Category Archives: Events

WDYTYA? Live ~ one week to go!

This time next week I will be at WDYTYA? Live in London!  I’m attending on Friday and Saturday, and have booked workshops for both days.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to pick up tickets on the day for another workshop or two.

Ancestry have announced they will be streaming some of their presentations live from their Facebook page.  (You’ll need to have a Facebook account.) Details are on their blog. There are three presentations on Friday and three on Saturday that you will be able to view.

Seven more sleeps to go!

Kent Family History Fair, Maidstone

Popped in to the Kent Family History Fair today as it was just down the road.  Had a browse through some postcards, having been inspired by John Gasson at The Wandering Genealogist, and his postcard collecting.   I lasted about 15 minutes, and didn’t find anything I really wanted to purchase.  I think I’d like to have a little shopping list next time. 

What I did buy was a CD I’d been eyeing up online – the Kent Family History Society‘s Poor-law Records for Mid-Kent, which contains transcripts of settlement certificates, bastardy bonds, removal and settlement examinations, etc, chiefly from the Poor Law Union areas of Gravesend & Milton, Hoo, Strood (or North Aylesford), Milton, Hollingbourne, Maidstone, Malling, Tonbridge, Cranbrook and Dartford (for parishes where records are held at Maidstone or Medway).

Happily I found a mention of the ancestor I was looking for! Now that I know the records are there, I can go take a look at the original documents, and also check the parish vestry minutes for the time period, see if there are any other mentions.

The other item I bought was a CD from the bargain box – Pigot’s 1840 Directory for Kent. From a quick look, the villages I’m particularly interested in aren’t mentioned, but hopefully I’ll find some use for it.

In other news, I have a newly-discovered relative visiting me on Friday morning, and I’m meeting up with a fellow IHGS student in Dublin on Saturday. I also hope to get my current batch of assignments as close to completion as possible this week. Just as long as I don’t find anything to distract me…

SOG Centenary Conference, London

I spent the day up in London, attending the Society of Genealogists Centenary Conference, and had an illuminating day!

There were two streams of presentations, so you never know if you’ve picked the right one, but mostly I was very happy with the talks I heard.  First up was Dr Nick Barratt (of WDYTYA? fame) – fantastic speaker and a thought provoking topic – From Memory to Digital Record: Personal Heritage, Family History and Archives in the 21st Century.   Some of the issues he covered were the importance of local archives and how cutbacks are affecting opening hours and the threat of closure in some cases, the work being done in schools to make history personal and getting the kids excited about it, how WDYTYA really got people interested in genealogy (and the unrealistic expectations generated by the programme!), and preserving your own family archive for future generations.  There was a lot more he talked about, but these stood out for me.  One of the questions asked afterwards was:  where can you put family history information online, without having to build your own website?  According to Barratt, there are a couple of companies that are offering a service like this (and I didn’t catch the names).  But it’s still early days on that front – an interesting space to watch, I think.

The next presentation I saw was Dr Bruce Durie on The Future of Geneaology Education. He runs the postgrad Genealogical Studies programme at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.  Awesome speaker!  Fascinating talk  about genealogy both as an academic discipline and a profession.

At this point we had lunch – which was a rather underwhelming and disappointing affair consisting of sandwiches, a few crisps, and sliced fruit.

After lunch were presentations on parish registers, records pre 1700s, and census substitutes 1688-1837.  This last talk was given by Else Churchill, who I’ve heard speak before, and who is so easy to listen to.  I skipped the presentation on blogging and social networking, but hope to read the lecture notes on the SOG website when they’re made available.  (As I seemed to be one of the few attendees under 60, I was a bit concerned about the level the talk would be pitched at, though perhaps I shall be proven wrong!)

The final session was Juliet Nicolson discussing The Perfect Summer: Dancing into the Shadow in 1911, her book of the same name.  The talk was so good I just had to buy a (signed) copy of the book afterwards.

All in all it was an enjoyable day, though it would have been nice to have had some kind of open forum/discussion session, and other opportunities that would encourage discussion amongst fellow attendees.  And slightly better lunch options to keep us going till 6.30pm.

Catching Up

Well, I had meant to write a bit about Percy Luxton, my first cousin twice removed, who has featured now in not one, but two Wordless Wednesday posts.  Alas alack, I have been distracted this week by ITV’s Long Lost Family and BBC’s If Walls Could Talk: The History of the Home, catching up on episodes I had missed.

And tomorrow I am off to the Society of Genealogists’ Centenary Conference in London, and looking forward to some interesting presentations.   Will report back on my experiences there as soon as I can!

Who Do You Think You Are? Live – London

So, on Sunday I headed off into London for Who Do You Think You Are? Live. I had bought a Q-jump ticket to avoid the queues I remembered from last year on the Saturday, but didn’t need to have as it was a lot quieter, with no queues at all to get in. And none of the presentations were booked out either, so I managed to snaffle a couple more tickets. Having been awake since 2am (yay jetlag), I decided to spend most of my time sitting and listening to talks, rather than traipsing around the exhibition floor.

After grabbing the extra tickets, I lined up to get a photo dated by Jayne Shrimpton at the Family Tree magazine stand.

I had a good idea who the couple were in the photograph – my great great grandparents Mary Jane Clark and Ephraim Wright – but couldn’t be sure, and wanted a date for confirmation. On the back of the photograph, in handwriting I don’t recognise (a couple of relatives in that family were great at writing of the back of photos, but this wasn’t from one of them) is the inscription: “Dad copied this from a very old & faded photograph of your father and mother. Thought you would like one.” Ephraim died at the age of 33 in 1894, and we have no photographs of him, so I was excited to find out if it was possibly him and his wife Mary Jane. She married three times, so I really needed the date. Jayne gave a date range of 1876 to 1883 (wow! so impressed she could be that specific – wanted to ask her more about how she could date so precisely, but didn’t want to take up more than my allotted time), and also said that it looked like a standard wedding photo. Ephraim and Mary Jane were married in 1882 in Lewisham, Kent, so this fitted perfectly!

Mary Jane and Ephraim Wright (probably wedding photo, 1882)

Mary Jane and Ephraim Wright (probably wedding photo, 1882)

I had a quick look around some of the stands, then headed off to the theatre for the first talk – Behind the Scenes with Ainsley Harriot, one of the celebrities featured in a previous UK series of Who Do You Think You Are? I wouldn’t have bothered with going, but it was nice to sit and relax for an hour, and it was interesting enough, though I didn’t learn anything useful for my own research.

Straight then onto my next presentation: Reading the writing of the past – Barbara Harvey (replacing Dominic Johnson). An interesting topic, would have been better as more of a “hands on” workshop I think. Barbara did a good job if she was drafted in at the last minute.

Now onto the workshops I had prebooked. First up was: My ancestor was in the parish registers - John Hanson. I had attended a very similar talk last year given by Else Churchill (in fact, I recognised some of the same images), but I think I got a lot more out of it this year, having actually started looking at parish records. Really enjoyed this, great speaker.

With only 15 minutes between talks at this point, I was thankful they were all in the same place or nearby, so I had a chance to grab a bite to eat in between!

Next up: Records of deaths and burials – Alec Tritton. Well, this was a bit disappointing. Covered some of the same material as John Hanson’s talk. Alec mentioned that he’d had to cut his usual 90 minute talk on the subject into 45 minutes, and it showed. To be fair, I was possibly flagging a little at this point. The online handout should be useful.

Phew – little bit of a breather here. Had a prebooked Ask the Experts session, and got some direction on how to tackle a brick wall concerning a great great great grandfather. I then had a chance to wander around the stands and check out some of the books for sale – and grabbed a discounted copy of Phillimore’s Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, which I had been wanting. I also had a chat to the membership officer for the Suffolk FHS.

Last workshop of the day was: Irish records – beyond the obvious, with Rosalind McCutcheon. Oh, what a joy and delight this woman was! I was worried that I’d be falling asleep by the end of the day, but no fear here! Lovely speaker and lots of useful information.

All in all, a good day!

Handouts of all the above presentations and more besides are available online at the Society of Genealogists website.