Day Two: Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016

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.

Maurice Gleeson explains how to identify which bits of your tree give you your X and Y matches.
Maurice Gleeson explains how to identify which bits of your tree give you your X and Y matches.

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.

John Reid examines the evidence in the Richard III case.
John Reid examines the evidence in the Richard III case.

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.

Famberry logo

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.

FamilySearch giving talks on search at their stand.
FamilySearch giving talks on search at their stand.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Look out for deals – Pen & Sword Books had some great deals on today.
  5. 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.

Until tomorrow, happy tree surgery!


Day One: Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016

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…

Ask the Experts - kind of like speed dating for genealogy answers.
Ask the Experts – kind of like speed dating for genealogy answers.

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.

MyHeritage stand at WDYTYALive 2016
MyHeritage stand at WDYTYALive 2016

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.

WW1 in the education zone
WW1 in the education zone

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.


Prof. Mark Jobling of University of Leicester talks demographic history.
Prof. Mark Jobling of University of Leicester talks demographic history.

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.

Myko Clelland (FindMyPast), presenting in the Education Zone.
Myko Clelland (FindMyPast), presenting in the Education Zone.

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:

  1. The wifi was very unstable and mostly useless. In previous years it’s worked a treat.
  2. 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:

  1. The show is in exactly the same place as last year.
  2. There’s some great offers on this year, so have a good browse before you commit.
  3. There’s a beautiful Spitfire parked up at the back of the hall. I heard Else Churchill (Society of Genealogists) landed it there herself.

Get ready for Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016

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!

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016 logoIn 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.

National Archives stand at WDYTYA Live 2015
National Archives stand at WDYTYA Live 2015

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.

Tweet Ups

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:

So, let me know if you’re going too, and feel free to say a ‘hello’ IRL (or via Twitter if it’s less awkward for you) if you see me wandering around.

Happy Ancestor Hunting!


DAY ONE: Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015

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.

Stalls at Who Do You Think You Are? Live
Stalls at Who Do You Think You Are? Live

 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.

Cambridgeshire Family History Society stall
Cambridgeshire Family History Society stall

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.

Remembrance statue at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015
Remembrance statue at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015
FindMyPast 1939 tea room
FindMyPast 1939 tea room

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…


Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 Ticket Discount Offer

The Who Do You Think You Are? Live team have offered a ticket discount for readers of this blog – get 2 adult tickets for just £24.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 ticket website
Enter code AM24 to get 2 tickets for £24.00

I’m looking forward to next week’s WDYTYA? Live show next week – which I’ll be at for all three days.

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.

So, if Who Do You Think You Are? Live is teasing your curiosity – go on, give it a go.

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.


Preparing for Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015

My WDYTYA? Live 2015 tickets have just arrived, and I’ve started my countdown to the show.

My tickets arrived this morning for Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 – the first at the NEC, Birmingham. 

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 tickets arrive
My WDYTYA? Live tickets have arrived.

I’ve opted for all three days Thursday-Saturday 16-18th April, but have not yet completely picked out the expert talks from the wide range of workshop topics that are up this year.

I do have my eye on a few though, including:

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.

For now though, happy tree surgery!


Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 tickets now on sale

The tickets for the 2015 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show have gone on sale – but this time it’s moving to NEC Birmingham. Will you be going this year?

The tickets for the 2015 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show, have gone on sale.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 ticket website
The WDYTYA? Live 2015 website started taking ticket sales today.

The show, which arrives at NEC, Birmingham, for the first time this year, once again spans three days – 16-18th April.

Tickets are at £16 for 1 day (adult), £26 for 2 days, or £33 for all three days. You can buy them online from the seetickets website. The show repeats its VIP ticket type (I did this once, and it was nice to have front seats in workshops..).

Once again, it looks like a great varied range of topics, and the ticket page lists the titles of the topics for each day.

Its move to the venue, came after many months of speculation and fear amongst fans and exhibitors before it was officially announced (or as I blogged the leak earlier!). Its move was perhaps forced by the closure of Earls Court exhibition centre – which resulted in events being squeezed out of Olympia and into other venues like London ExCel (which I am very pleased the show didn’t end up in, as it’s awkward to get to!).

I attended all three days of the 2014 show, and I’m drawn to doing that again as I had a really good time. However, this was added to by also being in London – a city I am familiar with. This time, Birmingham is somewhere I’m not familiar with, so perhaps this time it might take some extra planning on my part – not least the journey there.. which is far more complicated.

Will you be going?

CONFIRMED: Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 goes to Birmingham NEC

Who Do You Think You Are? Live confirm that their 2015 show will be held on 16-18th April at Birmingham NEC.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live logoAs reported here in April, the Who Do You Think You Are? Live team have confirmed their venue for 2015 – as Birmingham NEC.

After quizzing a few stall holders at WDYTYA? Live 2014, I realised that they’d not been asked to return to Olympia in 2015, and that there were no ‘earlybird’ tickets for 2015’s show on sale.

After I checked, I found that Olympia’s diary was already full without the show. With Earls Court being demolished, and (thankfully) the show didn’t move to London Excel, rumours about Birmingham began to appear on social media.

It wasn’t until April, when my local Cambridgeshire Family History Society‘s newsletter announced the move, that all the rumours seemed to point in one direction – to Birmingham.


Today, in the announcement, along with the new venue confirmation, comes the offer of rail discount on Virgin trains.

There’s also another change – the dates have moved – 16th-18th April, rather than the usual February dates.

Ancestry, the show's sponsor, at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014
Ancestry will continue to sponsor Who Do You Think You Are? Live in 2015.

How does this change affect you? Will you have an easier journey? Does this now mean that you will be able to attend more than one day?

I still plan to attend all three again (I don’t know why I didn’t do that in previous years – it was so much more fun), but will need to work out the most efficient way to get there, as it may not be train.

See you there?

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 goes to Birmingham

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 to be held at the Birmingham NEC.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live logoBack in February, whilst at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in London, I picked up on some quiet concerns about the 2015 show.

Some people who were working on the stands were confused that they’d not yet been given the option to book for the following year’s show.

I also noticed that attendees weren’t being sold advance tickets (like some 2014 tickets were being sold from a small ticket booth at the 2013 show).

Was the three day event ending? Was it changing venues due to the imminent demolition of Earls Court and the subsequent squeezing of available exhibition space?

The answer seems to have come today, when I received my quarterly journal from the great team at The Cambridgeshire Family History Society.

In the corner of page 20 is a small advert stating that they ‘have been advised’ that the 2015 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at the Birmingham NEC.

The Cambridgeshire Family History Society informing readers of the WDYTYALive venue change.
The Cambridgeshire Family History Society informing readers of the WDYTYALive venue change.

Whilst the official show website doesn’t currently mention the venue change yet, I’d heard this rumour floating around social media. It’s nice to finally see it for myself in print.

In the meantime, Glasgow will be playing host to a special Who Do You Think You Are? Live show on 29-31st August.

How would this venue change affect you if you plan to attend the 2015 WDYTYA show? Birmingham is about 1.5hrs drive west for me, or 2.5hrs by train (which involves travelling 1hr south to London, then 1.5hrs back up north). I might see if i can find a better plan – curse you Dr Beeching!