Looking at the Irish & Immigration with GSQ

July 1st, 2013

I’m back home after attending the Genealogical Society of Queensland‘s annual seminar in Brisbane. This year the theme was Irish in the morning and Immigration in the afternoon. It was the first genealogy seminar I’ve been to since February (which is almost like a drought for me) and it was good to be back chatting to old friends and swapping information.

The day started with Dr Jennifer Harrison talking about 19th century Irish arrivals in Queensland and Jennifer’s slides were available as a handout. After a brief look at the history of Irish emigration (I was surprised that 85% went to North America and only 15% to Australian and New Zealand, I would have thought more down under as we all seem to have at least one Irish ancestor), Jennifer pointed out that not everyone came direct to Queensland and it was a good reminder of the trans Tasman link and also inter-colonial movement. However, there were a number of immigration schemes in the 1860s which did bring Irish direct to Queensland including the Queensland Immigration Society run by Bishop Quinn. Also of interest were the History & Society series on Irish counties published by Geography Publications, Dublin. To finish there was a brief mention of St Patrick’s day and past parades.

Next session was Saadia Thomson-Dwyer talking on Irish in the Archives and I think Saadia mentioned just about every series held in Queensland State Archives as they can be found in most records including immigration, occupational records, wills and intestacies, prisons, hospital records and so on. I was particularly interested in the Imperial Pensions 1898-1912 for various country towns in Queensland.

The final session before lunch was Val Blomer from the Convict Connections group of GSQ talking about deliberate arson by Irish women in order to be transported to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). I was fascinated by the number of times Val reported that the reason they had committed the crime was to join a father, mother or other family member already in VDL. I suppose you can see transportation as a means of emigration especially if they didn’t fit the criteria for the various emigration schemes. Val had a handout summarising her talk.

During lunch I managed to chat with Stephanie Ryan, genealogy librarian at State Library of Queensland, Helen Smith an Unlock the Past regular speaker, and various other old friends and time went very quickly.

After lunch Greg Cope from National Archives of Australia, Brisbane office gave a very interesting talk on immigration journeys using five case studies. The first was Joseph Gantz the inventor of the Volkswagen and I found his story fascinating. Other stories were Ernest Sung Wee, Bas Lie, Wolf Klaphake and Princess Ubangi, an African pygmy woman which was another really interesting story. NAA’s Destination Australia website is the place to go for post WW2 migrant stories and you can even add your own (if applicable). Greg gave out a handout of his slides.

Dave Obee was next with a talk on Destination America and how to research people who went to the United States and Canada and this was of interest to me as I have a couple of ancestors who went to both places although their children came to Queensland. I was struck by how much Dave’s talk was mirroring my own. For example using subscription sites and the need to do multiple searches on spelling variations and I particularly liked his ‘check the original image not just the index’. How true! Dave had a handout which summarised his talk.

My talk on 19thC immigration and where to look was the last session and as usual I have put the slides up on the Resources page of my website. Scroll down to Presentations. To highlight some of the difficulties in locating people, I used examples from my own family history (my Carnegie, Gunderson, Rosewarne and Trevaskis families) and how I finally found the name of the ship, or at least found possibilities to follow up. I have one ancestor whose arrival is still a bit of a mystery.

It was a great day and went very quickly. The goodie bag had the program, a notebook and pencil, an Ancestry.com.au handy magnifier, a bookmark from Queensland State Archives, and brochures from NAA and a Vroom badge highlighting another NAA iniative which I suspect not too many people know about. Other brochures I picked up included the Adopt a Digger project, Unlock the Past’s 4th genealogy cruise brochure, Gould Genealogy & History leaflets, State Library of Queensland’s what’s on catalogue and Inside History‘s postcard. It is good to see sponsors supporting genealogy seminars like this.

As usual I’ve now got a list of things to follow up and I’m sure all the other attendees have too. Thanks to GSQ for the smooth organisation on the day which also included morning and afternoon tea and a delicious lunch. Can’t wait for the next one!


3 Responses to “Looking at the Irish & Immigration with GSQ”

  1. Catherine says:

    Thanks Shauna, great info.
    My understanding is that despite more Irish emigrating to America, the Irish emigration to Australia was larger per head of population. This resulted in a far greater impact with more Australians able to claim Irish Ancestry than can Americans.
    I’m wondering if this a fact or just another myth?… Cheers.

  2. David Gunderson says:

    Hi Shauna,
    Was disappointed that other commitments prevented me from attending your GSQ seminar, Brisbane 30 Jun 2013, 19thC Immigration: Where to Look.
    Thanks for posting the presentation on your website…the good old Gunderson family keeps popping up…thanks for keeping their history alive for us both.
    Cheers,
    David

  3. Shauna Hicks says:

    Thanks David it would have been good to meet at long last.Perhaps next time.

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