Learning made easy at Who Do You Think You Are Live 2015

Those who have never been to “Who Do You Think You Are Live” may think that it is just another trade show.  How wrong they are.  It is so much more.  If you don’t take advantage of the large numbers of free talks on all kinds of subjects, or of the expertise on all the stands and tables you are missing out.

SOG workshops

For a start there are workshops in the four Society of Genealogists theatres –  a different talk every hour from 10.15am  to 5.30pm.  These talks can be pre-booked or booked on the day and this year there was again a variety of subjects at all levels from free online websites to the Dublin Registry of Deeds. 

War Diaries talk by David Langrish

War Diaries talk by David Langrish



I was there for the whole 3 days this year and attended a really useful one called “Searching First World War Unit War Diaries at the National Archives” on the Saturday morning.  I thought I already knew how to do it and what they could tell me but research specialist David Langrish showed me much much more.




Drop in talks

Actually my talk theme that Saturday morning was World War One as I’d already been to one of the free drop in talks run by “The Genealogist” to hear Chris Baker on the subject of Military Ancestors.  He really knows his stuff so I was looking forward to his talk and I wasn’t disappointed although he has cost me money on a new subscription I have been dithering about for a while!

Chris Baker preparing for his talk on Military Ancestors



The Imperial War Museum’s “Lives of the First World War”  also had a series of free drop in talks and I attended a really good one on Thursday about the newly added Anzac records and Gallipoli.  This started at 9.45 and I think they subsequently changed to a little later to allow time for visitors to get through the doors and find them.



The National Archives stand

The National Archives stand



And just next door were The National Archives talks and both TNA and the Imperial War Museum had various experts on hand to answer queries in their own “ask an expert” sections.






Find my Past too had its own drop in talks schedule as did Ancestry and Familysearch.  To be honest I got confused because there was so much to choose from and I thought how nice it would be to know the drop in talks schedules in advance so you could plan your day. 


Findmypast free talk on new and upcoming databases

Findmypast free talk on new and upcoming databases


There was also the DNA theatre which had its own pre-bookable programme of talks.  This was right next to the Association of Professional Genealogists stand so when I was doing my stints there I tended to get to hear snippets in between queries but not the whole talk which was frustrating.

Expertise on the stands

Of course there was also expertise provided by the family history societies and all the specialist museums and libraries and companies who exhibited.  The General Register Office for instance answered my query on the mechanics of how they search for a certificate without a reference, the National Army Museum did the same about the Soldiers Effects Registers.

Now sadly it is all over for another year and we are left with the piles of leaflets and the books we bought, the notes we took which need writing up properly before we forget, a hoarse voice and memories of a really worthwhile and fun day out.

Jacqui Kirk