09 May 2008

Eyewitness: Who Do You Think You Are LIVE!

Although I had to cancel my planned trip to London's Who Do You Think You Are LIVE! fair, several gen bloggers did attend, including WorldVitalRecords communications director Whitney Ransom, blogger Dick Eastman and others.

Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE Report by Whitney Ransom:

This week several members of WorldVitalRecords.com attended Who Do You Think You Are? Live, which perhaps is the largest family history and genealogy conference in the world. With more than 15,000 conference attendees, the conference hall was packed with individuals ready to learn, listen to speakers, visit the vendors to see some of the latest genealogical products, and even non-genealogical products (such as Nintendo, Cadbury), and simply have a wonderful time brushing shoulders with genealogy enthusiasts, experts, and historians from all over the world including Alistair McGowan, Nicky Campbell, father and son duo, Peter and Dan Snow as well as Time Team presenter Tony Robinson.

Another exciting part of the show was the "Ask the Experts" area. This was a place where conference attendees could go to set up a free, 30-minute consultation with more than 25 specialists and genealogists to receive assistance and guidance on their research and genealogical interests. The speakers at the show provided sessions for beginning to advanced genealogists and ranged in topics from Irish records in London to Scottish Records Before 1800.

WorldVitalRecords will soon be posting video clips and other fair-related information.

Dick Eastman posted three WDYTYA LIVE! entries:

In his first day's post, Dick indicated there may have been even more genealogy-related exhibits than last year and that it was better organized all around. He also posted photos. He collaborated with Roots Television to tape interviews and other highlights and those will be posted here.

The second day - Saturday - showed a much bigger crowd as Friday was a regular work day for most people. In his second post, he covered the venue - Olympia Exhibition Hall, built in 1886 and covering four acres. There were stage shows all day. Dick mentioned his favorite booth was the Italian gelato stand (Italian ice cream). It was nice to know that he enjoyed pistachio - my favorite flavor.

Sunday was the third and final day and Dick feels that the crowds were bigger than last year's report of some 13,000 people - he's estimating 15,000+ paid admissions.

So far no total of paid admissions has been posted, but that's a great turn-out for a three-day event covering so many aspects of genealogy and family history.

Read Dick's postings here, here and here.

Family Tree Magazine's eyewitness report was by Richard Heaton, a 30-year British family history veteran.

But it’s not just the numbers that make this show stand head and shoulders above the rest — it’s the scope of what’s available for visitors. It has representation from many UK local family local history societies, the online research database companies such as FindMyPast, software suppliers and expert lectures.

But it’s also attended by major archives in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland; experts on local history, military history, archeology, conservation, the History Channel; even the London Times digital newspaper archive (below). All under one roof for three days.

Making available a great variety of resources and knowledge —some not immediately connected to family history as we’ve known it — gives the show appeal to a wide audience. The common theme? All exhibitors and visitors share a passion for history.

Heaton covered a lot of the fair, and mentioned a Jewish family history research program, as well as military history and archeology exhibits.

He was volunteering at the event to help visitors with research queries in two booths: Guild of One-Name Studies (UK) and Society of Genealogists (UK). Most visitors were from the UK, but others came from the US, Canada, Ireland and Australia.

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