Local organizations team up to offer free family history conference

Sunday , September 04, 2016 - 6:00 AM

RACHEL TROTTER, Standard-Examiner correspondent

OGDEN —Two local organizations are teaming up to help people along the Wasatch Front learn more about their family history.

The Ogden FamilySearch Library and the Weber State University history department have teamed up for the annual “Of Roots and Branches” family history and genealogy conference, which is held every September.

The day-long conference is for all ranges of family historians.


WHAT: “Of Roots and Branches” Conference

WHEN: 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sept. 10

WHERE: Weber State University, Shepherd Union Ballroom, 3910 W Campus Drive, Ogden


Marlin Jensen, Emeritus General Authority for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and former lead Church Historian, is the committee lead for the conference. 

“This is a great way for people who have an interest in family history to get their start,” Jensen said. Jensen and his wife were the keynote speakers at the conference last year, and he found a great love for the conference. “I think that’s how I got involved this year,” he said. 

There will be over 60 classes throughout the day with all ranges. “There will be a heavy emphasis on beginner classes, with some intermediate and advanced classes,” Jensen said.


Keynote speakers will start the conference. This year, WSU history professor Gene Sessions and his wife Shantal will speak. Jensen said Shantal will be speaking about family history of deceased relatives, and Gene Sessions will talk about family history for the living. 

“There is a great historical aspect to this conference,” Jensen said, referencing classes related to DNA and specific classes on how to do family history on countries throughout the world.  

Stephen Felt, one of the head family historians at the Ogden FamilySearch Library, said there will be an appeal for youth historians as well as for the older crowd. “There is something for most everyone regardless of religious beliefs, cultural background or genealogical experience,” Felt said. 

The conference is free, and people can come and go as they please throughput the day or stay for the whole conference. No registration is necessary. Parking is also free.

Felt said there will also be booths with different experts presenting programs they use to make their family history easier and more accessible. Felt said there would be a special “one-on-one assistance” area where people can receive individual help from experts through the day. 

Jensen said there will be three classes taught in Spanish for Spanish speakers. 

“A family can never be better than its stories,” Jensen said. “We all have an interest in knowing her ancestors were and their stories.”

When working with his own family, Jensen has found that working on the family history creates a bigger bond within the family. 

“I think the theme really speaks to what this conference is about — of roots and branches. If we stand in the middle we have our roots and our branches giving birth and going out. At that place there is cohesion and love we find in a family and that’s what this is about,” he said.

For more information about the conference, call the library at 801-626-1132 or visit its website

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