Archives, Skeletons & DNA: National Family History Month 2017 Closes in Townsville, QLD

9 September 2017

In previous years the end of National Family History Month and the giveaway prize draw has piggy backed on existing events in south east Queensland. For the first time we had a dedicated event with the Family History Association of North Queensland based in Townsville. An all day seminar was organised for 2 September 2017 with two speakers Shauna Hicks (also voluntary coordinator of NFHM) and Louise Coakley a DNA specialist from Cairns.

Display tables were busy during breaks

Display tables were busy during breaks

My two talks were Archives You May Not Know but Should and Skeletons in the Family: Looking at Convicts, Prisons and Asylum Records. Both presentations can be seen on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. Feedback was good, some interesting questions were raised and lots of attendees were going home to look at some of the websites discussed.

Louise’s two talks were an Introduction to DNA for Family History and Can DNA Testing Help Identify Biological Relatives. Both can be seen on Louise’s website and while you are there, check out the Links too, that should answer just about any question you might have.

There is no doubt that DNA was a popular topic with lots of questions and Louise was across all the different kinds of tests and what you can do to manage your results.

As well as the talks FHANQ also organised display tables for the Special Collections section of the James Cook University Library, the National Trust of Queensland, the Charters Towers & Dalrymple Family History Association (no website), the Maritime Museum of Townsville and their own FHANQ table with publications and other information.

Part of the National Trust display

Part of the National Trust display

It has all the feel of a mini conference and thanks to Ancestry, Momento, SHHE, Nathan Dylan Goodwin (a prize left over from last year) and the National Institute for Genealogical Studies there were lucky door prizes for attendees. Plus some attendees had also entered in the NFHM prizes giveaway which was drawn at the end of the day. There were a few lucky winners present and all winners names are now up on the National Family History Month Sponsors page.

The venue was the Townsville RSL and I have spoken there before as part of an Unlock the Past Roadshow. Back then we had trouble with the microphones and the same thing happened again making it hard for the speakers and attendees to focus on the talks. Although lunch orders were taken in advance, prepayment was not allowed which meant you still had long queues to pay and collect lunch. With over 90 attendees a better arrangement needs to be put in place so that everyone can get back on time.

Sunday morning was a continuation with Louise Coakley fielding questions with the FHANQ DNA special interest group. Again there were lots of tips and all I have to do now is find some time to follow everything up. There were two lucky door prizes, DNA kits thanks to Ancestry and Living DNA.

It was a great weekend and I learned lots from Louise’s talks and from wandering around the displays. My mother’s family were from Charters Towers and Townsville and I will put my family history discoveries and travel information in another blog post.

Local publications often have information not found elsewhere

Local publications often have information not found elsewhere

Thanks to the members of the FHANQ for the wonderful organisation as everything went smoothly and to time, except for the venue issues which were out of their hands. The Society gained some new members and existing members went away motivated and keen to make more family discoveries.

It was good to have a regional closing event for NFHM which was made possible by our major sponsors, Ancestry, Momento and MyHeritage.  Our prize sponsors are listed on the NFHM website and they make it possible for those unable to attend events like this to still participate through the giveaway. I hope everyone had a wonderful August and make sure you put NFHM August 2018 into diaries.

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