Another successful Society of Genealogists Family History Show at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 26-28 Feb 2010
“Oh my ears and whiskers – how late it is?”
The next workshop is about to start. Has the speaker arrived – does her laptop work? Will the celebrities finish their shows on time so our next speaker can set up? Where did I put my notes for my talk? Have all the experts found their way to their allotted desks on time? Oops we have two people booked for advice at the same time – find a quick stand-in who can help with French military history or Dutch ecclesiastical records without the aid of Google. Where’s the key to the lockable cabinet? – we’re running out of membership forms. Quick sign them up now. Life dissolves into a blur at the largest genealogical show in the world and we spend a lot of time scampering about but it’s all huge fun, if not a little bit stressful. You may have seen several of our staff and volunteers running at full pelt throughout the weekend but at the end of the day everyone had a great smile on their face because all the hard work has paid off.
A lot goes into preparing for the show. A small team of staff and trustees prepare our stand, create posters and displays focusing on the Treasures of the Society of Genealogists Library; arrange how we look after new member sign ups, run the technology and deal with volunteers. Thanks to the team everything was ready for setup. We even remembered to take the ladder to build the SoG Tower.
We plan 100 talks for all levels of interest over the three days in the Who Do You Think You Are? Theatre and SoG workshops. They are always extremely well attended and this year we had Welsh and Irish key themes and speakers. Many of the speakers are exhibitors at the show but some come from other record offices and libraries to help and most are SoG members. So thanks to all the speakers who volunteered talks. You were all so professional and unflappable – and everyone finished on time!!
In addition to our speakers, over 160 SoG volunteers help out. Most work on the SoG Ask the Experts Area where over 1600 individual people who booked twenty minute sessions received individual help and advice. The queues snaked round the gallery yet everyone remained calm and dependable. A special thanks to the Census Detectives and Jean Bunting who wheeled up in her buggy despite a broken leg. Thank-you all!!
The Library staff and volunteers were on hand to answer questions on our own stand and do look ups on the library catalogue. The Library second hand books stall had some good items this year and brought a tidy sum for the librarian to spend on new acquisitions. The membership secretary tells me we broke all records for new members sign and as usual she dragooned her partner to help out by handing out membership special offer leaflets because that’s the only way she can get to see him on his birthday! How’s that for devotion?
Generally attendance figures seemed higher though, I haven’t had final numbers yet. Friday was certainly busy and visitors had to be held outside briefly as the hall apparently reached capacity on Saturday and the venue had to arrange to open up more fire safety evacuation routes in case of emergency. The SoG Family History Show was bigger this year with more exhibitors and tables booked. An American contingent including amongst others Boston University and the New England Historic Genealogical Society flew the Stars and Stripes and are very much looking forward to the screening of the USA version of the Who Do You Think You Are? TV show. It was good to meet up with our Dutch equivalent the Central Bureau voor Genealogie. The DNA workshops, military memorabilia stands and photo galleries were all much bigger and attracted lots of people. New databases and books were launched on several of the commercial stands as well as an intriguing new DNA test from Familytree DNA based on autosoma dan which allows comparisoms to be made between cousins rather than purely on eiether Y-DNA which is only passed down the male surname line or MtDNA which mostly passes down the female line.
I never get enough time to visit all the stands I want to see nor to speak to everyone I should. So sorry if conversation was fleeting, but I did find time to send some tweets on Twitter reporting our news. The most exciting of which is that Your Family Tree Magazine readers awarded the Society of Genealogists the Best Book Publisher of the Year 2009 award for our My Ancestor Was … series and the guide to the most important record launch of last year How to Get the Best from the 1911 Census by John Hanson. Thanks Guys.