How did i get on with completing my 2014 Genealogy Resolutions? Did I kill off my evil Gtx4 Grandmother? Did I write that book?…
You might remember that I continued my tradition of setting myself some genealogy themed New Year Resolutions (or ‘Genealogy Resolutions’ as I’m calling them). These were 5 aims for my research during 2014.
Well, in true genealogy style (and as I’m sure many of you will be able to associate with), I got sidetracked.
Anyway, here’s the results:
1. Find More Photos
I managed to find some ‘new’ photos of my ancestors thanks to the kindness of people emailing me, or through the hints on Ancestry, and through exploring the brilliant Cambridgeshire Community Archives Network (CCAN) – a big, online, free-to-use archive of Cambridgeshire images. I’m sure there’s similar ones of these for other areas as the concept is hardly new, but this archive contains quite a few of my ancestors.
However, I didn’t write to the more distant relatives that I had planned to, so I need to pick that up.
My scanned and tagged photo collection in iPhoto, now contains 258 recognised faces. I think that’s quite a nice achievement.
I took a gamble earlier in the year and ordered a certificate, but failed to get the right person.
A lead from the ever helpful Arthur Bird of the Suffolk Family History Society, has pointed me in the direction of Oulton, and a death there, and subsequent burial at a workhouse. If this is her, then I may find that her body has recently been exhumed, or is in fact now beneath, or at least amongst, a modern housing estate.
My next Death Certificate purchase will be the one to confirm/disprove this.
3. Spending 3 Days at Who Do You Think You Are? Live
Whilst I’ve been attending the WDYTYA? Live show for a few years now, 2014 was the first year that I spent all three days there at the London show. I really enjoyed myself, and I’m pleased to say that I felt like I got more out of it, and was really pleased to be able to meet up with familiar faces that I’ve only otherwise ‘spoken to’ via social media.
The mass of Yarrow infant births and deaths in Stretham and Little Thetford, and the Martin ones in Little Downham, leave me with a set of certificates to purchase.
This one will have to wait a bit longer.
5. Write that book (or at least start!)
Whilst ‘the book’ remains nothing more than an idea, I have at least been exploring this further even if I haven’t really put too many words down. I do have a few thousand words tucked away in Evernote, but it’s more notation than book.
I’m still stuck as to whether I’d pitch for a novel based on one or a few stories, or stick to a hard fact book, but, as someone who became terminally thrilled by genealogy when I discovered an old tree and some Victorian photos, I’m wondering whether I should aim for something far more visual.
So, I completed one, three are in progress, and one I did’t do.
As with resolutions, it’s easy to sit there and come up with them, but the delivery can be difficult – particularly when you find yourself chasing a new and interesting story 5 ancestors away from where you meant to be.
I’ll reveal my New Year Genealogy Resolutions for 2015 shortly, but in the meantime…
Day Three – the final day of the 2014 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at London’s Olympia.
I’m writing this at the end of the third and final day of Who Do You Think You Are? Live. I’m home, and can honestly say that I throughly enjoyed myself.
I arrived at about 9:45 this morning, after yet another wonderful walk through Hyde Park in the sunshine (still definitely Winter mode). Whilst there was no queue outside Olympia, I managed to get in just before the mass of visitors who were walking over from Olympia station arrived at the doors.
I must confess that I didn’t make it to Michael Gandy’s talk – I chose it as I briefly have a family that lived in London for about 10 years, and occasionally through history a marriage turns up in its parishes. The queue was long, and so I decided to bail, and regret missing it based on the comments I’ve since heard and seen on twitter.
However, I am very glad that I finally caught a Celia Heritage talk though, as her talks and work has always come with such positive praise. Plus, I’ve really been enjoying reading Wills and even the Probate Calendars that I’ve found on Ancestry.co.uk.
I’ve got copies of Wills that hint at family feuds, and ones that detail every spoon and bowl. Those latter ones don’t seem like much now, but as Celia’s talk suggested, it wasn’t just the better-off people that wrote them.
Through case studies from her own tree, Celia was able to show how it is important to view the full Will, as they carry so much information about relationships (not just siblings, spouses, and children, but cousins can turn up too), and locations. She also highlighted the importance of looking around at the same surname in roughly the right area, and seeing whether you can find some potential connections in Wills – in a hope that their Wills will mention your branch and help link it all together.
I soon found it wasn’t really that kind of event, and that I should use the show to learn about new techniques, new technology, and discover about new resources that can help my breakthroughs, and for the years since, I’ve stuck to this notion.
So it was a surprise to find myself sitting alongside the very helpful Terry Leaman – Vice-Chairman of the Devon Family History Society looking at a baptism list of my Babbage relatives.
Thankfully, my iPad has Reunion 10 (Mac only genealogy software) on it, so I was able to jump straight into the right tree and check my current research against the results – it matched – and with a few extra children in their records, and a completely new set of baptism dates for all of them to add to my research. A quick print-out and donation later, and I was off to sit down and add the data to my files.
There were a few tweet-ups this year, and I managed to get in on one of them, and serendipitously right in the foreground of the commemorative photo. As ever, it was great to meet new people, finally meet some not-so-new Twitter/blogging chums, and to once again see friends made at previous shows.
Here’s one tweet-up photo from genealogist Luke Mouland..
If you’re intrigued as to quite what a ‘tweet-up’ is, or concerned about what people do at a ‘tweet-up’, then essentially it’s an impromptu small-scale flashmob, organised via Twitter, where people turn up to meet those sometimes anonymous/faceless Twitter users, or to meet up with Twitter users that you’ve got to know well. Tea, coffee, or alcohol is usually consumed.
Bonding over genealogy (and a hotdog)
Just prior to the tweet-up, I sat upstairs reading emails, when a retired man asked if he could sit at my table to eat (as there were no other free tables). Of course I didn’t refuse, and so we got chatting. He said that he’d travelled from Essex and that this was the second day for him, but his first ever visit to a show like this. He said he’d been meaning to come to something like this for ’20 years or more’, but just hadn’t found the right show.
He said he’d been enjoying the talks on day one, and was going to spend his second day looking around the stands.
We talked for about 15 minutes in all, about the WDYTYA? TV show (he isn’t a fan of celebrity culture, and we both kind of nodded in agreement), and we talked about all the great innovations, and how we’d both done our stints sifting through microfiche, film, registers, and transcripts for hours looking for names that were never there.
I’ve no idea who he was, but just for those 15 minutes, the world got a little bit smaller, and that wonderful ability of genealogy to bond people together, proved once again to have worked at ease without boundaries. I left him finishing off his hotdog, and made my way over to the IWM demo I’d booked….
I’m really keen to get using this site, and was also keen to find out about tagging people in a photo (which could be a war memorial), and also about the educational programme that I hope is sitting behind this site, and the opportunity for it to become a key resource in classrooms and universities.
I also met up with Steve Bardouille and Ola Dada from the team at Famberry – a relatively new, but fairly well established in the US company, that is specialising in creating secure spaces and tools for people to privately build family trees in collaboration with a closed or invite-only audience.
They’d been talking to a few different people at the show, and wanted to meet with me to find out what thoughts I had about what I’d want to see from their product as a family history researcher, as they are keen to grow their UK audience.
2015 at Olympia, London?
As the show had moved forward a weekday, there was no opportunity for Sunday visitors. This had let me to wondered whether the would-be Sunday visitors would turn up today, and it certainly seemed to be the case. It was much busier than Thursday and Friday, and at a guess, it was a busier Saturday than last year.
Day One’s (Thursday) visitors seemed to be on par with this year’s (and previous) Friday visitors, so I’m not entirely sure that the change has done the show any favours (last year saw 13,941 visitors). Couple this with the end of the District Line rail service from Earls Court to Olympia during the week (it only ran today), and it feels like it’s getting difficult for the 3 day show to stay at Olympia.
After speaking with a couple of reliable sources on stands, I realised that there was no mention of next year’s show. Usually by now, we’ve heard that the following year’s show dates, and last year I remember seeing a stand selling tickets to this year’s show. But nothing.
Is there something going on? Is the show to end? Or are we to shift location? Hopefully not London Excel (I find it dreadful to get to – another show I go to, has just switched to there, so I’m no longer attending). Maybe, as rumour rumbles, Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 will be in Birmingham? We’ll just have to wait and see.
I thought i’d try to get the answer myself from the WDYTYALive team’s twitter account, but maybe they can’t confirm anything just yet. I’ll let you know if I get a reply.
Hey @WDYTYALIVE there seems to be a quiet concern over whether there will be a 2015 show. Any news? #wdytyalive
In better news (well, for me at least), I found Olympia’s wifi was finally flawless. I can only hope that it’s the same quality/system at Earls Court 2, where I’m visiting on Tuesday.
So, in conclusion, I really enjoyed the show. I really enjoyed all three days. I enjoyed my hotel stay and beautiful Hyde Park ‘commute’. As ever the SOG workshop speakers were brilliant, and the mixture of stands really helped to fuel my time in-between the talks.
Thank you, to the team at Who Do You Think You Are? Live, to the team at the Society of Genealogists, and to the team at Olympia.
Day Two of the 2014 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at London’s Olympia.
After a late night at the annual FindMyPast dinner, i creaked out of bed and headed across a beautifully sunny (but assuringly still Winter) Hyde Park for the second of three days at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014. I’m quite enjoying this ‘commute’!
I got to Olympia just a few minutes after opening, but there was no queue. A small queue remained at the cloakroom and the workshop ticket desk, but both were fast moving.
Her talk covered how to approach family history for magazines and newspapers, how to pitch to editors, and how to get writing.
She highlighted that when writing, you should always think about the reader. The audience. Who are they? Will they want to read this? She also advised that when writing an article, you should start with your best anecdote, and end on one too.
Do mention the War
After Cassie’s talk finished, I then spent time exploring the stands over in the new Military History section on the upper floor.
Here I found The National Archives (with Audrey Collins talking about on-site ‘Discovery’), and the exciting looking Lives Of WW1 from the Imperial War Museum.
I was fortunate to attend the Keynote from Lives Of The First World War with Melanie Donnelly and Luke Smith, expertly compared by Else Churchill and her roaming mics. They were able to explain the initial test conducted in 2011 on Flickr, and the subsequent development of the project to the now, 2-day old, showcased product.
It’s yet to be publicly launched – they quoted May 2014. It certainly looks like a great resource for creating what is essentially a memorial Facebook-style profile of people who lived and died in the First World War, complete with photos, audio, video, documents, stories, and community.
Was pleased to spot the legendary Eric Knowles again, deep in conversation with a hopeful heirloom keeper.
I’m now off for a ‘tweet up’ at the Hand and Flower pub opposite the event venue…. so I best leave that out of today’s blog post!!
Day one of three, from the 2014 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at London’s Olympia.
Today has been the first day of Who Do You Think You Are Live? 2014 at London’s Olympia.
This is my fourth year here, and for the first time, I’ve booked a hotel, and I’m going to be here for all three days of the show.
Hopefully I can find enough to keep me entertained, and looking at the workshop schedule, this is going to be fairly easy.
The first year that I visited (back in 2011), I hadn’t booked myself onto any talks/workshops, and so found the whole event initially interesting, but not able to sustain my interest for a whole day – and I considered skipping it the following year.
Thankfully I didn’t, and I’ve been coming back ever since.
Angels, Cushions, Books, and Sin
I arrived at about 10am, complete with case (which, together with my coat, I swiftly consigned to the cloakroom).
He explained how he fell into publishing through helping an elderly man write his life story. He went on to explain how best to get your own life story down – highlighting the need to record all the tiniest pieces of information you can, in order to help the reader remember you, or to picture or connect with the person or people you’re writing about.
Whilst leaving his session, I thought I’d died, when I bumped into these two angelic nurses…
With (a pricey) lunch out of the way, it was time for my second lecture – this time from Dr Colin R Chapman on Sin, Sex & Probate.
Dr Chapman talked through the hierarchical structure of the church, and explained that the records held by each level could be detailed and fascinating – but particularly a Bishop’s records (for the juicy gossip). He pulled some examples out from Norfolk, Essex, Cheshire, and Oxfordshire, to illustrate the range of ‘sins’ that we’re legitimate crimes – including defamation, not returning to church after giving birth to say ‘Thanks’ to God, punching a man whilst in a graveyard, and eating meat in Lent.
He pointed out that the church courts dealt with sins, and the civic courts dealt with crimes.
All in all, a fascinating topic, and I’m considering buying a copy of his book (of the same name), if only to read further examples, and help steer me to somewhere where I might find my own ancestor’s scandal.
I hasten to add, it’s the first time I’ve ever had to ask for a ticket for Sin, Sex & Probate!
I managed to pop along to the FindMyPast stand twice, catching the tail end of David Annal‘s fascinating talk on census returns and how you can use search wild cards to get better results, and examples of poor handwriting and missing relatives.
Also, appearing later, was the turn of Myko Clelland of FindMyPast, who once again under-dressed for the show (see pic below), whilst searching for Cushions in Shoreditch (of the surname kind), to help illustrate the collections, new image viewer, and new tree builder (I’ll be giving this a spin when I get home).
All in all a good first day. Tomorrow has a tweet-up to attend, more lectures, shopping, and no doubt catching up with more genealogy friends.
I’m going to renew my search for family photographs of the siblings of many of my Great Grandparents, and their nieces and nephews. This will see me contact a number of distant cousins.
Here’s a few photos that I’ve got a tantalisingly poor photocopy of a photocopy of a…. etc, and really want to capture a hi-res scan of the photos included in what was a self-published 90’s family history book. The original author (a very distant cousin), is unwilling to go back through his notes, so I shall try the closer cousins instead.
The main photo i’m after, is a wedding photo of my Great Grandparents Alfred Newman and Clara Gilbert in 1909, which you can see in the photo below:
As you can see, it’s in a bad way, and as I also have another (high quality) group Newman-only photograph, I should be able to identify quite a number of the Newmans in this photo if it was also of a higher quality.
Mary vanishes after 1881, by then a widow… but I will find her.
In a way, I will be relieved to find how she met her end, and feel like I personally, also get to put an end to it, as the court session report in a newspaper, which includes direct quotes from her and the abused children, is quite harrowing.
3. Spending 3 Days at Who Do You Think You Are? Live
I’ve booked my ticket for the entire 3 day show at this year’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in London’s Olympia in February (not long to go!).
This will be my first time that I’ll have stayed for longer than a day, and so I hope to be able to meet lots of people who i’ve come to know through my research, through the contacts that i’ve made at the wonderful genealogy magazines and companies, as well as taking part in the #TweetUp, and attending lots of the workshops and panel sessions.
Right, i better book my hotel!
4. Sorting out the babies
There are two concentrations of births and deaths of infants in amongst the available certificates, and I want to work out which child belonged to which family. Parish records for Stretham and its neighbouring hamlet of Little Thetford aren’t necessarily revealing which Yarrow child belongs to which couple.
So I have been collecting more and more stories, and have even drafted a few thousand words for a book, but my ideas and thoughts of this book has since become hazy.
What goes in it? Who does and doesn’t get their stories in it? What level of reader?
I’m currently sitting in the frame of mind that I’d like to write a book that contains a lot of visual content – which might be expensive in both rights, and in print, but I want to do a good job, and inspire people like me – who are motivated by shape, space, imagery (my interest in genealogy was very much sparked by finding a handwritten tree, and a load of glorious Victorian photos of mystery relatives). I want something that’s going to be picked up many times, that has big images running alongside text.
I don’t imagine that this will be easy, but working for a publisher, and having been a designer, and being friends with a number of people who have been published and have self-published, I hope to find a route through it. I’ve also tried to read family history books, including this one ‘Keeping Up With The Joneses’ by my friend’s aunt, Valerie Lumbers.
Firstly though, I need to focus on what the book is. And re-visit that couple of drafts i’ve written to see what can be pulled out and polished to help the book begin.
Last year, after posting my resolutions list, it seemed to spark interest amongst others including Valmay Young (hey Valmay, how did you get on?). Let me know if you’re taking part this year by leaving me a comment below, and perhaps a link to your list.
Have a very happy new year, and I wish you every success in your research this year.
Tickets for the 2014 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at Olympia, London, are now on sale.
The 2014 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show tickets are now available for purchase.
As per the 2013 show, there are a number of ticket options available, including the VIP Ancestry ticket (which i really enjoyed – giving you priority seats at the front of those talks). The cheapest entry ticket you can get if you’re an adult is £16 in advance. If you’re under 16, then you get in free – yet another great reason for you to get into genealogy!
As mentioned in my earlier blog post, the show runs from 20-22nd February 2014 – a change of weekday from previous years so that it now covers Thursday-Saturday (rather than Friday-Sunday).
I’m aiming on attending for all 3 days this time, and hope to do some live blogging here, and live tweeting throughout (Olympia wifi, and blog readers – you have been warned!).
Of course, i’ll be hoping that there will also be a repeat of the Tweetup.
The 2014 Who Do You Think You Are? Live dates have been confirmed, but there’s a change….
You know how dates are one genealogist’s friend and another’s nightmare? Well, Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014 show has been confirmed, but there’s a change.
Regular readers will know that I’ve been attending the Who Do You Think You Are? Live shows now for the past 3 years. Each year I’ve felt that I’ve got more and more out of it, with this year’s (2013 show) being the most interesting (really enjoyed the Richard III talk) and the most fun by meeting some of the people that read this blog, suffer my tweets, and write the magazine articles and blogs that I read.
Of the three days (Friday through Sunday) I usually go to the show on the Saturday – I find the travel less hassle and often cheaper (at least if you want to get to the show for the start) and the ordeal of the London rush-hour commute home is lacking.
In 2014, the show will take place on Thursday through Saturday, 20-22nd February. Apparently, earlier shows in the event’s history, used to take place earlier in a week, but later in the year.. so it’s not the first time there’s been a change.
I’m not particularly bothered by this, as I’ll either continue to attend on the Saturday, or make arrangements to perhaps stay in London for the duration or overnight so that I can catch whichever talks are the most appealing. However, I have seen a bit of negativity in the last few days.
Essentially, here’s what will make me happy:
The same quality of guest speakers are arranged
The same wide range of topics and levels are covered
An improved wifi connection (both Olympia and Earls Court struggle here)