The postman brings a reminder that some serious genealogy indulgence is right around the corner. Well, 83 miles West.
I’ve been so busy lately – for the last five months I’ve been helping my parents to clear my late uncle’s house, whilst also going through a house sale myself, and preparing to move in about 5 weeks time… but amidst all that chaos comes a treat, and I was reminded of this this morning when my postman made my letterbox rattle.
This year I’ve opted to just attend 2 days – Thursday 6th and Friday 7th April. For the last few years I’ve done all 3 days, but as I need to be packing up, and paying solicitor bills(!!), I’ve opted for just 2.
The show is once again at NEC Birmingham, which I’ve found has continued to be just as enjoyable as when the show used to be in London.
I’m not sure which talks I want to attend yet, but I’ll be browsing the timetable real soon – suspecting that I’ll be magnetised for my usual nerdfest over the latest DNA innovations in genealogy, and insights into newspaper archives.
I’ll be keeping an eye on twitter for more of the now traditional ‘tweetup’ flash events (that’s a meet up arranged via Twitter, usually involving a photo of the attendees – like the one below, which I’m probably going to get in trouble for digging up once again! 😀 ).
As the sun sets on Day Two of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016, I take a look at some of my favourite bits.
Having walked more than 10,000 steps around Day Two of Who Do You Think You Are? Live, I’m now sat in my hotel with my feet up as we head towards the finale of this, the show’s 10th Anniversary year.
As with Day One, I threw myself into the DNA themed talks again, and enjoyed some great sessions from Maurice Gleeson who gave a fascinating guide at how to identify which bits of your family are giving you which bits of DNA, and in turn help you work out where your DNA matches match up with you.
Later on, I returned to listen to John Reid talk about the case of Richard III and how research led to a 99.9994% certainty that the skeleton was the former king.
Each step in his talk presented the varying pieces of evidence, at which point he’d ask if we believed it was the dead king without doubt. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t until mt-DNA that the audience felt reassured that the body wasn’t just someone random. John made the great point that ‘DNA is not a trump card’, and emphasised that it’s just another source to examine and consider.
As a tech nerd, who builds websites and loves using tech to tell stories, a talk titled Technologies For Timelines led me to stand for a few minutes in the morning for my £3 workshop ticket.
Ron Arons talked impartially about a wide range of online tools and desktop software that can be used to turn family history data into interesting interactive content – maps, timelines, and map timelines hybrids. He also covered a few of the pros and cons too.
Speaking of timelines, I bumped into Steve Bardouille from the team at Famberry, who showed me their latest demo.
The site’s interface has changed somewhat since I last saw it, with a load of customisation features for users, and a really slick timeline and tree building feature.
I was also really excited to see what looks like a new idea to reach the geneasphere – pulling in the data from unclaimed estates, and looking for matches.
I returned to the Society of Genealogists section, to find the Lincolnshire Family History Society, and with my iPad to hand carrying my synced Reunion11 tree, the team on the stand were exceptionally helpful and kindly spent time with me to see if I could extend my Watson family tree knowledge. I came away with an index CD for records covering the parish of Fleet and its neighbours, and a handful of leaflets.
Once again, the show allowed me to meet and catch up with geneafriends old and new (or perhaps longstanding and recent is better), and I look forward to tomorrow’s final part of the WDYTYA? Live 2016 trilogy.
Tips for tomorrow:
There were plenty of train delays for arrivals coming in from Birmingham New Street, and a few from Coventry. If you’re coming by train, give yourself plenty of time if you’ve paid for your workshop tickets already. In theory, delays tomorrow could be horrific given the potential visitor levels for a weekend day.
The Breakfast Sandwich (bacon and fried egg – yum!) from the café is a great set-up for a busy morning, but have a wander around the NEC complex as there’s plenty of less busy and competitive food outlets…including a quiet Starbucks down some stairs.
The wifi is unreliable, but I was able to find the battery-eating 4G. If you’re hungry for wifi, simply step out of Hall 2 (re-entry is permitted with a hand-stamp).. there’s loads of stable, powerful, free wifi there.
Look out for deals – Pen & Sword Books had some great deals on today.
If you’re a Twitter user (follow me on @familytreeuk) then look out for tweets with #wdytyalive and #tweetup – giving you opportunities to meet fellow genea-nerds just like you, over a coffee in real life.
Day One of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016 is over…. So what is this year’s show like?
The first of the three days of the 2016 Who Do You Think You Are? Live (or WDYTYALive to cut it short) show in Birmingham has passed, and day 2 is galloping towards us…
Now into its second year at the NEC, the show has certainly made its home here, and the days of the two floor Olympia are now heading further into my foggy reminiscence.
This is also the 10th Anniversary show, not that you can tell yet, but whilst it took me a few years to start attending, the years have seemingly flown by.
As I wandered around today, I got the feeling that maybe the stands were a little more spread out, or maybe simply less imposing. It felt like there was plenty of space to move around, and it was pretty easy to get up close to talk to people or browse products.
Gone is the exciting 1939 themed café that marked Find My Past’s launch of the 1939 Register, and the number of WWI themed stands seemed to have reduced a little. However, the formation of the Education Zone (including a lecture theatre, and close-up WWI artefacts) feels like a great addition to the show.
Ancestry, the show’s sponsor, dominates the entrance again with what feels like a stand that’s twice the size of last year. This year they are still showcasing their DNA autosomal test (yeah, I bought another one), and this time they’re offering it at £59 – that’s abt 40% off and cheaper than last year (£70 I think).
DNA is still a hugely hot topic, and there’s plenty of other stands offering kits and advice on this subject. There’s also a specific DNA lecture theatre, covering a range of topics and a range of levels.
Having discovered what appears to be my surprise Jewish ancestor, I had plans to seek advice today – and the team at the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain stand, who were able to give me a few pointers as to where I could seek more records to help unravel the mystery.
It was also great to see what the Societies were offering, and I made sure that I visited my home teams of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire to see what they had to offer.
There’s always so much to take in with the societies, because they produce such a wide range of materials or publish some fantastically niche record sets of which some are so specific and small scale that the larger companies would never find them financially viable. You also get to speak with people with that specific local knowledge – go see them!
Couple of down sides this year:
The wifi was very unstable and mostly useless. In previous years it’s worked a treat.
There was a theft of a purse and a camera, so it’s a reminder to keep your valuables close to you at all times
On the up side this year:
The show is in exactly the same place as last year.
There’s some great offers on this year, so have a good browse before you commit.
There’s a beautiful Spitfire parked up at the back of the hall. I heard Else Churchill (Society of Genealogists) landed it there herself.
The 10th annual Who Do You Think You Are? Live UK show is almost here, but what will this year’s show bring?
When I booked my tickets to the 2016 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show, it felt like such an unbearable time to have to wait for, but as my tickets plopped onto my doormat this week, I realise it’s almost time to go, and I feel ill-prepared for it!
In just a few days time (7-9th April), the Birmingham NEC will be host to a veritable banquet of genealogical talks, services, suppliers and societies, and thousands of genealogists and family historians.
Last year I was apprehensive of the shift from London’s Olympia to Birmingham, but as with that old saying of ‘you don’t know until you try‘, I tried and found that actually it was quite a nice simple alteration to my annual pilgrimage.
WDYTYA? Live 2016 ‘hot topic’?
I’ll be there for the best part of all three days again, and I’m hoping to attend plenty of keynote and workshop talks, catch-up with a number of genealogy chums, and enjoy immersing myself into the show’s 10th year.
Last year’s show was full of stands and talks all about the First World War centenary, and DNA testing (I bought two kits from AncestryDNA), and I don’t doubt that this year will see any decline in conversations about those two subjects.
WDYTYA Live is also a great place to get to see brand new or forthcoming new record sets and online tools. Last year was the 1939 Register that was proudly unveiled by FindMyPast and The National Archives (the video below includes some of the launch entertainment). The year before, it was the Lives Of The First World War project from The Imperial War Museum and FindMyPast.
I’m wondering what this year’s ‘topic’ or theme is going to be?
Finding new ideas and tools
Personally, I’m looking for storage solutions – both physical and digital. Yes, there is Dropbox and Google Drive, and those acid-free wallets and photo pouches etc, but I need something along the lines of ResourceSpace (Open Source and free) with Dropbox attached to it, at a family historian price-tag level, not a Reuters photo catalogue price-tag. I’ll also be looking out for ideas with my Assistant Archivist hat on for The Littleport Society, as we have a ton of artefacts to store.
I’m also keen to find out about Jewish records, after an unexpected twist in my Tabraham tree seems to have suggested that I have a Jewish part of my family. A group of Tabraham surname-holders turn up in a parish church baptism record – each have their parents un-named, and each comes with the note ‘a Jew’. I’d like to find out whether this was a common practice, and why, and whether there are any Jewish records that compliment these Anglican church baptisms that might have a bit more information.
I’m also interested in finding out more about accessing divorce records or simply just seeing if a divorce is recorded as having happened (yes, I’m trying to determine whether I’ve found a bigamist with two concurrent growing families in my tree), and I’m hoping that the GRO will be back again to talk about it’s aims of turning their postal certificate service into an order/download service similar to the Find A Will service.
I’m also looking forward to seeing all the Society of Genealogists stands – I find these stands fascinating as there’s usually so much knowledge at a local level, and you don’t get that with the larger silent pay>click here>download genealogy big brand services.
As ever, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for some of the many #tweetups that take place over the three days where Twitter users meet each other IRL (that’s ‘In Real Life’ in web-speak) for a ‘hello’, group photo, and extra tweeting camaraderie over a coffee.
These are usually tweeted out a while in advance, so keep your eyes peeled for them. Here’s a little one I went to last year:
Summary of my third and final day at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 show at Birmingham NEC, including my favourite stand, and ticket dates for the 2016 show.
Well, that’s it! The 2015 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show is over.
If you went along, what did you think? Did you enjoy it? Was Birmingham NEC up to the job? Are you going next year? Did you think it was busy?
Once again, I really enjoyed the show – it was lovely to see familiar faces and brands, and also meet new ones too, and learn lots of new ‘old’ things. (Check out my Day One and Day Two posts!)
Having checked out of my hotel in Coventry, and stepped off the train at Birmingham, I noticed that there was a ‘Tweet up’ (essentially, a group of twitter users, who arrange a time/place to meet up via twitter, and so extending the invite to a wide audience) about to happen, so a quick diversion via the courtyard, gave us a wonderfully sunny set of Tweet Up photos.
After this, I made my way back into the show and noticed that the workshop ticket queue had reduced down nicely, so joined it behind a senior couple. Sadly, the woman in the couple was taking issue with the queuing system ‘this is the third day, and they haven’t managed to sort it out! The third day!’ she repeated to her silent male companion, and promptly decided to snap at the helpful ticket lady, who kept her cool perfectly.
I hope you’re reading this – you should have seen the queue earlier. The ticket team seemed to be doing a great job.
Turning around, I could see that the AncestryDNA stand was already doing booming business, again echoing just how much ‘DNA’ is this year’s buzz-word. I wonder just how many kits they sold over the three days? (and whether the testing period might become elongated?). I can only assume that the more kits that are sold in the UK, means that the data gets bigger, and the potential for more DNA matches increases.
Moving on a little, I stumbled across Linda Kerr (from The International Society of Genetic Genealogy – or ISOGG) giving a talk on DNA for Absolute Beginners – her talk seemed very clear and straightforward, and whilst the buzz about DNA was resonating through a lot of companies this year, it was great to see that the basics were being covered too. I loved how my photo captured ‘Does not replace traditional research’. A very good point!
I then headed over to the very well stocked stand at My History and picked up a load of archive safe photo pockets.
I have a large collection of small 1930-1950s photographs in my grandmother’s photo albums, but when you pick them up, the photos all fall out because the sticky pages have dried up.
Hopefully this should help sort, store, and put them safely back in order.
I think that out of all of the stands, my favourite design was The National Archives – i found it visually striking, wonderfully themed and lit. Of course, the 1939 Tea Rooms from FindMyPast, were wonderful too.. but it’s hard to compare them as their purpose was so different.
My 2015 Who Do You Think You Are? Live take-aways
Death Duty Records are a big, exciting, mess, and a trove of information (Day Two via Dave Annal)
‘The spoon’ isn’t quite as exciting as I’d hoped (Day Two via Eric Knowles)
It’s dribbling, not swabbing time, in the Martin households (Day One via AncestryDNA)
I walked 29,454 steps over these three days – the equivalent to 12.81 miles. Most of this would be inside the venue.
One thing I noticed this year, was that my enthusiasm for a third day was waining by midday. In London, if I dipped out early, I knew enough of London and had enough friends there, that I could pop out for a bit and do something else and head back, or head out early, but here at the NEC, it didn’t feel like that. Maybe next year, I might cut down to 2 days unless there’s some specific lure to keep me there/busy.
Don’t get me wrong, the show is really worthwhile, but as a family historian, whose ancestors have struggled to move more than 10 miles within Cambridgeshire over the last 420+ years, it’s really only the ‘generic’ talks and stands that give me the extra value. Learning about Irish roots, or researching Scottish records, or visiting a specific locale society stand, will be hard to apply to my somewhat almost ‘insular’ research territory.
Having said that, I’ve not done my DNA test yet… so that could all change. I’m still guessing Scandinavian is going to be in there.
I’m yet to hear of the official figures for this newly re-homed show, but I did hear that day two (Friday) was busier than the first day.
My brain struggled to imagine whether the show itself was bigger – as Olympia was always spread across a main hall and a mezzanine, with a few of the talks held off in rooms to the site, and the aisles between stands were about 1/3rd narrower than those in the NEC. It’s difficult to compare.
Day Two of the Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 show at Birmingham NEC is over, and the final day is coming!
If you’re yet to tread the halls of this year’s show, then here’s what you missed in Day Two.
Right near the front of the entrance is the show’s main sponsor, in prime space – Ancestry. I’ve had my account with these guys (and FindMyPast) for some time, and this year the team are going all guns to promote their AncestryDNA product.
Essentially this consists of a kit, that you can buy and register on their site, and then use to take a swab sample of DNA. Post them off, and then your results are returned to you online about 6-8 weeks later, via your Ancestry account.
The results will then give you an ethnicity estimate (I’m hoping for Vikings and old Saxons), and then it will give you leads to other people who have taken the test on AncestryDNA, where they have found matching DNA.
I’ve picked up two kits, as I was curious, and my mother has been far more excitedly curious about her DNA for some years. I guess that with all the other kits around, and with the recent discovery, questioning and burial of Richard III, the DNA market is booming.
I’ll write more about the tests another time – so keep posted!
Day Two was definitely busier, and even though the aisles are wider between stands (most noticeably amongst the Society of Genealogists Family History stands) they were still thick with busy, eager, genealogists looking for the next clue.
As with yesterday, where I was able to catch Alec Tritton talk about the many wonders of The Parish Chest, and caught some of Jayne Shrimpton talking about the dating of 80s and 90s photographs (1880s/1890s, okay!), today I was able to catch some more.
The first was from Dave Annal who gave a fascinating talk on the FindMyPast stand, on Death Duty Registers. I could tell that it was something to do with death and taxes, but beyond that I had no idea what they would contain. As a source, they look like the fantastically messiest, chaotic and cryptic set of possible information ever (beyond Doctor’s notes!).
Later, I briefly caught the team at FamilySearch, who gave me a lovely warm reminder about the years of research I’ve put in working my way through microfilm. They themselves are in the midst of a big project to digitise microfilm, and are looking for volunteers to process batches of transcripts so that everything can become much easier to search. I don’t think that this was new news, but it was good to hear what they are up to.
Finally, I sat in on Copyright and Family History – a talk by Margaret Haig from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). She gave a fascinating talk on the law and the minefield of copyright when it comes to family history. There were loads of questions after, but I poppe along to their stand to ask them my one: Who owns the copyright of a Will? The answer I was given was that they are not under copyright because they are not a creative piece, they’re a commissioned piece of work that follows a formulaic formal process. This wasn’t really the answer I was expecting.
I managed to meet Eric Knowles, and he was able to shed light on my mystery spoon… But I’ll write more about that soon too!
Blog post from Day One of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015.
Well, here we are, the end of Day One of the 2015, re-homed Who Do You Think You Are? Live show, at Birmingham NEC. Its been a long day, involving driving from Cambridgeshire to Coventry (where I’m staying), then onto the train for the token £2.10 return trip to Birmingham International station, which adjoins the venue. I spent the entire day on my feet, wandering around, sat in on some talks, and then went to the 1939 Register launch celebration by the team at FindMyPast. Then, train back, a gym work out, and now to my hotel room to write this.
The new venue
I’m new to the NEC and it seems perfectly adept at putting on shows. Briefly, due to the volume of posters as I walked towards the show, I thought I was about to arrive at a Transit Van show… but thankfully, no. The familiar tree logo was in sight and I arrived about 10:15am. Once in, I wandered in, and over to the FindMyPast stand where I sat in on a talk on Military Records and the extra features of the FindMyPast tree (audio!).
Having soon gotten my bearings, I found myself checking out the Society of Genealogists family history show section of the event – the bit where the Societies come together and have stands. I was pleased to see Carol from my home team (Cambridgeshire Family History Society) was busy at their stand, but noted the absence of neighbouring Societies from Huntingdonshire and Bedfordshire.
Right at the end of the hall were two great additions, one was a beautiful statue of a soldier, commemorating the First World War, and the statue was within a wind machine, that periodically would blow poppies upwards and you could then watch them drift down over the still, silent, soldier. Very poignant.
The other, was the 1939 Find My Past tea room, set up to promote/celebrate the forthcoming release of the 1939 Register – the nearest thing we’ll get to a census for 30 years, due to the destruction of the 1931 census and the cancellation of the 1941 census, both due to war.
It was also in this tea room, that an aftershow party was hosted, with various speakers, Society representatives and experts… and your humble bloggers, were treated to live wartime songs, and 1939 style food (I enjoyed the corned beef hash cakes more than I thought).
Anyway, that’s some bits from the first day… So how better than to end on a song…
The WDYTYALive? team have kindly given me a special discount code to pass on to you – meaning you can get 2 tickets for just £24.
If you’re not sure about attending, I can say that I honestly know exactly how you feel.
It took me a few years to want to come to such an event – I was confused as to why I would want to come to a large London-based building (as it was), to see/hear/talk about something to do with the TV show. As usual, curiosity got the better of me though, and I’m grateful of it.
In the few years that I’ve been attending, I’ve since found the event a wholy enjoyable experience – where I learn so much, discover some great resources and tips from those who have been researching for much longer than I have, and get to meet and learn about great new innovations and record sets from a wide range of large and small companies.
Add to this, the means of meeting up with fellow bloggers and genealogy twitter users.
It’s since become a genuine highlight of my genealogy and actually, my social calendar.
You can use this discount code AM24 at the WDYTYA? Live ticket site. Just enter it in the ‘Code’ box near the top of the screen, click ‘Use Code’. Then scroll down a little, and you’ll see that the option to buy ‘Adult 2 for £24’. Select ‘2’ and then you can complete the payment as usual.
Thanks to the WDYTYA Live team for this offer, and I hope to see some of you at the show.
I’ve also opted to stay in nearby Coventry, so will be hopping onto the train for a few minutes east > west each day.
I do have a few ‘to-dos’ though:
Sync the Reunion10 files on my iPad. I found this so useful last year, when I was able to talk to the Devon Family History Society, and compare what was in their database with what was in my tree without folders of papers to wade through.
Collect a spoon from my mother. Yes, a spoon. I’m hoping to show this spoon to Eric Knowles, in a bid that he might use his expertise to give it a date that may reveal that it is more likely to be one of the spoons that an ancestor went to court over, after being accused of theft, and was found not guilty by a jury because of conflicting evidence. Does this carefully handed-down spoon have significance. More on that after the show!
If you’re going to the show (tickets still seem to be available), how are your preparations coming along? Any workshops that you’re interested in attending? Or maybe you’re one of the presenters – in which case, are you ready?
I’m also really looking forward to re-connecting with those people who I’ve met at previous shows, and who i’ve enjoyed the discussions and witty comments from on this blog and other social media. The event really helps to make that spare room hobby, feel like part of a combined effort to preserve the history, heritage, and collective memories of generations.