Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was held online free of cost in 2021 and 2022 and was known as RootsTech Connect. Over 1 million participants from over 240 countries watched 2,000 class sessions taught by experts, archivists, and companies. With the success of RootsTech Connect 2021, Steve Rockwood, FamilySearch International CEO, said: “We heard from thousands of people from all over the globe that the 2021 online experience allowed them to participate for the first time and enjoy the power of learning and connecting virtually. And it created an expansive online archive for learning that is now available for free all year long.”
In 2023, patrons could select an in-person attendance or a free virtual participation. “After RootsTech Connect 2021, we realized that we could bring the joy of family history to millions of people, no matter where they are, through an online, virtual RootsTech experience. As we continue to chart new territory with RootsTech, we plan to make the virtual event a regular part of the experience and look forward to all the new opportunities that will open to people everywhere,” said Rockwood.
RootsTech includes inspiring stories shared by keynote speakers and a Family Discovery Day that has featured leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The first RootsTech conference was held in Salt Lake City in February 2011, with around 3,000 people attending. In 2012, the number increased to 4,500. In 2013, it drew 6,700 registered attendees with over 13,600 remote attendees and many attendees and vendors coming from other countries around the world. RootsTech had become the largest genealogy and family history conference held in North America.
The 2014 event was held at the Salt Palace where nearly 13,000 attended in person; over 100,000 people participated remotely. Over 25,000 people were reported to have attended the 2016 RootsTech from 50 US states and 30 countries. In 2019 paid attendees dropped by 10% and live stream views dropped by 28% compared to 2018. Also in 2019, a RootsTech conference was held in London in October and almost 10,000 individuals attended.
Between 70 and 80 percent of those who attend are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ.
RootsTech is an outgrowth of a conference started at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, as the “Annual Genealogy and Family History Conference” held in July. A second conference, held in March, began in 1998 known as the “Computerized Genealogy Conference.”
- Over the years, other events were organized to be held a day or two before this annual conference to take advantage of the attendance of exhibitors and developers from around the world. This included the Family History Technology Workshop which displayed and discussed developments in technology for genealogists and the FamilySearch Developers Conference. In 2008, the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became co-sponsor of these events and the search began for a new venue. The 2010 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Conference was scheduled to be held in Salt Lake City. With cooperation from the local NGS sponsor, the Utah Genealogical Association, the Family History Technology Workshop, and the FamilySearch Developers Conference, the Computerized Genealogy Conference organizers met with NGS and proposed a combined conference, which was held in April 2010. The event was highly successful, and led to plans to move the Computerized Genealogy Conference to Salt Lake City for future events. The name of the conference was changed to RootsTech.
- [ Wikipedia, "RootsTech"]