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Sunday, 23 February 2014

My day at Who Do You Think You Are Live 2014

So, yesterday was the day and shortly after 10am I found myself on the train into London with my husband on our way to Who Do You Think You Are Live at Olympia in Kensington, London. He's not really "into this family history stuff" but I persuaded him to come along so he could get at idea of what I'm talking about.

An hour and a half later we arrived and headed upstairs to see if there were any tickets left for the talks. Luckily they were and we got 2 tickets for the talk I was interested in. Then we popped our coats in the cloakroom and we were good to go.

I popped by the Guild of One Name Studies and caught up with Kirsty Gray ahead of her second talk of the exhibition later in the day. Both talks were sold out and covered topics relating to World War 1.

I made it round to all my Northern Ireland related stands - Northern Ireland Family History Society (NIFHS), Public Record Office Northern Ireland (PRONI) and General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI). The exciting news is that from mid April GRONI will be putting Births from 1864, Marriages from 1845 and Deaths from 1864 online. They will also be a very reasonable price. I've got lots of Northern Irish ancestors that I've researched with difficulty before and this will make it much easier. I found that I could use my Heredis app to locate details of family members really easily and would definitely use it again.

I also spoke to representatives from Strathclyde University, Dundee University and IHGS about their genealogical qualifications. Suffice to say I'm still confused about which one of these qualifications would be best for me and didn't really feel like any of them would be a "fit" for me at the moment. At least I've now had a chance to speak to people in person about them. I spent some time on the Pharos Tutors stand talking about the certificate course and booked onto my next course too - making use of the 5% discount during the show.

I didn't spend a lot of time at the Family History stalls - I'd planned to head to Berkshire and East Surrey. Next time I would do some preparatory investigation into which churches/areas I was interested in as there were plenty of knowledgeable people around.

The AGRA stand was a busy one and I came back about 3 times before there was a chance to speak to someone. I introduced myself to Dr Karen Cummings and we had a brief chat with others on the stand about the different qualifications.

We headed over to the Family Historian stand where we spoke to Jane Taubman about Source Templates and Plugins. My husband (or tech support as he had started to call himself!) and Jane had a conversation that I didn't quite understand but I think he now has an idea about how to write the plugins or at least where to find the information.

After grabbing a sausage and a coffee we headed to the Ancestry Academy and watched the presentation on Family Tree Maker 2014. This was a bit of an eye opener for me as I hadn't really investigated the mapping or timeline features before. After the lecture we caught up with the FTM guys on the stand and chatted about their IT development and any plans for addins or extensions in the future.

Then it was time to head back upstairs for our talk - Moving from the Amateur to the Professional Genealogist - with Eileen O Duill. This was very interesting and confirmed some of the information I already knew but also  gave me some more information. In fact I headed down to the APG stall after and picked up some information on the back of the content of the lecture.

The handouts from the lectures will be available online soon courtesy of the Society of Genealogists. The nice lady I spoke to on there stand confirmed that I will be able to visit their library when I attend a lecture there next week as I'm a member. She helpfully explained how the library was laid out and suggested I check out the catalogue prior to my visit.
After the talk I took the chance to grab a bit of footage of the hall - it was very quiet by this point (5pm) as most of the exhibitors were preparing to pack up.

And then we headed home - it felt like we'd not had a minute spare and I'm sure I didn't see everything I could have! Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer my questions and say hello - sorry to anyone who's name I've left out.

Would I go again? I think so but I would definitely recommend having a list of who to see and what questions you want to ask - I might even offer to work on a stand if any will have me??


  1. Disappointed I didn't get to meet you there, Jo! Hopefully we might be attending same lecture at SoG.

  2. Hi Maggie,
    I was a bit rubbish with meeting people - we definitely had a whistle stop tour of the hall. I'm going to the lecture in the afternoon - would be nice to see someone I "know"!