Report on Unlock the Past Alaska Genealogy Cruise – Part Two

28 September 2018

This is the second blog post on my recent genealogy cruise to Alaska – read Part One here.

Icebergs drifting past

Day 5 started with an amazing trip up Tracy Arm Fiord and there is nothing like looking out the window (porthole) and watching ice bergs drift past. Had breakfast with a window seat in the Windjammer and just watched all the ice drifting past. It was as the Captain predicted, too much ice for us to go all the way to the glacier but still something you don’t see often. After lunch it was back to the genealogy sessions.

For me it was an afternoon of DNA with Michelle Patient first telling us about making the most of your Ancestry DNA matches and then Helen Smith doing the same with MyHeritage matches. The final session was Maurice Gleeson on analysing your Y DNA surname study and I was torn between going to this and the session on Cornwall’s people and emigration. My Cornish ancestors have always fascinated me so I hope there will be a handout available for this session. The evening session was a DNA panel with Michelle, Helen, Cyndi and Maurice talking about DNA and ethics plus taking questions from attendees.

Day 6 was our second all day of talks so I started with Kae Lewis‘ session on gold miners. I have been a long time fan of her online miners database for New Zealand. The important thing to remember is that some people were only gold miners for a short time and it is still worth having a look for your names. Although most of my ancestors were miners for their entire lives and only one was ever really successful. Next was Cyndi Ingle with Remedies for Copy and Paste Genealogy which was looking at examples of really bad online trees and what you can do to help solve the issues that arise when people don’t check sources.

Arrival in Victoria, Canada

After a coffee break my talk on Caring for Family Archives was next and you can see the slides on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. I tried to take a broad approach from physical care and collection to writing family stories and what happens when you are no longer here. There was some nice feedback after the session with people saying that they needed to look more closely at their own family archives and make decisions. Then I sat back and listened to Janet Few talk more about madness, mania and melancholia and the mental health of our ancestors. This is a topic of interest with a few of my ancestors in Australian asylums but not because they had mental health issues but because they were simply old and sick and no place else to go.

Lunch was a time to regroup and I returned refreshed to hear Pat Richley-Erickson (Dear Myrtle) talk about the seven habits of highly effective genealogists which was all about making the most of our genealogy research. Some tips including keep educating yourself (courses, webinars, talks), document sources, keep filing up to date, use catalogues, use technology wisely, share with others, and follow the genealogical proof standard. Then Maurice Gleeson spoke about DNA triangulation to help break down brick walls. The final afternoon session was Ed Thompson talking about genealogy software including Evidentia, GeneLines, GenSmarts and Charting Companion but some of these were US centric and not that relevant to Australia.

The evening session was special as Cyndi Ingle was presented with the Prince Michael of Kent Award by the Society of Genealogists for her work on Cyndi’s List for the last 20 years. A well deserved honour and there were a few tears as well as happy smiles. Dick Eastman’s blog post with photos can be read here. Caroline Gurney finished up a great night with her entertaining Are your related to royalty and it turns out that just about all of us can claim royalty if we just go back far enough!

Flowers and beautiful gardens everywhere

Day 7 was a full day in Victoria, Canada (garden capital) and I went on a bus tour of the Island and won a lovely Canadian scarf for some trivia questions on the bus. We were also treated to a visit to Tim Horton’s so I can say I’ve had Tim-Bits (very sweet donuts) and as a parting gift everyone was given some maple syrup, smarties and cheese tweezels. The final talk was Maurice Gleeson’s funny, thought provoking ‘how he cloned himself over a martini’. You had to be there!

The prize draw was announced and then it was all the group photos which was a bit chaotic and with so many cameras and mobile phones facing people, you never knew where to look or when to smile. Goodbyes are always sad but at least with genealogy cruises, you are likely to run into some of the same people again. Plus there is the opportunity to keep up with new friends via social media and since returning home, I have been admiring other folks photos of places we went.

Tillicum Village near Seattle

After leaving the ship I went on an all day bus tour of Seattle, then a harbour cruise and visit to Tillicum Village before the airport drop off. Wonderful day with the opportunity to see more of Seattle, Pike’s Market, Sky Needle and at Tillicum we were treated to a yum salmon bake lunch followed by a First Nations presentation of dance and history.

As usual it was a well managed cruise with the UTP team keeping speakers to time and making sure the equipment all worked. Congratulations to the team on another excellent genealogy cruise. I’m still trying to decide what my next one will be – there are three UTP genealogy cruises on offer for 2019-2020. Now to tick off some of the research items on my to do list post cruise!





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