RootsTech 2019: Top 10 Free Online Sessions

By Andrew Koch

At last year's conference, Scott Hamilton told his emotional family story. RootsTech 2019 is sure to have even more inspiring stories about family and connection.

We’re gearing up for RootsTech 2019, but you don’t need to fly out to Salt Lake City to join in on the fun. You can watch more than 20 speeches—including keynote addresses from Jake Shimabukuro, Saroo Brierley and Patricia Heaton—for free on the RootsTech website. You can find the full list on RootsTech’s website, but here are the sessions we’re most excited about.

Wednesday, Feb. 27

What’s New at FamilySearch, 9:30 am MT

The conference kicks off with this presentation from FamilySearch International’s Ron Tanner, who will share the latest updates on and its Family Tree. And since FamilySearch is such a valuable tool for genealogists, this session is a must-view for researchers.

Connecting Your DNA Matches, 3 pm MT

If you’ve ever felt confused or overwhelmed by your DNA results, you’re not alone. DNA expert and Family Tree Magazine columnist Diahan Southard will take you step by step through your DNA match list and the Shared Matches tool.

Thursday, Feb. 28

Making the Leap—Becoming a Professional Genealogist, 8 am MT

We can all learn a little something from professional genealogists. But have you ever wondered if you could be a professional genealogist yourself? Three pros will show you how to turn your genealogy hobby into a career.

Thursday General Session: Patricia Heaton, 11 am MT

Actress Patricia Heaton has played “America’s mom” for decades, with roles in hit shows like Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle. Now she’ll share her own family’s story of love, loss and persistence.

Perilous Assumptions: Revisiting Those First Finds, 4:30 pm MT

Sometimes, the best place to go in our research is back. Professional genealogist Kris Rzepczynski will discuss the benefits of revisiting records to find mistakes and new leads.

Friday, Mar. 1

Essential Considerations for DNA Evidence, 9:30 am MT

Blaine T. Bettinger, author of the bestselling book The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy, will take the stage to discuss best practices for using DNA in your research.

Friday General Session: Saroo Brierley, 11 am MT

At just 5 years old, Saroo Brierley was separated from his home and family. Saroo’s memoir, A Long Way Home (adapted into the 2016 film Lion), retraces his steps as he rediscovers his homeland and family. Hear his story first-hand.

The Research Road Map: Your Path to Success, 4:30 pm MT

Great research begins with a great research plan. Family Tree University instructor Amy Johnson Crow will share how to get your research in order so you can efficiently accomplish your genealogy goals.

Saturday, Mar. 2

Saturday General Session: Jake Shimabukuro, 11 am MT

It all began with a viral cover video of Paul McCartney’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Ukelele master Jake Shimabukuro will recount how music has shaped his life, family and roots to Hawaiian culture.

The Silent Language of the Stones: Reading Gravestones through Symbols and Carvings, 3 pm MT

Spring is almost here, and genealogists will take to the cemeteries as the weather gets warmer. Joy Neighbors, author of The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide, will cover the meanings behind the icons you’ll find on your ancestor’s tombstones.

Other recorded sessions

In addition to these live-streamed lectures and keynote speeches, RootsTech will also make another 12 recorded sessions available once the conference has ended. To learn more, visit the website’s Streaming Schedule and scroll down to the Recorded Classes section.

Don’t miss the latest from RootsTech

We’ll be on the ground in Salt Lake City to bring you news and tech updates from the conference. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest developments. And if you’ll be at the conference, stop by and see us in the exhibit hall at booth 14o4!

Come visit us at RootsTech 2019, booth 1404 is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated websites.