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 new series of the UK series of Who Do You Think You Are? is to open with Julie Walters, on BBC One.
The new UK series of Who Do You Think You Are? is almost with us.
Actress and Novelist Julie Walters CBE will be leading this year’s celebrities, as the show celebrates its 10th year in the UK. The BBC One series begins on Thursday 7th August at 9pm.
Other celebrities going under the researcher’s spotlight are: Brian Blessed, Tamzin Outhwaite, Brendan O’Carroll (who has been rumoured since the last series by the Irish Independent), Sheridan Smith, Mary Berry, Martin Shaw, Reggie Yates, Twiggy, and Billy Connolly.
The series will be preceded by a special documentary about the series’ 10 years of genealogy, on 6th August at 10:35pm, that will look back on the outstanding moments from this award-winning series.
If you’re struggling to wait for the series to begin, and you’re in the UK with use of iPlayer, then check out The Secret History of Our Streets for a fascinating look at urban life in the UK.
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.
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.
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.
This has got me wondering who will be featuring in the forthcoming 2013 series of the UK edition of Who Do You Think You Are?, so I thought that I would employ my research skills to see if I could find out (naturally, I checked Twitter for those on-set spoiler tweets).
Sarah Millican (Comedian)
Comedian and writer Sarah Millican couldn’t be lured into giving any revelations about what is lurking in her ancestry – even after I offered my own prediction:
Day Two of 2013’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live event.
So, I’m just back home from my third Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at London’s Olympia.
The show, now in its second day, seems to be about the same size as in previous years. Thankfully the heating was on, as I’d already experienced the gentle flurry of snow adding to the shivvering I had done on the drab Earls Court station platform.
At one end of the hall were all the local Family History Society stands – brought together by the Society of Genealogists, whilst the rest of the hall is filled with the behemoths of genealogy – the magazines, the suppliers, and the online datashops – Ancestry, FindMyPast, FamilySearch, and GenesReunited etc.
Upstairs, once again was the legend that is Eric Knowles, along with military historians – some in period costume. This whole area was packed with people clutching medals and photos, seeking information on relatives or identification of uniforms.
Following on from last year’s Titanic themedFindMyPast theatre, this year it was the turn of the Crime and Punishment theme (coinciding with their huge launch of fresh C&P records online). Their presenters were informative and entertaining, particularly period policeman Myko Clelland‘s search for Wombles.
The WDYTYALive Tweetup!
I had really wanted to attend what i think was the first ‘tweet-up’, and had been looking forward to meeting up with fellow genealogy twitter users, but awkwardly I was double-booked with the Richard III talk, so I had to bail, although did manage to meet a few twitter friends.
I arrived before 10am, so had plenty of time until my first booked session – the Celebrity Interview with Samantha Womack (or Janus if you remember her in Game On or Eurovision). Interestingly, interviewer Tessa Dunlop led Sam to reveal that she had not watched the broadcast episode as she felt that it was a personal journey and wanted to keep it that way for herself… plus she said she hates seeing and hearing herself.
That aside, we saw a few broadcast clips from key moments, and also a clip that wasn’t in the programme (something seemingly Sam had wanted kept in the show), which revealed much more about her ancestor Jesse Rider being in ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ in the USA before she ever married or had children.
The Two Kings
Dr Turi King‘s (University of Leicester) presentation was fascinating, and detailed the archaeological dig from the outset right up to finding and identifying King Richard III via DNA testing and genealogical research. She also gave an insight into what is still going on with the data and the all important skeleton. Dr King told us that there was still a lot of work to do and a lot of information to write up, and also a modern Y chromosome to follow up on. She emphasised that funding is a major issue in this project and in general in archaeology (a subject which Tony Robinson and Helen Geake also emphasised the other week at the University of Cambridge), and whilst this dig has been back-filled, there were still plenty of things to explore further – including a stone coffin which was left untouched.
The talk buried a few rumours (see what i did there?) circulated by the press – including free DNA tests via Who Do You Think You Are?, and also the rumour that Richard III was buried beneath the letter ‘R’ painted on a carpark. He was not.
Searching for Surnames with SoG
My third and final workshop was one with the great Else Churchill from the Society of Genealogists (affectionately known as SoG). She showed off the Society’s forthcoming much improved website, and also gave an insight into the work and vast collection that the Society performs and maintains. Sounds like the Society has a huge legacy of great and valuable historical sources but they are tied up in a range of formats making them a challenge to see. Still, it sounded like plans were afoot to change this, and the new site would at least make searching those items that are already indexed/catalogued much easier.
All in all, this was probably my most enjoyable WDYTYALive. After my first one being somewhat uninteresting, and my second one (last year) seeing me attend workshops for the first time and getting more value from it, this one built on that but with the added meeting of twitter friends old and new.
I look forward to WDYTYALive 2014 (i’m pretty sure I saw a stand selling next year’s tickets).
The dates for the seventh Who Do You Think You Are? Live genealogy show in London Olympia have been announced for 2013.
Once again, Olympia London plays host to the 7th Who Do You Think You Are? Live genealogy and history show.
I’m excited about the 2013 WDYTYA? Live show which runs from 22nd to 24th February. The event website – which will be properly updated soon – is now counting down to the 3 day genealogy feast. Tickets go on sale on the 7th of November, and in a nod to these tough financial times – the ticket prices are remaining the same price as in 2012!
I first attended in 2011 – a late starter on this front – but having also visited in 2012, I recommend going along. On my first visit, I found myself wandering around, tweeting, and browsing the plateau of stands from societies and those large commercial organisation stands. This can be quite tiring, and whilst there are lots of great stands, not everything will be relevant to you and your research.
In 2012 I booked myself onto a couple of workshops, and found this to be a much better approach to the day – giving me great advice from experts, and also some structure to my day.
I attended the workshops ‘Google Search Strategies for the Family Historian’ bythe brilliant genealogist, author and Genealogy Gems podcaster – Lisa Louise Cooke, and “Breaking the barriers of Social Networking – Strategies and Tricks” with the fantastic Else Churchill (of the Society of Genealogists) keeping an expert panel in order.
If you’re like me, and can’t peel yourself away from social media for any more than five minutes, then I recommend using twitter whilst at the event. In the past, the event has had its own hashtag (a # symbol followed immediately by a word or initialism relating to that specific event).
These hashtags are great for keeping up to date with conversation and inside information about the event whilst at the event! It’s like tuning into the grapevine.
If you are a twitter user, you can get free apps for your smartphone and tablet device that will let you keep track and contribute to the real-time event conversation.
I found this particularly useful and fun, as it enabled me to have conversations with other genealogists at the event. It is even common for people to tweet quotes and advice in real-time from the very workshop they are sitting in!
Look out for the event hashtag in 2013!
You can even take this further by using this conversation to meet up with other tweeting genealogists on the day. This is something that I will be trying to do more at 2013’s event.
Review of my day at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012 (WDYTYA Live) show at Olympia, London – including my top tips for you and for the WDYTYA Live organisers!
Back for my second and consecutive WDYTYA? Live show in Olympia, London.
Last year I was able to catch the entertaining Monty Don, who talked about his experiences of filming his episode and the effect that it had on him. Unfortunately I missed this year’s Emilia Fox, whose episode was heart-wrenching and fascinating.
WDYTYALive workshops and talks
Instead, I had pre-booked myself on to a couple of talks – the first being a keynote workshop organised by the Society of Genealogists and hosted by the brilliantly raconteur (and freshly outed event tweeter) Else Churchill. The topic of the workshop was “Breaking the barriers of Social Networking – Strategies and Tricks”.
By name, it made me quite excited to attend to see if there is anything that I could use in my own research. The session was led by Laurence Harris from MyHeritage, and whilst interesting, it did stray away from social networking – even touching on DNA testing – and did feel a little at times like a product pitch by MyHeritage. However, there were some good ideas at using social media, and Laurence was clear in his descriptions of the benefits, disadvantages and concerns over using social networks and other online platforms as tools for research. He even introduced me to Mocavo – a genealogy-savvy search tool (and kudos to Mocavo for tweeting at me in response to my tweet about them).
This was followed by a Q&A session with a panel of experts who were certainly from quite a wide range of backgrounds – including D. Joshua Taylor from BrightSolid.com (the partners that help deliver FindMyPast), and Lisa Louise Cook (Genealogy Gems, Google expert).
This year, I was also fortunate to meet the brilliant geneageek Lisa Louise Cook after she literally wowed the audience as they frantically scribbled notes during her talk ‘Google Search Strategies for the Family Historian’. What she doesn’t know about using the family of Google products for genealogy research just isn’t worth knowing.
She introduced the audience to ‘search operators’ and how to wield these to make Google search work its hardest for you. I’d never heard of ‘synonym search’ or using a date range tool in my search box, but I know that I will be doing this from now on.
It’s important to remember the hard work that societies do for genealogy – it’s not all down to the big names like Ancestry, FindMyPast or GenesReunited. Who Do You Think You Are? Live gives huge exposure to a vast number of these local societies and I was very pleased to finally meet Carol Noble from the Cambridgeshire Family History Society, who was very helpful and great to talk to – I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for records for her from now on!
I was also pleased to see the Suffolk Family History Society there too, who gave me some inside news about the availability of some more records from Elveden. Lots of other counties were also present – Norfolk’s stand was crawling with people eagerly browsing their books and cd-roms. I was a little bit disappointed to see that the Somerset and Dorset Family History Society didn’t appear to have (unless I totally missed it) anything to buy and take away – ideally I’d love to get my hands on a cd-rom of parish register transcriptions in the style of the CFHS or Suffolk Family History Society – but instead, they were offering look-ups on their computer for £2 each.
Tips for your WDYTYA Live visit
Leave yourself plenty of time if you’re traveling via London Underground – Earls Court station gets very busy and isn’t the easiest to navigate.
Be prepared for lots of walking and standing….. and talking!
Book tickets for the ‘big’ workshops and talks online as early as you can – many of these were sold out weeks in advance.
Tips for WDYTYA Live prior to my next visit
More chairs needed up in the gallery area!
Set up a ‘tweet-up’ lounge space for genealogy twitter chums to meet up in *yikes* real life (!) and talk genealogy social media and tech!
Encourage the Local History societies to put their region name up on the top boards of their stands in big letters – takes ages to track down the county you want!
Nick Barratt with film crew in tow; the legend that is Eric Knowles valuing heirlooms; a man with an incredible moustache; and author Chris Paton wearing a rosette.