Unlock the Past logoWell 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!