Here you can read a review of RootsTech 2023 so you can make an informed decision next year if to attend or not.
How I got Involved as a Speaker
I had no plans of attending RootsTech 2023, that changed this January. I spoke to a representative of FamilySearch, Rodolfo Derbez, out of Monterrey, Mexico.
He asked if I was willing to do two live presentations at RootsTech 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah. I told him that I was not sure because I had no idea as to what to talk about. He told me that he wanted me to talk about my books, in particular the "Last Names of Nuevo Leon" book series and our premium membership website "Las Villas del Norte". So, I agreed.
Here is my full disclaimer, they paid for my flight and hotel but that in no way has an influence on what I am going to write.
Preparing for RootsTech 2023
A few days before the conference I went to their website and saw all the available presentations, probably over 200 of them. But you can only see one per hour for a total of five per day.
So, if you attend in person all three days you can only see about 15 presentations and if you attend the mid-day general sessions then you can see 18 presentations in three days.
This was my strategy; I went presentation by presentation and selected all the ones that I liked. I then reviewed them and chose one per hour.
If you don't do this, you will end up with too many choices and will end up attending whatever. In my opinion it is better to plan than to not.
I was immediately disappointed at the number of Hispanic/Mexican presentations available, 5 total (including my two presentations). Maybe there were more but those are the ones I found. I would understand if this was a small conference like my very own We Are Cousins Virtual Genealogy Conference but RootsTech is a massive event and only 5 presentations, out of hundreds, had to do with Mexico/Hispanic Countries.
Anyways, besides mine I chose to attend two out of the three other Hispanic presentations. Then I chose based on DNA and the methodology topics I wanted to learn about. Remember, methodology presentations can be applied to your own research. I ended up with 15 presentations and one general session (remember two of them are mine, I must be there to present them).
Traveling to RootsTech 2023
I flew a day early from McAllen Texas to Dallas, the plane was running late, and I missed my connection to Salt Lake City. I was on standby for the next flight, which was full, so I had to wait another flight. While waiting I meet a distant cousin, Virgilio Garza, who was also headed to RootsTech. After a wait of seven hours, I finally got a flight that made it to Salt Lake City where my good friend Arturo Cuellar picked me up.
We picked up dinner and went to his house. Arturo and his wife were very hospitable, and we stayed up very late talking about genealogy and research.
The following day we made it to the conference.
The convention place was massive, the branding and presentation was top of the line. Not to mention, they had an army of volunteers who were very friendly and would help you find the classes and rooms. I took boots because of the cold weather but soon regretted it. There was a lot of walking to do between classes and that answered my question as to why the classes are spaced 30 minutes apart.
During lunch I made it to the vendor/sponsor area. There were big companies like Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, and others I had never heard of. I quickly realized that all the other companies were about preserving records, stories, printing charts, books, and such.
I loved talking to the mom-and-pop vendors, they really know their products. The big companies, the employes knowledge is limited unless you find someone that has a passion and knows their company’s product very well.
I also realized that there were hardly any genealogy book vendors for the U.S. and none for Mexico. Maybe there is no market for such vendors, who knows. I did realize that there were no organizations in the vendor area for Mexico. Maybe next year, Las Villas del Norte can have a booth there or maybe the Mexican Genealogy Community can have one where we can inform people about our Facebook Group and this website.
Meeting Old Friends and Making New Ones
I meet speakers that were also presenting at RootsTech that have presented for the We Are Cousins Conference in the past. I also meet old friends like Arturo and Virgilio and other members or the Mexican Genealogy Community. I got to meet new friends as Peggy Ryskamp who showed me her new book about helping Hispanics/Mexican transcribe old records. I also meet a few people from Colombia, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, and Mexico too. To be honest with you, as big as this event is, I was expecting for it to attract more Mexican Americans. I think that no more than 20 Mexican Americans were in attendance out of thousands attending.
My presentations went smoothly, and I went over time. I got good feedback from attendees. The only thing that surprised me was that only about 15 people attended each of them.
Should You Go to RootsTech in Person?
My answer is yes, because I would love for you to experience this event in person and hopefully, in the future, help me to create such event for Mexican Americans.
If you do go in person, they may not have many presentations focusing on Mexican or it's Spanish colonial period but look at the presentations about DNA and the ones that focus on resources or methodology that you can apply to your own research.
Will I Ever go To RootsTech Again?
Yes! Why? Because I learned one thing or two from every presentation. Also, so I can meet and network with speakers for my own little conference.
Watch Presentations Virtually
I was disappointed that my two presentations were not recorded and made available to the public. I honestly thought they would because the contract said that they would be recorded. Anyways, once the grace period ends, I will rerecord them and make them available to everyone.
To watch the presentations that got recorded go here: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/search search for Mexico and there are 27 results one from this year’s conference and the rest are from previous conferences.
Mexican American Conference Just Around the Corner
If you want to attend a more focused conference for Mexican Americans and or Spanish Colonial Research, then attend the We Are Cousins Virtual Genealogy Conference. Click on the button below to register or view the calendar or presentations here: https://wacconference.com/view-schedule/
Thank you Mr. Garza.
I appreciate your efforts in Mexican Genealogy. You are correct, not many companies offer courses or information on Mexican history, etc.
Your Mexican FaceBook pages have helped me in many cases as I am not fluent in Spanish reading or writing.
RootsTech was amazing and I will send a note with the suggestion to add Mexican history and research education for future events.
I am an American with Mexican ancestry and have been researching since 2009.
I know the need is there. I have had vendor tables at events not focused on Mexican Genealogy and it is surprising the number of people that stop by and tell me that they have Hispanic roots.
Let’s encourage RootsTech to have more Mexico/Latin American sessions. I did that with session feedbacks. Also, there were some presentations on Spanish, but I don’t speak Spanish.
I gave feedback on the RootsTech app regarding having more Mexico/Latin America sessions. Asking for it is the best way to get more. I wonder if there are better ways to let communities know about it.
I, too, learned at least one thing from each session I attended and highly recommend RootsTech to those who can afford it. Other than Latin America, I focused on overcoming brick walls and story telling.
I think having Mexican and Latin American community-based vendors would be huge. As I visited vendors I would say my line goes immediately into Mexico and they would admit that they were focused in New England, Europe, etc.
Saturday evening I had extra time before my husband was scheduled to pick me up. I needed help reading a place in a record. I got a staff worker (who was also a presenter) who helped me with that and then helped me search for a great-grandfather. I saw the difference between me and a professional. Do not miss the opportunity to visit the FamilySearch Library.
Also, take your lunch to cut down on costs and eat healthier.
Researching at the library was awesome. I did notice that many books said “off-site”. I asked and was advised that those books are in the process of being digitized. I think when they are done with them then we can expect to find twice as many books on the shelves for Mexico.
While there I talked to their Hispanic RootsTech team and provided my two cents on how to grow Hispanic attendance. I also spoke to the head of their marketing team and even a software engineer and provided suggestions.