August is National Family History Month in Australia and there are lots of events across Australia and in the first half of the month I have been to three events. First there was the FamilySearch Discovery Day at Forest Glen which was an all day series of talks across four streams. You cannot go to everything so some hard decisions have to be made.
Fortunately my first choice was Brenda Wheeler’s session on English parish chest records and it was comprehensive with Brenda showing some wonderful examples of all the different kinds of records that might be found in the parish chest. These are not always indexed, may be hard to read or even written in Latin. But if your ancestors stayed in the one parish over a generation or more, then it could really be worthwhile to delve into the parish chest.
With sessions two and three, I did not have a choice as I first gave a talk on why it is good to blog your family stories and then second was a session on free digital resources available through Australian archives and libraries. Both presentations are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. In between there was a delicious lunch of soup and sandwiches and time to chat with other attendees.
The final session of the day that I attended was Judith Grimes talking about writing and publishing family history and why local history can be a very important part of family history research. I particularly liked the 18 writing tips and Judith had a few handouts to give attendees ideas on what to write – there were 52 stories for families or 52 stories in 52 weeks. This session tied in nicely with my one on blogging although you do not have to have a blog to start writing up your family stories and memories now.
It was a good day and there were quite a few people there that I knew from Nambour, Buderim, Caloundra, Hervey Bay, Kingaroy and other places in south east Queensland. Going to events like this is a great way to make new friends and to learn about new resources or simply get motivated to do your research or writing.
The next event I went to was at Caboolture Library (part of the Moreton Bay Region Libraries who always celebrate NFHM) to listen to David Barnes talk about his own DNA journey. I always like listening to how and why other people have decided to look for DNA connections. Sorting through all the matches is my big challenges so it was good to see practical examples of how David does his. It was quite a big crowd and my only complaint would be was trying to find a carpark near the library.
I had the same problem at the next event which was Helen Smith talking about Lost Ancestors at the Bribie Island (also part of Moreton Bay Region Libraries). Even though it took me a while to get a park, Helen had even more trouble with traffic to the Island but she arrived with just a minute to spare. This talk was all about brick walls and Helen refers to them more as Stop Signs as eventually you will get a Go sign. A more positive spin and certainly easier than trying to smash down a brick wall. There were lots of tips and Helen gave out a substantial six page handout for attendees to take away.
Six genealogy talks in the first two weeks of NFHM. I’ve got lots of notes and the usual to do list to keep me busy. Plus there are my usual U3A advanced family history classes so that is another four talks this August. If you cannot get to an event in person there are lots of free webinars, podcasts and Youtube videos to watch and do your own thing during NFHM. Of course you can also do this any time of the year which is the attraction of family history research. Any time, any place and you never seem to run out of ancestors to research or new resources to look at.
Have a great NFHM and discover wonderful things about your family or start writing up their stories.