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Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE – Friday, day 1

Published on 5 Mar 2013 17:02 : 0 comments : 3269 views

Last week, we were at Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE - team members at Genes have written about their experiences of the event.


As a new addition to the Genes Reunited team, I didn’t really know what to expect from Who Do You Think You Are? Live – but when I saw the huge queue of people outside Olympia, waiting in the cold and snow, it was clear it was going to be busy.

The stand looked very impressive – a fantastic design across the whole backdrop showing new users what they can expect from the site, and letting established users know what new features we’ve added. The open and inviting space brought in plenty of passing visitors, all with lots of questions. I particularly enjoyed showing new users how to start their research – as I’m still relatively new to family research myself, I totally understand their excitement at being able to find ancestors in the 1911 census as they discover how easy it can be to get started.

One woman had, we realised, been given an incorrect forename for someone in her tree – so with a bit of research, I managed to take her back another four generations using census and BMD data, including what looked like the start of an interesting story around one ancestor’s early death in a mining accident, and his widow’s subsequent remarriage about a year later with her two young children (we spotted this when they showed up in a census as stepsons to the head of the house).

We were lucky enough to have genealogist Anthony Adolph helping us out on Friday; he was able to talk to anyone with more specialist genealogy questions and point them in the right direction – we had some curious problems including tracing child migrants (under the Poor Law Amendment Act 1850, pauper children could be shipped abroad as apprenticeships couldn’t be found for them here), whole families seemingly disappearing from one census and reappearing in the next, a mariner suspected lost at sea, and some indecipherable handwriting on old records.

For any other mysteries that came up, we encouraged people to post them on our live community boards, and sent them away with a direct link to their question so they could come back and check later. Our amazing community members jumped in with suggested records, links, and new leads within minutes, sending people off down new avenues of research.

I loved the opportunity to get out and talk to our members and prospective members – as well as hearing so many interesting stories, it was really useful for me to find out face-to-face how you all use the site. Thanks to everyone who came along and spoke to us – hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

 - Jo (Genes team)