Report on GSQ annual genealogy seminar day 26 May 2014

May 29th, 2014

This is an annual event hosted by the Genealogical Society of Queensland (GSQ) that I have had the privilege of speaking at over the years, much easier now that I am living closer to Brisbane. Even if I was not speaking, I would still attend as the speakers are usually good with topics that interest me. This year was no different. Speakers included Dr Jennifer Harrison, Helen Smith, Stephanie Ryan from State Library of Queensland (SLQ), Jane Wassall from Queensland State Archives (QSA)and myself. Each speaker gave two talks. So ten talks in a day which reminded me a little of being on an Unlock the Past cruise. A little bit of brain overload at the end of the day but most speakers had handouts and my two talks are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

It is a bit like a one day conference as you register and collect your name tag and show bag at the front desk on arrival. Inside the show bag were the usual flyers, pencils, bookmarks etc but also a copy of GSQ’s journal Generation and a copy of their Queenslanders Pioneer Families 1859-1901 which is a 159 page book with lots of mini family biographies. I already had one so it will make a nice present for someone. During the day lucky door prizes provided by sponsors were drawn at all breaks. So great value before the talks even started!

First was Dr Jennifer Harrison talking about convict records and in particular explaining the different pardons, tickets of leave and certificates of freedom. Next was Helen Smith on document analysis which I had heard on the UTP cruise in February but it is always good to hear talks again as you absorb more information or it means more to you as you understand the topic more. After an excellent morning tea (how can you go past scones, cream and jam) Stephanie Ryan spoke about the biographical information you can find from persons called before government committees and the SLQ has an online index and guide to those resources here. I was next looking at the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) and what is now indexed, digitised and online but a lot of those 10,000 reels of microfilm are still in microfilm format! Last talk before lunch was Jane Wassall on school files at the QSA which was a trip down memory lane for me as they were some of my favourite records when I worked there. The QSA Brief Guide 18 on School Records is an excellent way of learning what is held for schools and how to find it.

Lunch was a selection of sandwiches and hot savouries which were popular and filling. As first speaker after lunch I was worried that a few might nod off. Also during lunch the winner of the Joan Reese Memorial Short Story Writing competition was announced. Then it was my turn again with a talk on what you can find on your ancestors in court of petty session and other court records. Copies of both my talks are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. Next was Jenny on land orders and immigration schemes and meeting the criteria of the schemes probably explains why our ancestors ages went up and down! Helen Smith followed with part two of her document analysis talk this time illustrating how software programs such as Clooz and Evidentia can help us with our research and analysing documents.

After another yummy afternoon tea (jam drops and other biscuits) it was time for the final two talks. Stephanie spoke about the pre 1859 NSW Colonial Secretary’s correspondence which relates to Queensland. I remember using this on microfilm when I worked at the John Oxley Library so it is really good to see that they have been indexing it and starting to put the index online. Great if you have early pre separation Queenslanders and the online guide and index is here. Final talk was Jane talking about a variety of records held at QSA with World War One connections. It really is amazing what you can find at the archives.

Sponsors for the day were Ancestry.com.au, Findmypast.com.au, Gould Genealogy & History, National Archives of Australia, Queensland State Archives and State Library of Queensland. GSQ, QSA, SLQ, Boolarong Press and Guild of One Name Studies all had display tables and I saw quite a few  people buying books. I took the opportunity to renew my subscription to History Queensland a magazine all about Queensland published by Boolarong which I obviously forgot to renew during our big move last year.

When the GSQ President had finished thanking all the sponsors, volunteers who did a marvelous job with the set up and catering and the speakers I slipped quietly out as I wanted to drive back to Bribie Island before it got dark.  I am happy to say Brisbane traffic was not too bad and I managed to find my way into and out of the tunnel under the Brisbane River and made it home just on 5.30pm and the setting sun. Great day and already looking forward to next year’s seminar.



Darwin Family History Seminar

February 29th, 2012

While up in Darwin for the War Comes to Australia tour, I also took part in the Unlock the Past genealogy seminar in conjunction with the Northern Territory Library and the Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory. It was a full day with Rosemary Kopittke and I giving three talks each with small presentations from the Library, the Society and Unlock the Past.

Usually I am the only one blogging these events and it is always hard to write about my own talks. But this time well known Territory genealogy blogger Cassmob was in the audience and in her blog Family History Across the Seas, she has also blogged about the seminar (here). It’s good to get feedback on my talks and I acknowledge Cassmob’s point about the Board Immigrant Lists but as everybody knows, you can only fit so much in a 45 minute talk. Sometimes I wonder if broad ranging talks on State and National Archives are worthwhile but you never know who is going to be in the audience. On the other hand, if your talk is too narrow, then it is less likely to be of interest to everyone.

My talks were on State and National Archives Online: Practical Tips; Where Else Can I Look: It’s Not All Online and Convict Ancestors: Fascinating & Frustrating to Research and as usual I agreed to PDF the talks and put them on the Resources page of my website (scroll down to Presentations). I also put there my talk on Tracing Military Ancestors in Australia from the War Comes to Australia tour. This saves people madly writing while I am talking, but there is a lot of commentary that goes with the slides that isn’t captured in the PDF. Still it helps people to remember the points in the talks.

I also gave a small presentation on the Genealogists for Families Project and how we can help others on an ongoing basis for as little as $25.00. I hope the Project sees a few more members from the Northern Territory soon.

Rosemary talked on FindMyPast (UK, Ireland, Australasia and the US coming soon) and I know I say this everytime, but it really is hard to keep up with what’s new. I also suspect that as FMP continues to grow Rosemary is going to find it harder to keep to the 45 minutes! Her other two talks were on Government Gazettes and Police Gazettes and Directories and Almanacs, both of which I have heard before. I like the way she now incorporates overseas references as well as Australasian although it does give me more follow ups to do!

One aspect of the day Cassmob didn’t mention (probably because she is a Territorian) are the small presentations by the Library and the local Society. I particularly liked the Library presentation as it highlighted resources available on their website and in particular their new Roll of Honour Bombing of Darwin 19 February 1942 online exhibition. This lists all known victims and includes a biographical entry for them and they invite anyone with more information to contact them. Another online exhibition is Remembering Territory Families and again contributions are welcome.

The Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory also had a small display table with their publications and information about the Society. I think it’s good that they briefly spoke about their library and resources as I firmly believe everyone should be a member of their local society. You can learn so much from others and it’s amazing what can be in their libraries and from my personal visit last time, I remember how surprised I was by the range of resources the Society had.

Unlock the Past also had a display table of their various publications and trade seemed to be brisk Lucky door prizes were supplied by Unlock the Past, FindMyPast Australasia and Inside History Magazine so there were four especially happy people at the end of the day. As usual I also came away with a number of things added to my to do list!

Someone once asked me don’t I get bored going to all these genealogy seminars and the answer is definitely not – there is always something new to learn and I hope I can share some of my own learnings with others. My next one is on Saturday, just one week after this Darwin one!

I’ll be in Kyabram at a family history seminar organised by the Kyabram Regional Genealogy Society and I heard this morning that there will be eight people from the Deniliquin Genealogy Society, including one person I met on the War Comes to Australia tour. Thank goodness I’m not the only genealogy addict!


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