Jun 262011

The Queensland Expo was held in the Brothers Club in sunny Cairns. Definitely a history time there as even the replica ‘HM Bark Endeavour’  decided to visit Cairns this week.

Despite the issues caused by the Chilean volcano and that ever circulating cloud of ash the Expo went ahead, regrettably without  Shauna Hicks, who was a casualty of the large number of  cancelled flights.

Cairns and District Family History Society were well represented and  provided wonderful volunteer assistance throughout the Expo.

The Expo had a full program, despite the ash cloud, with two streams. Carole Riley’s Social Media presentation was well received. Carole then set up  Cairns and District’s FHS new Facebook page showing how easy it was to do and it will keep members informed and promote the society to new members.

Stephanie Ryan from State library Queensland gave an excellent talk on State Library resources which had participants talking about the wide range of resources available.My Newspapers talk got people thinking about how to add life to their family history by putting their family in context of events around them from something as simple as checking the weather on the day of your great-grandparents marriage to community attitudes to national events to what was the cost of bread or rent at that time.

Rosemary’s FindMyPast.co.uk presentation had many eager people wanting to rush to the FindMyPast stand in the exhibitor’s area to check out the 500 000 recently added .Militia records (Yippee! I even found some Quested entries!) among the many other treasures mentioned.

The FamilySearch and Google Your family tree presentations were very well attended with many people coming out saying “I didn’t know you could do that!”

I had a ball in the research Zone answering people’s questions on a wide range of topics and my Internet connection kept pace with the variety of sites I trawled in search of answers. It is always fun doing this as every question is different (and now I know something about Western Samoa!)

Dinner that night was at Brothers and a number of exhibitors, speakers and attendees wound down while still talking family history at a great pace in between serving ourselves from an extensive buffet.
Day Two  rolled around with a number of early-bird attendees eager and waiting. Stephanie Ryan did four talks in quick succession with the talk on Trove gaining a large audience. So much is happening on this site that there is always more to  learn.

Mark Cryle did two presentations: Wild Colonial Boys, Eureka, the Fenians, Ned Kelly and others and the Bound for Botany Bay: The Irish in Australia in story and song. I would definitely recommend that if you ever get the chance to hear Mark that you make every attempt to do so.

Kerry Farmer’s Convict talk was well illustrated showing the wide range of documents that can be used to gain more information about your convict from the start of their conviction to their eventual freedom.

After some more Research Zone I went off to do my Death Certificates and Archaic Medical Terms talk and then all too soon the Expo was officially over. The attendees left talking about what they had seen and heard. One comment I heard was, ” I can pick up takeaway on the way home as a treat which will give me time tonight to research.”

All in all a great Expo.

Jun 062011

Thomas MacEntee started a blogalanche (word courtesy of Randy Seaver) today in relation to a totally inappropriate picture posted as an accompaniment to an article about the forthcoming Southern Californian Jamboree.(see previous post)

Forty responses from far and wide so far and counting.

Jun 042011

It is now the end of Day Two of the Unlock the Past NSW Expo at Coffs Harbour. It has been a great day. There were again a wide range of talks available and I attended some excellent presentations today:

Finding the address isn’t enough: the links between local and family history  by  Dr Carol Liston was very informative. It is so important when researching that your ancestors are more than  names and dates. Putting your ancestors in context in their community gives life to them and they become people who work, live and play. Using local history resources to do this is essential and as the people we research were part of their communities if we don’t use these resources we are short-changing our  research.

Dr Liston gave a well rounded talk with very good resources and she showed how these resources were used in her own family research to answer some questions about how two people knew each other and subsequently married. The gasp of astonishment from a person in teh audience who recognised their own ancestor’s name in the selection map being shown was enough to make all of us smile (and wish it was us!). The maps that are available in New South Wales for what appears to be a quite reasonable fee was remarkable.  I wish I had lots of New South Wales research to take advantage of being able to get the files which allow you to track land ownership sent as a PDF.

This led beautifully into the next presentation by Nola Mackey on Regional Newspapers: their value to local and family history. We all know the value of newspapers for hatch, match and dispatch notices but they contain so much more. Nola explained some of the valuable things  she had discovered while indexing papers and how the newspaper could give information not easily found elsewhere. this is particularly true of local papers. Apart from the disasters and major events that are always reported the activities of life are meat on the bones for us.

Knowing your ancestor won a medal at the shooting competition or scored a goal at the football match adds life to them. Knowing what the weather was like on the day they married, knowing that they had written a letter to the paper complaining about the state of the roads or the lack of a school. regional papers generally provide more local information than do the papers that cover a much larger area but all papers should be investigated and with Trove we have a great online resource but it is important to remember that not all papers are online and to check out the holdings of your local history library and State library for what be available in hard copy or microfilm as well as what is online.

I did my “Time with an Expert” session after this presentation and had a wonderful time. A large part of what i find fascinating in research is looking at a problem and teasing out possible avenues to follow to answer the questions. I find everyone’s family interesting and love talking to people about ways of solving their family history problems. One of the delightful people I spoke with today had a problem relating to the fact she had ann email from 2004 found in the Rootsweb Mail lists archive which gave detailed information about her family line but the email address is not current.

Again this shows the problem of not keeping an email address such as Gmail as a family history email as no matter how often you change ISPs you will always be able to be found  in the future. How many messages have you put up where the email address is not current  and how many disappointed people may be out there hoping to contact you?

At the very least repost messages to the email lists your interests and queries so you are able to be found.

I also attended a special presentation by Mark Cryle:  

Bound for Botany Bay: the Irish in Australia in story and song which was very informative and very entertaining. Mark has a lovely singing voice and provided some very interesting information as well. It was over all far too quickly. I did consider asking for an encore….
Today was also the launch of Mark St Leon’s boo: Circus the Australian Story. It is full of information and gloeious pictures about the various circuses that toured Australia. It has a detailed bibliograpghy and is obviously the result of many years of work.Circuses roamed the country and many of our ancestors would have marvelled at the attractions such as
“Zoological marvels from every clime and country will be found in this Menagerie. Wonderful performing camels, a troupe of Royal Stallions and a combination of WILD ANIMALS of curious interest to lovers of the animal kingdom” taken from an advertisement of St Leon’s Four Continent Circus to Mount Gambier.
If you have circus ancestors this book is a must and I think it would be a worthwhile addition to any library for the information of how our ancestors were entertained.
There were many other interesting presentations which I will leave to others to discuss as I have rambled on for long enough. While I am sad the Expo is over I will be back in Coffs Harbour in August doing a presentation at the Library and  a workshop at the Family History Society the next day. Details to follow soon.
Next on the agenda is the Cairns Expo 24-25 June 2011. The program for this is available and again it will be a great two days. I hope to see you there. I will be giving a number of presentations.
Now it is time to go to bed before the drive back to Brisbane in the morning. I hope I am able to take some of this glorious weather back with me as recently he sun has been in short supply in Brisbane!
Jun 032011

We arrived after a nice drive down from Brisbane. Weather and traffic were kind to us. The venue is the C-Ex the RSL centre which is a large centre with many very interesting photos on the walls of troopships, memorabilia of service persons in various conflicts. One person in our group was quite excited to see a pennant from the Westralia a ship  her father-in-law served upon.

We set up last night and had a lovely meal at the C-ESociety of Australian Genealogistsx and then to bed ready for today. Great range of exhibitors including Unlock the Past ,  Society of Australian Genealogists , Family Search, Find My Past,  Inside History   , the  Coffs Harbour Regional Museum  with a fantastic dress display.

There were many interested family historians around the expo talking with the various exhibitors and at the presentations.

There was an excellent range of presentations and I managed to attend two so far Social Media presented by Carole Riley. An excellent presentation showing how social media such as Twitter, Facebook or Flickr can really enhance your family history and present it to a wider audience. Carole strongly recommended that everyone should at look at blogs and ideally write a blog as this will get your stories out there and it is a great start for your family book.

I also managed to attend a presentation by Heather Garnsey from the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) who gave an excellent talk on Treasures at SAG  which made me want to run to do some research there. Heather raised the important point that SAG has been around for many years and was doing transcribing of cemeteries many years ago. This is important as we all know that many headstones are today unreadable, have been removed for “safety’s sake” or unfortunately have been vandalised so are no longer available for us to read.

I have just come back from a talk by Kerry Farmer on DNA for Genealogists. I have to say this is the best DNA talk for genealogists I have heard. In my work I deal with DNA and DNA tests and am quite familiar with the topic. Kerry was able to present what can be quite complicated material in an easy to understand way. I highly recommend you attend her talk if you ever have the chance. In the event you are not able to do this she has just published a book “DNA for Genealogists” which is available from Unlock the Past. I have just purchased this and am very much looking forward to reading it.

Tomorrow is another day and there are more wonderful presentations to come including Regional Newspapers, Researching Women Ancestors by Noeline Kyle, Caring for your Family Archives with Shauna Hicks, German Research with Eric Kopittke and many more.

So if you are free come along and join us NSW Expo at Coffs Harbour

If you can’t get along follow us on Twitter with #NSWExpo