Unlock the Past logoWell the first day of the Roadshow from my perspective was a great success because I have a notebook bulging with new ideas to follow up. The trouble is that I probably won’t get to do that until I return home at the end of November – just hope I still understand what I have written!

I was busy giving three of my own talks, all of which were new, so I was really interested in seeing how they were received by attendees. Feedback was good on all three and I was surprised that a number of people said they hadn’t heard of sites that I use all the time. I have a handout on my website of all the URLs mentioned in my six talks over the whole Roadshow so those who couldn’t attend my talk because they wanted to also hear the international speakers could still explore the websites I talk about it. Simply scroll down until you see Unlock The Past Roadshow and the six talks are listed with the single Handout. I have deliberately not included the names of the websites, just the URLs, as I don’t want those who can’t hear the talks, to disregard a website simply based on it name. They are all worth a look (in my opinion).

So what did I personally learn? Well I took the opportunity to listen to Dan Lynch three times (author of Google Your Family Tree) and each time I learnt even more about Google and what you can do with it – I attended the Images and Video, Advanced and Tools sessions. I missed the Basic one as I was speaking at the same time but hope to catch that one in Perth. While I have had terrific success searching Google myself and I have read Dan’s book, I realised while hearing him speak and demonstrate some of the features, that I hadn’t really taken in what he was saying in the book. It is one thing to read something and quite another to have someone actually show you how it works or how to make the best of a feature. So if you get the opportunity to hear someone, rather than just read their book, always take up the opportunity and it will double the value you get out of reading the book.

I also listed to Tamara Wenham talking about State Records South Australia and that brought back memories of all the archives talks I did for all the archives I have worked for over the years. I was so engrossed with one series that she was talking about that I forgot to write the series number down and had to confess and ask for it later. I was particularly impressed with her Warnings slide – not all permanent records have survived, not all series are indexed, not all information is open to the public, not every Robert Brewster (or whoever) is the Robert Brewster (or whoever) BUT every trail is loaded with possibility! How true.

The other speaker I listened to twice was Louise St Denis and I used to think I talked fast – wow she can deliver lots of information in a short space of time but there is a handout so all is not lost! The first session was based on citations and the need to do them properly if you want others to find them again and how you can’t rely on memory. This session brought back memories of my librarian days and all the cataloguing rules and some of my editing/publishing sessions at work where we would debate what does the Australian Style Manual really mean! A heavy session for anyone with no background experience but essential.

The second session with Louise was around online genealogy courses and I had never realised just how much is out there and of course, there is varying quality and how do you pick the good from the bad, the current from the outdated and so on. Until my association with Unlock The Past I wasn’t aware of Louise’s National Institute Genealogical for Studies so it was good to hear her talk about the various online courses and to see examples of the course materials at her trade display. I have been thinking of doing some online study as I haven’t done anything formal since I did the Society of Australian Genealogists Diploma back in 1992 so I will be checking out the courses on offer.

The sessions I totally missed out on were Elaine Collins and Rosemary Kopittke talking about findmypast.co.uk and findmypast.com.au but I will be able to see those sessions in Perth and other cities.

It was also good to catch up with the AFFHO Congress 2012 organisers and to hear about the great line up of speakers they are organising. It sounds like it will be a Congress not to miss! Also met up with Cassie from Inside History a new history/genealogy magazine that has just launched so spent last night having a good read. The staff from Gould Genealogy were busy all day with sales of books and CDs and Unlock The Past staff made sure everything went as smoothly as possible. The only real problem of the day was that those who went in for dinner had a long wait but that wasn’t the fault of the roadshow organisers. So all up a  great day/evening and looking forward to Perth tomorrow.