The Society of Genealogists at Who Do You Think You Are?Live 2014

The centenary commemorations of the First World War were centre stage at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014. As part of our regular programme of workshop talks the Society of Genealogists added a special stream of talks over all three days devoted to tracing your WW1 Ancestors. Upstairs in the Gallery Level an extra floor space was opened up to welcome back the National Archives and the Imperial War Museum alongside military genealogy specialists; expert advisors helping with specific WW1 research questions and identifying memorabilia; battlefield tour Guides and military museums.

The Imperial War Museum launched its enormous online project Lives of the First World War which marries sources for those who took part in the war with crowd sourced stories of the individuals concerned.  With TV historian Dan Snow as the project ambassador it was my privilege to facilitate the keynote presentations from the IWM experts who explained how the website is initially seeded with the records of the WW1 medal cards now made freely available and to which will be added many more sources for those who served on the armed services and on the home front (and even those who objected to service).  If you have diaries, photos and letters you can add to what is known about the individual. If you are working on a community project to research or commemorate names recorded on a local war memorial you can contribute that information to the community pages of the IWM website. The project was launched at the show to for attendees to register and test the site before it is opened fully to public use in May.

The Society of Genealogists new publications My Ancestor was a Woman at War by Emma Jolley and Ian Waller’s book My Ancestor was in the Royal Navy (which arrived just in time) proved very popular (as did the show discount offered on all our titles). I suspect the opportunity to have a slice of cake as well as have Emma sign copies as they were sold was an extra incentive.

This year the show ran from Thursday to Saturday rather than Friday to Sunday. The SoG talks were well attended right from the early sessions so clearly many people braved travelling into London early and along with the half term crowds. With at least seven opportunities to sit down and hear talks or presentations on the increased floorspace of the show, in addition to the SoG programme, the show itself never felt overcrowded or claustrophobic and there was ample space to walk round to see the stands in the SoG Family History Show area as well as the  more commercial areas.

There were plenty of new exhibitors. I was fascinated to see that Surrey Registration Service had permission to bring along original death registration volumes showing the death certificates of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll and Emily Wilding Davison (the suffragist who stepped in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913).

It takes several months to plan and prepare for each event .As usual the Society could not carry out its valuable partnership at the show without the dedication and hard work of our volunteers  who work tirelessly over the three days, whether on our stands or in the Ask the Expert Area or as speakers.  Special thanks this year must go to John Hanson and Mike Wood who have over the past years designed and  built the Society’s stand but who this year stepped back (well almost)  into a supervisory role in anticipation of retiring and let the younger generation take future strain.

While it hasn’t quite been confirmed where exactly Who Do You Think You Are?Live 2015 will take place rest assured the Society of Genealogists will be there. Our next event  will be Who Do You Think You Are? Live – Scotland which will take place at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow from 29 August –  31 August, 2014. Any volunteers?

More photographs have been uploaded onto the Society of Genealogists FaceBook Page


 SomeSpeakers Handouts can be found on the learn pages of this site

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