Parents at RootsTech Tool on FamilySearch App Reveals Living Relatives
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We can’t even manage to send a Christmas card. What am I supposed to do with over 48,000 living relatives?
Have fun, what is it.
On Sunday, the FamilySearch app notified my phone of a temporary free tool called “Parents at RootsTech.” I’m pretty much going to beg you to try now.
I clicked on it and discovered that I had 35,000 living relatives who had either logged into the relative search function or were registered for RootsTech, the annual FamilySearch conference that begins Thursday and continues through Saturday. .
I posted this on my Facebook page:
Immediately, friends from high school, childhood, and college started commenting. It turned out that we were third cousins once removed, or 11th cousins or ninth cousins twice.
In the middle of it all, someone on Twitter was giving me a hard time. I felt a little salty and wanted to fight back. Then I checked myself with this thought: what if we were fifth cousins? Suddenly, I felt like I belonged to them and needed to know more about them before I answered.
On Wednesday afternoon, the parent tool told me that I had 48,305 parents either registering for the conference or logging into the tool. Some are very close, like my cherished nieces and first cousins. Some are people I maybe should know better, first cousins to whom my grandparents are great-uncles or great-aunts. It’s damn close!
Some are quite far away. One person is my 10th cousin once removed. But our common ancestor is a Captain John Underhill Sr., born in 1597. That’s cool, isn’t it? The distance of the relationship opens up an entirely different world that makes us feel closer.
“We love seeing people make these fun, meaningful connections and discover themselves and their families,” said Paul Nauta of FamilySearch.
I asked Nauta to explain the fascination with the parent tool, but before I tell you what he said, yes, people are fascinated.
Last year, FamilySearch disabled the tool at the end of RootsTech. This year, by popular demand, it will stay on for three weeks afterward, until March 26, so people have more time to message through the app to family connections they find.
And most people will see their connections grow over the next three days.
As of noon Wednesday, more than 600,000 people had signed up for RootsTech. Only 315,000 have logged into the loved ones tool, so the number of loved ones you see now will only increase as the conference begins on Thursday and more people activate the tool.
Nauta and I talked about the war in Ukraine and the divisions people are experiencing in society.
“RootsTech parents, in a very real way, show you how you are part of a big family,” Nauta said. “When you see that you are part of this larger family fabric, it changes the way you see yourself and the people around you. That’s the theme of the RootsTech conference, helping people feel connected in a meaningful way. very family-oriented and to recognize their belonging.
This expanded family fabric makes the world feel, to me, smaller and more connected.
“I think people need unity,” Nauta said. “They need connection. They want to feel part of something bigger. The more personal it is, the more healing and power that comes from that kind of experience.
If you want more connection, you can try the FamilySearch app’s last name tool. It lets you enter two last names so you can choose a friend or another person and see if you are related and how.
If you want more fun, try the famous people tool. Although my great-great-grandfather is George Washington Bean, I am also a distant relative of George Washington (I can’t lie: he’s a second cousin, eight times distant.)
“People are just curious by nature,” Nauta said. “The motivation behind this curiosity differs by age group. For Gen Z, it’s just fun for them to be able to see how many people they’re linked to and share the results. Millennials want to connect. They are fascinated to see relatives they didn’t know in their own age group or their own generation of the family tree that the family doesn’t know about and they haven’t talked about. the link, but also want to know more about this common ancestor that we have.
Nauta is 100% Italian, which means his family tree is not as varied. The parent tool only shows nine of his living relatives who have signed up. A few may not find any, but they are there.
“We are part of one big family of humanity,” Nauta said. “We literally believe that we are all brothers and sisters. If we had the records and the means to stretch the family tree far enough and far enough, we would see that we are all connected in one family tree of humanity.
So let’s see if we’re related. Feel free to message me on Facebook or Twitter, or email me at [email protected] To see your living relatives, click here. To join the RootsTech conference, click here.
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