There are many genealogy and history conferences, exhibits, and fairs held all over the world each year. However, my favorite is held in London every May. Where else can you see 12,000 to 15,000 genealogists and history buffs gathered in one location?
Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE, sponsored by Ancestry.co.uk and supported by The Times Archive, will be held from 2-4 May 2008 in the Grand Hall, Olympia, London. Last year's event was its debut although it did replace a smaller event normally held on the same weekend in earlier years and sponsored by the Society of Genealogists. Last year's event attracted “only” 12,500 genealogists and history enthusiasts; this year's event is expected to be significantly larger.
Comparing the annual London event to other shows in England, the U.S. and Canada is a bit difficult; it is really quite different. Those differences make comparisons difficult. First of all, Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE, abbreviated as WDYTYA, is a fair, not a conference. It attracts thousands of newcomers and intermediate-level genealogists and history buffs. Of course, the hard-core, long-time experts also show up at this fair.
Next, this fair in England is very much focused on the exhibitors. It is much more of a commercial exhibit than most other events I have attended. The Exhibits Hall remains the focus of attention for three straight days. In fact, the exhibitors at last year's events reported great success in selling their wares. You can view the very long list of exhibitors scheduled to attend this year's event at http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.co.uk/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=72.
To be sure, there are various presentations and demonstrations held, both on the center stage in the Exhibits Hall and in various rooms around the periphery. At last year's WDYTYA event I saw sword fighting, 1890s fashion shows, military uniforms from throughout the centuries, a World War II Spitfire fighter airplane, an anti-aircraft gun from the same era, and more. I also listened to medieval music being performed live. I sat in the audience and listened to presentations by well-known television personalities, famous genealogists, and numerous “unknowns” as well.
If you would like to see what happened last year, take a look at my report on RootsTelevision. You can start at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/05/national_histor.html.
You can view some other videos from last year's event as well:
An Interview with Else Churchill, the Genealogist at the Society of Genealogists, at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/06/an_interview_wi_1.html
The World War II Spitfire (when was the last time you saw a fighter plane at a genealogy and history show?) at http://www.rootstelevision.com/players/player_conferences.php?bctid=900482205
An Interview with Josh Hanna (of Ancestry.co.uk) at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/05/an_interview_wi_2.html
An Interview with Maggie Laughran, Administrator of the Federation of Family History Societies, one of the largest genealogy organizations in England, at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/05/an_interview_wi.html
An Interview with Paul Blake, co-author (with Maggie Laughran) of Discover Your Roots as well as numerous magazine articles, at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/05/an_interview_wi_1.html
Jacqueline Depelle - The Hat Lady at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/05/jacqueline_depe.html
An Interview with Chris Pomery, author of the book "DNA and Family History" at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/06/an_interview_wi.html
An Interview with Roy Stockdill, editor of the Journal of One-Name Studies and an expert British genealogist, at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/06/an_interview_wi_2.html
A Video Interview with Beau Sharbrough, Vice-President of Content Strategy and Acquisition at Footnote.com, at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/06/a_video_intervi.html
A Video Interview with David Nicholson, Director of DNA Worldwide and is a DNA expert, at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/06/a-video-intervi.html
Whew! It WAS a busy time last year!
This year's event promises to be even bigger and busier. I expect to be there again, along with a video crew from RootsTelevision. We hope to bring you a “behind the scenes” view of what a genealogy fair looks like when 15,000 or more people show up.
In addition, several BBC and other well-known personalities will be at this year's show, including British TV news presenter Natasha Kaplinsky. Other special guests at the this year's show will include Alistair McGowan, Nicky Campbell, father and son duo Peter and Dan Snow, as well as Time Team presenter Tony Robinson.
Note: I have been a fan of Tony Robinson since his days of playing the part of Baldrick, an intellectually challenged buffoon in the “Black Adder” television series. He has since gone on to play many different roles in television and on stage. I was delighted to learn that he is a rather serious genealogist and archaeologist. He recently discovered his Jewish ancestry through his grandmother's surname “Levy.”
Natasha Kaplinsky will be attending the show on Saturday 3rd May and re-telling the story of her fascinating family history live at the event.
You can hear Nicky Campbell discussing his adopted family roots on Friday 2nd May, and Alistair McGowan will relive his journey to India to find his on Sunday 4th May.
The CBA theatre programme will be busy all three days. See the listings at http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=37&Itemid=84.
The Society of Genealogists Family History Show, in association with Familyrelatives.com, is a “show within a show.” That is, it is being held at the same time and at the same place as Who Do You Think You Are LIVE! This marks the 16th consecutive year of the SoG Family History Show. This year's event will feature over 50 family history societies from across the UK - each able to provide you with regional advice and information. This is the largest gathering of its kind anywhere in the UK.
There are over 60 free seminars and workshops taking place within three theaters, each offering expert guidance and advice. You can read the list of scheduled presentations at http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=34&Itemid=81.
Ancestry.co.uk will be creating a 'lab' at the show, where their experts will be able to help you get started on your research, plus at Ancestry LIVE they will be unveiling the family histories of some lucky visitors.
One of the more popular features is the “Ask the Experts” sessions. These events will be brimming with experts. This is where you can book a 30-minute slot and pick the brains of over 25 leading specialists; each one of them will be on hand to provide you with one-to-one guidance and advice on a wide range of issues.
Please note that you will need to book an appointment to visit one of the experts. To do this, simply visit the reception desk in the “Ask the Experts” area.
Discover Archaeology LIVE is another “show within a show” being held the same weekend at the same location. This special event is dedicated to the interests of archaeologists. Here you can meet leading experts and TV personalities engaged in this popular historical pursuit. You'll have the chance to come face to face with leading organizations and groups involved in archaeology, including those who are able to examine and identify your finds, so please bring along artifacts that you have excavated yourself!
Time Team presenter Tony Robinson (there he is again!) is making a special appearance at the show to talk about his passion in the subject and what it is like to make the TV show, and passing on some valuable tips and advice. Please note that Tony will only be at the show on Saturday, 3 May.
The Council for British Archaeology Theatre promises to present a comprehensive speaker program that will run over three days of the event - familiar names include Phil Harding, Julian Richards, and Raksha Dave.
Still another “show within the show” will feature Military History LIVE! This is a showcase of the Nation’s Military History, which takes place alongside Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE. In this area you will be able to see life in the Armed Forces during times of conflict brought to life and learn about The Battle of Britain and The Battle of Amiens from Peter and Dan Snow.
For those of you searching for information about ancestors who served in the Army, Navy, or Air Force, the show offers you the opportunity to speak directly to organizations which hold vital records that will aid your research. In addition to this, a series of specialist workshops will be held which will enable you to get information and advice from expert genealogists to help trace your military ancestors.
An impressive collection of military vehicles, tanks, and planes will also be on display, all under one roof.
If these words sound like I am enthused about Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE and the other shows within the show, you're right! This was a great show last year, and I am looking forward to attending this year's event.
If you can be in London on May 2 through 4, you will want to stop by the Olympia Centre to attend this event. It is not necessary to attend all three days; most of Friday's events will be repeated on Saturday and again on Sunday. You can see many of the presentations, but not all, in one day.
Here's a hint to Americans and Canadians: the trans-Atlantic airfares are “off season” rates in early May. In fact, I can fly round trip from my home in the eastern U.S. for less than the airfare of a round-trip to Los Angeles. You need to check the various travel sites to see what bargains you can find.
If you cannot attend in person, “stay tuned” to this newsletter for reports from the Fair. I expect to write about what I see as well as post a few photographs. A few days later, you should see some interviews on RootsTelevision on what we (the camera crew and I) experienced at Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE!
The Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE event is being held in the Olympia Exhibition Centre, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington. This is an excellent location for an event of this size. It is easily accessible via the Tube. For those staying overnight, there is a Hilton hotel directly across the street and dozens of other hotels within a short ride on London's famous Underground.
The nearest Underground access point is the Kensington (Olympia) stop, a 2-minute walk from the exhibition hall.
The one-day admission price for adults for tickets purchased in advance is £18.00. Admission for children aged 6 though 15 is £5.00. Children aged 5 and under are admitted free. Even lower prices are available for readers of this newsletter. See my separate article about the “specials” being offered to newsletter readers.
Tickets purchased at the door will cost £20.00.
For more information about this year's event, look at: http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.co.uk