Perhaps the world's largest gathering of genealogists, history buffs, and military re-enactors, along with more than 200 exhibitors, will be held in a few weeks in London. The Who Do You Think You Are? Live! 2009 event will be the third annual exhibit and promises to be even better than the first two.
If you have been to either of the first two Who Do You Think You Are? Live! events, you already know what it will be like. However, be aware of the date change this year: instead of being held on the May Day bank holiday weekend as before, the 2009 event will be held much earlier: February 27 through March 1. This year's event will again be held in the Olympia National Hall, London.
This is an excellent time of year for anyone who wishes to travel to the event from overseas. Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and others will appreciate the off-season airfares and hotel room rates (although rooms in London are never cheap!).
Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE, sponsored by Ancestry.co.uk and powered by The Times Archive, is a one-stop-genealogy-shop that attracted 12,000 visitors in May 2008. With nearly 200 exhibitors and even more people expected to attend this year, this will be the largest historical event of its kind.
Comparing the annual London event to other shows in England, the U.S., and Canada is a bit difficult as it is really quite different. 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 event 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_exhibitors&Itemid=29.
Genealogists will enjoy the many sessions available, including: Ask the Experts, The Society of Genealogists Family History Show, sponsored by TheGenealogist.co.uk and a seminar programme with lectures aimed at both beginner and advanced levels. Plus, new for this year, the SoG has teamed up with The Federation of Family History Societies to create a Regional Experts Workshop dedicated to lectures by regional experts and family history societies.
The line-up includes leading genealogist Nick Barratt.A staunch advocate of bringing history to the masses and inventor of the term ”personal heritage,” Nick will be on hand to pass on tips and advice. Other celebrities expected to attend this year's fair include Ainsley Harriott and quadruple Olympic gold medalist rower, Sir Matthew Pinsent CBE. Well-known genealogy experts at the show will include Else Churchill, Mike Gandy, John Hanson, Sharon Hintze, and Geoff Swinfield, plus experts from The National Archives. There will be in-depth information on how to begin exploring personal heritage and advice on the best use of the technology available, as well as a wealth of products and information.
To be sure, there are various presentations and demonstrations scheduled, both in the exhibits hall and in various rooms around the periphery. At past WDYTYA events 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, many vehicles from World War I, 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 in past years, take a look at my video reports on RootsTelevision. You can start with the 2007 event at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/05/national_histor.html. You can view some other videos from past WDYTYA events as well:
Eneclann at WDYTYAL? at: http://www.rootstelevision.com/players/player_conferences.php?bctid=1556072166
JoAnne Rockower of Geni.com at: http://rootstelevision.com/players/player_conferences.php?bctid=1646075903
A Video Interview with Ken Martindale of Black British Heritage at: http://rootstelevision.com/players/player_conferences.php?bctid=1551055739
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 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
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.
For more information about this year's event, look at: http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.co.uk