RootsTech 2015, already the largest family history conference in the world, is on track to surpass last year’s record of 13,000 attendees—more than 18,000 are expected this year with over 50,000 joining online. The success can be attributed to the growing popularity of family history with people of all ages and a star-studded lineup of speakers and entertainers who will share their personal family stories, including former First Lady Laura Bush, tech visionary Tan Le, and entertainer Donny Osmond. RootsTech is hosted by FamilySearch and held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 12–14. Go to RootsTech.org to register or to see the full schedule of keynotes, performers, and speakers.
“This world class conference continues to be a game changer,” said FamilySearch CEO Dennis Brimhall. “Multiple generations of families attending together will discover new ideas and tools to strengthen and connect their families while discovering how people they admire personally celebrate their families and their family histories. That’s what RootsTech is all about.”
Fanning the popularity of genealogy worldwide are technologies that connect and strengthen families through discovering and sharing their past. RootsTech also creates an environment for innovators and entrepreneurs developing new applications for family history to showcase their latest innovations. Technologist and entrepreneur Tan Le will help kick off RootsTech on Thursday, February 12, as she shares her personal heroic immigrant story as she fled Vietnam with her mother and sister at a very young age.
The Vietnamese refugee was named Young Australian of the Year and recognized by Fast Company as one of the most influential women in technology and by Forbes as one of the 50 names you need to know. “I consider it a privilege any time I can share my experiences with others who have personal trials but desire to rise above them as my mother and grandmother inspired me to do,” Le said of her opportunity to speak at RootsTech 2015.
Former First Lady Laura Bush will talk about life in the White House and the importance of family during those eight years. Her daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, will join the former First Lady onstage for a fireside chat to share family stories as a new grandmother and mother. In 2013, Jenna Hager gave birth to daughter Margaret Laura “Mila” Hager, adding a new generation to the Bush family.
Laura Bush served with her husband, President George W. Bush, in the White House from 2001-2009, and she currently serves as Chair of the Women’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. Hager currently works as a contributor for NBC’s The Today Show and as an editor-at-large for Southern Living magazine.
“This is going to be one of the high points of the conference,” Brimhall said. “It will be an unforgettable way to show how this family, with all their amazing life experiences, is still a family that functions like many of our own families.”
Singer and entertainer Donny Osmond, an international superstar who’s been entertaining millions for almost 50 years, is also a part of the keynote lineup. His fans may not be aware of how engaged he is off stage in his family history. Donny will share some lesser-known insights into his family’s history during his keynote.
“It has always been such a big part of who I am,” Osmond is proud to admit. “For as long as I can remember, my family has been involved in family history. My family ties have influenced me on and off the stage. So it’s such an honor to share some of that at RootsTech with some stories and maybe a song or two.”
New York Times bestselling author and humorist A.J. Jacobs will share insights into his current project of connecting as many cousins as he can find and to organize what will be the biggest, most inclusive, most entertaining, and most educational family reunion in history.
“I’m a relative newcomer to genealogy, but I am thoroughly addicted to it. It’s my favorite way to learn about history—and it’s the ultimate social network,” according to Jacobs. “I’m thrilled to be speaking at RootsTech, which is an extraordinary event and community. I can’t wait to meet more potential cousins.”
Each day of the conference will conclude with marquee entertainment. Alex Boye, One Voice Children’s Choir, the cast of BYUtv’s Studio C, and American Idol runner-up David Archuleta are among the acts taking the stage.
RootsTech offers more than 200 classes and workshops over the course of the three-day conference. A “Getting Started” track of classes is offered for beginners.
Admission to RootsTech 2015 starts at $19 for a one-day pass and $39 for a three-day pass. Visit RootsTech.org for more information.