How quickly a year goes. I am currently in Perth for the start of National Family History Month 2016. The National Archives of Australia are again the launch sponsor, making this their 11th launch which is fantastic. The Perth office of National Archives of Australia provided a great venue with a dedicated room for the official part of the program and then the reading room provided the backdrop for a delicious afternoon tea. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I have to say I was very pleased to make this year’s launch after last year’s debacle with my broken elbow and unable to get to the Adelaide launch. Alan Ralph, Director of the Perth office welcomed everyone and I then gave a brief spiel on the history of National Family History Month. Our major sponsors for 2016 are AFFHO, Ancestry, Finders Cafe, Findmypast, Momento and My Heritage with Inside History our media sponsor. It was good to see Andrew and Janelle from Finders Cafe at the launch.
Alan Ralph spoke about the National Archives of Australia’s Project Albany which has seen some World War One repatriation files indexed, digitised and added to RecordSearch. It is a fantastic project and it would be good to see all the files indexed and digitised some day. Time and money always seem to be in short supply for large archival projects. We need an archival fairy godmother.
Lorraine Clarke, the AFFHO representative for WA and a partner in Swan Genealogy announced the winners of the Nick Vine Hall awards for 2016. The winners were:
Category A winner – Newcastle Family History Society Inc – Journal 209 March 2015
Runner up – Coffs Harbour District Family History Society Inc. – Genie Allergy Issue 78 June 2015
Category B winner – New Zealand Society of Genealogists – The New Zealand Genealogist Vol 46 No 354 August 2015
Runner up – Queensland Family History Society Inc. – Queensland Family Historian Vol 36 No 1 February 2015
The keynote speaker was Shannon Lovelady. Shannon is archivist, curator and historian at Presbyterian Ladies’ College as well as a researcher, writer and curator with Museum of Perth. She has a background in computer training, IT and database administration and with her own heritage research consultancy, has over 20 years experience in family history. Through this, she found a love of social history and unearthed her talents in research and writing, for which she was a finalist for Best Columnist in the 2015 WA Media Awards, for her series ‘Gallipoli Remembered’. With her team of brilliant volunteers she achieved the supposedly impossible task of finding the number of West Australians killed at Gallipoli. The Western Front was the next logical project which is still underway.
Shannon’s talk on Gallipoli and Western Front Dead from Western Australia: Naming Those Lost was truly moving and it highlighted the dedication and passion of Shannon and her team to compile a list of all the West Australians killed at Gallipoli. The detailed statistics that she presented from the accumulated biographical data was fascinating and the individuals highlighted were just a few of the many young men whose lives ended so far away. See some of the stories here.
It was a bit disappointing to learn that none of the other states were interested in doing a similar project but it would have needed dedicated volunteers willing to give up many hours of their time. The project was all done online and could not have been done without the National Archives of Australia’s digitised World War One dossiers. A fantastic project and a worth keynote for the start of NFHM 2016.
After I had thanked everyone for coming, we enjoyed that delicious afternoon tea while people chatted or perused the archives files that the staff had arranged to show the treasures within the National Archives. I particularly liked the National Archives carry bag, a brilliant red or yellow in colour, with some of their brochures inside. Momento, Preservation Australia and Finders Cafe also provided brochures for attendees. Then it was time to go. A big thank you to National Archives of Australia for again giving us a wonderful launch into NFHM.
The next day the Western Australian Genealogical Society (WAGS) hosted a Making History seminar at the new City of Perth library. This was a great day. I gave three talks – my Love Sex and Damn Lies talk which went over very well, Demolishing Brick Walls and It’s Not All Online: Where Else Can I Look? As usual these talks can be found on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. Janelle and Andrew from Finders Cafe also gave a presentation.
One attendee came up to me in the break and said that the Freeman family that I mention in my Sex Love and Damn Lies talk is one of her families who were also in the Pumicestone Passage area before heading over to Western Australia. It really is a small world where genealogy is concerned.
To make things interesting we had some Ancestry DNA kits and some Ancestry UK (including Australia) subscriptions as lucky door prizes throughout the day. Everyone went home happy, some happier than others.
The venue was good and there were lots of places close by to have lunch. Everyone could see the screen and hear easily. WAGS are to be congratulated on a well planned seminar and their assistance with the organisation of the launch is also greatly appreciated. An excellent start to National Family History Month 2016.