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What online and in-person participants can expect to find at RootsTech 2023

RootsTech 2023 will feature keynotes speakers, Latter-day Saint leadership instruction, localized ‘sideline reporters’ for different parts of the world and more

The last time RootsTech hosted an in-person event was in 2020, shortly before the onslaught of a pandemic.

That year more than 50,000 people attended the annual three-day family history gathering in Salt Lake City.

Participation spiked into the millions as RootsTech moved to an online platform the past two years.

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RootsTech 2023 organizers hope to see its virtual growth continue while setting a modest goal for in-person attendance in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, March 2-4, said Jen Allen, director of events at FamilySearch.

“This year we are hoping for 20,000 people at the Salt Palace. That’s a goal, a hope. We know it will take some time to remind people how great RootsTech is and why they should leave the comfort of their homes to come and join us,” Allen said. “Last year we had just over 3 million people who joined us on our platform during those three days. That’s exactly what we are hoping for again. We are hoping that people come and join us and stay a little bit longer.”

With the global event less than a month away, here’s a look at what has been announced and what participants can expect at RootsTech 2023.

RootsTech is an annual family history and technology conference sponsored by FamilySearch, which is a nonprofit genealogical organization operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Vendors and attendees move around the exhibit hall as RootsTech opens at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City.
Vendors and attendees move around the exhibit hall as RootsTech opens in the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Theme for RootsTech 2023

The theme for RootsTech 2023 is “Uniting” — uniting people, traditions, stories, memories, technology, innovation, communities and families.

“Families are the foundation of society,” said FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood in an Oct. 6, 2022, news release. “Connecting and uniting families across generations strengthens individuals and nations alike. We are amazed and gratified to see the role RootsTech has been able to play in helping literally millions of individuals connect with their family, past, present and future.”

Online vs. in person

After two consecutive years of being held completely online, RootsTech 2023 will be a virtual and in-person event.

“For those of you questioning whether to join us virtual or in person, the best part about this year is you get to choose how you join us,” Allen said in the live RootsTech Q&A in September 2022. “We hope you will come to Salt Lake if you’re able, but if you aren’t, the virtual experience is going to be incredible. We cannot wait to connect with all of you all over the world.”

For those joining virtually, the free online event features:

  • More than 200 new on-demand class sessions and classes.
  • Main stage presentations and keynote speakers.
  • Chat support and online research consultations.
  • Connection with cousins using Relatives at RootsTech and messaging.
  • A virtual tour of the expo hall.

The advantages of watching online mean experiencing RootsTech from the comfort of home and access to on-demand content, Allen said.

Jen Allen, FamilySearch director of events, is interviewed about her work with RootsTech 2023.
Jen Allen, FamilySearch director of events, is interviewed about her work with RootsTech 2023 at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The three-day, in-person event in the Salt Palace Convention Center requires a fee and offers the following:

  • More than 180 in-person class sessions with Q&As and opportunities to ask individualized questions.
  • In-person research help at the FamilySearch Library.
  • Free access to the expo hall with more than 200 exhibitors, hands-on sponsor demonstrations and interactions with research specialists.
  • The opportunity to connect with friends and relatives in person.

“One of the biggest advantages of coming to the Salt Palace is just enjoying that energy, being with like-minded people and discovering your cousins,” Allen said. “But in the middle of it, you also discovered tricks for your own family history in a certain part of the world you are working on. It’s amazing how many connections you make when you are in the same room as all of those other people. So the energy is just really the most exciting part.”

Allen said, “The price is so much lower this year, we really are hoping that whoever can and wants to will come and join us at the Salt Palace and experience RootsTech in person.”

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Keynote speakers

Jordin Sparks, a multiplatinum recording artist, winner of American Idol Season 6 and actress, has been announced as a keynote speaker for RootsTech 2023.

“Sparks has always been rooted in the love and loyalty of her family, something RootsTech viewers and attendees will understand better as she takes the stage to share the stories and songs that have shaped her life and family connections,” a FamilySearch newsroom release says.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, will be the featured keynote speakers at Family Discovery Day on Saturday, March 4.

“I love the fact that family discovery adventures do not have a beginning or an end,” Elder Gong said. “These adventures continue in both directions uniting family past and family future.”

Family Discovery Day is a one-day event during the three-day family history conference, designed to help Latter-day Saints discover and celebrate their family heritage.

Additional keynote speakers may be announced before RootsTech.

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Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction

Latter-day Saints with callings related to temple and family history work are invited to watch the Church’s 2023 Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction on Thursday, March 2.

Elder David A. Bednar and Elder Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Primary General President Susan H. Porter; Sister Kristen M. Yee, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency; Elder Kevin R. Duncan and Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, General Authority Seventies; and area leaders from around the world will participate in a council discussion.

The Church leaders will discuss and teach about the blessings of participating in temple and family history service, being bound to the Savior through ordinances and covenants, and uniting families for eternity, as outlined in section 25 of the General Handbook, “Temple and Family History Work in the Ward and Stake.”

Local leaders are encouraged to watch the recorded instruction as a group. Those invited to participate include stake and ward councils, bishoprics and branch presidencies, elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies, Young Women and Primary presidencies, ward mission leaders and missionaries, ward temple and family history leaders and consultants, and Young Women class and Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies.

On-demand viewing will be available in the Gospel Library in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Russian, Korean, Japanese and Chinese. Seven additional languages will be available soon after, according to ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

15 localized ‘emcees’

For the first time, RootsTech 2023 will feature 15 “emcees,” who like sideline reporters at a sporting event will represent different areas of the world, speak the native language and provide their audiences with localized content during the global event.

Allen explained that good sideline reporters at sporting events connect with those watching at home and help them feel more engaged through interviews and insider access. Organizers are confident the same concept can work for RootsTech 2023.

Irene Caso films a segment in Spanish for RootsTech 2023.
Irene Caso films a segment in Spanish for RootsTech 2023 at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. Caso is one of 15 “emcees” who will help provide the global, virtual audience with a higher-quality experience. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“These emcees are the ones carrying the audience through the experience, helping them know what to expect and even giving a report of what’s happening behind the stage, just like you see at the big game,” Allen said. “It’s that idea of bringing virtual and in-person together.”

The 15 emcees will speak 11 languages: English (United States, Africa, Pacific, Middle East), Spanish (Europe and Latin America), Portuguese (Europe and Latin America), French, German, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Arabic, Mandarin and Cantonese.

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How to register for RootsTech 2023

Registration for both online and in-person options are open at RootsTech.org.

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