RootsTech 2017 was a whirlwind! More than 200 class sessions to choose from, an incredible Expo Hall, the Innovator Showdown, keynote addresses and the camaraderie of Genfriends made this year’s RootsTech conference special. Lowcountry Africana was there! Please read on to see some of the highlights from our experience at the conference.

Couldn’t Attend? These Sessions are Available for Free Online Access

Couldn’t make it to the conference? Select sessions are available for you to view online at From there, you can select which of each day’s recordings you wish to view. Be sure to catch Judy G. Russell‘s wonderful presentation Mothers, Daughters, Wives: Tracing Female Lines, where Judy offers advice on how to get beyond a predictable roadblock in your family research. Be sure to also follow Judy’s blog The Legal Genealogist.

Highlight: At Last, an African American Genealogy Track at RootsTech!

This year marks the first time you could fill your entire RootsTech class schedule with African American genealogy! Kudos to RootsTech for taking this step. We hope to see it continue, and look forward to future African American tracks at RootsTech. For a recap of the African American genealogy presentations at RootsTech 2017, please see our previous post “Great African American Genealogy Lineup at Rootstech 2017.” This year, I enjoyed presenting “Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau: An Online Interactive Finding Aid” with my dear friend and colleague Angela Walton Raji, and serving as an official RootsTech Ambassador. 

Angela Walton Raji, Toni Carrier, Anita Henderson, Michael Henderson, Nkoyo Iyamba and Bernice Bennett

Angela Walton Raji, Toni Carrier, Anita Henderson, Michael Henderson, Nkoyo Iyamba and Bernice Bennett

Highlight: BlackProGen LIVE host Nicka Smith Walks the Expo Hall

One of the really exciting aspects of the RootsTech conference, aside from the many class sessions to choose from, is the opportunity to walk through the Expo Hall, where hundreds of exhibitors keep you up to date on the latest innovations in technology for genealogy. Couldn’t make it to the conference? Fear not, BlackProGen LIVE! host Nicka Smith takes you through the Exhibit Hall in a Facebook Live post here

Also, be sure to catch portions of Nicka’s presentation “African American Genealogy for Newbies,” available here and here.

Highlight: African Roots Podcast by Angela Walton Raji

In Angela Walton Raji’s African Roots Podcast RootsTech wrap up, Angela and Toni Carrier discuss the whirlwind experience of RootsTech 2017. 

Toni Carrier and Angela Walton Raji, RootsTech 2017

Toni Carrier and Angela Walton Raji, RootsTech 2017

Highlight: Videos by Bernice Bennett, Host of Research at the National Archives and Beyond

Bernice Bennett, host of Research at the National Archives and Beyond, shares a number of RootsTech interviews on her YouTube channel. Check out Bernice’s interviews below!

The Midwest African American Genealogy Institute at Rootstech 2017

African American Genealogy Bloggers at Rootstech 2017

Kenyatta Berry Sharing Her Love of Genealogy at Rootstech 2017

Sarah Abel, Ph.D. on DNA and the Power of Knowing at Rootstech 2017

The Future of DNA with Genetic Genealogist CeCe Moore at Rootstech

Rootstech 2017 with Melvin Collier

Anita and Michael Henderson Share Special Stories at Rootstech 2017

Highlight: BlackProGen LIVE from RootsTech 2017

BlackProGen LIVE! panelists Nicka Smith, Bernice Bennett, Angela Walton Raji, Shelley Murphy, Genealogy Jen (Jennifer Goff Campbell) and Toni Carrier gathered to broadcast live with our impressions of RootsTech 2017 with panelists True A. Lewis, James Morgan III and our listeners (inside stories: Angela and I had just come down with the flu, we were sniffling and coughing through the whole show. All those sniffles you hear? Yep, that was us. Also hear Genealogy Jen and Nicka Smith explain that if genealogy had a smell, it would be the addictive candied almonds cooking in the Expo Hall every day, and, learn why it takes an entire pot of coffee and an oxygen tank to reach the seminar halls 255A through E).

Highlight: Friday – African Heritage Day

Friday was a day of celebration of African heritage. Attendees heard heartwarming keynote addresses from actor LeVar Burton and genealogists Kenyatta Berry, Sherri Camp and Melvin Collier. You can view all of the African Heritage Day highlights here

Highlight: Old News USA App Wins 2017 RootsTech Innovator Showdown

Each year, RootsTech holds the Innovator Showdown, a showcase of the best new tech for genealogy. This year, Old News USA, an app designed to make historic newspaper research easier, took the grand prize of $20,000 and $75,000 in in-kind prizes. The Old News USA app makes it easier for you to cut through the many, many Chronicling America results to help you find exactly what you are searching for in historic newspapers. We can’t wait to use this new genealogy app.

Highlight: Meeting DNA Cousin Randy Seaver

This year, I learned that Genfriend and fellow RootsTech Ambassador Randy Seaver is a DNA cousin! It was great chatting with him in the media hub, and I look forward to comparing our family trees to find our common ancestor. Be sure to catch Randy’s weekly Best of the Geneablogs feature on his blog Genea-Musings.

Badge ribbons

And Then There was Badge Ribbon Bling…

Many Thanks to RootsTech Organizers

Another grand RootsTech conference has come to a close. Many thanks to the small handful of people at FamilySearch who coordinate the world’s largest genealogy conference! 

Did you attend RootsTech, or follow the highlights online? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!


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