Monday 13 October 2014

Four days to BTOP: focus on the learning experience

Back To Our Past, Ireland's major annual genealogy get-together gets underway again this Friday at the RDS in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

It's a multi-faceted show, with something to appeal to all family historians, whether they're just starting out, have already made some headway and are ready to move up a notch, or are seasoned professionals. Some come out of curiosity, some are attracted by the opportunity to receive free face-to-face research advice (see Friday's blogpost),; others come to pick up special 'exhibition' bargains in the market place, or to talk to service providers about their research services.

Of course, most visitors come to the RDS in Ballsbridge for a healthy mix of reasons, but there's usually one common motivating factor: the desire to discover more about the life, times and culture of our ancestors. They come to learn.

With two strands of genealogy and heritage lectures running on each of the three days of the show (there's an additional strand of lectures dedicated to DNA/Genetic genealogy which I'll be highlighting later this week), there's absolutely no excuse for any visitor to leave without having learned more about Irish culture and traditions, picked up a ton of tips about which resources to plunder and how to ensure the best bounty from them, and found the confidence to try out new research methods and techniques.

In short, the presentation schedule is there to ensure every visitor leaves the show a better family historian or with a more educated understanding of how their ancestors lived.

The lecture programme has been organised once again by the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI). Several members of APGI (MAPGIs) will be making presentations, but so will many other well-known historians, authors, genealogists, and research and database experts. The line-up reflects a wide range of specialities and features experts from Ireland, the UK and the USA.

I'm not going to start singling out individual lecturers – heaven forfend that I should reflect my personal interests on my own blog! – but a quick glance at the programme will convince you of the high standard of expertise on offer and the great choice of themes including military history, civil registration records, local archives, emigration, Gaelic history, the role of the Internet, gravestone inscriptions, and many more.
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You'll also see that there's a great choice of topics aimed at a wide range of experience levels.

All lectures are presented on a first-come-first-served basis, and they're free to all those attending BTOP.

With only four days until lift-off, it's time to start planning your visit around your favourite lecture topics.

You can view the full three-day lecture programme on the Back To Our Past organisers' website or, if you want your own hard copy, you can download a pdf here.