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Who Do You Think You Are? Conference and ISOGG

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The Who Do You Think You Are? Live conference was launched in 2007 and was held annually in England until 2017 when its closure was announced.[1], [2] In its early years it was the world's largest genealogy conference but has since been superseded by Rootstech. The show took place over three days and was attended by between 12,000 and 15,000 people each year. From 2007 to 2014 the show was held at Olympia in London (with a one-off appearance in Glasgow too). In 2015 the show moved to the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) in Birmingham but ceased in 2017.


ISOGG Regional Coordinator for England and Wales, Brian P. Swann, arranged for an ISOGG stand at the 2010 event for the first time. The stall was staffed by ISOGG members who volunteered for different shifts. The ISOGG stand was a regular feature at WDYTYA. ISOGG members from the USA, Canada and New Zealand have taken the opportunity to visit England, to meet their colleagues in the UK and to help out on the stand to educate the British public about genetic genealogy.

UK Travel and Tour Information

ISOGG members can contact Derrell Teat for information on group lodging rates and tours.

DNA related tours

  1. The Science Museum of London's "Who Am I?". The "Who Am I?" Exhibit began in 2011 and will be on display for ten years. Two ISOGG members have family members in this exhibit; Katherine Borges' husband, Vincent, representing Native American DNA heritage and Derrell Teat's daughter-in-law, Marilyn Corey, representing Polynesia DNA heritage. There is also a model of the double helix on display in this museum and DNA emblazoned items may be purchased in the gift shoppe.
  2. The Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum.
  3. The British Museum - has mummies which have been DNA tested.
  4. The Eagle Pub (in Cambridge)

London tours

  1. The Victoria and Albert Museum (Toured in 2012)
  2. The Golden Hinde (Toured in 2012)
  3. Benjamin Franklin House (Toured in 2012)
  4. Jack the Ripper Tour. A virtual (and much warmer) tour can be found here
  5. Windsor Castle
  6. Tower of London
  7. Hampton Court Palace (Toured in 2011)
  8. Kensington Palace (Toured in 2013)
  9. St. Paul's Cathedral

Travel Tips

Travel to and around London

  1. Check the airlines in advance for special offers. If you fly regularly with a particular airline sign up for any loyalty clubs or programs to be notified of any special deals or sales. One ISOGG member has been able to get special offers by enrolling on Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club program. There are many flight comparison websites which will allow you to search for the best prices. These include:
  2. For traveling around on public transport in London, it is recommended you purchase an Oyster Card which can be reloaded as necessary. Oyster Cards can by purchased in advance from overseas agents, or can be purchased in London at the airport or at any station. Further information can be found on Oyster Online. Public transport in London is excellent though often very crowded. The train network in London is known as the London Underground or "Tube". Despite the name, much of the network runs overground. Some of the newer lines are known as the London Overground. You can plan your journey in advance and check out a map of the Underground on the Transport for London website. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you are not sure you are getting the right train. The Tube does not run for 24 hours. As a general guide, the last train usually departs at around midnight from the first stop on the line. There is a night bus service but the buses are not very frequent and take a very circuitous route.
  3. DO NOT take photos in the Tube station or on the Tube. If a policeman sees you, they will cite you for "terrorism". That may seem far-fetched to an unsuspecting tourist, but remember, the Tube has been hit by terrorists.
  4. London is the centre of the national rail network and many places in the country are easily accessible by rail from one of the London mainline stations. Plan your journey in advance using National Rail Enquiries or Trainline. Tickets are often cheaper when purchased in advance online.

Weather and attire tips

  1. Check the BBC Weather website for London a few days before your departure for the weather forecast. English weather is unpredictable, but be prepared for some rain. In February the night-time temperature in London can sometimes drop to freezing or below. It is very rare for it to snow in London and snow is highly unlikely at the end of February. There has never been any snow at this time of year in London since WDYTYA began though a few snowflakes did fall in February 2013.

What to bring

  1. It is expensive to buy the WDTYDA show guide at Olympia. The show guide is issued free with the February issue of the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. You can buy this magazine on arrival in any large branch of W H Smith's or other large newsagents.
  2. Earphones for the plane.
  3. An umbrella. Or two.
  4. A washcloth.
  5. Cold medicine, cough drops, TUMS, Pepto Bismo, and any other brand remedy you prefer.
  6. Small bottle of hand sanitizer

Luggage/baggage tips

  1. Visit your airline's website to check the weight limit of baggage you plan to check. Hefty feesmay result if your luggage is over the weight limit.
  2. If possible, avoid bringing hard-cased luggage like Samsonite because of the weight. Even if it has wheels, you will still need to carry it up and down stairs. England is a country with very few escalators and elevators.
  3. When flying out from England be aware that only limited quantities of liquids can be carried in your hand luggage. Liquids can only be carried in containers holding 100 ml or less. See Heathrow Airport's guide to hand baggage and security.
  4. A luggage tip from Katherine: If you have clothes you were planning to donate to charity but do not mind wearing one more time, use those for the trip and leave them in London. You can donate them to Oxfam (a local charity shoppe) which should make more on your clothes since they are imports. This system of leaving your clothes in London will free up room in your luggage for souvenirs.

Technology tips

  1. Most U.S. cell phones, except for the iPhone, do not work in Europe. If you have AT&T, add an international plan to your service before you leave for the U.K. and remove it when you return. Download the free Viber app to make free overseas calls and texts when your iPhone is logged onto wifi.
  2. U.K. iPhone/iPad adapters can be purchased at the larger Tesco's or at Apple stores.
  3. If you decide to purchase an electricity converter, only purchase one with three prongs. Nearly all available outlets in hotels, B&B's, etc. have three prongs. Two prongs are only required in bathrooms for plugging in electric toothbrush chargers and electric shavers. Some converter kits come with multiple attachments and that may be sufficient.
  4. Based on previous experience with U.S. hair dryers and curling irons burning out on converters, it is recommended that those appliances be purchased in the UK. Boots is a drug store which carries these items.

Currency tips

  1. Many credit card and debit card companies charge extra fees when using your card overseas. Check with your credit card company and/or bank to learn if extra fees will be charged. Don't depend entirely upon your credit/debit card for UK purchases. Some establishments will only accept UK credit/debit cards which contain a microchip.
  2. If you live in a city/town which doesn't have any banks that offer British Pounds, then just wait until you arrive in London and change your currency at either a local Post Office or at Marks and Spencer department store. Both offer much more reasonable fees than the exchange booths located in airports. (If you are only visiting the U.K., don't bother getting Euros, they aren't used there.)
  3. Do not take change back to your country unless you wish it to be a souvenir. Most banks will not exchange change back to your home currency. Some airlines ask for it to use for charities. If you plan to return for another trip to the U.K. or WDYTYA, then save it.

Shopping tips

  1. As with any major tourist centre watch out for pickpockets. Those with double XX chromosomes may wish to purchase a travel purse or wear an undergarment wallet. One of the ISOGG group had her wallet stolen from her handbag at the London Eye.
  2. You can purchase snacks or small sundry items at the Tesco Express across from the Olympia Hall.
  3. DO NOT purchase any items that contain meat (even dry meat like jerky) to take back to the states as the USDA will confiscate it when going through Customs upon your return. Has to do with the Mad Cow disease outbreak from eons ago.
  4. Most tourists want to visit Harrod's, but might not be able to afford most items like a $300 scarf. The affordable items are in the basement and are all emblazoned with the "Harrod's" name, but who cares? You can buy affordable souvenirs and gifts that you want people to know it came from Harrod's in the first place, right? Don't forget to check out the Princess Diana memorial as well.
  5. Depending on how much you purchase in the U.K., you may be eligible to a refund of VAT (Value Added) Taxes[1]. If you spend £50 or more at Harrod's, you can obtain a VAT refund at the Harrods Tax Free Shopping and Export Bureau in the basement. If your friends are willing, you can combine your receipts to reach the £50 mark.
  6. Avoid buying lotions or other items that may not make it through airport security intact. One of our group bought gift lotions from Harrod's and they had all been squirted by either security or from depressurizing in the plane's baggage hold.
  7. Katherine's Tips: For general tourist items, we usually shop at Picadilly Circus and our usual shopping stop is Cool Britannia. The Cool Britannia store in Picadilly Circus is a multi-level department store with all types of souvenirs. But the best and classiest souvenirs are found in any tourist location run by the Royal Family, the National Trust or the government. I highly recommend you check out the gift shoppes in: The Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, Westminster Abbey and any museums.
  8. There are lots of shops in Kensington High Street, a short bus ride away from Olympia. You might also like to go shopping on Oxford Street, Europe's busiest shopping street. While there visit the famous Selfridge's department store, but you will find the John Lewis department store is much more affordable.
  9. You might also to visit one of the famous London markets. See the London markets website for further details.
  10. For Beatles fans, visit: Beatles Store
  11. For Elvis fans, visit: The Elvis Shoppe

Food and dining info

  1. Most drinks are served cold but are not served on ice.
  2. Most dining establishments do not offer "free refills" on drinks. Check the menu or inquire about this.
  3. "Lemonade" may actually be Sprite.
  4. Pubs are not just bars - they also serve food.
  5. Katherine's Tips: Britain's poor reputation for fine cuisine is wholly undeserved. If you like fish, order "Fish & Chips" which is battered fish served with chips (like French fries only larger). The fish usually comes in a large portion so be prepared for that. The meat pies are delicious, especially Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie. Only caution is "Black pudding" AKA "Blood Pudding" which is neither "black" nor "pudding", read before you order it.

Medical info

  1. Emergency treatment is usually provided free of charge but if you have to stay in hospital or you need additional treatment charges will probably apply. See Accessing health services in England: information for overseas visitors. It is wise to take out travel insurance to cover your visit.
  2. Not all hospitals have emergency rooms (accident and emergency (A&E) departments) open 24 hours. Call and check first.
  3. Two recommended London hospitals: Guy's Hospital, Great Maze Pond, London, Telephone 020 7188 7188, and St Thomas' Hospital, Westminster Bridge Road, London, Telephone: 020 7188 7188. Charing Cross Hospital in Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London W6, is closer and is open 24 hours. Telephone: 020 3311 1234.
  4. Call NHS Direct for free health advice.
  5. In an emergency dial 999 for the police, an ambulance or the fire brigade.

Genealogy research tips

  1. If visiting The National Archives (TNA) at Kew, be sure to dress warmly and do not wear a long coat. Long coats are not permitted in document viewing areas. Check out the TNA website in advance to plan your visit. If you wish to view original documents you will need to apply for a reader's ticket for which you will need two forms of ID. A list of acceptable documents can be found here.
  2. A reader's pass is also required to view books and documents at the British Library. Details on acquiring a pass can be found here. Check the BL catalogue before your visit. Many books are not stored on site and have to be ordered in advance.
  3. Bring a USB thumb drive (flash drive).
  4. If visiting the Society of Genealogists Library, bring a camera and pay the fee for a camera permit. This can be a cost-effective way to record your research.
  5. London Family History Centre
  6. London Metropolitan Archives
  7. Westminster City Archives












External links


  1. Collins R. WDYTYA? Live to close its doors Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, blog 3 May 2017.
  2. Churchill E. Who Do You Think You Are? Live event to cease. Society of Genealogists blog, 3 May 2017.