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Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE – what did you think?

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Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE – what did you think?

Postby Matt Elton » Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:17 pm

Hi there!

The magazine team is back in the office after a very exciting weekend at Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE. If you came along to the show, I hope that you had a great time – let us know your highlights, and we'll include a selection in the magazine.

Matt Elton
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Re: Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE – what did you think?

Postby phsvm » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:05 pm

I went on Friday and was very disappointed, even though I'd done as suggested and scoured the programme before I got there to ensure I knew which stands I wanted to visit. I certainly wouldn't go again.

Like a great many people at the moment my hobby is not something I can afford to spend a huge amount of money on. Just getting to the show (ticket and transport) cost me the best part of £50 which although were costs I knew I'd incur I did expect that I would not need to spend much more during the day.

By keeping a tight rein on my purse I didn't spend any thing else but I did get heartly fed up with continually feeling that to make the most of the event I needed to take up the offers of '20% off' membership to this website or '15%' off that website or joining this society ("only £45 a year") or taking out a subscription for X magazine ("pay for a year and get the first 3 months free") etc etc.

Even listening to the free talks was like listening to an advert for the company sponsoring them.

The one redeeming feature of the day was talking to Carlston from the Caribbean Family History Group who made the day worthwhile. I desperately needed help and guidance in how to trace a family from the West Indies. Carlston was a real fount of knowledge and the half hour I spent chating to him was brilliant. Unlike the 20 minutes with the 'Ask the Expert' from the Society of Genealogists. Having booked my 20 min slot, the expert failed to turn up and after spending half the time waiting for them it was suggested that someone else talk to me. This "expert" had no experience of researching West Indian records and simply told me to look for documents: but didn't tell me how I could go about that when I'm this side of the Atlantic and the records are the other. Thank you Carlston for immediately directing me to the London Family History Centre.

Sorry to be so negative but you did ask. On reflection I would have been better spending the money on paying for the most expensive membership available on one of the websites.
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Re: Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE – what did you think?

Postby Guy » Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:48 pm

I enjoyed my visit to WDYTYA live.
However I formed the impression that it was very quite this year, and this view was confirmed by many I talked to.

Perhaps it is time to revitalise the event by moving the date, reducing the stand fees, cutting back to two days instead of three and reducing the entrance fee.
As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.
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Re: Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE – what did you think?

Postby ksouthall » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:03 pm

Hello Matt,

I went along to the show for the first time on Saturday. As Guy said, it did seem a bit quiet but I wondered if this was because there were several talks running for most of the day which meant that a lot of people were out of circulation at any one time.

My highlights of the day were:-

1) Sarah Williams' talk about her experiences in tracing her family tree. It was very interesting and also raised a question for me as her family were involved in an ironworks factory in West Bromwich. My husband's family were from the West Midlands, mainly around Stourbridge, however several of them were ironworkers and boilermakers so I wonder if any of them worked for Sarah's ancestors.

2) Nick Barratt's talk with the guest appearance by Miriam Margolyes.

3) The helpful people at the following Family History Society stands:-

Apparently, I can claim to be Cornish through my great-great-grandmother so am looking forward to filling in the “White British – Cornish” or “White British – Other” option on forms in the future.

I did come up to the WDYTYA? stand but it was quite busy. I did manage to blag a free memory stick though - thanks for that Matt.
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Re: Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE – what did you think?

Postby Editor » Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:30 am

Thank you to everyone who came to my talk. You should have come up to say hello Katherine. There were lots of ironworks in the area so I suspect your ancestors didn't work for my ancestors, but the company was JB & S Lees if that helps!
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Re: Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE – what did you think?

Postby ksouthall » Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:53 pm

Editor wrote:Thank you to everyone who came to my talk. You should have come up to say hello Katherine. There were lots of ironworks in the area so I suspect your ancestors didn't work for my ancestors, but the company was JB & S Lees if that helps!

Hello Sarah,

I would have come up to say hello but it was very busy plus I had my mother-in-law with me and I kept nearly losing her. Thanks for the company name. I'll bear it in mind when tracing my father-in-law's family.

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Re: Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE – what did you think?

Postby Lin » Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:45 am

I also attended the event with my husband on the Friday and had a great day.
I am not sure what some people expect from these days but it's fair to assume that organisations who have paid to have exhibition stands will want to make some money and raise the profile of their organisation so it is only natural that they will be pushing promotional offers and trying to increase membership.
I felt that there was a good mix of organisations and a huge amount of advice available if you were willing to wait around to speak to someone. Many of my ancestors were in India during the time of the British Raj and I managed to get lots of information from Fibis and took out membership with them also.

I enjoyed the talks I attended but would have liked to have had the opportunity of a Family Tree Maker 'workshop' as I am new to using this after using Ancestry for a few years and must admit I do struggle with navigation and merging, I know I am not getting the best from it and find it quite frustrating.

I paid £25 for two tickets and felt that was excellent value for money, especially considering the venue, in order to get the most out of it I had arranged to view some documents at the British Library the next day so stayed over in London, even so, I do agree that the associated costs do make for an expensive day out. Perhaps a venue in the Midlands could be considered? I know Birmingham would still be expensive but Nottinghamshire has some wonderful venues with great transport links and would probably be more reasonable which would allow for cheaper stands and encourage more exhibitors.

My only negative was the Ancestry lounge, I just didn't get the point of it, it seemed to just be a way of collecting email addresses to see who had attended? if it was a rest area it was pretty much a waste of time as we tended to rest where we stopped to eat or have a drink, the area would have been great if it were set up for Ancestry members to be able to see 1-2-1 advisers with laptops (I could have asked about family tree maker) this could easily have been arranged by appointment/tickets.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to attending again next year. :D
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Re: Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE – what did you think?

Postby Matt Elton » Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:27 pm

Hi there,

Thanks very much for all your feedback on the show – it's been noted and passed on to the event organisers. If anyone else has anything to add, positive or negative, please do let us know!

Matt Elton
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Re: Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE – what did you think?

Postby bandit » Tue May 17, 2011 9:55 pm


As I have just found this forum the other day I could not pass up the opportunity to commont on this topic. I went last year for tw

I went to the conference last year for two days ( had a mini holiday) and enjoyed it , although I did think there was plenty of reasons to part with money (what little I had). I did enjoy using the computers on the Find my Past stand and they were very helpful , unlike the Family Search stand where I had strict timings to adhere to- 30 minutes - whilst the person after me was on there for an absolute age as I queued again . My time with the expert was a farce as the computers broke down and to be honest there was just as much expertise on the stands – you just had to queue. Not to mention the workshop tickets . I worked out the strategy for them. But there was nowhere to sit and eat or even rest sore feet- especially if you weren’t part of Ancestries select group.

So I was full of expectation this year and decided to go three days I had expected that I would get a special deal admission wise but that did not happen . So perhaps that’s worth considering next time for the organisers .I had done a file for my hubby and one for me so we knew what we were looking for. So armed early in the morning we arrived at the top of the queue and when we were let in and went straight up to get the workshop tickets for the day . That done and organised so I thought, we set off to get our questions answered. Not so for the workshops, as I did not check what tickets I had been given – I had been given not the ones I had asked for but the wrong sessions- so the way it was organised, was even too complicated even for the staff. I was not allowed into the workshops I wanted as they had been allocated, and had to go to the ones I had tickets for. On Day two and three I made sure I had the right tickets first thing.

We decided to go and see the military people, and on the way saw a lowly Eric Knowles with no-one to talk to. I did not have any antiques with me but I went for a chat and had an autograph and some photos which were nice. He was stuck in corner and I really think he should have been in a more prominent place where his area could be seen. Having even more Antique experts would be good- even if was in the line of clothes or photography or such like.

The military stand was very helpful for both of us and gave very fruitful I information and all for free.

We stopped in on the Genealogists for a work shop there – very good subscription which I had from last year and excellent database. Really easy to use and some great answers have come out from it.

One workshop we went to was cancelled and someone else stood in with a different topic and was so boring we left I nearly fell asleep. The workshops of Bruce Durries were amazing and so funny and I did so enjoy his Latin class and even brought the book as I am getting to the state of having to read documents in Latin. Bit I have yet to learn Latin. My lovely hubby bought me the Phillimore Atlas and Index which is invaluable.

I had great fun on the Find my Past stand and found out so much being able to use the computers for as long as we wanted.

My next memorable moment was on one of the counties stands where I know my family come from. They shall remain nameless because I was bemoaning the fact that I could not find my ancestors on the computers and was told that this county had not passed on the records and the only way to get it was to buy the CD’s. Which is what I had to do – although I was rather miffed that they had not passed on the info because they could make money selling the info. It had to be said there was plenty of other County stands giving info out for free.

This year the food and rest areas were much better and there was plenty of food sites. But it had to be said they were expensive . But if you are smart there is a Tesco down the road . If Ancestry can have their own areas why did FMP not have their own rest and food areas – they are a big enough organisation surely. I was disappointed that the Genealogists did not have loads of computers set up to do searches on their stand- perhaps they can next year – it really does encourage people to get subscriptions. I joined Find my Past and I don’t know what I would have done without them. It was the 1911 census that did it for me.

I would have like to have got the notes from the workshops as my notes were rubbish so I missed out there I did have a free Showguide as part of subscription from WDYTYA so that saved me money and also gave me advance notice of all the work shops and the plan of Olympia so that really is a good investment.

I missed the probate people this year as they were invaluable last year with Wills and I really wanted to explore that avenue- so if they are there next time that might swing it.

I did see a few celebrities but they did not seem very happy at being spotted and did not want to talk and made a sharp exit.

So would I go again ? At the moment I don’t know? It was a lot of money to stay over and evening meals out as nice as they were added to the bills. It all depends on how far I get back by next year. I think the conference is very good for beginners and intermediates but when you start getting past the parish records as it depends on who the exhibitors are who has that sort of expertise to take you on to the 1600’s. Perhaps the celebrity workshops at the start of the days would be good I did not see them but I enjoy the shows on the TV but I am really envious of the help and expertise they get and by jove the speed at which information is found. I know from experience that this in reality is a long slow process so these people have been working for these celebrities for ages before it actually shown on the screen.

In essence I do think that the conference is a money spinning venture for its inhabitants; I would like to see more County stands – I think that the cost of their stands should be minimal as I understand some did not turn up because they could not afford the price. County experts are the real workhorse of a family tree if you know that your family came from a certain area. They are experts in that area and the historians are worth their weight in gold. However if you don’t know where to begin then this is a good starting point. Perhaps if you want more then it would be better spending the money at the National Archives or Kew Gardens .

I also think that Genealogy wise, England , Ireland, Scotland, and Wales should get together more for us researchers. It is really hard having to pay out for subscriptions for other areas because they are not included.

Also buyer beware ; reaserchers should be told that records are not always complete. Some have been lost by fire , flood or water damamge. Not only that, some same type records are held in various places so you need to do your reeaerch first to find where the actual type of record you are looking for is held.

Well thats about it it - hope it helps someone make their minds up for next year.

kindest regards

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