It’s not hyperbole. Family history and storytelling will come together at RootsTech this February. RootsTech, the world’s largest genealogy conference, attracts thousands of professional and hobby family historians annually.
Family History and Storytelling
Though they’re not about to eschew documentation, sourcing, and genealogical proofs, these genealogists acknowledge that stories bring facts to life. And, the RootsTech conference, which has promoted storytelling as part of family history pursuits since 2012, continues to provide the medium in which storytellers and family historians can grow together.
Perhaps that’s a bad metaphor. The collision of family history and storytelling won’t produce the disgusting blue and green fuzzy stuff that festers in the back of your (or at least my) refrigerator. Instead, they’ll connect research and narrative, creating legacies for generations to come.
My role of RootsTech Ambassador comes as a result of the family history community making a concerted effort to widen its reach. Originally, its Ambassadors and speakers came from the ranks of hard-core genealogy. Now the conference welcomes both storytelling and mommy bloggers as “Ambassadors.”
This year’s conference, which promises to be bigger than any previous conference (a big promise since the exponential growth of last year’s conference), will promote storytelling in a variety of sessions as well as in the keynote addresses.
Looking through the keynote speaker line-up proffers RootsTech’s commitment to combining family history and storytelling.
Keynotes Combining Family History and Storytelling
The first general session (Thursday, February 4, 2016) will feature New York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler. A columnist for The New York Times, he writes the “This Life” column about today’s families. He is also the writer and presenter PBS’ Walking the Bible and Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler.
Bruce is an advocate of storytelling. In fact, he calls it a “foundational tool for having a happy family.” He also speaks passionately about how stories of resilience connect with others. “Ups and downs teach,” he explained in a January 4 interview with RootsTech ambassadors.
Paula Williams Madison has already woven family history and storytelling into a compelling memoir. The award-winning journalist, former NBC executive, filmmaker, and memoirist will talk about her search for her grandfather, who returned to his native China after living in Jamaica. That’s the subject of her memoir, Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem, as well as her documentary Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China
Family blogger Naomi Davis, known by online fans as “Taza,” will keynote on Friday, Feb 5. RootsTech describes the blog as “a digital destination… and a guide for finding the joy in their everyday experiences.”
Last, and perhaps most exciting for me, will be hearing David Isay, author and founder of StoryCorps.
StoryCorps is an award-winning organization that provides people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve their life stories. 50,000 interviews—including my uncle’s—have been preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. In addition, millions of listeners experience these stories on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Please come too!
Want to see this coming-together of family history and storytelling? RootsTech 2016 will be held on February 3–6 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Registration starts as low as $49.