Category Archives: WDYTYA Live

The Demise of “Who Do You Think You Are? Live”

Well I didn’t see that one coming. I’d even completed the online feedback survey, so no hint of trouble. On the contrary it seemed feedback was being sought to keep the show fresh and relevant. But then the bombshell: 2017’s “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” was the final one.

The news broke this afternoon with the announcement from the Society of Genealogists that Immediate Media had called it a day.

Packing Away After The Final “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” – Photo by Jane Roberts

In my review of the show I did make reference to some notable absentees this year, and the increase in non-genealogy related stands. I also heard that the cost of stands was not cheap, which may explain some of the absentees and the fact other archives and Family History Societies pooled resources to ensure a presence.

There had been talk about lower footfall, and a number of last minute ticket offers maybe indicated pre-sales were lower than anticipated. But there was no sudden curtailment of days, as happened with the 2014 move to Glasgow. The show seemed busy to me. And although there were questions raised about the move from London, the shift to a nationally central location, Birmingham, made it far more accessible and cost-effective for many other folk. Although on the downside maybe this affected the ability to attract celebrities featured in the TV series. The workshops appeared full – in fact most of the ones I pre-booked were sell-outs, so no lack of interest there. 

However the bottom line was, in spite of its popularity, the show did not make money, as outlined in the online announcement in “Who Do You Think You Are?” Magazine. In it Marie Davies, director of WDYTYA? LIVE said “We have done our best over the years to bring it into profit. Unfortunately, the show has continued to make a loss for Immediate Media and we have had to bring it to a close.”

I will miss the event for many reasons.

It was great to have such a wide variety of family history related information, societies and commercial providers under one roof, both in terms of geographical spread and genealogical interests represented. This cannot be replicated at local or regional events. To get this breadth of family history topics covered would mean visiting several local and regional shows, and probably those shows would not attract some of the bigger, or niche, players. So I saw it as an extremely cost-effective and time-saving benefit.

The show also provided an ideal opportunity to find out more first-hand about the various organisations, rather than relying on Internet searches. I personally prefer to talk face-to-face to someone.

Having so many experts on hand, and informative talks, was a unique opportunity. Again this was made possible because of the national scale. Yes, to pre-book workshops cost £2 in advance or £3 on the day. But they were extremely popular. And where else could you get such a packed programme?

The amount of show bargains and discounts, from books and magazines to courses, subscriptions and DNA testing, all under one roof was unrivalled. This alone made the show tremendous value for money, in what is can be an expensive pursuit.

I also found a three-day show provided more of an opportunity to attend rather than a one-day event. There was a chance of making at least one day. This year I was fortunate to attend all three days. It gave a chance to step back from outside distractions, immerse myself in the atmosphere and focus on my family history interests.

It served all levels too. From those in the early stages of their family history quest, to the more experienced. It disseminated knowledge, kindled enthusiasm and made you realise there is far more to the wonderful world of genealogy than censuses, online parish registers and GRO indexes. 

But above all the event was a social occasion, with a real sense of community. Family history can be a very lonely pursuit. “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” counteracted that. It was fabulous to chat with so many people who share the same passion. It was wonderful to put faces to “virtual world” names and Twitter handles. And as the saying goes, it’s good to talk, whatever stage of the genealogical journey you’re on.

Maybe this will give a boost to local and regional family history societies and events. I now aim to go to the Yorkshire Family History Fair on 24 June. So maybe this should be viewed as an opportunity. But I do hope this does not mark the demise of a national event.

Advertisements

“Who Do You Think You Are? Live” 2017 – A Very Different Show Experience

2017 proved a very different “WDYTYA? Live” show experience for me on a number of counts. The major shift this year, instead of cramming everything into one day including the travelling, I did the full three days and stayed within walking distance of the NEC. It made for a far more relaxed, sensibly paced visit, with plenty time to chat, plan, rehydrate, refuel and rest. No running round like an episode of “Challenge Anneka” #ShowingMyAge.

It meant I could visit all the exhibitors I planned to see and more besides. I’m not saying I didn’t forget things – on the journey home I realised I’d not made use of a £5 voucher I’d picked up with one of my purchases. But there were very few “kick myself” moments on that homeward journey.

As ever a wide range of exhibitors and experts were present, representing a breadth of family history aspects. From the big dataset providers, genealogy and software suppliers to Family History Societies and the archives sector. From companies providing family history courses to professional organisations and publishers. Niche interests were represented too such as theatrical ancestors, the ShipIndex for researching vessels associated with ancestors and the Canal and River Trust: The Waterways Archive, described as “a treasure chest for anyone with waterways’ ancestors”. There’s the international aspect too. Not just England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales but Belgium, Luxembourg, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, the Caribbean and Canada.

A Little Bit of Yorkshire in Birmingham

An aside, not sure if this was just my perception, but did there seem to be far more non-family history related stands this year? I really wouldn’t like this to get out of hand in future and detract from what is the country’s largest family history show.

Digging for Victory

The military sector was there in force, fittingly including ancestral tourism such as Mons Memorial Tourism, in this period of centenary commemorations. In addition were the excellent displays by Dig for Victory and The Battlefields Partnership. At the latter I achieved a long-held ambition to hold a Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) from the Great War. My arm and shoulder ached afterwards – it was quite heavy and I was fairly slow on the uptake as to what to do.

Fun with Guns – Not Killing Off My Ancestors (as was suggested)

The MoD stand proved of particular interest to me. TNT Archive Services, which holds those as yet unreleased MoD service records (essentially 1920 onwards depending on rank) had a database where you could ask them to search for a record of interest. I had a few to check, and confirmed they held them all, including records for those who did National Service. I definitely intend applying for two of them but I’m holding off for now. During the show Chris Baker, military historian, researcher and author, tweeted: “MOD saying today that an exciting announcement concerning post-1921 army service records is soon to be made”. So is this a transfer to The National Archives, or a digitisation project enabling speedier access? I’m waiting to see.

Queue at the MoD Service Records Database Stand

As ever you could always seek expert help in interpreting finds, breaking down brick walls, finding pointers for further research and identifying and dating family treasures and photos. Besides the Military Checkpoint manned by a range of military museum specialists, the popular Ask the Expert area returned for wider queries as did show stalwart Eric Knowles with his Heirloom Detectives section.

Expert Advice at the Military Checkpoint

There were however some notable absentees amongst the major players, who I really expected to have a presence at this prestigious annual national event. These included The National Archives, The Imperial War Museum, Forces War Records and Fold3. Yes, money is tight, the public and charity sector have taken massive Government funding cuts, and having a presence at these events does not come cheap. And yes, others may be off-shoots of bigger companies. But I really was disappointed not to see them at the show, and I think many others will share that sense of disappointment.

It wasn’t as if all Government departments were absent. The MoD turned up, as did the General Register Office. I’m still thinking about ordering a couple of certificates in Phase 3 of their trial, those certificates not held in a digital format (births 1935-2006, deaths 1958-2006 and marriages 1837-2010). They were apparently overwhelmed by Phase 1, the £6 PDFs of those certificates digitised under the now suspended DoVE (Digitisation of Vital Events) project. Take up of Phase 2, the £45 three-hour turn round option, aimed mainly at probate companies, was far lower than anticipated. Once Phase 3 is finished they will all be evaluated and a decision taken of which (if any) to roll forward.

A Busy Exhibition Hall – My Favourite Stand Title of the Show

DNA was promoted heavily in the 2017 show. Some unbelievable offers featured, with a constant stream of customers buying multiple kits. For example Ancestry sold at £49 (with no P&P addition); Living DNA £99; and Family Tree DNA Family Finder was £40, Y-DNA 25 £70, Y-DNA 37 £80, MtDNA Plus £50 and MtDNA Full Sequence £100. I desperately tried to engage my family, but in the end the only “persuadee” was my husband. So no direct DNA breakthrough with that one. Although with the number of kits flying off the shelves this will hopefully result in an expansion of the U.K. DNA pool, more matches and more of these matches with trees attached (please). So maybe I’ll get lucky that way.

In fact fantastic offers abounded throughout the hall. In addition to DNA, I succumbed to a number. These included a show discount on Family Historian 6 and accompanying guide book; a subscription to Family Tree Magazine with three issues for £4.99, a goody bundle, £10 cash back, a £5 voucher to spend at the show (which I forgot about) and a discounted quarterly subscription rate which kicks in later this summer; I picked up a discount from Ancestry which I will use when my annual subscription comes up for renewal; I signed up to a Pharos Tutors course, “In sickness and in death” with a 10% discount, cheery soul that I am; and as for books…..a 30% discount at the History Press stand lured me into my first show purchase. As for Pen and Sword I was one of the hoards flocking round flashing cash, which saw their books flying off their stand with their offer of three for £25 or five for £45. I’m not sure I saw the logic of that price strategy and I think the sign was amended later to six for £45. I was so pleased I bought my Pen and Sword titles on the first two days, because a number of books did sell out.

Afternoon of Day 3 and Stocks Running Low at Pen and Sword

In and amongst this shopping frenzy I also found time to renew my Shropshire FHS subscription, as I do at some stage intend researching my husband’s family history. Family History Societies are a wonderful, and in this digital age possibly overlooked, source of information.

My Book Purchases

As for talks, again the three day visit meant I could do a selection without brain overload. One thing I found a tad frustrating was how the schedule came through in dribs and drabs leading up to the show. Based on previous experience of talks selling out before the show date I pre-booked mine, only to find nearer the date others were announced which I would have opted for. Too late as they clashed with ones I’d already coughed up cash for.

Kirsty Gray talks to a full house – illustrating the value of pre-booking talks

I attended 10 talks over the three days. These combined a mixture of specialties, general research techniques, and my specific Irish and World War 1 interests. I felt I got the balance right and I’ll be checking the Society of Genealogists website for the slide uploads. One or two were particularly challenging and perhaps less suited to those with a casual interest or beginners, which was reflected in the numbers leaving during these talks. I’m not sure if there is any way in advance of indicating the level of the talk as it must be off putting for the speaker, as well as distracting for the audience, to see a steady trickle of leavers.

My Pre-Booked Talks

It’s difficult to pick out a favourite talk. All were insightful in different ways. And I’m full of admiration for the speakers as its not an easy task to talk in front of such a big audience and pitch it at the right level. I’ve already put into practice a tip I learned from Jackie Depelle’s “Bridging the Gap – Tracing Forward from 1911” talk, and added to some German family research I undertook a few years ago by looking at the German baptisms on Ancestry. But in terms of general enjoyment, I loved Neil McGurk’s “The British Soldier of 1917” looking at the uniform, equipment and its evolution. A great presentation packed with interesting and often amusing information!

Jackie Depelle and Neil McGurk’s Talks

DNA featured as prominently in the talks as it did amongst the exhibitors. This year I only attended one talk loosely related to this topic, and that came from a more general interest rather than a tips and explanation angle. “Identifying the Missing of World War 1″ by Maurice Gleeson examined the practical application of DNA technology married with solid genealogical research to put names to the remains of those service personnel periodically unearthed from the soil of the Western Front.

The Fromelles project, which aimed to put names to the 250 men in the mass graves discovered in 2009 near Pheasant Wood illustrated how vital DNA proved in all cases of the 150 men so far identified. Work continues to try to put names to the remainder if at all possible. Hats off too to the genealogists involved in tracing “informative” Y and MtDNA line ancestors. I’d love to be involved in this kind of worthwhile work, a wonderful way to give something back and enable these service personnel the dignity of a named final resting place and their descendants a sense of closure.

Identifying the Missing of World War 1 – Maurice Gleeson

A video of this talk, given at another event, is online. I would definitely recommend viewing it.

Another shift for me this year was doing a stint on a stand. Only for 90 minutes, but it gave a whole new perspective on the show. I helped on the Pharos Tutors stand, to give the student view of the courses and structure. I really enjoyed chatting to people and it gave an indication of how much effort and how tiring, but rewarding, it can be to have a stand at the show. It was also interesting to observe the ebb and flow of visitors and general show footfall.

Taking my turn on the Pharos Teaching & Tutoring stand

And the final big difference at a personal level this year was the social aspect. Over the past year or so through courses and social media, including #AncestryHour at 7pm-8pm on Tuesday’s, I’ve “met” so many folk with a passion for genealogy. “WDYTYA? Live” was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with some I had met previously, and meet even more for the first time. That for me was the real highlight of this year’s show.

Meeting up with Carolyn, another Pharos Student

Last word on the 2017 show is a massive thank you to all those involved in organising the event, and to the speakers and exhibitors. Another fabulous event and I’ve returned with fresh ideas and renewed vigour for my research.

Packing Away at the End of “WDYTYA? Live” 2017

Other reviews of the event can be found here:

WDYTYA? Live 2017 Preparations: Tickets on Sale 

It’s not even Christmas 2016, but one of my presents will be here early. After my 2016 visit to WDYTYA? Live in Birmingham, where I felt one day was far too short a visit for me, I determined that in 2017 I would spend longer at the exhibition. Tickets are now on sale with an “early bird” discount.

WDYTYA? Live 2016 – photo by Jane Roberts

So now it’s time for me to plan my visit. I’m going for a two-day option. So next to check out hotels. And based on my previous experiences I will pre-book my workshops. I’m getting old so need a seat!

WDYTYA? Live 2016 : So much to do, So little time

The evening after the day before. I’m still recovering after a 220 mile round trip and a jam-packed day at “WDYTYA? Live”.

WDYTYA4

The “Ask the Experts” area, busy right from the off

This year I focused on talks as trailed here. I did a mixture of ticketed and free talks. Pre-booking the Society of Genealogists (SoG) Workshops proved a wise choice for me – I think all my chosen ones had sold out before the event. So it meant this year I got a seat instead of loitering on the periphery.

I picked up lots of useful tips from all three SoG talks I attended, including search tips and suggested books. I now have a couple of new research strategies and record sets to check out for my Irish research from “Luck of the Irish”. It was fascinating to follow step by step the methods used in conducting research from one name in Meath, tracing the family back to way beyond pre Civil Registration.

And, following on from “Tracing a 16th and 17th Century Family Tree”, the moment I got home I ordered a copy of “Courts of the Manors of Bandon and Beddington 1489-1552” to help with my Latin to English translation of Manorial records.  Going to a Catholic school and studying Latin for two years is of limited help – and then only for basic words. My “Ecce Romani” Latin is useless for Manorial rolls!

WDYTYA15

A Packed “Tracing a 16th and 17th Century Family” Tree Workshop

My husband also attended three workshops. He’s only into Family History at a basic level, but learned lots from the “What they Don’t Tell you about Visiting Archives” and WW1 research talk “Overcoming Trench Walls”. He came away fired with enthusiasm, and insisted there and then on sharing his new-found knowledge!

As a journalist he also attended the “Copyright and Family History” talk. It was interesting to compare his perspective of what is done in reality (and ways round things), to what should be done.  He said this talk would put the fear of God into anyone about doing anything!

As an old-school journalist he was trained in shorthand, so made copious notes. I will be keeping an eye on the SoG website  http://www.sog.org.uk/ because, as in previous years, many (but not all) of the speakers’ handouts or slides presented at the show will be uploaded in due course.

WDYTYA14

Final Packed Workshop of the Day – Research Before 1837

I also attended Debbie Kennett’s “Autosomal DNA Pleasures and Pitfalls” talk. A clear explanation of a complex subject, and I now feel better prepared to re-visit my DNA tests. Immediately on my return home I downloaded her talk slides and joined the “DNA help for Genealogy (UK)” Facebook page. So these should help with what is a daunting subject for my scientifically-challenged mind.

One nugget I did take away with me, which hadn’t previously crossed my mind with the Ancestry DNA kit, was the need to factor in my annual Ancestry subscription cost. This is required in order to be able to continue to access the full range of their DNA online result features.

WDYTYA1

Debbie Kennett Points out the Pleasures and Pitfalls of Autosomal DNA

One talk which me and my husband attended together was Andrew Robertshaw’s “The Story of the Somme”. As my husband put it, the clearest most concise 20 minute explanation he has ever heard.

WDYTYA16

“The Story of the Somme” – one of the highlights of the show for me

As a result of the number of talks I attended, regretfully I didn’t have as much time as I needed to explore the rest of the cornucopia of exhibitors. I did plan out in advance those I wanted to visit but didn’t get round them all. Part of the problem was navigating the stand numbering system – I kept getting hopelessly lost and distracted.

I was particularly disappointed I didn’t make it to the Forces War Records stand to see what the discount was, as I am considering subscribing.

WDYTYA2

WW2 Spitfire in the Forces War Records Area

I did manage to get my 25% Ancestry renewal discount. Definitely one bargain not to be missed out on.

I was torn about purchasing some more DNA kits for the family. Ancestry had a great deal, with kits retailing at a massively discounted £59 and Family Tree DNA’s autosomal Family Finder kit at £65. I decided against it. But with luck, judging by the rate they were flying off the shelves, I may get some more matches (hopefully with attached trees).

As ever I spent a small fortune on books, my big weakness. The Pen & Sword stand got the largest chunk of my book cash. Their offer of three books for £30 proved far too tempting and I ended up buying 5 for £40! Only the fact I’ve got the indispensable “Phillimore Atlas of Parish Registers” stopped me from grabbing a £20 bargain at The History Press stand.

WDYTYA9.jpg

Pen & Sword Haul

I also managed to sign up for a Pharos course (with 20% discount). So I’ll be doing their “Introduction to One-Name Studies” course in May. For good measure I ended up registering a one-name study name with the Guild – heaven knows how much extra work I’ve landed myself there!

WDYTYA8

More Goodies – including One-Name Studies Guidance

On the subject of courses, I managed to speak to a number of providers. I’m now pondering about doing the Pharos Advanced course, the Institute of Heraldic & Genealogical Studies (IHGS) correspondence course or a Centre for Archive and Information Studies (CAIS) one. As ever for me the sticking point is fitting genealogy learning around work commitments. I need the flexibility. I also want a course which will potentially lead to formal accreditation with the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA).

And talking, listening and learning is another fantastic thing about “WDYTYA? Live”. It was great to meet so many people who share this passion for family history, including so many #AncestryHour Twitter folk! So faces to Twitter names at last.

Given my interest in WW1 history, I visit Flanders and the Somme annually. So the show provided me opportunity to do some planning for my two visits scheduled for this year.

WDYTYA7

Holiday Planning

On a WW1 theme finally, as the show was winding up, Chris and I paid for joint membership of the Western Front Association, something we’ve meant to do for quite some time.

WDYTYA17

Plenty for Military Researchers

Yet again I thoroughly enjoyed my day at “WDYTYA? Live”. The talks I attended were excellent. However, given that I felt I missed so much this year in terms of exhibitors, next year I won’t try to cram everything into one day. I will stay for two, possibly the full three, days. That in itself sums up how useful the event is.end of show

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016 – Workshops

I’m pushing on with my Family History New Year’s Resolutions, as described on 1 January. Today’s task has been around keeping up with the latest developments and building upon my knowledge.

I booked my ticket to “Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016” late last year. Today I checked out the Workshop programme. Last year I failed to book these in advance. As a result the ones I wanted to attend were full. Although I was able to hang around the periphery and eavesdrop, it wasn’t quite the same as having a seat. This was my blog post based on my view of the 2015 event.

Irish Catholic Records Workshop in 2015

The programme is more or less finalised, and the workshops available to pre-book. Lots of interesting talks around a full range of topics, from Irish ancestry, copyright and War Records, to brick walls, maps and pre 1837 research. There are the inevitable workshop clashes. But I’ve deliberated and finally made my selection. These are based around a combination of my interests and areas I want to strengthen.

The full programme is here

My choices are:

  • “The Luck of the Irish” – Irish Census and Census Substitutes Might Lead You to Your Family in Ireland Prior to 1864 Registration – Grant Edward Curley (10.15)
  • Research Before 1837: Church Records on and Off Line – Else Churchill (11.15)
  • Writing Your Family History – Gill Blanchard (12.15)
  • What They Don’t Tell You About Archives – Simon Fowler (14.15)
  • Tracing a 16th and 17th Century Family Tree – Celia Heritage (15.15)
  • Copyright and Family History – Margaret Haig (16.15)

 

Update:
I have now received a follow up email from “WDYTYA? Live” informing me that the workshop schedule has changed since I made my booking. The “Writing Your Family History” workshop has moved to Friday’s show, so I will have to miss that one.

And “Research Before 1837” has moved to later in the day on Saturday….and it now clashes with the “Copyright and Family History” one. I’m now agonising over which one to attend. It may be that my husband will find himself attending the latter, tasked with note-taking: as a journalist, but not a family historian, it is the one he will probably get the most from.

I now have a gap at 11.15, so will probably go for Chris Baker’s  “The Fog of War: Breaking Through the Records of Soldiers of 1914-1918″, one of the talks I toyed with when making my original decision. My husband has booked for that one – so I will ask him to consider donating his place to me!

Looking at “The Education Zone” offerings which have now largely been fleshed out since my booking, Andrew Robertshaw’s “The Story of the Somme” appeals. Running between 13.50-14.10 I can probably squeeze that one in (just). But the other one I’m interested in, “Using Findmypast to Unlock Your Irish Family History“, by Brian Donovan clashes with the Archives talk.

The fact there are so many talks I’m interested in is testimony to the continued relevance of the show to family history researchers.

And the event has challenged my timetabling to the max. I only hope I haven’t gone too far with workshop overload….and I can find time to explore the various exhibitors.

I am also hoping that the surgery I’m now scheduled for will be in the week after the show. Otherwise all my planning will be in vain.

 

Family History Fair Tips for Beginners

I attended “Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015” staged this year at the NEC in Birmingham. It was my first ever visit to this annual event, although I have been to a number of local family history fairs in the past. Although it probably does not suit all, for me the new location was far more easily accessible than London, the previous venue. I had a fantastic time. It was a lovely, relaxed atmosphere. I met lots of fabulous people. And I came away with a wealth of new information and tips which hopefully will lead to the demolition of some of those family tree “brick walls”.  I also seem to have committed to researching my husband’s tree too as a result of my visit, from a geographical area outside my sphere of knowledge. So I made new contacts to facilitate that.

With lots of family history fairs and events coming up in the next few weeks such as the “Family History Fair and Lecture Day” at Pudsey on 25 April 2015 and the “Yorkshire Family History Fair” in York on 27 June 2015, I thought I would share my 10 tips for those new to going to such events. These are aimed at beginners, they are not exhaustive and some may be more applicable than others, depending on the type of event.

Tip 1: Before the event familiarise yourself with the exhibitors. For big events such as “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” and the “Yorkshire Family History Fair” the cast list can be overwhelming. I make a list of those stands and tables I definitely want to visit as, on the day, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the atmosphere and miss out someone, only realise too late when you are on your way home. I also take a map with those tables highlighted. Nevertheless the joy of these events is the opportunity to browse and see what is available. You never know what you might stumble across which may prove relevant/interesting for your research. For me this time the unexpected interest was DNA, which seems to be the latest big thing in genealogy.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015

Tip 2: Make a note of the workshops you are interested in and, if possible, pre-book them. This was my failing at “Who Do You Think You Are? Live”.  When I finally got round to checking I discovered the workshops I really wanted to attend were all booked up at least the week before the event. So if you are really keen on a particular talk book it as early as possible. All was not lost for me as there was the opportunity to hover on the periphery of the unenclosed workshops. But it was not quite the same as having a seat in the designated area.

Irish Catholic Records Workshop

Irish Catholic Records Workshop

Tip 3: Take plenty of pens and a notebook. Invaluable for making notes of key workshop points as well as any general tips or contact details you pick up whilst there.

Tip 4: Take your ancestor details with you. It is all too easy on the day to forget exact dates and locations for them. I have my full tree available on a Phone App. But I make sure I have a hard paper copy too, in case reception is dodgy or my battery dies and there are no charging facilities. A number of Family History Societies have A4 printed family tree “Ancestral File” books available to purchase where you can record your research. These are perfect not only for Family History Fairs but also for record office visits.

Tip 5: Keep a list of books you own and take it with you. I have a bookcase full of genealogy reference and general interest books, so it is all too easy to forget what exactly I have on those creaking shelves.  To counteract this I also have a small pocket book listing in alphabetical author order all my books. That way when I go to one of these events and see a book I think looks interesting I can check to make sure it is not one I already own. It does take organisation and discipline in remembering to add each new purchase to the list but it can end up saving a lot of money in the long run on duplicates! This extends to Family History Society publications such as parish register indexes, MIs and even the Alan Godfrey Map Series. Make sure you know what you already own to avoid spur of the moment duplicate buys.

Tip 6: If you have hit any ancestral “brick walls” take what information you have with you. There are lots of experts on hand to help. Some of these may be drop-in sessions; others you may have to pre-book a slot. But it is well worth getting advice which may help you progress your research. I tend to take photocopies of certificates etc just in case I end up losing them. But for photographs it is always best to take the original.

Tip 7: Talk to people. It is amazing how friendly and knowledgeable everyone is and how much you can learn. It is the joy of this type of event.

Tip 8: Have a set budget. There are so many tempting things on offer at these events it can be all too easy to get carried away. Products range from books to CDs, joining societies, magazine subscriptions, software, genealogy supplies, courses and even DNA tests. I have a set budget before I go, a mixture of cash and card. I try to stick to it…..although it can be difficult!

Tip 9:  Pace yourself. It is all too tempting to rush round all day trying to cram in as much as possible, resulting in information overload, headache and exhaustion. Take time out for a coffee and a bite to eat, a chance to chat to people, re-group, evaluate what you have learned and still have left to do and importantly re-charge those batteries (and I’m not talking my phone here). The day will be an all the better experience for it.

Find My Past 1939 Team Rooms

Find My Past 1939 Team Rooms

Tip 10: Finally take a lightweight bag and wear a pair of comfortable shoes – you will certainly cover some ground during the course of the day, especially at the bigger events!  And you will come away with far more leaflets, books etc than you started the day with.

I hope this is helpful to those new to Family History Fairs. Any other tips please feel free to share.

A useful events list can be found at http://geneva.weald.org.uk/

Jane