Archive for November, 2010

Australia and New Zealand History and Genealogy Roadshow Day Eleven

November 24th, 2010

Well the final roadshow from Unlock The Past took place today at the Ellerslie Centre in Auckland. While I am a little sad it is over, I am more tired than anything. It has been a hectic pace throughout but even more so here in New Zealand where we fly in first thing in the morning and then start the roadshow in the early afternoon going through into the evening.

Today’s program had the usual two streams of speakers which made it hard for some people to choose which one they wanted to go to . Over the course of the roadshow I have seen lots of people trying to decide which one to listen to. This is always a problem when you have concurrent streams and worse if there is more than two.

While Rosemary was doing her usual talk on FindMyPast Australasia, Fiona Brooker from the New Zealand Society of Genealogists was talking on the Society. While I did hear Brenda Joyce talking about the Society in Wellington, I still attended Fiona’s talk in case she covered points not made by Brenda. Unfortunately there was a technical hitch during Fiona’s presentation and she had to finish without the use of her slides – not sure that I could remember my talks without the slide prompts so she is to be commended for still delivering an informative talk on the benefits of belonging to the Society. They also had a display table with their publications and a number of volunteers on hand to answer questions.

I also attended the session with Seonaid (Shona) Lewis talking about The Treasures of the Auckland Research Centre within the Auckland City Libraries. Having done some of my own research there I can personally attest to the great resources and helpful staff. However I was still amazed when Seonaid was outlining what is available online – it really pays to revisit sites as they are continually adding material to them. They also had a very impressive display with lots of information sheets and staff on hand to answer enquiries.

Also present again was the National Library of New Zealand including the Alexander Turnbull Library with staff on hand for questions and a range of freebies.

The next session was me talking about Researching Australian Ancestors and it is quite amazing how many Australians and New Zealanders have family connections – I have three myself! The other speaker was Jan Gow doing a repeat of her session A 48 hour journey with Scotland’s People – see Day Ten blog for more details.

For dinner the kind folk from Auckland Research Centre drove me down to the Pizza Hut and we brought back pizzas and other treats to share with colleagues and we had a good chat round the table and Jan Gow and Louise St Denis also joined us although Louise was still staffing her display in between pieces of pizza! I admire her dedication.

After dinner Elaine Collins from FindMyPast UK and Louise St Denis from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies gave their respective presentations and tonight I relistened to Elaine’s which has changed somewhat since the first one I heard at the beginning of the roadshow. There  were quite a few slides on the 1911 census and I was particularly interested in Living Relatives and Specialist Records all tabs on the top menu bar.

Bringing in the last two sessions of the roadshow were Rosemary Kopittke talking about Google’s Other Tools and myself talking about Family History on the Cheap.

During the day I caught up with Twitter and Facebook friends and it was nice to meet them for real. I was particularly pleased to meet the administrator of the new One Places Studies website and if you are a fan of Online Parish Clerks then you will also like this site.

Tomorrow I am off to the Auckland office of Archives New Zealand for a spot of research on one of my Auckland families. I’m hoping to find some really good information in the court records.

Thanks to all my travelling companions on this epic trip around Australia and New Zealand – it was great getting to know Elaine, Louise and Dan and working with Alan, Anthea, Aimee, Rosemary, Carole and Kerry and Stephen and his boys on different parts of the trip. I think we will all be glad to put our suitcases away for a while although I have to get a new one as it managed to lose its top handle when being lifted by an overenthusiastic taxi driver!

Thanks to everyone who has been reading this daily account, especially those who came and said nice things to me.  I also want to thank those that commented on the blogs as well because that helped to keep me going too, especially late at night. All your support and interest is most appreciated.

As I indicated in yesterday’s blog, I will be doing an overview of the whole roadshow probably next week after I have had a few good nights of sleep! So stay tuned for more.

Australia and New Zealand History & Genealogy Roadshow Day Ten

November 23rd, 2010

I seem to have a sixth sense when travelling as I woke up 15 minutes before the alarm went off at 6.00am so that I would be ready for the 8.00am departure from our Christchurch hotel. Today I gave myself time to get some breakfast and a final walk around Cathedral Square. After a slight delay at the airport we were on our way to Wellington and the tenth day of the Unlock The Past history and genealogy roadshow. I should say that is just ten days of actual presentations the travel time has been nearly three weeks!

At the airport we met up with Jan Gow of Beehive Books fame (amongst other things) who was one of the speakers today as well as having a small display table with tempting goodies (aka genealogical software and books).

Today’s venue was the impressive Westpac Stadium with a great view over the playing field and the hills of Wellington surrounding the Stadium. To top it off, it was a beautiful day with blue sky, just a hint of clouds and the sun was shining.

The first stream of speakers was the usual suspects – Elaine Collins from FindMyPast UK, Louise St Denis from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, Rosemary Kopittke talking on FindMyPast Australasia and myself doing sessions on Australian research and Family History on the Cheap. Yesterday both Rosemary and I had sessions where we each presented one of Dan Lynch’s talks on Google Your Family Tree but Rosemary must have been the better Dan Lynch impersonator, as today’s program was changed so that she presented both talks instead of one each as previously planned.

I was a bit sad that I didn’t do a Dan Lynch today as it was challenging trying to do another speaker’s talk using their slides, but the show must go on as they say. On the positive side it meant that I got to see another one of the local sessions so perhaps I did end up with the better gig after all!

Which brings me to the local stream and first up was Brenda Joyce talking about the New Zealand Society of Genealogists who had an informative display table with useful handouts on Irish research from their very active Irish group. They also had examples of their publications on CD as well as information leaflets on their various branches – 66 of them to be exact! I was also very impressed with their members only benefits which includes online access at home to things like the 18thC & 19thC digitised newspapers from the Gale collection. I don’t think any Australian societies offer this kind of benefit to their members – perhaps we are spoilt by the National Library of Australia E-Resources!

While this session was on, Rosemary was giving a talk on FindMyPast Australiasia and the important thing to remember here is that there is a 24 hour free trial with no credit card and the best results are obtained if you use the Keyword field rather than the name field as it includes both structured and unstructured databases.

The second session was presented by Geraldine O’Reilly from the NZSG Irish Special Interest Group and she talked about Peter Grace an Irish settler in early New Zealand.  This was a case study and Geraldine showed just how much can be found on one individual using sources such as newspapers, gazettes, images, various government documents and of course BDM certificates.

The alternative choice here was Rosemary presenting Dan Lynch’s Google Your Family Tree: The Basics the session I was originally down to do.

After the break, Jan Gow took us on a 48 hour journey with Scotland’s People which was presented with Jan’s usual engaging style while still packed with information and clues for our own Scottish research.

This time the alternative choice was Louise talking about genealogy education from a distance. There are handouts for each of Louise’s talks on the roadshow and they can be found at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies by going to the tab Institute and then the tab Faculty and Consultants and then selecting St Denis, Louise.

I couldn’t listen to Heidi Kuglin talking about It’s Not All Online: Searching Original Records at Archives New Zealand because I was presenting the first of my talks on Researching Australian Ancestors.

At each of the venues Gould Genealogy, Family Photo Book and Inside History have also had displays and Alan and Anthea have steadfastly staffed those tables and assisted people with their queries.

After dinner, Elaine talked about FindMyPast UK and Louise did her session I Found It Once, Why Can’t I Find It Again and in the final session Rosemary did her second talk on Google: Images and Video while I did Family History on the Cheap. My handout is on my website under the Resources tab and it includes the URLs of all six talks I have presented on the roadshow.

It is fast approaching midnight and I have to be up and ready to leave at 7.00am for Auckland. It is hard to believe that the roadshow is almost over –  there have been many long days for the UTP team and all the exhibitors at the various venues but the feedback has all been overwhelmingly positive and there are many people who have gone away from the roadshow inspired to follow up on all the many aspects covered in the various talks.

Stay tuned for the final daily report from Auckland tomorrow although I am tempted to do an overview of the whole roadshow – reply to this post if you want a final wrap-up of the whole roadshow and tell me what you have liked best about the daily blogs!

Australia and New Zealand History & Genealogy Roadshow Day Nine

November 22nd, 2010

After the final sessions of the Unlock the Past roadshow in Australia, Rosemary, Louise and I went in to the historic Rocks area of Sydney where we met up with Elaine. We then explored the various streets around the Rocks ending up in a Chinese restaurant on the waterfront for dinner (a shared Peking duck for the foodies reading this). We were even treated to a display of fireworks over the Sydney Opera House and the old sailing ship James Craig made an appearance and then disappeared again before we could finish dinner and go down for a closer look.

Before we left for the airport we said a sad goodbye to Dan Lynch who couldn’t go on to New Zealand with us due to prior commitments in the US. I must say that it has been a real pleasure travelling with Dan as we have similar research interests and we shared many stimulating discussions and I may have even converted him to Twitter with some of the links I gave him regarding Civil War soldiers.

I simply have to include the following story even though it will make this blog the longest ever. Dan has been talking about his own Italian heritage while on the roadshow and over lunch at the North Ryde RSL, one of the attendees noticed a bowler at the next table had the same surname that Dan was talking about. As it is rather uncommon, he rushed up to tell Dan about the man downstairs and in a splendid example of serendipity, Dan went down to find a long lost relative. They are still to work out the exact relationship but they are definitely from the same ancestors and Dan wasn’t even aware there were any family members in Australia. To make it even more unreal, he has a relative who works in Connecticut where Dan lives. So it certainly pays to advertise the names you are researching!

We arrived in Christchurch a few hours before sunset on a beautiful sunny day so we took the opportunity to walk around the lovely Avon River, saw people punting, ducks and lots and lots of little baby ducks, the Botanic Gardens and lots of lovely spring flowers. We explored the Arts Centre (the former Canterbury College later the University of Canterbury) and the majestic Christchurch Cathedral. The ever energetic Louise raced up the tower stairs to the top for some great photos of Christchurch. Dinner was at a restaurant with a definite Scottish theme and I had the Chicken Barmoral (thought I do think they meant Balmoral) stuffed with haggis and served with a Highlander sauce which was quite tasty.

While walking around Christchurch there are lots of visible reminders of the recent earthquake and aftershocks. Many buildings are propped up and fencing erected around others that have sustained various types of damage. There are even closed streets in the CBD and piles of rubble where cleanup work is still in progress. It is a graphic reminder of just how powerful Mother Nature can be.  My son and his girlfriend arrived here last night and will be staying with her father just outside of Christchurch. I hope my son enjoys this lovely city as much as I do and it must be my fourth visit here.

The Christchurch program only had one local speaker Fiona Brooker talking about the New Zealand Society of Genealogists and unfortunately she was on at the same time as me, so I couldn’t hear her session. However, Fiona will be doing it again in Auckland so I can listen to her there.

With no Dan Lynch, his sessions on Google Your Family Tree were presented by Rosemary Kopittke and myself. Elaine Collins presented on FindMyPast UK while Rosemary gave her usual presentation on FindMyPast Australasia and Louise St Denis from the National Institute of Genealogical Studies gave her two talks on genealogy distance education and the importance of citing sources.

Replacing the sorely missed Aimee on the New Zealand roadshow is Kerry Farmer, newly appointed Director of Australian Studies at the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. Kerry took over the registration desk duties so capably carried out by Carole Riley in Sydney.

Exhibitors in Christchurch were the New Zealand Society of Genealogists with membership information, their publications and copies of their journal. Also attending was the National Library of New Zealand including the Alexander Turnbull Library together with Papers Past, the excellent website for digitised newspapers in New Zealand.

Tomorrow we head off for Wellington so until then, happy researching.

Australia & New Zealand History and Genealogy Roadshow Day Eight

November 20th, 2010

Well the Australian section of the  Unlock The Past history and genealogy roadshow is now over. It was another great day in Sydney where I found myself making lots of notes of things I want to follow up. The first session I went to was Heather Garnsay from the Society of Australian Genealogists talking about the wonderful treasures in the Society’s Library and how to access them. I was so inspired that I am now trying to work out how I can get a week’s research in Sydney (would the family miss me??).

The second session I attended was Jill Ball (aka Geniaus) talking  about the 21st century genealogist which was looking at some of the various types of social media and web 2.0 technology. This was a session I was looking forward too as it is an area that I am interested in and slowly finding my own way around. There are so many aspects to this and it would be impossible to cover in just 45 minutes. Jill really only had time to talk about and demonstrate the first few on her long list. I hope the attendees were impressed by her enthusiasm and will explore further the handout on her website.

One of the problems with trying to demonstrate these applications live is that the technology invariably lets you down and today was no different. There were problems getting the internet to work and links couldn’t be found which all take time away from the session and often puts people off trying something because it ends up looking harder than it really is.

One of the other problems I had was Jill’s non-use of the microphone which as a hearing impaired person annoys me more than other people probably, but then I suspect I am not alone. I did make a request via Rosemary that Jill use the microphone when I first realised she was going to do it without and she did for a while but stopped after asking people could they hear her. Of course people with good hearing said yes, but how many other people were in the audience who might have been too shy or embarrassed by their disability to disagree with the majority. I did try to follow the talk via the slides and demos and I know at one point that Jill was talking about my Twitter activities but whether that was good or bad I’m not sure because I was only picking up every other word.

I should point out that Jill did come up to me over lunch and apologised for not using the microphone after I mentioned my deafness in my own talk as I always do. I have no hope of hearing questions from the audience and I always wander into the audience so that I can hear and answer questions. Hearing impairment is very much an  invisible disability and all speakers should be more aware of it, especially considering the age bracket of a  lot of our audience. I hate using hand held microphones myself and perhaps we should be calling on venues to provide lapel mikes which still give us the freedom to walk around and use our hands.

Jeremy Palmer spoke again today and his topic this time was Irish research and he started with getting all known facts from Australian documents and then working back to Irish BMDs, the 1911 census, Griffiths Valuation and other records. Jeremy ran out of time and I would have loved to have seen what else he had as he always seems to get to the good bits when the bell rings! His handout which was distributed to the attendees has a wide range of resources, both print and online but checking it out will have to wait until after the roadshow.

The three international speakers Elaine Collins, Dan Lynch and Louise St Denis all repeated their talks again today giving people the option of hearing some of the talks they missed yesterday. The exhibitors were all at their posts again today (see Day Seven blog for details) and the attendees all seemed to leave happy and enthusiastic to follow up on all the new information.

It is now 11.45pm and I have to be up before dawn to get a plane to Christchurch, New Zealand. After Christchurch we fly on to Wellington and then finally Auckland where I will also be visiting the Auckland office of the National Archives of New Zealand to catch up with old friends and to do a spot of research. I will be heading home to Melbourne on 26 November. Why the long ramble of where I will be over the next week? More than likely I will be incommunicado with no internet access so that means no blogs, no tweets, no emails etc. On my return I will write up the New Zealand section in a single blog. So until next week, happy researching and try not to miss me too much!

Australia History and Genealogy Roadshow Day Seven

November 19th, 2010

Today the Roadshow was in Sydney and not quite the same without Unlock The Past‘s efficient organiser Aimee staffing the registration desk. Sadly other commitments meant that she couldn’t be with us for the last part of the Roadshow and we are missing her already. On a brighter note we do have long time colleague Carole  Riley (of Carole’s Canvas fame) helping us out.

Before I get into today’s sessions, I really must confess to last night’s activities. I wanted to visit Macquarie Park cemetery which is almost next door to where we are staying so I didn’t go with the others last night for dinner. I wandered up the road and entered the cemetery by a side gate and happily wandered around for nearly an hour until I realised that it was getting quite dark and even a bit spooky. As I started to head back out I was a bit apprehensive to see a car approaching me with the lights flashing until the driver pointed out to me that the cemetery had closed twenty minutes earlier and I needed to leave. Only trouble was the gates I had entered by were locked and I had to walk to the other entrance to get out. Not sure how they even knew I was out there, and I can’t help wondering what would have happened if I had been totally locked in for the night. I hadn’t even told anyone where I was going. Think I might keep my cemetery activities to the daytime in future!

Now to today’s sessions. I started off listening to Gail Davis from State Records New South Wales talking about Getting To Know State Records. She talked about the usual suspects and highlighted the various online indexes and how you need to read the explanatory information so that you know what is covered in each index. Gail also stressed the need to note your sources so that you can find a document again.

Also attended Jeremy Palmer’s talk on The Parish Chest and he gave a detailed account of the history of parishes and the types of documents you can find. It was only towards the end of his talk that he started to give examples of how we could find information on parishes ourselves and that was a bit rushed. I would have liked to have seen that at the beginning or more time spent on it. He gave out a handout with both books and websites that could be followed up. I loved his photo of a real parish chest!

Dan Lynch, Elaine Collins and Louise St Denis continued to get new fans with their talks so don’t forget to explore their respective websites for more information or see my earlier blogs. Rosemary Kopittke also did her talk on FindMyPast Australasia and I did two talks as usual and don’t forget that the handout is on my website under the Resources page.

It was also good to meet some of my Twitter friends there today and to also meet people who are actually reading these daily blogs on the roadshow. Sometimes when writing a blog, you wonder if anyone ever reads it so it is good to know there are people out there actually reading this!

New exhibitors in Sydney include the Society of Australian Genealogists with their always tempting book sales table, Inside History were also there in person, State Records New South Wales had a display table with free info sheets, The Master Genealogist Sydney User Group had a table as did staffed by Jeremy Palmer.

The North Ryde RSL Club is a great venue although the main room was a bit chilly today, but then all of Sydney seems a bit chilly for this time of year. I particularly like the fact that they have a yum cha restaurant so I was able to indulge that passion today, and last night’s dinner, after my cemetery experience, was a ‘to die for’ Mediterranean grilled seafood plate at the lovely Italian restaurant next door to the hotel.  For those wondering why I am finishing this blog with an account of my dining habits, I am responding to the feedback that there hasn’t been much food in my last few blogs. They know who they are!

Hard to believe there is only one more day of the Australian part of the Roadshow and then we are off to New Zealand, sadly without Dan Lynch. Apparently Rosemary and I will be delivering his talks in New Zealand and I for one, am a tad nervous about filling those shoes!  Until next time.

Australia History and Genealogy Roadshow Day Six

November 18th, 2010

Today’s Unlock The Past Roadshow was in Brisbane so it was really good to catch up with a number of my old genealogy colleagues and to listen to local talks. First up was Sue Reid from the Queensland Family History Society (QFHS) talking about the benefits of membership and how they can help people with their research. The Society has a wide range of publications and an impressive online bookshop which includes their many publications.

Next up was Anne Swain who gave a fascinating presentation on Linking Family History and Genetics. Some of the scientific ‘stuff’ went over my head but I do remember being impressed that Genghis Khan is believed to have over 16 million descendants! Anne stressed that all lines need to be researched to produce a medical pedigree and that included recording miscarriages and still births. Anne gave out a useful handout with explanations of some of the terms used in genetics and on the other side was a list of possible inherited conditions which was fascinating and much longer than I would have thought.

I also sat in on John Graham’s talk on the Ryerson Index and he gave the history of its development and how volunteers index a range of papers for BMDs, obituaries, probate and so on. Unfortunately he didn’t have any slides actually demonstrating how the search works or the type of results you might get. If you haven’t used Ryerson before, then it is definitely worth a look and don’t forget to look at the coverage as it is strongest for NSW but the other States may also be useful depending on your research areas.

Pauline Williams from the Genealogical Society of Queensland (GSQ) gave a talk on how a family history society can add value to your research which included the resources in their library, their volunteers, their education classes and so on. I liked the way Pauline ended her talk – only a genealogist regards a step backwards as progress!

The final local speaker was an old friend Helen Smith who gave an excellent talk No Medicare For Them! which looked at how our ancestors would have looked after themselves and what hospitals and doctors were like back then. When Helen started talking about Friendly Societies and the Independent Order of Rechabites records held by the John Oxley Library, it brought back many memories as I was the person who processed those records way back in the early 1990s. Helen will have a handout which will be on the Unlock The Past website next week.

Both the GSQ and the QFHS had display tables with their publications for sale and volunteers on hand to answer questions. Good to see Queensland State Archives (QSA) were there with a display table and lots of handouts. It was a shame that Niles Elvery’s talk on QSA was scheduled at the same time as my talk, as I would have liked to listen to it and catch up with what is new at QSA. Niles and I did manage a quick chat but he seemed to be very busy on the stall most of the day and we never got another chat in.

Elaine Collins, Louise St Denis, Dan Lynch and Rosemary Kopittke in the main stream all gave the talks that I have previously commented on in Days 1, 2 and 3 so if you haven’t been reading the earlier blogs, have a look.

The venue was the Broncos Leagues Club in Brisbane and my parents were early members so my mother, just recently out of hospital, took the opportunity to catch up with me for a belated birthday lunch and drink, and also to visit her beloved club. I did wonder if she should be out and about but she travelled by taxi and I sent her home for a nap after lunch!

While in Brisbane I was able to do a round trip on the City Cat (travels up and down the Brisbane River) with Louise St Denis and as we were returning just on dusk, we saw the flying foxes come down river which is always an exciting event for me. I had dinner with my son and his girlfriend which was great and by coincidence they are also going to Christchurch on Sunday, although different plane and different time. My son is about to meet his girlfriend’s father and other relatives and I just know he will love New Zealand as much as I do.

As usual it will be sad for me to leave Brisbane yet again but I do seem to be struggling with the humidity this morning – how quickly we forget when we live in less humid climes. By this afternoon I will be in Sydney, another one of my favourite cities. Till the next Roadshow, good luck with your research.

Australia History and Genealogy Roadshow Day Five

November 16th, 2010

Day 5 of the Unlock The Past history and genealogy Roadshow saw a big turn out of Canberrans for another excellent program of speakers and talks. There seemed to be a higher ratio of males to females at this venue than at others which was interesting. Must be the dynamics of Canberra’s population.

As I have seen all the international speakers’ talks now  I only attended those in the local stream. Starting the day was Cora Num‘s excellent presentation Irish Research in the Electronic Age which was broad ranging with lots of links to follow up. As usual Cora put a handout on her website.

Next was Tom Foley from the National Library of Australia (NLA) speaking about the treasure of the Library and I was a bit surprised to see so many Canberran genealogists attend this as I would have thought they would almost live at the Library. It repeated a trend I have seen at other venues when I have given a similar talk – genealogists don’t seem to be aware of what the NLA has online free through TROVE or their e-resources service.

The Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra (HAGSOC) were going to give a talk on Beginning Your Family History but there were only a few attendees who also wanted to see Dan Lynch’s Google Your Family Tree: The Basics so the session was cancelled and everyone moved in to hear Dan. So he is the only speaker to have spoken to all attendees at a roadshow event. As usual he gave heaps of tips which people were writing down so that they could try it out at home.

I missed Cora’s second talk on How Did They Get Here?: Locating Shipping and Immigration Records as it was scheduled at the same time as my talk on Archives You May Not Know But Should. I will be able to follow up Cora’s by looking at her handout and of course my handout on my roadshow talks is on my website under the Resources page.

After dinner Elaine Collins from FindMyPast UK, Louise St Denis from the National Institute of Genealogical Studies and Dan Lynch all presented their talks which I have commented on in earlier blogs. Rosemary Kopittke also talked on FindMyPast Australasia.

Someone staying at the venue took the opportunity after dinner to ask me about his own rather complicated family situation and how he might research his history.

Local exhibitors were HAGSOC as mentioned above and also the Canberra & District Historical Society.

While in Canberra we also took the opportunity to visit the Canberra Museum & Art Gallery, Old Parliament House where I visited the Prime Ministers exhibition area which brought back memories of my time with National Archives of Australia on the Prime Ministers Papers Project and lastly some of us went to the Australian War Memorial.

I also took time out to visit former colleagues at the NAA and also at the Noel Butlin Archives Centre. Now quite nostalgic about my time in Canberra 1999-2003. Flying out to Brisbane my home town this afternoon. Till the next Roadshow, happy ancestor hunting.

Australia History and Genealogy Roadshow Day Four

November 13th, 2010

Well Day 4 of the Roadshow is over and I am now wondering if I will make it to Day 11 (it is actually 20 days counting the travel days) – I feel incredibly weary yet my brain is buzzing with so much new information. Also great today to catch up with a lot of my Melbourne friends and colleagues.

We rearranged the lectern this morning and I was pleased with my presentation Archives You May Not Know But Should! The session was so popular we had to put more chairs in the room. Good to see the interest in archives especially after yesterday’s #followanarchive day on Twitter. Also received good feedback from the attendees and remember, there is a handout to all my Roadshow talks on my website under Resources. Take time to explore some of the other Resources as well.

Today’s talks included a session on the Genealogical Society of Victoria (GSV) given by Susie Zada who focussed on what GSV members can do online at home – I have long been a fan of their members only online database GIN (Genealogical Index of Names) although I still maintain it needs a more sexy name or a name that reflects all the wonders within!

Bruce Smith’s talk on Family History & Sports Archives reminded me that this is an area that I have not explored in my own family history – not that I need more to do! He showed some interesting family photos of his own sporting family members and the teams they played with. He didn’t have a handout but has promised to give me one and I will put it up on my website once I get it.

The final new talk for me today was Susie Zada, this time talking about Look Local: It’s Not All On The Web which was looking at what can be found within local government records. She also looked at family and local historical societies and all the indexing and transcription work that is being done by these societies. There was no handout.

The international speakers Elaine Collins, Dan Lynch and Louise St Denis again gave presentations in the main stream while the local speakers and myself were in the alternate stream. A new exhibitor today was Cassie and Ben with their new magazine Inside History. They will also be in Canberra on Monday.

In a quick chat with GSV just before they left, I learnt that they had 17 new members sign up today which is really good news and shows that a lot of people are doing family history without realising that there are family and genealogical societies that they can join to help them with their research.

It was also good to see that some people had travelled considerable distances to attend including Traralgon, Bendigo and Mildura. Tomorrow we are the ones travelling and after an early flight, we will have the rest of the day in Canberra to prepare for Monday’s roadshow. Hope to see some of my old Canberra friends and colleagues there. Until next time, your increasingly weary roadshow correspondent.

Australia History and Genealogy Roadshow Day Three

November 12th, 2010

Day three of the History and Genealogy Roadshow in Australia was in Melbourne and as usual I was the first speaker in the alternate stream. Sometimes it’s not good to be the first speaker because if things are going to go wrong, it is during the first talk.

Just before I started I realised there was no water and glasses for the speakers. Rosemary kindly got me a glass but then we realised there was no where to put it so she went to organise a table. In the meantime I had to start the session so I put the glass down on the floor near the lectern. Some of you are probably already saying that was a ‘stupid’ thing to do.

Another of my pet ‘peeves’ is fixed lecterns and microphones that can’t be moved so that I can see the screen. Most of my talks have screenshots where I point out various features and I couldn’t do that this morning because I couldn’t easily see the screen and the small netbook was too far away as well. Anyway in my efforts to try and get a better position I knocked over the glass of water onto my shoes.  I had to keep going in a puddle of water with my feet sloshing in my shoes and not being able to easily see the screen.

Needless to say I wasn’t too happy with my presentation as I was distracted by the circumstances. However I was extremely gratified with the number of people who told me how much they enjoyed it and how they got a lot out of it. Apparently they were so interested in the talk, they weren’t watching me! So I felt better but we will need to do something about the setup tomorrow morning to avoid another awkward presentation as my Archives talk has lots of slides as well.

I felt even better when I asked someone I knew from Gippsland (some distance away) why she was in the alternate session (as it is hard to be on against Elaine Collins from FindMyPast UK), and she replied it was me that she had come to listen to! So I slowly cheered up as my shoes dried out and I found a really nice Japanese cafe for lunch so my day definitely did improve.

Of course I attended other sessions, starting with Linda Gray from the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies (AIGS) who highlighted the benefits of belonging to the Institute including use of the Library, the volunteers knowledge and experience, their education classes, seminars and regular talks. I liked how she ended her session by saying that family history is a journey in time and to remember that no one is as interested in your family history as you, so keep it simple and full of interesting facts when talking to others about it.

Although I am quite familiar with Public Record Office Victoria (PROV), I still sat in on James McKinnon’s session as I wanted to know about new initiatives. It is good to hear that wireless internet will be available in the North Melbourne reading room in the near future. Also the PROV Wiki and the PROV Community continue to grow and be popular with researchers. I also liked his ending – Now that you have stepped into the wonderful world of research, let the journey begin and see where it takes you.

The last session I attended was Katie Flack from State Library of Victoria (SLV) talking about Australian census records and how they can be used for family history research. SLV has a very useful guide listing the various census and which ones have individuals named.  One of the interesting snippets from the 1844 South Australian census was that there were 1055 Catholics, 1666 Methodists, 9418 Church of England, 25 Jews and 32 Mohammedans and Pagans. This type of information can provide social context about your family and their place in society.

Exhibitors today included AIGS, PROV, SLV and the Genealogical Society of Victoria had a very interesting book stall and even though I promised myself I would not buy anything, I did. I simply couldn’t resist the November issue of  Tracing Family History, a UK genealogy magazine. Also with a tempting bookstall was Gould Genealogy, there was a display by Family Photo Book, and Inside History (a new  Australian family history magazine, Louise St Denis from the National Institute of Genealogical Studies was kept busy answering people’s questions about online genealogy courses as was Elaine Collins from FindMyPast UK.

I saw Dan Lynch author of Google Your Family Tree busy signing copies of his book and doing individual demos to various people after his talks. Dan was in the audience for my first talk, and now that I think about it, I was really embarrassed that I knocked my glass of water all over my feet in front of such an experienced international speaker. Still, he probably hasn’t seen anyone do that before during a presentation, so it will be a good dinner table story for him when he gets home!

I should also mention all the various timekeepers at the sessions who do an excellent job of ringing the bell when presenters start to go into the last five minutes of a session although most presenters finish up on time and take a few questions as well.

As usual I asked various people how they were enjoying the day and everyone said they were getting lots out of the presentations and couldn’t wait to get home and start following up on their new tips. Everyone I spoke to will be there for Day Four tomorrow so it looks like another big day in Melbourne for all the Unlock The Past staff who quietly and efficiently work to ensure that all goes smoothly. Until next time, happy researching.

Australia & New Zealand Genealogy Roadshow – Day Two

November 11th, 2010

Yesterday was Day 2 of the Unlock The Past history and genealogy roadshow in Perth, Western Australia and it was another great day. Started at 8.30am and finished at 9.30pm so there were a few tired but pleased exhibitors at the end of the day.

I was again the first speaker in the second stream of talks and my presentation was on the Treasures of the National Library of Australia which was very well received and one gentleman made my day when he came up and said how much he got out of it and that he ‘had already got his money back for the day’. I was on a high for quite a while after. But of course this roadshow is not all about me and there are other great speakers.

I finally caught Dan Lynch’s Basic talk on Google and managed to learn even more pointers. Dan is the author of Google Your Family Tree and to use the same analogy of my fan from the first session, I have well and truly got value out of purchasing Dan’s book.

Marjorie Bly from the National Archives of Australia, Perth Office gave a very good overview of NAA and the records held in the WA office and I was pleased to learn that they now have indexes to those arriving by plane online for 1944-1950.

It was also my day to catch Rosemary Kopittke’s talk on Find My Past Australasia and although I had heard a lot of it before, her section on new records was good – including the Queensland school pupils index (you can even find me if you try) and New Zealand electoral rolls to mention but a few. I was also interested to learn about what is coming up as well.

Similarly I finally heard Elaine Collins talk on FindMyPast UK and the other brightsolid websites and it was really good to see some of the search strategies that Elaine demonstrated. It was also good to learn that FindMyPast UK is now available as a library subscription as I know a lot of societies are interested in having it in their libraries.

Rosemary again gave her Australasian presentation following Elaine, and as I had heard it earlier in the day, I thought I would quietly read the complimentary Western Australian Genealogical Society (WAGS) journals that were available from the Society. I was so engrossed in the journals I didn’t hear Rosemary asking me a question so I was well and truly caught out and not a little embarrassed.

I also managed to catch Karen Tregenza from WAGS talking about the benefits of belonging to a genealogical society and she outlined three Genie Gems for joining WAGS – first, their organisation is a place to go for information and help, second their volunteers are knowledgeable and experienced and third, their library is full of wonderful resources. Karen then went on to highlight some of the key books to assist researchers. I was pleased to see that she held up Family History for Beginners & Beyond, a publication by the Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra and a publication that I helped to update way back when I was living in Canberra. Of course there have been more editions since then.

The other session I managed to squeeze in was Tricia Fairweather and Leonie Hayes presentation on resources at the State Library of Western Australia and this was full of hints on how to make the most of their online catalogue and resources both online and in the library. I was particularly impressed with their Delicious tags and bookmarks and of course their online guide Dead Reckoning, a must for anyone with Western Australian ancestors.

There were a number of exhibitors that also kept attendees busy and interested during the day including Time Trackers and the Western Australian Genealogical Society who I believe signed up almost 30 new members on the day which is fantastic.

In case anyone is starting to worry that I might be working too hard, we do get a few moments here and there and before we left Adelaide, Rosemary, Dan and I managed to squeeze in a visit to the excellent South Australian Migration Museum. It has changed a lot since I first went there many years ago and it is definitely worth a visit to learn about the migration experience.

In Perth Dan and I during an evening stroll, stumbled over the historic East Perth cemetery which is surrounded by a rather formidable chain fence too high to climb over and seriously padlocked gates. We circled it like two lost children, wanting to return home – we rattled the gates, we clung to the fence straining to see some of the interesting graves. Dan even went and asked one of the neighbours how we could get in and was advised it is only open on Sundays which wasn’t going to help us. At the front gates we found out who was responsible for the cemetery, went back to the motel and googled (what else?) and came up with some contact numbers. Dan in his charming way convinced them to open up just for us and at 9.00am this morning we are having a personal tour before leaving for the airport. How good is that going to be?

Therefore I need to pack and get ready for my wonderful tour of the East Perth cemetery. Day 3 of the roadshow is in Melbourne and I’m sure it will have more exciting adventures for me and the rest of the roadshow team.