genealogy

Reflecting on Family Tree Live UK by Katy Barbier-Greenland

Family Tree Live UK was a fantastic family history conference held at the beautiful Alexandra Palace in London at the end of April 2019. It brought together a mix of professional genealogists and people interested in their own family history, as well as some researchers.

My talk ‘Inheriting the unexpected: dealing with unforeseen family secret discoveries arising from genealogical research’ was in the final timeslot on day one of the event, and one of my favourite parts was actually speaking with people afterwards. Due to the personal nature of my topic I think it struck a chord with some of those in the audience, and it was a privilege to hear their stories on the day. It was also fantastic to meet many of the wonderful genealogists from the lively family history community on Twitter. I placed some of the recommendations coming out of my talk on the Outcomes page of this website, so please check them out and let me know what you think.

My highlight in terms of talks was Dr Larissa Allwork and Dr Nigel Hunt’s talk on ‘Shell shock stories and beyond: trauma and the First World War’ that explored the impacts of shellshock on people and society, with a focus on WWI. Larissa is a public historian with expertise in a number of areas including the ways in which states and societies deal with difficult, provocative and traumatic histories. This talk arises from some of the work Larissa and Nigel have been doing via the ‘trauma’ stream of a major collaboration between universities in the UK called The Centre for Hidden Histories: Community, Commemoration and the First World War, shining a light on shellshock stories at the intersection of psychiatry and history. Really interesting and important work and I was lucky to have a great chat with Larissa throughout the day.

Another highlight was a talk called ‘To DNA or not to DNA - that is the question’ by Katherine Borges, the cofounder and director of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG). Katherine discussed the ways in which different DNA tests work and invited us to reflect on whether they are always the answer. A third talk I unfortunately missed, although I have seen Dr Penny Walters speak before: she gave a talk on the ethics of DNA testing and I have no doubt it would have been fascinating, as all her talks are.

International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki by Katy Barbier-Greenland

The International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) hosts a Wiki with a lot of resources and links, one of which is to my Family Secrets, Secret Families website, on their ‘Unexpected results’ page. Thanks ISOGG!

Their website explains that the “ISOGG was founded in 2005 by DNA project administrators who shared a common vision: the promotion and education of genetic genealogy. Our mission is to advocate for and educate about the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research, and to promote a supportive network for genetic genealogists.” The Wiki was created for anyone interested in genetic genealogy and all are able to contribute, although the articles and resources are of particular interest to the gg community.

Check out the Family Tree Live speaker blogs! by Katy Barbier-Greenland

The Family Tree Live blogs are up! Mine’s accessible here and includes a really lovely writeup from Helen Tovey, one of the organisers. Tickets are selling like hotcakes apparently and you can pick yours up at the Family Tree Live website for 12 pounds….not bad!

Only three months to go, and excited to be catching up with an amazing psychologist I met along my research journey who lives in London and has expertise in working with families after discovering similar events. Also looking forward to just, well…being in London! I haven’t been there before except to whiz through to other places for other conferences so really excited to have a couple of days there to hang out with the UK’s best family history folk and check out London itself.

DNA, genealogy and the Double Helix History project by Katy Barbier-Greenland

I recently participated in a focus group discussion on the ways in which DNA has impacted on family history work at the Nederlandse Genealogische Vereniging, which is the Dutch Genealogical Society. Prof Jerome de Groot ran the group whilst visiting from University of Manchester, UK, as part of his world tour collecting data for the Double Helix History project. The Double Helix History project explores how people ‘get’ and understand their history and themselves, and there’s a lot more to come from this project.

The afternoon was a fascinating discussion with the Netherland’s best genealogy experts: technical, interesting and insightful! Lovely to catch up again with genealogy expert John Boeren who runs Antecedentia and to talk all things family history, DNA and identity with Jerome.

Family Tree Live update by Katy Barbier-Greenland

Family Tree Live UK is really coming together…the organisers are busily organising blogs for all speakers which is going to be really fun in terms of updating and sharing news and ideas to a new audience. While my project is based in sociology and psychology, I’ve found that it has really strong resonance with family history, so I’m excited to give this talk to this new audience.

Actually, it’s the first time I will be able to draw on my background as a social worker as well as my PhD research to reflect on the impacts of family secret discoveries arising from genealogical research, and what on earth to do about them…how to prepare, how to support yourself and others. I hope the talk will compliment some of the more technical talks which are the ‘how to’, because this won’t give you tips on finding people but if you find something unexpected, it’ll help you with the ‘what next’.