This marked the seventh year that Rachel Trotter and I (Rhonda Lauritzen) have spoken at RootsTech. Spending time with so many friends and attending classes fed my craving for fresh inspiration. Last year seemed a little tentative as we returned in person for the first time since the pandemic. I joked that I had forgotten how to “people.” This time, the vibe shifted to a decidedly energetic one with even more people attending. I am beginning to feel like my previous self again. Can you relate? Is this a marker that we have come out the other side?


The theme was “Remember,” and the short film called, “Your story is worth remembering,” moved me to tears. You can watch it here:

Below, I share my takeaways from the conference, and I also invite you to scroll down and browse our lineup of spring classes.

A lego family tree

On the evening before RootsTech officially began, Rachel Trotter and I had the privilege of attending a media dinner with the keynote by Steve Rockwood, the CEO of FamilySearch. He always shares thoughful insights about the state of family history worldwide. I loved his story about Legos, which I relate in this video: 

AI will be a game changer:

The conference was abuzz about AI—both new developments and cautionary examples. Steve Rockwood predicted it will be a game changer in the same way that the personal computer, then the internet, then DNA, and then the pandemic each changed the way we do family history. His recap of that history captured my imagination, and I’ve been mulling it over since then.

It made me think of how transcription tools have already made a quantum leap in recent years, and I know that AI tools will do the same to lessen other tedious tasks. For example, MyHeritage has a tool called, “AI Record Finder” where you can click on an ancestor and have it research that person for you. In other words, it can pull what is readily known so you do not burn time on the easy stuff.

In addition, AI is a powerful tool for my work to summarize transcripts of oral history interviews and other source material. Some people use it to suggest outlines for writing projects. In the coming weeks, I will share more of my personal perspectives about AI, but that’s enough for today.

Community, not competition: 

Penny Walters and me at Antelope Island, Great Salt lake following RootsTech

The value of collaboration emerged as a personal theme for me this year, and I want to share some examples of how this is a generous ecosystem where I have felt nothing but support and encouragement, even from people who could be considered competition.

I got the phrase “community, not competition,” from a longtime friend and colleague, Dawn Roode. She founded Modern Heirloom Books in the New York City area around the time I launched Evalogue.Life in 2016. We have been mutually supportive since then, and I greatly admire her coffee-table books of people’s lives. She flew out to RootsTech for the first time, and I was proud for her to be in my hometown, making sure she got invited to the evening industry events. Spending time with her in person was a highlight for me.

Laura Hedgecock is another professional who has my respect in the storytelling space. We have spoken on panels together and always enjoy comparing notes. This year, we chatted about various projects and then collaborated about pitching articles in an upcoming issue of Family Tree magazine. Why submit competing topics when there is more to write about than we will ever have time to do?

In a similar spirit, after the event ended, I ended up hosting Penny Walters from England for two nights in my home. She teaches ethical dilemmas in genealogy and has taught segments of classes for me, refusing payment. What a treat to get to know each other even better. Yes, it took me longer to get caught up after RootsTech and to get this article done, but it was time well spent.

I have a dozen more stories like this, but you get the idea.

In summary, there is more work than there are trained professionals to do it. I see ample room for different personalities and strengths. Rather than feeling territorial, I find that competition helps get the word out, which grows everyone’s work. I feel grateful for how each of these professionals has blessed my life.

Our live talks: 

Rhonda Lauritzen and Rachel Trotter at RootsTech, 2024

Rachel and I always love speaking and then chatting with attendees afterward. This year, the talk we gave on Friday afternoon capped out at 700 with standing-room only. Having that many people gathered around family storytelling can energize me for a year. If you attended, thank you for spending some of your conference time with us. Our talks were not recorded, so we are putting together a free series in the coming month via Zoom. (Watch for more announcements coming soon).

Why else are we here?

Finally, I want to end on a philosophical note. Each year, RootsTech presents a copious buffet of options, and you can run yourself ragged trying to do everything. Ask me how I know. This year, however, I slowed down and savored talking with whoever happened into my sphere. I had unhurried conversations with other speakers, students, and people who stopped me in the hall after attending one of our classes. Sure, I went to fewer classes but was blessed with deeper interactions. As a businessperson, I might tally networking opportunities garnered, but in recent years, the currency of my life has shifted. I have spent extravagant expanses of time on some stories and might question whether this has been efficient.

Instead, I have landed on a different question: why else are we here? I believe we are on Earth to love and learn from one another. Love is the real currency of a life well-lived.

So, the question should not be how many tasks I got done, but rather, how well did I love? Yes, we must all make a living, and yes, I enjoy my work to the point of obsession. I am not always in balance. Still, I feel richly blessed to have so much love embedded in my profession and for how it teaches me to listen intently and connect with others.

What are your top questions right now?

We have nearly put the finishing touches on an upcoming free series that we will be doing soon called “The Keeper’s Journey.” We would love to hear your questions so we can address them in those live sessions. Click here for a super-short form to submit your burning issues.

MyHeritage News: 

I must say how impressed with the heart of this company and their commitment to constant innovation. They take privacy seriously and they support independent professional genealogists. Their international collections are particularly amazing, and I also find local gems in newspapers and City Directories when I am researching old homes or buildings. This year, they also announced the acquisition of additional collections from around the world, which they are calling “Old News.” That is good news. They have also added their AI photo scanning/enhancement tool to their app, enhanced their profile pages to give hints, and have reached the milestone of 20 billion records in their collections.


This is a technology company to watch after being in development for a decade by a former Microsoft executive. I have not yet tried it, but am looking forward to giving it a whirl shortly. I understand the need and do not know of another solution in the marketplace. Do you?

Mylio brings order to the chaos of your digital photos. You still store your pics wherever you want, whether that is on your hard drive, phone, or in the cloud so you have control over that. What it does is finds them, eliminates duplicates, auto-recognizes people, and makes them easy to search by person, location, etc. Mylio also simplifies the task of clearing clutter. It can do all this because they do not store your original files, they just create low-resolution thumbnails corresponding to the master files. This allows them to manage millions of photos without consuming a ridiculous amount of storage. 

Rachel’s insights coming next week

Watch for an update next week with Rachel’s insights, including takeaways from some exclusive interviews she did during the show. 

Our spring lineup of classes

Now, I invite you to browse our spring lineup of classes, including a fast-paced oral history interviewing class to be taught over four Thursdays in April. 

We have extended our RootsTech special through Monday, March 11 at midnight. Get $30 off any course, oral history interview, or coaching session by using the code: conference. 

Are you working a life story, family history, or autobiography? If so, we have a lot of writing resources and oral history interviewing resources for you this spring including some great free offerings. The season kicked off with RootsTech, the world’s largest family history conference, running February 29 through March 2. We are also excited to offer the following two classes this spring.

Oral history interviewing

Professional interviewing 4 week live Zoom class

This small-group class in April will prepare you to capture voices and stories. We only teach it once a year, and it sells out every time. The live classes in April will be on the 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th from 5:00 – 6:30 PM Mountain Standard Time.

Use code: conference to save $30 through midnight on March 11.

Browse this class here:

Business boot camp for family history professionals

Family history business boot camp

Following our interviewing class, we are excited about a business boot camp for genealogists, personal historians, and biographers. This live course will help you start or run a thriving profitable family history business. This class will be held from 5:00 – 6:30 PM Mountain Standard Time on May 2nd, 9th, 16th, and 23rd.

Use code: conference to save $30 through RootsTech.

Browse this class here:

Bundle both for the best package:

Save with the professional bundle: oral history interviewing and family history business boot camp

Our professional bundle combines both of these classes for an incredible eight-week journey through the poignant work of oral history through making your passion into a business. Save by purchasing both, and you also get a whole package of additional courses.

Tip: use the code conference for the most savings overall. You will save $60 by combining the bundle with the coupon. The coupon is valid through RootsTech.

Browse this bundle here:

RootsTedh offer through March 11

You can get $30 off any course or service when you use the code: conference

Here are some direct links to browse these courses and services:

Vintage photo of a young mother and her son standing in the snow. Text reads: $30 off any service, package, or class purchased during the conference including: Interviews & coaching, online classes, photo restoration. Coupon code: conference. 801.917.4299

The Keeper’s Journey – Free series coming in April

After we get back and settled from RootsTech, we will begin signups for a special free class series we call The Keeper’s Journey. This will be a great way for us to see those of you we missed at RootsTech, and reconnect to new friends. This series will include extra printables and resources, so you won’t want to miss it. Watch for announcements starting in March.

We are very excited for this enriching spring lineup of classes to connect you with other passionate family storytellers this spring. Let us help you write and create stories that will last generations!

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