Refreshed after a good night’s sleep (I could have done with a couple more hours sleep, but you can’t have everything) I was soon back up to Olympia again today for day two of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011. The queue was about the same as yesterday, but running down the other side of the building this time, beginning near the railway station, again it moved pretty quickly, but once I stepped inside it appeared that there were already more people than yesterday.
Again I headed upstairs to collect tickets for the days talks (tickets are free, but on a first come first served basis). Like yesterday many of the talks were soon sold out. I skipped the celebrity talk with Hugh Quarshie and spent the first hour or so on the ground floor.
I sought the assistance of the good folks at the Somerset and Dorset Family History Society, hoping to identify the birth place of my 4x great-grandmother, I am pleased to say that they were just as puzzled as I was over the bizarre place name on her 1881 census entry. Her parents could be a big stumbling block in trying to find all my 5x great-grandparents.
I had booked an appointment with the Ancestry.co.uk scanning team, and got my few documents scanned. They were mostly original certificates and all bigger than A4, so that saved me a lot of cutting and pasting if I was to try and do it myself at home. This a great free service provided by Ancestry and I just wish I could take their equipment home or to the archives with me.
Then I was into a succession of talks. First up was Jayne Shrimpton “Looking at family portraits: artworks and photographs, 1780-1920″. This was an excellent talk, with some great illustrations. It provided a really good overview of the evolution of family portraits from oil paintings to amateur snaps. She has a new book out, which I picked up yesterday and can’t wait to explore deeper, I really need to be making more of my family photos.
Following on from that I headed to The Genealogist stand and a talk by Mark Bayley about the website entitled “The Genealogist: unique tools and data”. The presentation was a useful run-down of the contents of the website and it’s search tools. It has been a while since I looked at The Genealogist website but it seems to have improved a great deal in both content and appearance from what I remember. I was particularly impressed with their search tools, there is a lot of flexibility there, probably more than the two main providers. I need to remember that when I draw a blank on Ancestry and Findmypast.
I then headed upstairs for the talk by Ian Waller about “Farming Folk? Researching agricultural labourers and country ways”. Much of his content was from his book “My Ancestor Was An Ancestral Labourer”, but it was still good to hear it again and got me thinking about so many of my ancestor who were farmers or farm labourers. I really ought to dig a lot deeper on some of them to see what other records I can find.
Then came the highlight of the day, lunch. Taking a break for lunch enabled me to sit down and check my emails. I was surprised to find an email from a probable distant relation in New Zealand, from a branch of the GASSON family I have been hoping to get back in touch with. He had found my mention of James William GASSON in this blog. More proof (if it were ever needed) of the power of blogging.
After my break for lunch I returned to the WDYTYA Theatre for a talk by Dr Geoff Swinfield entitled “Smart genealogy solving genealogical brick walls”. This was more a lesson (based on a particular case study) on how to use web resources effectively and some strategies for overcoming their deficiencies. I don’t think I actually learnt anything new, but was re-assured that the process described was pretty much the same as I would have followed.
My last talk of the day was by Schelly Talalay Dardashti, the title was a bit vague “Online ancestral communities: recreating roots, preserving memories” and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The audience was quite small but the talk was excellent, describing several online projects that aim to preserve particular communities that no longer exist (with the focus being on Jewish heritage).
After a quick stroll around the stands again and buying a few more Alan Godfrey Maps for my collection, it was time to head back to the station and make my way home, the only disappointment was the delayed train which made me miss my bus and forced me to hang around for nearly an hour waiting for the next one. At least it wasn’t raining.