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Local family history consultant to attend international RootsTech event

TALLAHASSEE – Courtney Newton, a Tallahassee resident and family history consultant for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be in Salt Lake City, Utah Feb. 26-29 for RootsTech 2020, one of the largest family history conferences in the world, drawing attendees from all 50 states and 40 different countries.

Newton will be one of 26,000 attendees at the more than 300 breakout sessions.

Courtney Newton

RootsTech demonstrates that the pursuit of family history isn’t just about dusty records and visits to cemeteries. It’s about photos, stories, and preserving the memories of today. RootsTech 2020 marks the 10th edition of the event. RootsTech brings together both the traditional genealogy techniques and the technology that is advancing the industry (DNA, mobile apps, digital preservation tools).

Notable speakers at the event include Leigh Anne Tuohy, the inspirational subject of the popular movie, The Blind Side; Pulitzer-prize winning and White House photographer David Kennerly; comedian Richard Hamilton and former University of Florida and Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith.

Emmitt Smith

Newton said she likes her calling as a family history consultant in Tallahassee because it gives her the opportunity to help others discover their roots.

“As a family history consultant, I have the opportunity to help others discover, gather, and connect their family across generations,” she said. “As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that families are not only a central part of our lives, but that family relationships will continue beyond this life. We truly believe that families are forever and by doing family history, we are acting on that belief.”

Newton volunteers at the church’s Family History Center on Stadium Drive in Tallahassee, which is free and open to the public.

“I help patrons who are looking to get started with their genealogy or are seeking to find more information about their own family history.”

Newton said her work in family history research has taught her some valuable life lessons.

“Knowing my family history has taught me that I am part of something bigger. That idea is also one I hope to teach my children. The experiences of my ancestors – the good and the bad – shaped who they were. As a family, we can both learn from and draw strength from the experiences of those who have come before us,” she said.

Newton hopes RootsTech 2020 will help her keep pace with changes in family history research so she can be a resource for others.

Paul Nauta, spokesman for FamilySearch, the family history arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said RootsTech 2020 has something for everyone.

“The conference offers classes for all ability levels — from newbies to serious researchers—to help individuals make personal and family discoveries and connections,” Nauta said. “Classes include subjects such as DNA, helpful tools for organization and discovery, best practices for protecting and preserving photos and the latest technology for collecting and sharing family stories.”

Nauta said FamilySearch has added several million records to its library of eight billion searchable names and images as a precursor to the RootsTech event.

More records were also added from American Samoa, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, England, Guatemala, Iceland, Peru, Puerto Rico, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the U.S.

For those unable to attend in person, RootsTech 2020 will stream several sessions live on the website and once the conference is over, some sessions will be available for viewing.