I placed it on the calendar, so I thought I’d report on Who Do You Think You Are? Live in London. It wasn’t on my personal calendar, just the genealogical calendar that I keep. Although I ended up being there, it was a surprise, a very nice surprise :-)
So, what was it like to attend “the world’s biggest family history event?” Well, it was interesting and it was a lot of fun. It’s based on the highly successful UK edition of the television show, including having some of the celebrities in attendance. The conference focused on British research with a touch of the Irish. With this year being The Gathering Ireland 2013, it was definitely my year! Presentations covered local history, folklore, family stories, and the many resources available to search for one’s Irish ancestors. Find My Past and Eneclann were in attendance as well as Tourism Ireland to assist those with questions.
FamilySearch was there to greet you as you entered the Olympia National Hall. David Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer of FamilySearch, and Audrey Collins of The National Archives, along with many others, were there to assist with research questions. This conference encourages its attendees to come prepared to get things done. Personally, I like it that way!
FamilyTree DNA held sessions throughout each day to educate participants about DNA, the tests that are available, and what one can expect to learn from such an investment. The line at their booth seemed never ending!
Ancestry held training sessions from Top Tips to Family Tree Maker. Exploring Your Family’s Past with Sir Tony Robinson was a very popular session with standing room only. It was fortunate that the open sessions allowed one to hear from a distance :-) Many of the booths were regional and it was fun to engage in conversation with such knowledgeable individuals. I found a small plush toy cow monogrammed with the flag and name of Jersey at the Jersey Family History Forum. For those who may not know, Jersey cows have an interesting history :-)
Ask the Experts gave individuals the opportunity to speak with a knowledgeable genealogist about an area of research interest. Maureen Taylor, known as The Photo Detective, James McCurdy, and other photo experts were on hand to identify and date one’s family photographs. This line seemed never ending too! Scanners for personal documents and photos were also available in the Ancestry member’s lounge.
Eric Knowles was on hand to help attendees learn more about their family heirlooms and there was even a Military Memorabilia Checkpoint and experts specializing in different divisions. All of these opportunities were found on the second floor of the venue each day.
Many people just sat down by the cafes at the corners of the building to talk and eat. There was rarely an empty table! Each day welcomed new people to the venue. On Saturday, many youth and young adults accompanied their parents and/or grandparents. This was a boon for my friend Janet Hovorka who has just published a resource for families entitled Zap the Grandma Gap :-)
Attendees were given an option to purchase tickets for those “must see” sessions to guarantee a place. As to be expected, Dr. Turi King’s session on the DNA testing of Richard the III had standing room only! I had the opportunity to listen to an interview with Dr. King by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems. Lisa mentioned that the interview will be released sometime in March and made available on iTunes so keep in touch. I’ll post the information as soon as I receive it.
It was a wonderful event, visiting with old friends and meeting new people. As a bonus, the airline just happened to fly over the area of Ireland from which my ancestors emigrated, and with clear skies and a window seat I enjoyed photographing the area. The pictures may not be of “professional” quality, but they make a great memory :-)
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