In this edition of my guest post for the Genealogy Insider I’m reporting from the Who Do You Think You Are? Live event in London, which runs Friday, Feb. 25, through Sunday, Feb 27.
While I could spend time telling you about the huge booths and displays of the genealogy giants like Ancestry.uk, FamilySearch or Find My Past, I think it would miss the mark on conveying what is truly unique about this particular event. It’s the “little guy” – the local society, volunteer organization and fledgling online start-up – that fills the vast majority of the exhibit hall. Here are just a few that stood out as I made way up and down the aisles:
“Genealogy butler” and professional genealogist Helen Kelly sat down with me at the Discover Ireland booth to talk about the countless number of people they have helped trace their Irish ancestors and then make the journey to the homeland. Their free booklet “Tracing Your Ancestors” in Ireland walks family historians through doing research on their own in the U.S, heading online to tap into digital records, hiring professional help as needed, and tips for making the trip and walking the green grass of Ireland in person.
“We have to be quiet sometimes,” says Kelly, “…we have to sit in the landscape and then the stones can speak to us.” Kelly made a compelling case for making the journey “back to the community that nurtured your ancestors.” While many things have changed, you can still experience the accents, landscape and culture that enveloped your ancestors.
Kelly summed it up this way, “We are not just part of our people, we are also part of our landscape.” Stay tuned to my Genealogy Gems podcast, where you will hear my entire conversation with this inspirational expert on discovering Ireland.
Lisa talks with Helen Kelly about tracing Irish roots.
Western Front Association
If you have an ancestor who served during the Great War, the Western Front Association may have just the resources and expertise you are looking for. Founded by historian John Giles in 1980, the association has grown to include thousands of members around the world. Their historical information officer is available to help with research questions, and their publications and unique record holdings make them an ideal resource.
War Memorials Trust
As I approached their booth, a woman named Nancy welcomed me and explained the simple yet vital purpose of the War Memorials Trust: to monitor the condition of war memorials and to encourage protection and conservation when appropriate. They also strive to provide expert advice to war memorial projects across the UK, to act as the specialist organization for war memorial conversation issues and to facilitate repair and conservation through grants. I was pleased to see organizations in attendance that play a vital role in empowering all of us to help preserve our precious history.
Friends of the MPHC
Do you have a bobby in your background? If so, the Metropolitan Police have a resource for you! The Met Collection encompasses artifacts previously hidden from view. The permanent public display at the Met Collection heritage center rotates from the 17,000 items that make up the collection including uniforms, photos, police equipment and a vast database of records. You can visit the collection in person at The Annex, Empress State Building, Empress Approach, Lillie Rd., London SW6 1TR (a 2 minute walk from the Brompton tube station) or visit them online at the Friends of the MPHC website.
With such a variety of fascinating topics and experts to learn from, it’s no wonder that over 17,000 people have bought tickets to attend the three-day event. Next week I’ll have a complete wrap up for you on the Who Do You Think You Are? Live event.