the vendors show their new and old products for family history. To do so they teach classes about them, what they do, and how to use them.  There are hundreds of such classes here.  FamilySearch has several partner webnsites that work with FamilySearch data and these have information in the Expo Hall.  Ancestry and MyHeritage are two partner websites that have many classes here.  There are at least 100 additional companies with family history products and sessions here.
All of these companies have chats there where you can communicate directly with someone in that organization and ask questions.  It is worthwhile to spend some time looking around here to see what's available.


Saturday, 27 Feb 2021 was Discovery Day and had much information for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  There were presentations by 4 members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and several other general authorities.  Elder and Sister Jeffrey and Patricia Holland and their family did a wonderful presentation of where they grew up and their experiences in the St. George area of Southern Utah.  There were sessions for leaders of the Church about how to organize family history in their wards and stakes and how to use FamilySearch and about temple work.  This will be helpful to local Church leaders about what to do and how to get members enthused.  A major emphasis of the entire conference was on keeping track of our own stories, since we are ancestors of our own descendants.  In the video tutorials there is a video especially for Church members and in the Members section there are entire session series about helping everyone, including children, do family history.  One class you might want to watch about indexing is Magic Fingers, but I'll warn you, it's tear-jerking.


RootsTech Connect 2021 was a wonderful conference and its influence will be felt world-wide for many years. To get started watch the Website Tutorials mentioned above, so you become familiar with it. Then pick any family history topic, e.g. Getting Started, and watch things that interest you.  You'll be surprised at how much information is there now and they say they are going to add more during the year.  In this Freeware Corner article we have only scratched the surface of the RootsTech Connect 2021 website.   Good luck.