Would you like to join a few thousand other family tree tracers at a day-long genealogy event in London? The Society of Genealogists will once again hold its annual Family History Fair in just a few weeks. Circle April 29 on your calendar now.
I attended this Fair several times and can tell you that it is the biggest and busiest genealogy get-together I have seen. Two thousand to 3,000 people descend on Royal Horticultural Hall on Greycoat Street, Westminster, on Saturday of the May Day holiday weekend.
This year's event promises to be about the same as previous years: a day filled with numerous seminars and a very large exhibitors' hall bustling with activity. The noise level in the large hall rises to a dull roar shortly after the doors open and remains there until closing. It's great to see so many people in one place with the same interest: family history.
This year's event will include numerous commercial exhibitors who will be selling the latest software, CD-ROM disks, books and more. By attending this fair, you can examine the products before you buy. These commercial exhibitors will be joined by a large number of genealogical and family history societies as well as the following record offices and repositories:
- British Records Association
- Center for Family History & Genealogy at Brigham Young University
- City of Westminster Archives Centre
- Family Records Centre
- Hyde Park Family History Center
- Imperial War Museum
- National Archive of Memorial Inscriptions (NAOMI)
- The British Postal Museum & Archive
Many of the leading U.K. genealogy experts of today will be making presentations. Titles of the talks include:
- Births, Marriages & Deaths Online
- First Steps in Family History (FREE)
- Getting the most from the Family History Show (FREE)
- Getting the Most from the FRC
- Illegitimate Ancestors
- Introducing One Name Studies (FREE)
- My Ancestor was a Lawyer
- My Ancestors lived in London
- My Ancestors were Agricultural Labourers
- My Ancestors were in the Merchant Navy
- My Ancestors were Non-conformists
- My Ancestors were Scottish
- New to Kew? Researching at The National Archives
- Parish Registers
- The Society of Genealogists and its Library
- They're not there (Using Census Indexes)
- Tracing a soldier who fought in World War Two
- Using Software Packages - Family Historian
- Using Software Packages - Family Tree Maker
- Using Software Packages - Personal Ancestral File
- Using Software Packages - RootsMagic
- Using Software Packages - The Master Genealogist
- What's New and What's Coming at FamilySearch.org?
- What did my ancestors do? Occupational Records
- Wills for Family History
Tickets to the lectures cost £3 each (£2.50 if ordered before 21 April) except for those lectures listed as FREE.
There will even be an "event before the event" with A Taste of Family History being held on Friday afternoon. The Taste of Family History is a special pre-show afternoon conference suitable for beginners. Tickets for A Taste of Family History are £15. That price includes four Friday lectures and a free ticket to the Family History Show on Saturday 29 April.
This is also a great place to pick up some tips for making your search easier and more productive. The Society of Genealogists staffs an "advice desk," with several of the best genealogists in England available for consultations. They delight in giving advice on how to break through your "stone walls." Of course, the library at the Society of Genealogists is closed that weekend since the entire staff is working at the Family History Fair.
The location of the Family History Fair is excellent. The large Horticultural Hall on Greycoat Street is within walking distance of Victoria Station as well as not far from the St. James Park Underground Station. A car park is also available only a few hundred yards from Horticultural Hall.
Every year, this Fair attracts attendees from the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as well as from all over the British Isles. I have also met attendees from Norway and other European nations at past conferences. I have been fortunate enough to attend this Fair several times and can vouch that it is a great event. You can read my report written after last year's Fair at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2005/05/report_from_lon.html. You can see pictures at http://blog.eogn.com/photos/sog2005/index.html.
With a low admission price of £8 at the door, the Family History Fair is a bargain. In fact, even though I am based in the northeastern United States, I find it cheaper to go to London to attend this fair than the expenses of attending four-day genealogy conferences in most U.S. cities! I always enjoy myself because of the many vendors' products, the many seminars, and a friendly and very enthusiastic crowd.
Here is a note to Americans and Canadians: Off-season trans-Atlantic ticket prices are in effect in late April, and the prices tend to drop even more at the last minute. If you'd like to schedule an inexpensive "get away weekend" to London, now's your chance.
More information about the Society of Genealogists' annual Family History Fair may be found at http://www.sog.org.uk/events/fair.html