What happened at RootsTech 2024? Here’s a rundown

Read articles and see photos of what happened last weekend at the largest family history gathering in the world

Thousands of family historians and genealogy enthusiasts recently came to Salt Lake City, Utah, and millions more joined online for RootsTech, the largest family history conference in the world.

The three-day global event took place in-person at the Salt Palace Convention Center and free online from Thursday, Feb. 29, to Saturday, March 2.

“Come and be ready to laugh, to cry, to meet your cousins,” said Jen Allen, the director of RootsTech.

Added Jonathan Wing, creative manager for RootsTech: “Stay hydrated and wear comfortable shoes.”

RootsTech is organized by FamilySearch, an international family history website sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Allen, Wing and Brandon Beckstead, a logistics manager, offered a preview of RootsTech in a video posted on social media on Feb. 20.

The Church News provided coverage from RootsTech. See below for links to articles.

RootsTech preview

Thursday, Feb. 29

Friday, March 1

Saturday, March 2

RootsTech 2024 theme

The theme for RootsTech 2024 was “Remember.”

Localized emcees return

Last year for the first time, RootsTech added bilingual “emcees” to provide a more customized experience for people following the conference in different areas of the world, much like a sideline reporter at a sporting event.

The 2024 localized emcees are all Latter-day Saints:

  • Nicole Luz, of Brazil, helped those watching in Portuguese.
  • Denise Sottili, of Italy, speaks Italian.
  • Jan Hadzik, of German, speaks German.
  • Nagyeom Jung, of Korea, speaks Korean.
  • Hiromi Ogata, of Japan, speaks Japanese.
  • Arielle Pletain, born in the United States but grew up in France, speaks French.
  • Matthew Kho, who grew up in Hong Kong, speaks Cantonese.
  • Chloe Zheng Thomas, who lives in Colorado, speaks Mandarin.
  • Irene Caso, a native of Spain, speaks Spanish.
  • Kirby Heyborne, of Utah, speaks English.
Irene Caso films for RootsTech 2023 at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. She and other emcees from around the world will also film segments for RootsTech 2024. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Leadership instruction

Each year at RootsTech, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provide instruction for members who serve in leadership and callings related to temple and family history work, although all Latter-day Saints are invited to watch on the Gospel Library app or on

Participating in the leadership instruction was:

This year’s leadership instruction featured discussions and counsel for how to help first-time temple attendees have a positive and spiritual experience in the temple as well as find strength in the temple. It also demonstrated a council discussion and introduced a new tool to help leaders find a temple name for a new member to take to the temple, among other things.

RootsTech keynote speakers and forums

The following were keynote speakers:

Kristin Chenoweth sings with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during their opening Christmas concert in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. The award-winning actress and singer will be a keynote speaker at RootsTech 2024. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

This year’s event featured four main-stage sessions called RootsTech Forums:

  1. Thursday, Feb. 29 — FamilySearch Tech forum, where the newest innovations on FamilySearch were shared.
  2. Thursday, Feb. 29 — Innovation and tech forum, where the industry highlighted the new artificial intelligence innovations within the industry. Jared Spataro, a vice president from Microsoft, shared a message about how Microsoft has adapted to AI.
  3. Friday, March 1 — The impact forum was hosted by Robyn Fivush, who worked with Marshall Duke to research how knowing one’s family history leads to better behavior, lower anxiety and better family relations. Their research was highlighted in the New York Times a decade ago.
  4. Saturday, March 2 — The FamilySearch global forum focused on FamilySearch’s innovation plans to localize family discovery experiences in cultures worldwide.

Young adult after-party

For the second year in a row, RootsTech hosted an after-party for young adults, ages 18-30, at the Salt Palace Convention Center on Friday, March 1, from 7-11:30 p.m. The event included a devotional with Elder Hamilton and Sister Yee, food vendors, family history activities, live music and dancing.

Family Discovery Day

The final day of RootsTech — Saturday, March 2 — is referred to as Family Discovery Day and designed specifically for Latter-day Saints.

This year’s Family Discovery Day featured a never-before-seen video of the late President M. Russell Ballard, who served as acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

President Ballard, who died on Nov. 12, 2023, volunteered for the assignment. He traveled to sites connected to the Church’s history in Nauvoo and Carthage, Illinois, and Kirtland, Ohio, in June 2023, to film his family story. The video also featured a special musical number performance, “Out of Time,” with Ellie Barry, Nicole Luz and Katia Romero.

President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at the Columbus Ohio Temple on Monday, June 5, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Another highlight of Family Discovery Day was the appearance of former BYU basketball star Jimmer Fredette. He and his wife, Whitney, taught a class on preserving your story using FamilySearch. Kids ages 8-14 also participated in a basketball shootout with Jimmer Fredette in the expo hall.

Other Family Discovery Day activities included:

  • How to preserve your family food story with Si Foster from “A Bountiful Kitchen.”
  • Pickleball pro Callie Jo Smith talked about how sports play a role in family heritage. Following her remarks, attendees watched a pickleball exhibition tournament in the expo hall.
  • Attendees learned to create Japanese origami and how their ancestors recorded memories on vintage typewriters.
  • A “Family Game Zone” with activities such as cornhole, Gaga ball, giant building blocks and more.
People hold up the flashlights on their phones as FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood speaks on the first day of the 2023 RootsTech conference at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 2, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Hundreds of classes and digital support

The online event was free and offered hundreds of on-demand classes, sessions and webinars available in multiple languages.

“Whether you are in person or online, there is learning all over the place and in your own language,” Allen said.

There was also chat support and online research consultations, connections with cousins using Relatives at RootsTech and messaging, as well as a virtual expo hall, to help attendees discover more about their family heritage.

Related Stories
RootsTech 2024: Organizers offer sneak peek of what to expect at world’s largest family history celebration
Why FamilySearch is incorporating localized ‘sideline reporters’ into RootsTech 2023
Video: A behind-the-scenes look at the late President Ballard recording experiences for 2024 Family Discovery Day
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