'Navigating your family history: journeys with ancestors' conference, September 2023


07 July 2023
The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) will be holding its third conference 8-9 September 2023 at Downing College, Cambridge. Open to the general public as well as the AGRA membership, you are warmly invited to attend. Tickets are now on sale and the programme may be perused at https://www.agra.org.uk/conference/programme

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Conference overview

Set in the neo-classical surroundings of Downing College, the Friday evening of AGRA's third conference will feature a formal drinks reception, with seated dinner and after-dinner speaker Dr Sam Willis.

Saturday will feature a packed programme of talks and discussion panels on the theme of the conference, ‘Navigating your Family History’.

The presentations

As such, topics will encompass a broad spectrum - ranging from seafaring ancestors and migration to navigating your way round local and national archives and the records they hold.

Speakers include maritime historian and SS Great Britain specialist Dr Helen Doe presenting the keynote, Anne Morddel speaking on the means to trace Napoleon's British prisoners of war, Leslie Trotter on investigating 19th century emigration from Cornwall and lesser-known resources to help discover and tell such ancestors' stories, Maggie Gaffney on the passenger experience during the 93-day voyage of the Mermaid to New Zealand, and Richard Atkinson with a family narrative covering the life of his ancestor contracted to provide rum to the British armed forces during the American War of Independence.

Saturday will also feature a choice of 3 panel discussions:

Three themed panels will be held simultaneously during the afternoon, and delegates will be asked when registering on the day which panel they would like to attend:

  • Merchant Navy
  • Destinations
  • AGRA Membership: Joining AGRA, and progressing from Associate to Member

About the 'Destinations' panel: The panel will feature professional genealogists David Annal and Dr Sophie Kay and be guest hosted by Helen Tovey, Editor of Family Tree. Exploring the reasons why our ancestors left the British Isles and the records to help trace their lives (from maps to DNA and a few esoteric gems), the discussion will take in elements from the past five centuries of British exploration and exploitation.


To register

The full package costs £320; attendance solely on Saturday 9th (including meals) £95, or virtual attendance on Saturday 9th £45. (Note that virtual attendance does not include live streaming of the Merchant Navy or Destinations panel discussion).


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