Tag Archives: conference

Who Do You Think You Are? Live: Day Three

28 Feb

The third and final day of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2010 got off to a rather damp start (more rain), but at least I didn’t have to get up quite so early today.

As expected the crowds were smaller today, but still plenty of people about. I arrived a few minutes late for Josh Taylor’s (from the NEHGS) talk on "Online tools for learning US research strategies", this was really interesting for someone who hears/reads a lot about US research, but hasn’t really been actively doing any. You will be pleased to hear that Geneabloggers got a mention!

Next up were the three talks that were part of the one-day conference:

  • Peter Christian on Where is the Genealogists’ internet going? – a look at what could or should happen in the genealogy field in the coming years.
  • Julian Litten on The English way of death – a fascinating talk on the history of funeral arrangements and coffin design over the years.
  • Nick Barratt on The mists of time: researching your medieval family history – a whirlwind tour of the sources available for medieval and early modern family history.

Then I had an appointment with Ancestry.co.uk to scan some documents, that was a lot quicker than I expected, and I came away with a memory stick of images of some larger documents and one large photo which had previously been scanned by me in sections.

As things had quietened down at the Ask the Experts area I decided to give them a try. Picking their brains on Mercy TROWER and her missing marriage and dying husband. I was relieved to hear that I had pretty much covered all options, they could suggest no further avenues of research.

Then all that was left was a final walk around the stands, many of which were starting to pack up and go home, as had most of the visitors. I had a quick chat with a gentleman from My History about the virtues of the Family Historian software and then made my way home.

Another great show, I felt I gained a great deal from my visit, probably more than last year, but I wonder if I could have been better prepared. It is hard to get away from the commercial side of things and remember that there are literally hundreds of experts (including the attendees) willing to share their knowledge.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live: Day Two

27 Feb

The second day of Who Do You Think You Are? Live was another successful and enjoyable experience.

WDYTYA3 The crowds didn’t seem too bad today (or was it just me getting used to lots of people), perhaps a little busier than yesterday, but not as busy as I had expected, especially in the later afternoon.

There were some great talks today, first I attended the celebrity interview with Kate Humble, then a talk on the resources of the Imperial War Museum and the UK National Inventory of War Memorials. Michael Gandy spoke on problems with London ancestry and Mark Pearsall on Apprenticeship Records at The National Archives. Again I shall probably go into more detail next week.

I spent a bit longer talking to some of the exhibitors, I got some useful answers, places to look and people to contact, as well as some clues to identifying one of my unidentified photos.

Tomorrow should be a bit more laid back, there are still a couple of stands I need to visit and hopefully I will have time to get Ancestry to scan some of my documents, that are too big to fit on my scanner.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live: Day One

26 Feb

Today was the first day of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2010 and although it was tiring, I picked up some useful information, was entertained and it was extremely rewarding.


As you can see it was pretty busy, but not too crowded (it was a Friday after all). There appeared to be more space, but I am not sure if that is down to fewer people or fewer stands.

One noticeable absence was The National Archives, probably not surprising considering the cut in services they have already suffered in the name of financial cost-cutting.

The talks I attended were quite diverse, first an interview with celebrity Rory Bremner, then Ian Waller talking about 20th-century research. Michael Gandy’s talk on breaking through brick walls was inspirational and Celia Heritage on interpreting churches and gravestones has opened my eyes to some of the features in parish churches, which I would otherwise pass by in my rush to get at the monumental inscriptions.

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the stands, see what was on offer and trying to work out how I can benefit from them when I return tomorrow.

Tomorrow should be a lot busier, I only hope the crowds are not too bad. For a simple country boy used to wandering alone in the countryside, so many people can be a bit overwhelming. Plus it was a bit too warm in the hall for my liking.

Over the next week I shall try and write in a bit more detail about the talks and stands, and what I learnt from my visit. Now I must go to bed, it is going to be another long day tomorrow!


The Pub History Society Conference

20 Feb

I spent the day at The National Archives today, but didn’t do a single piece of research! Instead I attended the Pub History Society Conference held at the archives.

This was the first time the Pub History Society have held a conference, and hopefully it will become an annual event. For me it seemed that The National Archives was an ideal place to hold it, not only were the conference facilities excellent, but we also had the benefit of the other facilities at the archives, such as the café, cyber-café, lockers and bookshop.

There were five excellent talks, on varied aspects of pub history, some of which (if not all) will hopefully appear as podcasts:

  • The Lost Pubs of London (Jack Adams)
  • The Pub and the People (Simon Fowler)
  • Women, Darts and the Pub in the Interwar Period (Patrick Chaplin)
  • Pub Signs and Names (David Roe)
  • A Short History of Coaching Inns (David Thomas)

I wouldn’t like to try and pick a favourite, they were all thought provoking and made me think about aspects of pub history aside from my usual family history angle.

However, I couldn’t get away from family history entirely, especially during the talk on coaching inns. I couldn’t help wondering what Thomas KINGHORN (my 4x great-grandfather) thought about the coaching inns that he stopped at whilst guarding the mail coaches.

All in all it was a truly memorable day, and what really made it extra special was a guided tour of The National Archives given by Simon Fowler (editor of Ancestors magazine), giving us a peek behind the scenes.

Sussex Family History Group conference

28 Mar

Today (28th March 2009) I had the pleasure of attending the Sussex Family History Group 2009 conference at Haywards Heath, West Sussex. It was held at the Clair Hall in Haywards Heath, a small multi-purpose venue which I am familiar with because of the monthly postcard fair held there.

It was well attended, I would estimate around 250-300 people, which is probably about as much as the hall could cope with. There were three guest speakers (Michael Gandy, Annabelle Hughes and Ian Gledhill) and a handful of stalls selling various books and CDs.

Michael Gandy‘s talk was entitled “Country Poor, Town Poor” and rather than dwell on the differences between the two, the talk challenged some of our widely held views on the poor and discussed how very little has actually changed over the past couple of centuries.

Annabelle Hughes is an expert on many (if not all) aspects of Sussex buildings and their records, and we were lead through an example of her research into one Sussex farm, from the Domesday book to the present day. Her talk mentioned many sources for property records, that would be of interest to the family historian, which pre-date parish registers and are easily available (in printed form, not on the internet) to researchers.

Ian Gledhill gave an illustrated talk entitled “Oh, We Do Like to be Beside the Seaside”, which took us from the earliest days when bathing started to become popular up to the present day. The talk covered the major resorts on the Sussex coast and a few beyond, with details of the development of piers and theatres etc. that our ancestors may once have enjoyed.

At lunchtime whilst the majority of attendees enjoyed their lunch, I left Clair Hall and boarded a bus for the Princess Royal Hospital on the other side of Haywards Heath and walked a short way down the road to pay a visit to what had once been the East Sussex County Asylum, and home to my 2x great grandfather George Thomas GASSON for five years (before he was moved to the new asylum at Hellingly).

The building is quite impressive, and mostly converted to flats and appartments now, I did get some photographs but conditions weren’t ideal, there is still building work going on (at least it appears to be), I will have to return when I have more time and better weather conditions.

I walked back to Clair Hall for the afternoon session through the town, which is not particularly interesting, a few old buildings remain, but the town centre is quite modern (although perhaps a little dated now).

It was a good day, the talks were varied and well presented, the conference was well organised, and I managed to pick up a couple of bargain books from the Sussex Record Society stall (they were having a clearance sale). The fact that I got to do a bit of walking was an added bonus!

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