Monday, March 6, 2023

RootsTech Roundup 2023: All the Tools, All the DNA, All the AI, All the Stories

RootsTech 2023 was this past weekend. Here is a short recap of highlights.

RootsTech is a live an virtual conference held yearly each spring. RootsTech is billed as a "a place to learn, to be inspired, and make connections through family history." The conference is live (this being the first  live instance since Covid) at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you are unable to make it to Salt Lake, you can tune into the conference virtually. The most wonderful part about that is that virtual attendance is free and the sessions are available to watch real time or at your convenience. This is a double win for virtual attendees since this weekend in Raleigh was just too beautiful to stay indoors. 

If you were outdoors all weekend, you can still join in the fun and learning after the fact. Watch the RootsTech 2023 virtual sessions here. (You may be required to register or log in. It is free.)

I did manage to hit a sampling of the sessions and came away with several recurring impressions:
  • AI (artificial intelligence) is popping up often as vendors are discovering new ways to harness its power in the field of genealogy.
  • Story telling and story automation (fueled by AI) are the activity of the year.
  • DNA tools and methodology continue to be a steady interest and driver of presentations at this yearly genealogy and tech convention.

Here are some highlights regarding these three topics with links to guide you:

AI (artificial intelligence) 

AI is pervasive in the development of new tools. The Innovation and Tech Forum featured several examples from small start ups to big players like FamilySearch.

At 20 minutes in, Andy Gold of FamilySearch introduced a new tree technology - Computer Generated Trees. These trees are built by location (world wide) using records specific to the area. They are processed in the cloud using machine learning, AI and clustering. These trees focus family structures by creating a scaffolding to store the data to process complex connections quickly. The CGTs are time savers and connection facilitators! (at 27 min)- an online genealogy tree builder with an emphasis on bringing trees to life with vibrant, collaborative stories, introduced a new tool called Story Assist that uses an AI interface to build story drafts that you can edit and craft to your own voice. (at 36 min) - has used  AI to develop technology for identifying family relationships from images for a variety of applications. Could this be the end of all those boxes and albums of unidentified family photos? Can't wait to see if this holds up.

Ericsson (just before 46 min) introduces game changing tech...literally... as they pioneer AI generated virtual experiences created for use in the family history/genealogy market. Don a set of virtual reality goggles and have a visit with your great grandparents or that Viking ancestor from the distant past!

Facilitated Story Telling

In addition to the previously mentioned, you will want to explore these new offerings. introduced Storymaker Studio just as RootsTech was getting started last week. Crista Cowan tells a great story from her family and walks us through the process of building a story with the new tool. Tool details start at about 52 minutes, but, really, watch all of Crista's Anatomy of a Story video.  More information on building stories can be found on the website. is using AI to create stories, too. Craig Miller illustrates how FS is using AI to create stories using records to enhance indivitual profiles in the FamilySearch 2023 video (starts at 16 min in). This new computer generated story panel can be seen by checking any profile and opening the "about" tab. Here is an example of a FamilySearch AI generated story on the page of my great grandfather, William G. Tarleton. (I find the sentence structure kind of clunky. I hope that improves as the tool evolves.)

New DNA Tools 

My Heritage - Color Coding for Family Trees

My Heritage - cM Explainer for finer accuracy in relationship prediction for DNA matches - watch Expanding Your Family Tree with SideView and More AncestryDNA Innovations

DNA Presentations

Diahan Southard - (never miss a Diahan Southard class when it is offered!) 

Should I take a DNA test elsewhere? Or at all?

My Messy Complicated Birth Roots Story

Shared DNA Matches - the only DNA Tool You will Ever Need

Jonny Perl

How third-party DNA tools can help with your family history research

All the DNA topics for 2023

Beginner to Advanced   

Traditional Genealogy offerings

Not mentioned here are the huge number of  traditional genealogy topics for everyone to looking to solve any research problem you can name. View the entire searchable on demand list here.

Be sure to catch this session on research methodology and workflow from Janet Hovorka, Diahan Southard, and Crista Cowan. They are a heavy hitter tag team.  I guarantee you will learn a few new tricks.


Enjoy! I hope you find something that helps your research efforts.

Don't try to take in all this wonderful content at once. As you can see they keep a webinar library and much of the webinars are available for a year or more. So much to learn for free! I hope you will take advantage of all this goodness that RootsTech shares with us.

Visit the Wake County Genealogical Society - Homepage | WCGS Events | Join WCGS | Publications | Digital Resources | History Resources | More Links and Resources | Contact


  1. Great recap, Cyndi! Seeing your summary, I realize the strong trend of story telling. That is near & dear to my heart.