WDYTYA? Live 2016: Ready, Get Set… and Go!

When you first visit Who Do You Think You Are? Live it can seem rather daunting. Walk in and you’re surrounded by hubbub: exhibitors chat to visitors about their latest web developments and new publications; microphoned experts address their theatre audiences on research techniques or DNA testing; and, more likely than not, someone in a WWI uniform or Victorian bonnet wanders past on their way for a coffee or the loo.


Fear not, you’ll soon acclimatise. But it pays to do some basic planning beforehand. Here are 5 tips to make the most of your day:

(1) Cherrypick your workshops: Start planning your day by deciding on a few workshops to attend. Some are free, offered on a first-come first-served basis, and others are ticketed  (£2 in advance, £3 on the day). If you have the One Day Advanced ticket to the show then you have three workshops in hand, included within the ticket price – be sure to use them. Just getting started with your family history? Then take a look at the sessions in the Education Zone, new this year. Otherwise it’s a question of thinking what you’re seeking to get out of the day – you might want to immerse yourself in the military history of your ancestors, figure out what to do next where your research trail has gone cold, or put a question to a WDYTYA celebrity from the TV series. So, dip in and choose a few workshops, and your timetable for the day will start to take shape.

(2) Bring a nutty problem with you: Make the most of the Society of Genealogist volunteers in the ‘Ask the Experts’ section. They’ll give you up to 20 minutes of free advice on how you might progress your research or solve a mystery. You’ll need to prepare in advance – bring copies of your notes, certificates and other documents – and be as specific as you can be about what you’re trying to find out. You can’t book ‘Ask the Expert’ sessions in advance, so when you arrive on the day you might first whizz over to grab a slot between your workshop times. They’re experienced hands at the SoG, they like a challenge!



WDYTYA? Live 2016: the Countdown Begins

Every autumn, when I buy a new diary for the following year, one of the first fixtures to jot down is the three-day Who Do You Think You Are? exhibition. It’s become a firm fixture on the family history landscape, an event not to be missed. This year, WDYTYA? Live (7-9th April) celebrates its 10th anniversary and I’m looking forward to it as much as ever.


These days it entails a trip to the NEC in Birmingham. For those of us based in the Big Smoke it’s perhaps not so handy as the previous venue at London’s Olympia, but the journey pays off; it’s now the world’s largest family history show, attracting some 13,000 visitors. It’s an invigorating mix of over 130 exhibition stands and 90 talks: dip into some newly-released records or publications, take along your old family photos or heirlooms to be explained, and get fresh ideas on how to overcome your brick walls. Who knows, you might even rub shoulders with historian Sir Tony Robinson, antiques expert Eric Knowles, or Anita Rani, one of the latest WDYTYA subjects.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be highlighting some exhibitors and talks that might be of particular interest to those looking to write their family history. To help set the scene in the meantime, I’ve included below an article that I wrote after volunteering as an advocate for Ancestry at a previous WDYTYA? show. Not knowing what queries would turn up next meant it was a thrilling, rollercoaster kind of day helping fellow family historians progress their research. So, hold on tight, and here we go…