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Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 – Day Three

27 Feb

Day three of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 and fatigue was starting to take its toll. Fortunately it was a much shorter day for me, due to the deficiencies of public transport on a Sunday (don’t get me started on that).

The show was also a lot quieter than the previous two days which pleased me, there were still plenty of people about but it seemed a lot calmer and relaxed, or was that just me. I took the chance to take advantage of the Society of Genealogist’s Ask the Experts service, I spent twenty minutes or so discussing the missing 1841 census entry for Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT. I have one or two things to try out which might help solve the mystery, but it is just great to be able to discuss a problem with someone else, you know what they say “two heads are better than one”.

I deliberately didn’t go crazy with the talks/workshops today, although there were several I would have liked to see, but I really wanted to spend a bit more time visiting the stands, taking advantage of the fact that there were fewer people about. Time seemed to fly by and I had a fascinating discussion with a representative from the Science Museum Library and Archives about one of their exhibits and what records they might have relevant to my family history (there is another story in there that I need to research and write about). I learnt so much in those few minutes and not just about the museum but also about research beyond the museum itself.

I also had a fascinating discussion with a lady from the Isle of Man Post Office, about their new genealogy stamps and genealogy in general. It turns out that as well as working for the Post Office she is also a genealogist herself. The stamps themselves have even more depth than I first realised (I will tell you more later). I could quite easily have stood and chatted for hours, but I had to move on.

The first of the talks I attended was given by Dr. Chris Watts and entitled “From census entry to Google Maps”. This was an unusual one, I had heard the talk before because it had been made available as a podcast by The National Archives, but it was a very visual talk about taking addresses from census returns and using different types of maps to learn further details, so seeing it in person was a much better experience.

My final talk of the show was by Celia Heritage and was entitled “Do You Know Who You Are Yet?”. To be honest I chose this talk because the title intrigued me and I didn’t really know what it was going to be about. It turned out to be about the reasons why people research their family history, largely based on the speaker’s own motivations and genealogy research. It was definitely thought provoking, I am not quite sure about my motivations, but it has made me think that it would be interesting to look back and see how and why I got started on my family tree and whether those motivations are still the same now.

I then spent a bit longer wandering around the stands, the show was beginning to wind down and I was able to pick up a couple of bargains on my way out, but on the whole I don’t think I spent so much money this year, which is probably just as well. Then began the marathon journey home and I think I actually spent longer getting home than I actually spent at the show today! It was sad to say goodbye to Olympia for another year (hopefully there will be another one next year) as it was starting to feel a bit like a second home after three days.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 – Day Two

26 Feb

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.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 – Day One

25 Feb

It is good to be home, the train and bus ride home have rested my aching legs and feet but my brain is still a little fried from day one of Who Do You Think You Are? Live.

Travel up to Olympia was pretty straight-forward, one bus and three trains (it could have been two trains, but I jumped off at Gatwick Airport for breakfast!), in reasonable comfort without any delays. I actually arrived slightly earlier than I had planned and had to join the queue running along the side of the hall. It had already started filing in through the doors so it didn’t take long for me to reach the entrance.

The good thing about the event being in the same place every year is that I know my way around the building quite well, so I headed upstairs straight away to go and get tickets for the talks and workshops. When I joined the queue for tickets I still hadn’t decided which talks I was going to attended, again the queue moved quickly and forced me to make my choices.

In the end I decided my first stop would be to go and see the celebrity interview with Monty Don and it turned out to be a good choice. He was very easy to listen to and described with enthusiasm the process of making the show and the bit of filming that were left out. It was a very gentle and relaxing way to start the day.

After that it was time for a bit of Latin with a talk by Dr Bruce Durie. I have always been meaning to learn latin, but it has always seemed rather daunting and I remember nothing from the few lessons I took whilst at school (except for one of the display boards falling off the wall and hitting me on the head). The talk made it seem a lot less daunting, although still pretty confusing.

The talk by John Hurley on The Parish Clerk concerned the parish official whose role was seemingly varied and ill-defined. Unfortunately the talk didn’t really add any clarity to the description, although there were some entertaining descriptions of parish clerks, both good and bad.

The last talk of the day for me was Preserving Family Treasures presented by Maureen Taylor. For me this talk was the highlight of the day, I wanted to go to the same (or similar) talk last year but all the seats had been taken so this I made sure I got a ticket first thing. I didn’t have many family treasures to worry about until a couple of months ago when I was given a bundle of photos, certificates and cuttings so now I really need to know how best to look after them.

The time in between talks was spent wandering around the stands. Asking a few questions and spending some money (although I fear I might be spending more tomorrow) although not as much as I expected. The range of stands was very much the same as last year (and previous years), there were a few new faces this year and a couple missing this time around. As well as spending some more time exploring the stands I will try to take advantage of the Ancestry scanning service and try to get dates for a couple of photographs.

The calm before the storm

24 Feb

Tomorrow sees the start of Who Do You Think You? Live 2011 at London Olympia and I will join thousands of others in three days of genealogy talks, shopping, expert advice and networking.

The rest of the year will be disappointingly quiet compared to this weekend. There is the National Family History Fair in Newcastle later in the year, which I will try and attend this year, but that is it for major genealogy events this year. WDYTYA Live is probably going to be the genealogical highlight of the year for me, but you never know what genealogy discoveries are going to turn.

I never did get any t-shirts printed, but if you spot me wandering around Olympia then please do stop and say hello. I will be the one wandering around like a kid in a sweet shop (come to think of it I am sure I won’t be the only one acting like that).

Whether you are there for one, two or three days I hope you have an enjoyable and successful visit.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011: One week to go

18 Feb

A week today sees the start of Who Do You Think You Are? Live at Olympia, London (and it is still not too late to get a great deal on tickets), three days of intensive genealogy goodness.

I still have some more preparations to do for my visit and the organisers are busy putting the finishing touches to the show. If you have already got your copy of the showguide you will know that there were a few holes in the schedules when the showguide went to press.

To help fill those gaps BBC Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine have provided a page on their website with all the latest news about the show. I have bookmarked the page and will keep checking back to find out if there are any more changes.

There don’t appear to be any major changes but there are some changes in the timings and speakers, plus a few gaps in the schedules have been filled in, especially in the WDYTYA Theatre where there will be talks on “New Zealand Genealogy Online” and “Caribbean Genealogy”.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011: New celebrity expert announced

6 Feb

It is just under three weeks now until Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 at Olympia, London and the organisers have announced another celebrity guest. Eric Knowles is a familiar face from British television and an expert in antiques, but unlike the other celebrity guests he isn’t being interviewed  or giving a talk.

Eric will be at the show on Friday and Sunday and “will help date any family treasures important to your family history”, although visitors are restricted to one item per person and he will not be providing valuations of the items (why would you want to sell that family heirloom anyway?).

Heirloom or otherwise I don’t think I have any antiques knocking about the house that need dating (and I will resist comments about other members of the household), but I am sure there are other visitors that will have family heirlooms that need identifying.

This could be a great opportunity to find out if that pocket watch is old enough to have been owned by your 2x great-grandfather or could that plate really have been passed down through six generations?

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011: Third celebrity announced

28 Jan

With just four weeks to go the organisers have announced the third celebrity guest for Who Do You Think You? Live at Olympia, London.

Popular TV chef Ainsley Harriott will be returning to the stage on Sunday 27th February 2011 at 10am and again at 11am, to discuss his appearance on the television series Who Do You Think You Are?

He joins fellow celebrities Monty Don (on Friday) and Hugh Quarshie (on Saturday) in talking about his experiences on the television series, and Tony Robinson who will be talking about life in 1911 (not from personal experience!) as part of the Ancestry.co.uk Academy on Friday.

I saw Ainsley Harriott a couple of years ago when he was previously a guest, and as you would expect he was throughly entertaining and I would heartily recommend making time to see his interview.

I had said before that I wasn’t going to bother with the celebrity talks this year, but on reflection they are a big part of the show and usually quite entertaining, so I might see if I can get a ticket if they don’t clash with anything else.

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