Unlock the Past logoDay 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.