Monday, 1 February 2010

Bracknell Family Histoy Fair

Family History Fairs are held all over the UK. On previous British trips I've missed the nearest one to where I stay, the one held in Bracknell at the end of January. This year I made it to the Bracknell Sports Centre where the fair occupied two fairly large gyms. There was ample free parking and a food court type refreshment area.

UK family history fairs are unlike most of the family history events in North America which follow the conference model with a range of lectures, syllabus or preprints, a computer/internet room, complimentary refreshments and a marketplace as an add on at no cost for registrants. Often
the marketplace is open to non-registrants too.

Family history fairs offer a marketplace and computer/internet area and charge for admission, in this case 3 pounds. There was a single sheet with a map and list of exhibitors. At Bracknell three presentations were offerred as additional cost options of two pounds for each lecture.

The fair opened at 10am. I arrived at 1:15pm, just in time for a sparsely attended presentation by Chris Pomeroy "How DNA testing helps you confirm your family links." He concentrated on Y-DNA and surname studies, valuable in themselves but which for me was dissappointing. He was introduced by the statement that DNA is of no use to women for genealogy unless they can get a brother, father or other near male relative to provide a surrogate sample. As I'll be explaining in my talk at Gene-o-rama this is an outdated idea.

Chris Pomeroy mentioned that the stocks of his last book on DNA and genealogy, the second edition, are nearly sold out. Any future version will not be published by TNA which has exited the publishing business.

The event was comfortably busy.

One stall, that of Anguline Research Archives, gave considerable prominence to a Canadian product. The photo shows Archive CD Books Canada products on the display stand.

The Society of Genealogists had a stand selling their publications. I was surprised to find out that two of the three people staffing the stand were SOG's Chair and vice-Chair, Colin Allen and Michael Wood. They seemed to be looking forward to the SOG centennial in 2011.

Online database FindMyPast had a stand staffed by Debra Chatfield who was also one of the lecturers. She mentioned some of the products they plan on releasing, starting with records of Chelsea pensioners, although the release date may well be delayed owing to a publicity embargo in connection with the forthcomming UK election.

I had a brief conversation with Robert and Elizabeth Blatchford who produce The Family and Local History Handbook, now in its 12th edition. It was published last November -- the next is scheduled for March 2011.

There were many stands from county FHSs, the Guild of One Name Studies, publishers, second-hand book and postcard dealers and many others. Missing where, magazines and DNA companies.

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