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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Thursday
    Mar212013

    Treasure Chest Thursday: Digitizing and Examining a 1909 German Songbook

    I love surprises from the Archives! Recently I pulled out several old German books that my father gave me after my grandmother passed away. As the only family member who spoke German (much better then than now) I was the logical recipient. I thought I remembered a Bible in the collection, but alas, the book was a German language hymnal.

    Making a Digital Copy

    First, I wanted to digitize the book so I could work with the images rather than the fragile old book. It's poor condition and thickness made it a good candidate for my digital camera. I set up my copy stand outdoors under natural light and used a remote shutter release to achieve the best photo. Then I tried both a white and a black background.

    May wg 1909 songbook 1May wg 1909 songbook 2

    May wg 1909 songbook 8May wg 1909 songbook 5

    I think the white works best for the cover and the black works best for the inside pages. the contrast makes the book itself stand out better. What do you think?

    Description

    The cover is made of inexpensive embossed cover-stock cardboard similar to the covers of popular photo albums and scrapbooks so many of us find in our family collections. Overall the book is 3 3/4-inches wide and 5 3/8-inches high. Someone (Grandma May?) added a strip of modern tape to keep the spine in place with the cover. The pages are edged in gilt. 

    The title page reads:

    Kirchen-Gesangbuch
    für
    Evangelische-Lutherische Gemeinden
    ungeänderter
    Augsburgischer Confession

    darin des sel. Dr. Martin Luthers und anderer geistreichen
    Lehrer gebräuchlichste Kirchen-lieder enthalten sind.

    St. Louis, Mo.
    Concordia Publishing House.
    1905 

    The book is in fair to poor condition. The pages appear to be intact but the covers have started to pull away from the binding. There are scattered stains and blotches throughout. There is no handwriting other than a notation on the flyleaf in pencil on the flyleaf that looks like "Goldlock 1.20."

    Inside the front cover, I found a newspaper clipping from a German language newspaper of the hymn, "Hochzeitgefang," translation: Wedding Song. I also found a what looks like a trimmed decoration from a Christmas card between pages 242 and 243.

    Information

    Of course, to me the real treasure is the cover embossed with my grandfather's name and a date. The fact that the book is a German Lutheran songbook confirms his association with the German community and the Lutheran church in America. A quick Google search for the hymnal shows that it was a popular book at the turn of the century.

    Walter G. May was born in July 1894 in Bennet, Nebraska, so I wondered about the significance of the date on the cover of the book, 4 April 1909. The date fell on a Sunday in 1909, one week before Easter, or Palm Sunday. The Easter Season is traditionally a time for welcoming new members into the Catholic Church and I thought the Lutheran Church tradition might be similar. If so, Walter would have been 14 years old at the time, a common age for Confirmation.

    Through FindAGrave.com I had previously located the little Lutheran cemetery where Walter's parents were buried. It was associated with an adjacent church that has a very nice website and a "Contact the Pastor" page. Within 24 hours of my query, the Pastor had responded and kindly looked for a confirmation record for Walter G. May in the church records. Although he did not find a record, he agreed that the date indicated the hymnbook was probably a confirmation gift.

    This little book added quite a bit to the very little I know about my grandfather's early years --

    • It confirms his Lutheran religion
    • It strongly suggests his membership and confirmation in a local church
    • It suggests that he read and spoke German
    • It suggests he may have carried the book at his wedding

    With further research I might be able to learn more about the kind of congregation that used this particular hymnal and locate the church attended by Walter and his family.

    Monday
    Mar182013

    WDYTYA LIVE Report 4: Face to Skull with Richard III

    You don't have to be Royal Groupie to be captivated by recent headlines about Richard III. It isn't every King whose burial place is lost and then found, and whose remains are identified by scientific and historical analysis and confirmed by DNA. 

    When I heard the news about "the king in the carpark" in late January, and learned that Dr. Turi King would be presenting at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE, the biggest family history event in the world, I hoped I could get a ticket to the presentation. Luckily, although tickets were sold out early, I was able to find a place at the back of the room and catch the entire talk.

    Dr. Turi King, University of Leicester geneticist, led the audience through the project beginning with the initial search for the location of the Greyfriars' church, believed to have been the final resting place of the defeated King Richard after the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485

     

    It was interesting to learn that the site location and excavation occurred in tandem with the genealogical work of identifying and collecting DNA samples to be used for identification. Without the DNA, identification would not have been nearly as conclusive. The descendant DNA confirmed the family tree research, and provided additional evidence for Richard III's positive identification. 

    Dr. King showed photos of the excavation area, and the trenches used to locate the church and likely burial spot. When the skeleton was found and examined, first impressions showed the acute scoliosis and skull injuries that were expected on Richard's remains.

     

    Historical accounts of the battle gave evidence of the kinds of injuries suffered by Richard; these were evident in the remains. Dr. King pointed out injuries on the skull that would be consistent with someone who has lost their helmet in battle. She also pointed out several "humiliation injuries" that were typical for the time: slashes to the face, sword through the buttock, slice through the skull.  

    She also described the careful conditions used to unearth the remains to keep the DNA free from contamination. After being removed from the site, teeth were extracted from the skull for the DNA sample. Dr. King amused the audience by describing the jittery trip to a French lab carrying the teeth through Customs, and then returning with a baggie filled with white powder. 

    Following the formal presentation, Dr. King spent considerable time answering questions, and explained that under the terms of the excavation agreement, King Richard's remains will be buried at Leicester Cathedral, "the nearest consecrated ground" to the previous burial site. The exact date for reinterment has not been set, but it will take place within a pre-determined time limit. Living descendants of Richard III have petitioned to have him returned to his York homeland, but current plans call for reinterment in Leicester.

    Read more about WDYTYALive --

    Meeting the Metropolitan Police at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    WDYTYA Report 1: This Genealogy Event is BIG!

    WDYTYA Report 2: Exhibitors and Experts

    WDYTYA Report 3: Remember Me When This You Read

    Sunday
    Mar172013

    Great Group, Great Questions; Thank You CGSS

     J. Paul Hawthorne, President CGSSD, and Denise Levenick

    One of the perks of speaking to genealogy societies is the new information I pick up from attendees. At the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego meeting this weekend, the questions and comments were top-notch. 

    The topic of the presentation was two-fold: Archiving and Digitizing for Family Historians. We covered basic preservation of common heirlooms and then moved on to using digital images as Master Copies in case of damage or loss.

    During the Q & A, some members shared their strategies for spreading family history among their own family members, including:

    • creating a digital photo album with audio and presenting copies on CD/DVD to relatives
    • compiling photos on a CD/DVD to send to relatives every 6 months or so, thereby creating "lots of copies" to "keep stuff safe"
    • printing family history photo books and giving copies as a special gift to children and grandchildren
    • sending group photos with a key and asking for help identifying people (kind of a Where's Waldo family game)
    • and more 
    The theme seemed to be: our families might not want to sit and talk about family history, but on the screen or in a book they find it fascinating.

    It was a great discussion, and gave everyone something new to think about. It's a good day when you learn something new, and as my dad likes to add, "sometimes you even learn two new things!"

    A big thank you to the members of CGSSD and President J. Paul Hawthorne for the warm welcome Saturday.

     

    Saturday
    Mar162013

    Student Genealogy Grant Deadline

    The application deadline for the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant is quickly approaching. Students have until Monday, 18 March 2013 midnight PDT to submit application materials for the 2013 program.

    The recipient will receive a $500 cash grant for their genealogy education and complimentary full registration to the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree in Burbank, California June 7-9, 2013.

    Any genealogist who is between the ages of 18 and 25 and has attended school in the last 12 months is eligible to apply. The recipient must attend the 2013 SCGS Jamboree in Burbank, California to receive the award.

    See the full grant posting here, and encourage young genealogists you know to apply.

    The Freeman Student Genealogy Grant is sponsored by the family grant committee and generously supported by the SCGS Jamboree.

    Wednesday
    Mar132013

    Join Me in San Diego!

     

    Forecast for Saturday 16 March 2013: Sun and Genealogy

    Join the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego this weekend on the campus of the University of California, San Diego where I will be presenting Preserving the Past: Archiving and Digitizing Your Family Keepsakes

    We will be talking about organizing and preserving your heirloom family treasures and using digitization as a safeguard against loss. Bring your questions and join us for the lecture and discussion.

    I will also be signing my new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes, and have copies available for sale. (And, feel free to bring your copy to be signed if you've already purchased the book.)

    Directions and meeting information are available here at the CUGSD website. I hope to see you Saturday in San Diego!

    Photo: By Scrippsnews at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

     

    Wednesday
    Mar132013

    Congratulations Winner of the Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt 3

    The "Easter Eggs" have all been found and Brenda Ciesla is the winner of the Heirloom Registry Hunt #3 Prize Package. She will receive a great bundle of prizes from Heirloom Registry and friends:

    Plan Your Way to Research Success Webinar, from Marian Pierre-Louis
    Antique Trader Collectibles 2013 Price Guide
    Heirloom Registry Heirloom Stickers
    How to Archive Family Keepsakes, ebookfrom Denise Levenick 

    Check the Heirloom Registry Blog later today for the announcement of the Scavenger Hunt Grand Prize winner.

    Friday
    Mar082013

    The Heirloom Hunt is On: Find the Clue in The Family Curator's Pirate Treasure Chest

    I'm a pushover for vintage collectables, and when we found this beat-up old pirate toy chest in my in-law's house, we knew right away it had a bright future in our home. The Heirloom Registry was the perfect place to record the history of this family keepsake so that its story didn't get lost.

    The Pirate Toy Chest

    I first wrote about rescuing the toy chest last October in Heirloom, Keepsake or Trash. I did more research to discover the toy company's long history in manufacturing wooden toys and children's furniture and wrote about it in Before the Pirate Toy Chest Became an Heirloom.

    It was fascinating to read about the growth and success of the Cass Toy Company in Athol, Hingham, and Somerville, Massachusetts, and in Brent, Alabama, with showrooms on Fifth Avenue in New York City. As the story unfolded, I was sad to learn that the company closed its doors in 1997, and that the factory building was completely demolished by fire in January 2012.

    Our pirate toy chest now features an Heirloom Registry metal plate with a unique identification code. Anyone who wants to know more about the toy chest and its original owners can read about it at The Heirloom Registry. I love knowing that its history is preserved and shared with family and friends. 

    You can read the toy chest's story at The Heirloom Registry by visiting the Registry website http://www.heirloomregistry.com and entering the unique identification code shown in the photograph below. 


    Join the fun of The Heirloom Registry's Online Scavenger Hunt by finding the secret word hidden in the Heirloom Registry record for our pirate toy chest.

  • If you’d like to start the scavenger hunt now, I suggest you first go to The Houstory Hearth blog’s special Scavenger Hunt Page. There you’ll find information about the hunt, the prizes – and most importantly the list of the other three blogs you’ll need to visit today.
  • If you already know what you’re doing, here’s the Heirloom Registry ID Code you need to obtain my secret word: KBQG-781-977-4526-2012.
  • If this is your final stop for Hunt No. 3, be sure to submit your entry form with your secret words before Sunday, March 10, 2013 at midnight PST. Good luck – and happy hunting!
  • Wednesday
    Mar062013

    The Genealogy Guys Have "Family Stuff" Too! 

    How to Archive Family Keepsakes Book Review

    GenealogyGuys

    George Morgan and Drew Smith, otherwise known as The Genealogy Guys, have published the The Genealogy Guys Podcast #248 which features a detailed review of How to Archive Family Keepsakes.  From George's comments, it sounds like he's dealing with inherited photographs, documents, and memorabilia like so many family historians.

    I think of the Genealogy Guys Podcast as a kind of World Genealogy News Round-Up, and I'm honored to hear the book featured on their show. The review starts about 15 minutes into the podcast, but you'll want to listen to the entire program to hear George and Drew highlight new record releases, more book reviews, and answers to reader email.

    I'm delighted that you found my new book helpful with your photo digitization project, George. As you say, sometimes we end up as "Accidental Archivists" and although we may not be trained in archival methods, we can learn how to be good caretakers of our ancestor's treasures.

    Thanks, Guys!

    Wednesday
    Mar062013

    WDYTYA LIVE Report 3: Remember Me!

    Who Will Tell Your Story When You're Gone?

     

    Of course, genealogy and family history is all about ancestry, but I noticed a definite product trend at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE for new products and services to promote preserving personal history. 

    Speaking Lives

    Speaking Lives is a service that makes an audio recording of your family history as a CD or MP3. The company offers one to three hour interviews, or customized projects. Interesting service.

    The Album People

    If you are looking for a professional digitizing service for your photographs and videos, The Album People offer a unique and very personalized service. They will come to your home with their equipment and scan your family photos on site. This eliminates the worry of shipping and possible loss. Or, they will pick up your photos and do the work at their office. The final images are delivered to you on a flash drive organized into meaningful folders with logical, accessible structure. I spoke with the creator Elad Ben Elul  for some time about the program and was impressed by his enthusiasm and service.

    He emphasized that he designed the project to meet people's needs -- accessible photos and digital files. The service only starts with digitizing; they will add metadata tags and keywords, organize files in a folder structure, correct and enhance as necessary, and create beautiful digital slideshows of your images. Talk about full-service!

    Lisa Louise Cooke (left) and Janet Hovorka book signing.

    Lisa Louise Cooke and Janet Hovorka were right in step with the theme of preserving personal history. The steady flow of visitors at their stand showed a high interest in Janet's new book Zap the Grandma Gap: Connect With Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History and Lisa's books and dvds on using Google Earth to personalize family connections.

    Autograph Books for Grown Ups

    Genealogists love finding a diary or journal that belonged to our ancestor; but, are we doing our part to pass on our own life story? If facing a blank journal seems overwhelming, two new memory book series might be your cup of tea. 

    All About Everybody and From You to Me are two new companies creating personal journals designed to record personal history and life events. 

    Creators of the From You to Me memory book series.

    From You to Me offers all kinds of individual and parent and child journals plus small card journals. The full-color illustrations decorate each page with journal prompts and questions. I looked at the book "Our Story: for my son" which has room for eighteen years of memories (six pages per year). The emphasis is on the relationship between parent and child, which seems different than some books more about recording events.

    Journals come in two design series: one features a flowering tree with photos and the other whimsical hand drawings. The books are currently available in the UK, but are being edited for an American edition that will change "Mum" to "Mom" and exchange American English for British English.

    All About Everybody creators.

    A completely different kind of personal journal has been designed by Red Cherry Trading Publishing. The All About Everybody series is a kind of "autograph book for grownups."

     

    About the size of the large Moleskin journal, this series offers four books printed on high quality paper. Each features beautiful illustrations and is designed to be used a bit differently from a traditional journal or memory book. Val and Amanda Carpenter explained to me that they were inspired to make the book after finding a similar book owned by an aunt in the 1930s. Evidently, she passed her book amongst her friends and asked them to answer short questions about themselves. The result was a book that showed relationships between many people, not just the memories of the owner.

    The idea behind the journals captured by imagination and I purchased two books: In My Family and On My Special Birthday. I love the way the type is large enough to read comfortably without my reading glasses!!! The books include questions pages for 40 people: two pages of short questions followed by two blank pages for photos, drawings, whatever. The birthday book would be a great gift for one of those zero years.

    This post is part of a series about Who Do You Think You Are LIVE in London. You might also enjoy:

    Meeting the Metropolitan Police at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    WDYTYA Report 1: This Genealogy Event is BIG!

    WDYTYA Report 2: Exhibitors and Experts

     

    Monday
    Mar042013

    WDYTYA LIVE Report 2: Exhibitors and Experts

    Who Do You Think You Are LIVE: Bigger Than A Football Field

    Photo Detective Maureen Taylor examined hundreds of photos at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    Imagine a genealogy exhibit hall just a bit larger than a football field and you have some idea of main floor at Olympia National for Who Do You Think You Are LIVE. Add two-thirds again and you have the gallery space used for more show exhibits and activity. 

    View from the gallery looking down on the main hall

    The main entrance dropped me into the center of the hall -- right? left? or straight ahead? I decided to start and one end and work my way around the room. One time around for an overview, and back again for serious investigation. Right away I noticed the many book and magazine stalls -- I counted five family history magazines and at least three major book publishers. I also noticed many many stands offering "expert" consultations for all kinds of research.

    Ancestors Magazine, taking orders for new digital magazine

    Helen Osborn, co-founder of Pharos Tutors and author of new book Genealogy:Essential Research Methods

    Oxford genealogy help from local experts

    Wiltshire Genealogy

    As I wandered the hall, I tried to snap representative photos of the kinds of products and services on offer. I couldn't help but notice the large seating areas throughout the hall where vendors and speakers maintained a steady schedule of presentations on everything from software training to research techniques. 

    Look just below the large photographs at the FindMyPast stand and
    you'll see people seated for the ongoing talks at this booth.
    It was usually standing-room-only for these lively presentations.

    The upstairs gallery was actually a wide exhibit area, and was used for lectures and photograph exhibits along with consultation areas for the photo and heirloom experts.

    Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective, at the photo expert tables.

    Eric Knowles, Heirloom Detective

    The gallery also held large conference rooms where some of the presentations were scheduled. I didn't manage to get a reserved ticket for the Richard III talk by Dr. Turi King, but I was able to stand at the back of the room for the entire talk. It's clear why this recent discovery has captured worldwide attention -- it's a fascinating story. Stay tuned for my full report and photos.

    This report is part of a series of posts about Who Do You Think You Are LIVE in London. You might also enjoy:

    Meeting the Metropolitan Police at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    WDYTYA Report 1: This Genealogy Event is BIG!

    Friday
    Mar012013

    Student Genealogist Uses Grant Funds to Recover Family History Treasures

    2013 Student Genealogy Grant Application Deadline March 18, 2013

    Details and application materials for the 2013 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant are available at The Family Curator Student Grant Page.

    Anthony ray

    Lancaster student Anthony Ray, recipient of the 2011 Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant, used the grant funds to further his genealogical research and education. Anthony is presently teaching elementary school music and will receive his diploma from West Coast Baptist College in May.

    He is an active member of the Antelope Valley Genealogical Society and researches his Hispanic, English, Scottish, German and African American roots in repositories throughout California, Arizona and Mexico. He is particularly interested in Catholic church records and is experienced in diocesan and parish repositories.

    Anthony's research helped restore a stolen headstone to the Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery in San Bernardino last summer, a story he tells in L.A. Beat "Serendipity and the Headstone That Wouldn't Stay Put." In March, Anthony will be traveling to Mexico with his cousins following his ancestors' footsteps to visit family and research.

    After receiving the student grant in June 2011, Anthony organized an extensive summer research plan. He wrote to me in the fall to share the results of his research; here are some highlights from that letter --

    Hi there!

    I just wanted to take a minute to write and give you an update on my summer...

    The biggest project this summer was, by far, renovating my great grandfather's place. I think I'd told you already that he had passed away last June at the age of ninety-eight. He was only a couple months away from his ninety-ninth birthday! He lived on a two and a half acre lot next to my grandparents and uncle and aunt. The yard and house both needed so much done to them… That was some of the dirtiest work I've ever had to do (and that's saying something) since most of the stuff had not been touched since they'd moved in the house about twenty-five years ago. Plus mice had gotten into the sheds and the extreme heat just intensified all that. So you can imagine what that must have been like!

    In the midst of all the filth were some real gems. As we were cleaning out one shed, there were some old papers on the floor that looked like trash. As my grandpa was about to throw them out, he decided to unroll them and see what they were. Lo and behold they turned out to be my great grandpa's school certificates from 1920 to 1923! It was an amazing find! They were just lying there on the floor in all the dust and other stuff... they could have been stepped on, chewed up by the mice, or destroyed through by a plethora of different ways. And what's most amazing is that they were in fairly decent shape! I'm using some of the grant money to have them restored by one of the paper conservationists at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I have my initial meeting with her in a couple of weeks.

    Not only did I find the school certificates, but there were many boxes of old papers that I was able to go through. My great grandpa was an early Antelope Valley real estate agent, so he had tons of paperwork from that. He owned a lot of property in other cities, counties, states, and even countries, so you can imagine the paper trail that left!

    As for research I've made tremendous breakthroughs, uncovered deep dark family secrets, and added so much to my family tree as a result of the grant money. Most of the money went toward ordering microfilm from the Family History Center and toward copies. I’d say nearly fifty percent of the grant money went toward copies. Here are some of the more interesting things I’ve found:

    1) My second great grandmother, Delfina Rubio, had a very colorful love life. She married about five times. I can’t say for sure how many times as I think there may be more, but I found one of her marriages that I had been speculating about for a while now. I also found some of her siblings and other family members in the Santa Cruz Co., Arizona marriage records.

    2) I made a tremendous breakthrough on my African-American side of the family with one single marriage record...

    3) I found many interesting births, marriages, and deaths in Mexico. 

    4) I subscribed to GenealogyBank and was able to find dozens of interesting articles on my family. Some helped solve mysteries that I've been trying to uncover for a long time!

    5) I've made countless trips down to Riverside this year to do research. The past two times I've looked up probates and court cases.

    6) Since I usually don't pay for research or look-ups, I was able to do so this time. I contacted the Coronado-Quivira Museum in Rice Co., Kansas to have them look up some school records that corresponded to the school certificates that I had found on my great grandpa. They even sent school photos from the time he would have been in school (but no one is identified in them, unfortunately)… And up in Colusa Co., in northern California, I was able to get copies of coroner's records that helped me understand the circumstances of three of my ancestors' deaths. 

    I know I'm probably forgetting some things, but this is the bulk of what I used the grant money towards. I truly cannot thank you enough for giving me such a wonderful summer of research. I really don't know how my research would have gone if it wasn't for this financial jump-start! Through this, you've given me maybe the most important thing which is memories that I will cherish! As you and your mother did your research together, I was able to do the same with my mother when I made my trips down to Riverside - granted she would head off to the antique shops while I did my research. lol! But we spent most of our time together down there. Whenever I think of my research trips down there, I think of how we would both go and have lunch at a little sandwich shop near the Mission Inn called The Upper Crust (you should go there if you ever get a chance!) And once again, I feel so honored to have been the first recipient of the memorial grant! Thank you!

    Anthony

    If you know a young genealogist between the ages of 18 and 25 who could benefit from a cash grant to assist their genealogy education and research, please tell them about the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant. The deadline for completed application materials is Monday, 18 March 2013. See the SWF Grant page for more details.

    Thursday
    Feb282013

    Hunting for Heirlooms with Houstory Scavenger Hunt

    IMG 0430

    Get into practice for the Easter Bunny with the Heirloom Registry's clever family keepsake Online Scavenger Hunt coming next week, March 4-10. And, like all good treasure hunts, you might even come away with some of the fantastic prizes contributed by participants, including a copy of my new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes.

    Each hunt will run for two days beginning Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, March 4, 6, and 8th with a prize package awarded each day, and a grand prize awarded at the end of the hunt. I'm excited to be included as one of the hunt blogs on Friday, March 8th. 

    Prizes include genealogy books, webinars, digital downloads, and a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. See the complete prize list here.

    To join the hunt, visit the day's participating blogs where you can find a unique Heirloom Registry ID code posted in an entry about the contest.

    Next, enter that code at the Heirloom Registry website to view the heirloom's record and find the secret word on the Registry Certificate.

    After you've collected all four secret words from the day's hunt, submit your entry using the Houstory Entry Form to be qualified to win the daily prize package and the grand prize. Complete directions are posted at The Houstory Hearth.

    See you March 8th for The Family Curator's special blog post for The Heirloom Registry Online Scavenger Hunt.

    Sunday
    Feb242013

    WDYTYA Report 1: This Genealogy Event is BIG!

    Arriving at Olympia for Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    Americans tend to think we do things in a "big" way at times, but U.S. family conferences have some keen competition in this weekend's Who Do You Think You Are LIVE event in London, billed as "The Biggest Family History Event in the World."

    Sponsored by ancestry.co.uk, WDYTYA LIVE is held in the Olympia exhibition center in West Kensington. I arrived at the conference center from Kensington High Street and caught a view of the hall from the train overpass.

     

    The historic venue opened 26 December 1886 with seating for 9000 people under a huge barrel vaulted roof, 115 feet high. The great hall covers more than one acre, and was the largest roofed arena in England when it was built. Olympia has played host to an wide assortment of events including: P.T. Barnum's Circus; dog, horse, home, and auto shows; a temporary civil prison camp during World War I; a transport center during World War II; and now WDYTYAL Genealogy and Family History Show (Wikipedia).

    The entrance opens directly into the center of the great hall where the hum of conversation and lectures compete for attention. The central booths (or stands) are large, beautifully designed productions. 

    Looking down on the findmypast.com stall featuring the new release of UK criminal records.

     

    A wide gallery runs around the second level offering a wonderful view of the show below, and access to private meeting rooms. I found a staircase at the corner of the hall and made my way to the gallery for an overview of the action.

     

    The huge barrel vaulted hall at Olympia covers more than an acre of exhibit area.

    Like any savvy conference attendee, one of the first things I noted was the location of the restrooms and food stands. In one corner of the gallery, a cafe/bar offered wine and beer with standard drinks and food, and on the main floor food booths from three popular restaurant chains offered a variety of selections. There was even an independent sausage-maker selling delicious sausage sandwiches on the main floor!

    A look around the main floor showed that many of the stands were set up as mini-lecture spaces with chairs, projector screen, and microphone. Posted schedules at each space displayed the frequent lectures on using specific software, search strategies, and other topics

     

    Alastair MacDonald presented on using DNA with genealogy.

    Exhibitors offered a huge variety of genealogy services and products. I saw everything from local histories and parish cemetery transcriptions to memorial stones. One of the biggest draws appeared to be the local society booths where regional publications and look-ups were available. In fact, everywhere I looked, visitors were engaged in look-ups, consultations, and searches with the help of knowledgeable staff or society members. 

     

    Visitors queued up to talk with The Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor in the upstairs Gallery.

    The WDYTYA website advises attendees to bring old photos for the photo experts, family heirlooms to show the heirloom experts, and documents and family tree for consultations. Although I didn't bring my research to show the experts, I found plenty of new ideas and products to investigate. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my report from Who Do You Think You Are LIVE, London 2013.


    Saturday
    Feb232013

    Meeting the Metropolitan Police at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE

    At Olympia, London for WDYTYA I stopped To chat with two former constables now patrolling the "Friends if the Metropolitan Police" beat. They gave me a lesson in the correct way to wear one's helmet -- low on your forehead-- with chin strap, of course.

    This organization would be a helpful resource for anyone with ancestors who served in the London Metropolitan Police.

    Monday
    Feb182013

    Keeping Cozy in the Cotswolds

     

    Snowy Cotswold country road.

    If you're a fan of English "cozies" you probably know about the Cotswolds. They are the picture perfect little towns in the rolling English countryside where evil hides in plain sight and only Miss Marple is sharp enough to spot the culprit. But I digress. . .

     

    Approaching Burford

    The Cotswolds in winter can be c-o-l-d.

    We drove across the hills through Bibury and then to Burford, a little village Mr. Curator and I visited several years ago with a London Walks tour. These guided tours are a fabulous way to see the sights without being tied to a formal long-term tour. Of course, we visited on a warm and sunny day in June, not a snowy winter February afternoon.

    Our tour that day stopped in the picturesque village of Burford where we visited a tiny stone church and walked around crooked gravestones. As we left the churchyard and walked along the lane I tripped on the cobblestones and my camera went skidding across the bumpy road. That was the end of my trusty Kodak and my pictures for that trip.

    This time, we barely slowed down as we drove through Burford. I saw the same quaint shops and the church steeple peeking over the wall from it's hidden location set back from the main street. Everything was quiet and still on this sleepy, and snowy weekday morning. 

    As we drove back to our hotel near Tetford the snow flurries faded and then stopped and the lightly dusted fields gave way to green hills dotted with grazing sheep and occasional patches of the first signs of spring in blooming snowdrops.

     

    Look closely toward the far field and you'll see the sheep grazing in the hills.

    This lovely garden and blooming snowdrops were right outside my room.