Interview with Michelle Nichols – speaker AFFHO Congress 2015

8 December 2014

AOfficial Blogger badges one of the official AFFHO Congress 2015 bloggers, it is my pleasure to interview speakers and learn more about them prior to the Congress in Canberra in March 2015. Organised by AFFHO (Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations),  Congress is only held every three years. It attracts some of the best speakers in Australasia and overseas, hundreds of keen family history enthusiasts and lots of trade exhibitors and without doubt is the major genealogy, family history and heraldry event in Australasia. See the program here and for information on sponsors and exhibitors see here.

Previous interviews – Richard Reid, Sue Reid

This is the third post in my series of interviews – speaker Michelle Nichols


SH: Are you a genealogist, researcher, historian or representing your organisation?

MN: You could say that I am all of the above

SH: I wonder if you could tell us a little about your background?

MN: I have been occupied with family and local history for many years and am fortunate to work in the field I am passionate about. I have been employed to look after the Local Studies Collection at Hawkesbury Library for over 35 years and co-ordinate the Hawkesbury Family History Group (HFHG) which began in 1982. My fascination with history led me to further studies including the Graduate Diploma of Local, Family & Applied History and my MA history.  I also completed the Diploma in Family Historical Studies in 1984 and am currently a Councillor with SAG.

Over the years I have helped others research and have also run classes on various topics relating to family & local history. In 2001 I unexpectedly received an OAM for my work in local history. Have been editor of the HFHG journal since 1983. Have written a number of publications including Disastrous Decade : Flood & Fire in Windsor; Hawkesbury Pictorial History and co-wrote Hawkesbury 1794-1994 and editedthe Hawkesbury Pioneer Registers 1 & 2. Have written numerous magazine articles and regularly contribute a column for the local newspaper. Have researched my own family but would like more time for research. Trying to find time to regularly blog as well. In spare time I manage several mailing lists, Facebook pages and transcribe and photograph local cemeteries for Hawkesbury on the Net with husband Jonathan Auld, fellow genealogist.

SH: How has family history/history changed your life?

MN: I was fortunate that I started doing family history when I was quite young and got to ask relatives pertinent questions. I guess that my passion for history has transformed my life by way of job choices. With my love of reading and history – working in a library is a no-brainer.

SH: What do you love most about family history/history?

MN: It is never boring – and always evolving.

SH: Have you previously attended Congress?

MN: Yes – my first congress was in Canberra in 1986. I also attended the Sydney in 1988 which was the first International Congress. It was held at Darling Harbour and the conference centre was not quite finished. This will be my 8th Congress interestingly back in Canberra.

SH: What is your key topic for Congress?

MN: Local studies collections in public libraries

SH: How do you think your topic will help the family historians at Congress 2015?

MN: Might make researchers give more thought to public libraries and what their collections may hold and what they have to offer family historians.

SH: What do you think are the benefits of attending a large conference like this for you personally and for others attending?

MN: Catching up with like-minded souls, learning new things – there is always something new to learn – no matter how long you have been doing research. Motivation. The social aspect is always very enjoyable, catching up with friends and making new acquaintances.

SH: Do you have a favourite piece of advice or a tip or trick you can share with conference attendees?

MN: My two best tips are: Always put your research into context. Family history isn’t in isolation and is not just about names and dates.  It is about people, places and a much bigger picture.

Secondly, keep up to date with what is happening in the world of family history. Social media is an easy way to do this, particularly for the time-poor. Changing technologies and new resources are always becoming available to help us record and research our families.

SH: Is there somewhere we can connect with you online?





Thanks Michelle for sharing your thoughts with us.

Over the next few months I will be bringing you more interviews with Congress speakers. My official blogging team partners Jill Ball and Pauleen Cass will be doing similar interviews and we will bring you news of Congress as it comes to hand. I am looking forward to catching up with and making new geneamates as well as attending some great speaker sessions next March. Hope to see you there too.


The Nile -Australia's Largest Online Bookstore

Related Posts

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2023

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2023

I invite you to take part in this activity by responding to the following statements/questions, several of which are new, in a blog post. Write as much or as little as you want and complete as many statements as you wish. If you wish to take part and don't have a...

RootsTech 2023: the in-person view of a first timer

RootsTech 2023: the in-person view of a first timer

RootsTech 2023 has come and gone, and this report is a bit delayed as I spent a further three weeks in the USA. A few days in Florida in Fernandina Beach with a friend then off to Fort Lauderdale for a 7 night cruise in the Caribbean. We visited the Bahamas, Jamaica,...

Report on Family History Down Under November 2022

Report on Family History Down Under November 2022

It was good to finally attend FHDU 2022 a four-day event in person after the delays of Covid. Getting to Castle Hill in Sydney and staying at the Hills Lodge was not cheap but worth it. Most of the speakers were staying there and quite a few of the attendees who I...

Review of Sands of Time Conference Redcliffe October 2022

Review of Sands of Time Conference Redcliffe October 2022

Despite the very unkind weather over the weekend, the Sands of Time genealogy conference was a big success. Three days of genealogy at the Dolphins Leagues Club at Redcliffe, Queensland. Just down the road from where I live if you don’t factor in the highway traffic....




  1. AFFHO Congress Speaker Interviews - TravelGenee - […] Pauleen Seonaid Lewis – Pauleen Cheryl Mongan – Pauleen Robert Nash – Pauleen Michelle Nichols – Shauna Jennie Norberry…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.