The third and final day of the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! show took place today at the Olympia National Hall in London. Indeed, this was the busiest day of the event. When the doors opened at 9:30 AM, long lines of attendees were already queued in both directions on the sidewalk outside the entrance doors. The exhibits hall remained busy all day and I saw many workshops that were standing room only.
I attended two workshops and also took many more pictures. A few of those pictures are available below.
I'd say the 2014 edition of Who Do You Think You Are? Live! was a success.
The show has evolved over the years. It started as a "local history" event in 2007 that featured genealogy studies as well as house history, fashion histories, military re-enactors, "what happened on my street?" and more. Over the years, the event has become more and more focused on family history. To be sure, there were people wearing historic military uniforms and civilian clothes typical of past years at the 2014 event but all those people seemed to be working for organizations that provide personnel records and other historic information about "the lives of your ancestors." As a genealogist, I like this latest emphasis better than I did the earlier shows.
As an American, I always compare Who Do You Think You Are? Live! to the larger genealogy events held in the United States. The obvious comparison is size: Who Do You Think You Are? Live! typically attracts 12,000 to 15,000 attendees. That's not bad for a country with a population of about one-fifth that of the U.S. In the U.S., only RootsTech comes close and that is a conference that focuses on the use of technology to assist in family history studies. In contrast, Who Do You Think You Are? Live! includes technology plus a lot more.
Since the London event shares the name of a very popular television programme, it generates a lot of publicity that attracts large crowds. It also features numerous celebrities in attendance, most of them giving presentations about their experiences with family history research. Unfortunately, I didn't see any of this year's celebrities as I was busy in various workshops and other activities, but I know the following were scheduled to be at the show:
- Natasha Kaplinski, British newsreader and television presenter, best known for her presenting roles with the BBC, Channel 5, Sky News and ITV and one of television's most popular broadcasters.
- Larry Lamb, English actor and radio talk-show presenter. He played Archie Mitchell in the BBC television soap EastEnders, Michael Shipman in the BBC television show Gavin & Stacey and Mischievous Marty in the cult sitcom Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
- Colin Jackson CBE, former sprint and hurdling athlete who won an Olympic silver medal, became world champion three times, went undefeated at the European Championships for 12 years and was a two-time Commonwealth champion.
- Eric Knowles, Heirloom Detective, well-known to viewers of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. Eric is currently seen on BBC2’s popular programme ‘Put your money where your mouth is’ and ‘Antique Master’ searching for the UK’s top amateur antique expert. Eric helped identify family heirlooms at the show.
- Tony Robinson, British actor, comedian, amateur historian, TV presenter and political activist. He is known for playing Baldrick in the BBC television series Blackadder and for hosting Channel 4 programmes such as Time Team and The Worst Jobs in History.
- Tessa Dunlop, television presenter, radio broadcaster and historian. She has presented history programmes for the BBC, Discovery Channel Europe, Channel 4, UKTV History and the History Channel (USA).
Several of the most popular efforts at this year's Who Do You Think You Are? Live! included:
- Ask the Experts: sponsored by the Society of Genealogists and by Ancestry.co.uk, show attendees were able to consult with genealogy experts to obtain advice about where to look for records.
- Identify Family Photos featured photography and history experts who helped identify subjects and the timeframes of old family photos.
- Several military experts were offering assistance and advice. I saw booths from the RAF Museum, the National Army Museum, The National Archives (offering assistance with military topics and much more), Imperial War Museum, and others.
I'd love to see a similar event in the United States!
You can learn a lot more about this year's Who Do You Think You Are? Live! event at http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com/.
Here are a few more photos I took today, arranged in no particular order. I hope these will provide an idea of what the show was like. You can click on any image to view a larger picture.
Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogical Officer at MyHeritage, lectures in the MyHeritage booth.
Looking down onto the MyHeritage booth from the balcony.
Amy from FindMyPast certainly was "in character."
Hmmm, maybe next year I should show up in costume.
Simon Orde and family. Simon is the founder of Calico Pie Limited, a UK software design and development company that produces Family Historian, an excellent genealogy program for Windows.
One of the evolutions I have noticed in recent years is the growth in images of newspapers now available online. These newspapers are vaulable to genealogists as well as to historians, sports historians, military experts, social scientists, and many others.
Family Tree Magazine had a large display.
Katherine Borges, founder of the International Society of Genetic Genealogists (ISOGG), gives a presentation in the DNA Workshop Theater.
Audrey Collins is describing some of the many services of The National Archives. She is a Records Specialist, specializing in Family History in the Advice and Records Knowledge department of The National Archives. When she isn't working for TNA, she also write a personal blog, called The Family Recorder, at http://thefamilyrecorder.blogspot.co.uk/.
A television crew at work.
Jeanne Bunting (left) provides advice to a show attendee in the Society of Genealogists' "Ask the Experts" arena.
Ancestry.co.uk kept two employees busy most all the time for three days as they digitized all sorts of photographs and documents for show attendees.
As you can probably see from these pictures, the 2014 edition of Who Do You Think You Are? Live! was a busy place!