Classes “Flying the UK Flag” at Rootstech 2017

Attendance at Rootstech certainly helps you get your 10k steps a day!  Yesterday I gave an indication of the number of classes available for attendees. As you can imagine, scheduling all the classes must be a challenge for the organisers. Salt Palace, where the event is held, has numerous halls and rooms available to accommodate the classes. However, they are widely spread across two floors and you need to allow plenty of time to get between locations, and arrive in good time. Unlike Who Do You Think You Are? Live, you cannot pre book a ticket, it operates on a strictly “first come first served” basis. Volunteer stewards police the rooms and if the room is full, you will be turned away. There are plenty of escalators between the floors, but owing to the size of the crowd, getting between locations in a brisk manner is not the easiest of things to do. So below is an example of one afternoon I spent dashing between classes and supporting the UK presenters.

I started by attending the 1.30 p.m session The Scottish Poor Law. The class was presented by Dr. Patricia Whatley from the University of Dundee’s Centre for Archives and Information Studies and covered both the “Old” Poor Law in Scotland 1579 – 1845 and the “New” Poor Law in Scotland 1845 – 1929.  Arriving a few minutes late I was advised it was standing room only, and judging by the questions during and after the talk, it was well received. Attendees were busy taking copious notes, some the old fashioned way by paper and pencil and others via IPads and laptops. Copies of the handouts available from the Dundee University stand soon vanished too.

The next talk started at 3 p.m.  Fortunately, I was already on the upper floor – or so I thought. I still had to get up another flight of stairs to find the suite of rooms where the next talk, Rummaging in the Parish Chest, was taking place. This class  was presented by Kirsty Gray, MD of Family Wise Ltd* and an Ambassador to Rootstech.  This was an extremely large room, which was just as well as the room was almost full. Taken 5 minutes before the start , the photo above gives an indication of how many attendees wanted to hear Kirsty’s talk.  This class looked at the various documents which can be used when researching English ancestors. Examples of various documents such as Settlement Orders, Examinations, Bastardy Bonds and Churchwarden Accounts were explained, as was how to make use of the National Archives Discovery Catalogue to locate the whereabouts of parish records. My neighbour was soon successfully looking at where to find the parish records for his ancestors. (Wi Fi is available throughout the Salt Palace)

The final talk started at 4.30, again presented by Kirsty, this time giving her class entitled Surnames: Challenged Pitfalls and the Downright Ridiculous.  Kirsty is Chair of The Surname Society and has a One Name Study which has given her plenty of experience interpreting hand writing and transcriptions.  This was a humorous talk which highlighted how mis-transcriptions of documents, including census returns, can give some hilarious names and occupations. It was a salutary lesson on reading the original document and applying common sense as well as palaeographical skills to work out what the document really says. A light hearted and amusing class to end the day.

All these talks were well attended and reinforce my view that there was a lot of interest in learning about UK research material, and that more classes on UK topics ought to be available for Rootstech attendees.

Yesterday’s blog had links to the sessions and classes which can be viewed on line.



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