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Murray Journal

Sandy residents make connections at RootsTech 2019

Mar 18, 2019 04:19PM ● By Heather Lawrence

RootsTech 2019 was held in the Salt Palace Convention Center on Feb. 27, 28 and March 1 and 2. There were over 20,000 attendees, including many from Sandy. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Many Sandy residents were among the 20,000 people who attended the four-day RootsTech 2019 conference held in Salt Lake City Feb. 27-28, March 1-2. Locals are happy that access to this international event is in their own backyard. 

“We had people attend from all 50 states and from 38 countries. Technologies were highlighted, along with hundreds of how-to classes for beginners, enthusiasts and families,” said Tyler Shaun Stahle, marketing and communications manager for RootsTech. 

Peggy Lander of Sandy was there looking for some help with her family history. “I’m here for the whole four days. I’m on a journey to understand my father’s side and his family tree,” said Lander. 

Lander, who also attended in 2017, struck it lucky. “I actually found a whole family tree that I didn’t know existed. I attended a class this morning that was really helpful. It was on connecting your immigrant family and finding those records,” she said. 

Lander’s parents were both immigrants. “My mother was from the Netherlands, and my father was from a Dutch colony in Indonesia. I got some hints on how to find immigration records,” Lander said. 

Her tip for finding information was to put in the effort. “I think the experience here is as good as the time and effort you put into it. You need to talk to people and visit the displays and find the right classes that meet your goals. I’m working on a story that will hopefully be a book one day,” said Lander.  

Bob Taylor of Sandy was at RootsTech giving presentations on a free online tool he developed called the Family History Guide. 

“I was serving as a consultant at the Granite Family History Center and I kept getting the same questions from people about how to use Family Search. I thought there must be a more efficient way,” he said. 

FamilySearch is the family history program developed and used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Bob Taylor of Sandy gives a demonstration at RootsTech 2019 of the free program he developed called the Family History Guide. It teaches people to use many different family history sites. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

Since Taylor had a background in instructional design, he designed a helpful website. Eventually, he was contacted by FamilySearch, who wanted to partner with him in developing the program.  

“They realized that we had created the step-by-step instructions that so many people needed to be able to use FamilySearch. We filled a niche they had wanted filled. Now we are an official training resource,” said Taylor. 

The Family History Guide has since added instructions for using Ancestry, My Heritage and Find My Past. 

“The feedback from people who stop by the booth is 95 percent positive. One woman left our training Thursday and said, ‘I’m going to do cartwheels out of here.’ We work with family history groups and doing presentations to wards and stakes. We’re really a grassroots organization. People hear about us by word of mouth,” said Taylor.

Susan Holt was another Sandy resident getting information out at RootsTech. Holt serves as the Utah State Regent for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). 

“We are a national society, with chapters in each state. We currently have nine chapters in Utah; we are working to organize a 10th that will include Riverton, Herriman, Bluffdale and Daybreak,” Holt said. 

Holt and other DAR members ran a booth teaching people how to join. “People don’t realize that we have a presence here in Utah. They wonder if we are the same as the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, but we are different and separate from that organization,” Holt said. 

Applicants must be females age 18 or older. They must be able to prove that they have a direct line to someone, male or female, who was a patriot. That could mean a woman’s ancestor fought in the Revolution, or gave assistance to the patriot cause. 

“The DAR works to educate citizens about patriotism, we work with veterans and we do community service. It’s not just a genealogical society,” Holt said. 

With new technology comes more access to records. “We are learning more all the time, and with that, our demographic focus has shifted. We want all ethnic groups with patriot ancestors to be included. We’re finding records for African American, Spanish and Native American patriots, and welcome them all,” said Holt. 

RootsTech 2019 also included speakers such as actress Patricia Heaton and Saroo Brierley, whose life story inspired the movie “Lion,” and a dance presentation by former Sandy resident and nationally recognized dancer Derek Hough.