pirates and smugglersExperience should have told me that the last week before Christmas would not be a quiet affair, set aside for writing and long-overdue administration. My plans were not helped by an impromptu call from the BBC to comment on research statistics provided by Ancestry that one in twenty of us are related to criminals, with one in a hundred linked to pirates; most of us should have domestic servants in our family trees, somewhere. A slow news week perhaps, but illustrative of the perennial fascination with some of our more scurrilous ancestors; I did point out my family’s Russian spy…

It’s easy to forget that January is only around the corner, and that means it’s not long before we’ve got some exciting events to look forward to. First up is Roots Tech, held in Salt Lake City in early February. I’ve not been before, but I am really looking forward to seeing the latest innovations that will increase our ability to research, organise, store and share information about our family. As the debate over digitisation gathers pace here, with different models for the need to create accessible public resources offset against the practical need to commercialise, given some of the costs involved, it will be fascinating to see how people from around the world view this issue, and whether a different perspective provides alternative answers. I spent last Friday at Essex Record Office talking to staff there about their business model to ‘go it alone’, and have in recent months talked to some of the commercial dataset providers as well as uncommitted record offices, trying to decide which route to go down. It may be that Roots Tech offers some new avenues that have not yet been considered over here.

Two weeks later, I’ll be exhibiting at the Listed Property Owners Club show at Olympia on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th February. For those interested in historic property, it’s a great chance to meet the experts who can help keep your listed building in shape, as well as hear lectures about different aspects of property maintenance and research.

And then – the following week – it’s the big one, Who Do You Think You Are Live 2012. I’ll be wandering around with a film crew on Saturday 25th February, talking to people about their research, interviewing some of the speakers, announcing the winner of the Archive of the Year competition, run by Your Family History magazine, and generally having a good time! If you do have an interesting story – or just want to say hi – I’ll either be at Your Family History (next to Pen & Sword books) or My Heritage. At the moment, I’m down to do three talks: Family History and Education (Friday), Family History and Ancestral Tourism (Saturday) and The Future of Family History (Sunday).

So it just remains for me to wish you a very happy Christmas. Don’t forget to record your stories, annotate your photos and start a scrapbook so that you’ve got wonderful memories to pass onto future generations. I’ll be blogging again in two weeks’ time in the New Year.

Cheers

Nick

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