Today I attended The Family History Event at the Barbican Centre, London and it turned out to be a really good day, despite a few hiccups getting there (nearly missed the bus and the train broke down before it had even started), which meant I didn’t have as long there as I would have liked.
The show was held in Exhibition Hall 2, which was conveniently close to the Barbican Underground Station (I checked out the route with Google Street View) and although from the outside the building was not particularly appealing, it was perfectly OK inside. Likewise the streets outside were not particularly busy (I was expecting more people), but that was because everyone else was already inside.
There was a surprisingly large number of family history societies represented, in fact more than I would have thought actually existed. There was a good cross section of the entire country represented, as well as occupations and one-name studies.
The 1911 census stand from findmypast.com was really the only large commercial stand, but as sponsors of the event that was to be expected. Ancestry.co.uk and Deceased Online were the only other major online providers that I noticed, and they both had quite modest stands on the upper floor. This really was a day for the family history societies to take centre stage.
For me the best part was the opportunity to have a guided tour of the Society of Genealogists library, which was just a short walk away, about half a mile, which in my terms is a very short walk (having done nearly 13½ miles on Friday).
We were shown the three floors of the library and learnt about the types of records held there and how to use their catalogue. It occurred to me that this could be just the place to visit for some of my Carlisle research (I made a mental note to check their catalogue online when I got home).
I didn’t have time to check out any of the food and drink back at the show, or attend any of the lectures (which were almost fully booked by the time I got there), so I can’t comment on them, except to say that it all appeared well organised.
I took the opportunity to discuss some of my research with some of the societies (like the Friends of the Metropolitan Police Historical Collection), although this pretty much confirmed what I already suspected, that I probably wouldn’t be able to find out much more than I already knew.
I resisted the temptation to spend lots of money filling my bookshelves and CD rack, despite there being lots on offer and some great deals to be had on many stalls.
All in all it was a good event, well organised and it looked well attended. It was probably more beneficial to me than the Who Do You Think You Are Live show earlier this year (and half the price to get in) and I am sure many of the other visitors would agree. I really hope this becomes a regular feature of the genealogy calendar.