Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Conference Encourages Innovation in Genealogy Technology

For Immediate Release
10 February 2011

SALT LAKE CITYFamilySearch has been helping people find their ancestors for over 100 years, but the non-profit, volunteer-driven organization has never participated in anything quite like this before. FamilySearch is hosting a new annual conference called RootsTech that begins in Salt Lake City today. The goal of RootsTech is to foster innovation in the world of genealogy technology. Keynote addresses will be streamed complimentary at RootsTech.org, and Twitter users can follow real-time updates using #rootstech.

“FamilySearch is committed to working with others to provide the records and resources that help people discover their family history,” Jay L. Verkler, chief executive officer of FamilySearch said. “We believe that one of the best ways to achieve that goal is to encourage new technologies that can make it even easier for people to find their ancestors.”

RootsTech grew out of an effort Brigham Young University began several years ago with its Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy. BYU is now a key partner in this new conference, along with other leaders in genealogy and technology including Microsoft, Dell, FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, brightsolid, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the National Genealogical Society.

Nearly 3,000 people are expected to attend RootsTech, which will be held in the Salt Palace Convention Center. The unique conference appeals to genealogists of all skill levels, who can learn new technology-based approaches to their research. The event will also attract the creators of genealogy-related technology, who can get feedback from peers and users on their ideas and creations.

RootsTech will help developers and others who create technology that is used by a broad swath of family history consumers to learn about the challenges facing the genealogy community. According to Verkler, that’s what makes this conference truly unique.

“The purpose of RootsTech is to encourage innovative technology solutions in the fields that have a bearing on genealogists. Therefore attendees will find that the conference topics and discussions apply to a wide variety of disciplines,” Verkler said.

The format of RootsTech is designed to encourage collaboration and discussion. There will be a variety of classes and hands-on workshops for both genealogists and technologists, as well as demonstrations and virtual sessions. Verkler will be one of the keynote speakers at the conference, along with several other leaders in the technology and genealogy world:

Shane Robison - Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy and Technology officer at Hewlett-Packard

Brewster Kahle - founder of the Internet Archive and the Open Content Alliance

Curt Witcher - Historical Genealogy Department Manager, Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.