Oct 5, 2015

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Review of History Queensland conference 3-4 Oct 2015

Why is it that genealogy conferences always seem to go so quickly? Must be because we are all so busy earning new things and catching up with old friends and making new ones. It was History Queensland‘s first conference and extremely well organised with a good venue, excellent catering, interesting program and excellent speakers.

QSA tote bag Oct 2015I am really glad that I decided to stay onsite as it saved travelling time but also I didn’t have to overtax my right arm which is still in recovery mode. Arriving Friday afternoon was good as I could collect my registration bag of goodies early – all in this really nice Queensland State Archives tote bag. Some sponsors and exhibitors were also setting up allowing an early look at their goods. Although I say at every conference no more books, I always come home with books, quite often from the second hand collections on sale.

Best little giveaway (after the QSA bag) was the State Library of Queensland‘s deceptive little book of what appeared to be matches. However when you opened it up there was a lovely purple cloth to clean your glasses or phone/computer screen. It was good to catch up with the Brisbane City Archives, Queensland BDMs, Royal Historical Society of Queensland, Oral History Queensland, Finders Cafe, Findmypast, Ancestry, Gould Genealogy, Unlock the Past, Ryerson Index, and a number of Queensland societies with displays or members present at the conference.Exhibitors

The program embraced local history and family history with three keynote addresses and then two streams of talks. I mainly went with the family history stream but did go to a few in the local history stream. Dave Obee from Canada gave the first keynote on connections between Canada and Australia which was really interesting. It seems it is a small world, even back then.  Jan Richardson’s talk on female and coloured convicts living in Queensland after the convict era was also good in that it showed how much you can find out even when sources are not abundant or easy to locate.

Rowena Loo’s talk on the Queensland State Archives brought memories back and things have certainly changed since I first went to work there back in 1982. All those indexes we did on cards are now online and some are even linked to digital images – amazing how technology has made access for all so much easier. Dan Kelly from Boolarong Press talked about how to get your publication published and the most cost effective ways to do that.  I still think writing it in the first place is the hardest part.

After lunch Janis Wilton gave the second keynote on talking local and family history and not surprisingly, she used oral history interviews to illustrate her points. Rosemary Kopittke‘s session on suffrage in Queensland was next and this was a useful overview of suffrage with key dates. Her handout meant that you didn’t have to write down all those key dates.

After afternoon tea I swapped to the local history stream to hear Michael Brumby talk on the Charters Towers Archives and as I have quite a few families from Charters Towers I was fascinated with how much there is in the archives. The last time I went there was before my son was born and he is nearly 30 so must be time for another visit. This was the last session for the day and it was a chance to chat with friends in the bar or check out the displays.

State Library of Queensland did a session on Queensland Memory looking at what they have online, their digitistion program and how you can set up your own digitisation program for your own records. There were also tips on using the OneSearch catalogue more effectively. A good session to end the day on.

Buffet areaA buffet was held for those who were staying over and for anyone who lived close enough to go home afterwards. It was a chance to catch up and I joined the lovely ladies from Caloundra Family History Research and Michael Brumby from Charters Towers. I was pleased to have a chance to chat further with Michael and I have some photos I know he will be interested in seeing.  A long day.

A hot buffet breakfast was served both days so a good start to the day. My keynote  was first thing and I was a bit nervous as it was based on my own family history and I wasn’t sure if people would find my research issues that interesting. Most people seemed to identify with all of the problems I faced and it was very well received. I must thank Jill Ball for her blog post Please Make Me Think which asked speakers to inspire, challenge, inform, entertain or be controversial. I aimed for all five and certainly got everyone talking afterwards. I have put the presentation up on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations but it is a quite different from my usual talks. You really needed to hear the dialogue that went with the slides to grasp the whole story.

Dave Obee’s talk on Mythbusters followed and all of his mythbusters could have applied to my presentation! That was one of the really good things about all the papers – they all seemed to complement and enhance each other. Dave had a handout for this one. Then I was back to the local history stream to hear Janis Wilton’s talk on walking, seeing and hearing local history. Visiting the place can make your research that much more real and give you a greater understanding of what it was like living there.

The final talk of the conference was Helen Smith‘s in The Words of the People which was an excellent summary of resources that record the actual words spoken by people including royal commissions, committees of inquiry, inquests, court trials and so on. Again a fascinating way of finding out more about the times in which our ancestors lived. Helen also represented the Guild of One Name Studies.Helen explaining the Guild of One Name Studies

There were quite a few geneabloggers in attendance and I will try and note their conference posts and include in the next Diary of an Australian Genealogist. They may have attended some of the talks I didn’t get to hear. I know some have already got their post up there!

I didn’t win the raffle and there were some excellent prizes but some friends did which was good. Then it was time to say goodbyes and head on home. Congratulations to the organising committee for a job well done and now we have to wait patiently till 2017 for the next History Queensland conference.



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  1. Yes that little matchbox was good wasn’t it? I carry a lens cleaning cloth with me everywhere now…tragic old biddy that I am! I’d be lost without it now I wear glasses all the time.

  2. Shauna, your talk does need you presenting it to have the full impact!! Thanks for this summary too. Don’t you think you deserve a rest now? Fran

  3. Shauna Hicks says:

    Thanks Fran and Alex for the comments. Can you ever take a rest from family history, Fran? I find with social media that one or more of my friends are suggesting great resources almost every day and Trove keeps on adding newspapers. No rest for me but perhaps more time on my own family stories. Great catching up.

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