Dennis Brimhall is the current President and CEO of FamilySearch International, the family history arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since FamilySearch International is the main sponsor of RootsTech it was very natural that Elder Brimhall would be the first keynote speaker and introduce all the events and speakers to follow.
Elder Brimhall covered many significant changes and coming events in the world of family history. He spoke about how stories are very significant. It is stories that attract more people to the field of family history. Specifically he talked about the new feature to FamilySearch Family Tree where photos, documents and stories can be uploaded to Family Tree. It is called Memories. He said that 150,000 patrons have uploaded 2 million memories and 12 million sources to Family Tree. There are 500 stories being added every day and some of them are even true. (This was a joke and a disclaimer, I think.)
He told about the new LDS church booklet (1.7 million copies) about families which is for those who are doing family history without access to a computer. He said that a cell phone app is being developed and told about many teenagers in South America who do not have computers, but they do have cell phones.
Captain Jack Starling (a FamilySearch employee dressed up as a pirate) joined Elder Brimhall on stage to talk about indexing and specifically about the new obituary indexing project. See some previous posts I have made about Captain Jack.
Probably the most exciting announcement was of a partnership with Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and FindMyPast.com which will get the contents of the Granite Mountain Vaults online within a generation instead of within 200 years. I was excited to learn that eventually members of the LDS Church will have free access to these other websites. But I didn't learn this from Elder Brimhall's talk, it was in the Deseret News for that day.
Elder Brimhall also told us about the Puzzilla feature of FamilySearch and what a great aid it is to performing descendancy research. Elder Brimhall introduced the next two speakers for Thursday morning, Annelies van den Belt and Ree Drummond.