Finding Family in Salt Lake City, Utah!

Last week I was able to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend RootsTech 2016!  I had been looking forward to this for weeks, and it was a great opportunity to see a new city and spend some time with my mom.  I had never been to Salt Lake but I have some wanted to attend RootsTech for some time now.  If you aren’t aware, RootsTech is the one of the largest genealogical conference in the US, held every year in Salt Lake because it is hosted in part by the LDS Mormon church who run FamilySearch.   It highlights the latest tech tools in family history research.  If you know me, you know that I have been doing genealogical research for years and even taught introductory research classes at our local adult education center.  It is an obsession! You know I have to be, to be from Florida, and willingly travel to Salt Lake in the middle of winter, lol!  Take a look at this promo video and check it out…it really was a blast!

As we arrived airport I was fascinated to look down and see that the lake had actually frozen over, which tells you how cold it was.  The mountains were gorgeous and covered with snow!

We stayed at the Hilton in city center, right across the street from the Salt Palace Convention Center where RootsTech was being held.  It’s a very nice hotel, but the only complaint I would say is that they had a very strange shuttle system from the airport.  As a Hilton, you expect that they have their own shuttle service, like even the Red Roof Inn did (which we saw while waiting at the airport for our own ride).  They utilize some independent guy who picks up and drops off people in his own van…very strange for a large chain like that.
We kicked off the conference with a great keynote that really made an impression on me, given by Paula Madison, a tv network exec who set out to find her Chinese ancestors. Paula is bi-racial, half African-American (her father was Jamaican) and half Chinese (her mother was the daughter of a Jamaican woman and a Chinese man who had come to Jamaica to open a business).  I was intrigued by this story as she spoke, as I had no idea the deep history that the Chinese had in the Caribbean.  Take a look at her keynote below, or even watch her movie/read her book, Finding Samuel Lowe (promo below), for a look at her emotional search for her family history.

Mom and I poked around the expo hall and then attended some great classes given by renowned genealogists over the three days we were there.  We learned a lot of new tricks of the trade in searching census records and making the most of our genealogical research.  We got to explore the city a bit and walk around Temple Square, which was beautiful at night.

And yes, I found the Apple Store! But the greatest experience was getting to go the LDS Family Research Library where they have accumulated literally billions of original records from around the world.  We were able to located my great-grandfathers on my dad’s maternal side original birth certificate from Italy.  If you are ever in Salt Lake you must make it a point to go here if you have any interest in genealogy.  You would think that you would have to listen to some song and dance about joining the church, but it is literally nothing like that.  You never hear mention of the church once, and there were dozens of volunteers (I suspect more than usual had come into town because of the conference), and they were so helpful.  You were directed immediately to the right floor (for example, we wanted European records) and there were people there who could help translate some of the words for you as well, if you had documents in Italian as we did, or Polish, German, French, you name it!  They were so helpful!

How cool is that??! If you can translate that btw…do let me know 🙂
We were able to find a number of his siblings as well, and although we were pretty much already aware of this information, it was still cool to see and have these original documents.
Restaurant Recommendation!! Check out Cafe Molise downtown for some great atmosphere and Italian food!  The mushroom soup was great on a cold night and my pasta was so yummy!
The conference had two other great keynotes.  One was David Isay from StoryCorp on NPR radio.  The other was noted historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I had heard her speak twice before, and actually ran into her a couple of years ago in a restaurant in Concord, where she lives, but it was still fabulous to hear her tell the stories she has learned from studying the lives of Lyndon Johnson, John Adams, both FDR and Theodore Roosevelt…and ofcourse…Abraham Lincoln.  I will only leave you with the recommendation to watch their keynotes and be left inspired. David Isay’s is here…and as soon as I can find Goodwin’s I’ll post that as well.

All in all…it was a great trip to a fabulous new city…finding family in Salt Lake City.  I can’t wait to go back.

Till next time, gnomies!

Ever been to Salt Lake?  Tell us what you think about this city, or any recommendations for the next time.

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