RootsTech started out with a bang. The conference will have more than 30,000 attendees with more than 4,000 youth attending on Saturday. The conference will also be broadcasting to more than 600 locations worldwide. These locations will hold local family history conferences in conjunction with RootsTech. It is expected that the total number of individuals that will participate in RootsTech, either directly or through one of the local conferences, will be nearly 150,000. That makes RootsTech the largest family history conference in the world, and it is right in our back yard. If you have time on Saturday to head down to the Salt Palace it will be worth the trip. On Saturday, Neil L Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be speaking along with Elder Foster and Elder Packer of the Seventy. Studio C will be performing and John Bytheway will be speaking. The first day of RootsTech, the Innovator Summit, was a fantastic day. The opening keynote (I’ll write more in a column in future weeks about his talk) was Chris Dancy. His keynote was one of the most entertaining and thought provoking that I have ever attended. DC Thomson Family History, the owners of FindMyPast.com announced that they are opening up their site for developers and will be offering a developer’s suite and API. FamilySearch announced that they intend to publish more than 1 billion additional records in 2014. Many of these records will come through partner relationships with Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage. FamilySearch also announced additions for their developer partners. They have enhanced their software development kit to make writing family history applications using FamilySearch data much easier. They also announced that they will be opening up access to their Standard and Authorities systems as well as to a hinting API so that software developers can provide hints to their users for matches from the historical records on FamilySearch. Perhaps the most significant announcements came at the blogger dinner last evening. In addition to the information about the conference and the record number of attendees, were the partner announcements from FamilySearch. Over the past year FamilySearch, Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage have announced long term agreements to publish records. FamilySearch announced that through these agreements it expects that the job of publishing records that was previously anticipated to take nearly three hundred years would be completed in only 30. They announced that through these partnerships, in addition to the new records published, that Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and MyHeritage.com will be available for free in family history centers worldwide. I’ve held the best for last, however, for those readers who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch announced that it has negotiated free access for members of the Church to Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and MyHeritage.com. Members of the Church will receive free subscriptions to the Ancestry World Edition subscription and the plus edition subscriptions for FindMyPast and MyHeritage. The total annual costs for these subscriptions is about $600 if purchased. FamilySearch and the partners are also working to make it possible for tree information to be exchanged between the partner sites and the Family Tree on FamilySearch. The final work is being completed, but FamilySearch expects that it will begin rolling out access to members to these free subscription accounts by the middle of 2014. Members will be notified when they have access with instructions about how to sign up for the free subscriptions. This is an amazing message that will bring billions of additional records to members of the Church at home and to the general public from family history centers. The additional records made available though these agreements will provide unprecedented access to indexed records and millions of additional ancestors found. It was a fantastic day of announcements and conference sessions in the world of family history at RootsTech.
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