Mar 302012
I’ll review Day Three a bit later but for now let’s jump straight to the night of revelry that was the Conference Dinner.
Around 240 happy genealogists attended the Conference Dinner held at the Convention Centre. After making our way past the very young looking students, in terribly high heels, who were attending their Year 12 Forma,l we made our way to our area. The Centre must be well soundproofed as I never heard a sound from the other event.
The main sponsor of the evening was the New South Wales Justice Department who have since inception registered over 18 million events. Surely some of our missing people must be in there somewhere?
To whet your appetites the Appetiser was a Continental antipasto platter which contained some very nice pate, roast pork, olives, sun dried tomatoes and two types of sausage. The Main was a herb crust chicken roulade with fresh asparagus and saffron cream sauce followed by a selection of mini desserts.
I am not a wine drinker but there were bottles of Tolley Elite Chardonnay Adelaide Hills 2011 and Krondorf Shiraz Barossa Valley 2010 as well as soft drinks, orange juice and mineral water.
We were well entertained by a demonstration of bush dancing and then some brave souls from the audience joined in, including our own Geneablogger, Seonaid Lewis from Auckland,  Robyn Williams also from New Zealand, Lesley Silvester and another five brave participants. A great job they did too!!

Bush Dancers
Seonaid Lewis strutting her stuff!

Lesley Silvester dancing the night away
Then we had the AFFHO Meritorious Service Award for Family History which was awarded to June Penny,from Canberra, a most deserving recipient.
There was no announcement of where the 15th Congress will be held, perhaps that will be announced tomorrow at the closing ceremony.
We were ably entertained over a selection of desserts by Dan Poffenberger first with his rendition of the Jim Reeves song “He’ll Have to Go’ and then with his ‘Twenty Shocking Lessons of Old English Life You’ve probably Never Learned Before’
These included such things as names with Sarah Porch as she was found on the porch, Thomas Barn found in or near a barn, William the son of Anne by God Knows Who?
appropriate or maybe not so appropriate occupational names such as a surgeon named Mr Killer, who would perhaps not be my first choice of doctor!
Dan had found some wonderful examples of direct descriptions in the parish registers: an ugly woman over 40, people who were buried in pieces, the two duelling men who killed each other and whom the king decreed should be buried together for eternity. There was also the not so artistic clerk who decided for some unknown reason to draw a mermaid in the register! And many more wonderful examples.
Dan made a great dinner presentation which was appreciated by all.
The evening was ably tweeted by table 18 which contained Shauna Hicks, Seonaid Lewis and Jill Ball. I was a lone voice on table 21 and a number of my tweets disappeared into the ether.
A good time was had by all. Now off to sleep to be ready for day Four and the final day of the conference.
Mar 302012

The second day of Congress was just as good as the first. The exhibit hall was buzzing. I managed to sneak in and get some early pictures.

I wanted to show the Cornish Association stand without people as otherwise you would not get the full effect of what a colourful stand they had produced. The rest of the time there are too many people around for you to see their great display.

The first presentation of the day was Jenny Higgens talking on the National Library, an amazing resource that on talking to some overseas visitors we don’t appreciate as much as we should! Over 6 million pages of newspapers, Picture Australia and so much more. There are a number of oral history recordings which are gradually being digitised and which includes a number from the Broken Hill project. These were done in the 1980s and included interviews with some people who were born in the 1880s. Wonderful to see that heritage being kept and made available for future generations.

Jenny gave a great presentation on using the resources to add life to our family histories. Remember if you are an Australian resident you are able to get a library card where you can access a number of resources at home, in comfort with a cup of coffee at hand. 
I even managed to answer one of Jenny’s questions and scored a “I Love Trove” badge!
After a nice morning tea and chatting with more Genie friends I attended Suzanne Maiden’s interesting presentation on Marriage contracts which have occurred from  far in the past which we know about today as the contract was carved in stone.

In more modern times these contracts when they have survived can give great information about our family history.

I assisted on the Guild of One Name Studies stand. Regular readers would know I run a One Name study on Quested, which a name that is mainly found in Kent, England. We had a wonderful time showing people where their surnames were found in the 1881 census. This is done using Surname Atlas which is a very useful program that looks at surname frequency from the 1881 census and has listed these by county and what is even more useful by Poor Law Union. This can be very useful as it can show where a surname may originate.

After lunch I attended Lesly Silvester’s presentation on ‘Breathing Life into Your Londoner: accessing social history research”. Lesley took us through a number of online sites, including London Lives, Old Bailey Online  and British History Online among others. It is nice to see more academic databases coming online which are available for all.
Then a cup of coffee and a couple of Anzac biscuits for afternoon tea then off to hear John Coldwell  from the Guild of One Name Studies presentation.
Then a group of One Namers who were not going to the Lord Mayor’s reception went off to dinner together and we all had a great night.

Mar 282012
Day one is now nearly over. I was there wearing my blogger beads.
It has been a fun day meeting up with lots of Genie friends, listening to presentations and roaming the exhibition hall and buying some goodies.
First off was the official welcome and then Collen Fitzpatrick began her first presentation on the “Unknown Child from the Titanic”. Colleen is a good speaker and she had an excellent mix of history, DNA and genealogy investigation in her presentation. DNA is one of those areas that is constantly evolving and they are developing better and more involved techniques. Not only in the actual testing but also in the initial extraction of DNA particularly in these cases where it is a historical case where you can expect to have degraded DNA.

Colleen has written three excellent books and there was a crowd around the Gould Genealogy stand buying her books and taking advantage of having the author present to do a signing.   I already had her Forensic genealogy book but did purchase her two other books (and got them autographed!)

Colleen also has photo quizzes available on her website. I’d recommend visiting her website for the extra information available.

I am very much looking forward to her other presentations at Congress.

Then off to morning tea and a perusal of the exhibitors. Trove was showing some of the proposed changes to their website and gaining customer feedback. The changes look very good.

I went to Kath Ensor’s presentation on “Unlocking Ancestors’ Stories from the Mental Asylums”. I enjoyed this presentation as it showed the social history side of records and this is important as without the history and conditions it is just names and dates. This was followed by a lunch break with more exhibitor perusal.

After lunch, Daniel Horowitz from My Heritage was the next presenter on “How we Share and Preserve Memories in a Digital Age”. This presentation was quite interesting and well done in the first half and then became more of an infomercial for My Heritage which while interesting would have been better as the last small section of the presentation.

I stayed in the main lecture hall for Dr Chris Watts talk on “Researching a British Merchant Seaman” Chris knows his topic well and has written a detailed book on this subject. He concentrated on the pre-1858 records. Life has become a lot easier int his time period for researchers as FindMyPast has added quite a number of Merchant Seaman records on their website. Post this time period crew list records are held in a variety of places including UK county records offices, UK Maritime Museum as well as Newfoundland. This was because the UK Archives did not have the space to accept all the thousands and thousands of boxes of  crew lists.

Then afternoon tea followed by a presentation by David Holman on “Using British Medals to Help Fill Out Your Tree”. Again an interesting presentation by someone who was very familiar with his topic. David gave a good description of the various medals and when they were issued and the changes that occurred. He also gave information on where we could find further information about the reasons why a medal was awarded.

Then Day one was over officially. 
However tonight was the Genealogist for Families get-together. We met up at a local hotel where we had dinner and spoke about the conference, the people to whom we had made micro-loans and the variety of purposes for which people had requested loans. 
So far there have been 423 loans by 160 members have lent $11,325. Each of these loans makes a ongoing difference to a family and from them to a community which makes a positive difference.
Thanks to Judy Webster who started Genealogists for Families in recognition of her father’s long term helping of others and also to Kerry Farmer who organised tonight’s gathering. A great time was had by all.

Mar 272012
Today was overcast  but still very pleasant. I did some work this morning while Judy visited the zoo to see the pandas. I had visited them last time I was in Adelaide.

This afternoon we went to Glenelg by tram. It is a pleasant trip with some beautiful stone homes visible from the tram.

There were lots of seagulls present and some were quite interested in us as we ate fish and chips, the ideal meal for beside the sea. They were very happy when i gave them my last few chips!
We had a nice amble out along the pier and watched the fishermen, none of whom were catching anything while we were watching but they seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Monument for first landing

Old Town Hall n now  the Discovery Centre

Afterwards we visited the Bay Discovery Centre which is well worth a visit. It is in the lovely heritage building that was the Old Town Hall. Just inside the door was the Honour Board for World Wars. There were a large number of names listed for WW1 and I am not sure whether these were for men who had served or who were lost.

There are some very interesting historical displays upstairs. At the top of the stairs was a showcase containing this interesting visitors book. It contains the names of people attending the Proclamation Day celebrations on 28 December from 1898-1922. This tradition continued for more than 100 years. What is particularly interesting is that the date of arrival and ship are also listed. This series of books may the clue to finding out the arrival date of some-one’s ancestor.

Lots of great displays including one on Douglas Mawson the famous explorer and Glenelg resident. He designed his home while in the Antarctic.
Originally in Glenelg the Pier was a long Pier with an Aquarium and a Tea House. The Pier was badly damaged in a major storm in the 1940’s and never returned to its former glory.
An underwater archaeological expedition was carried out with a number of the finds exhibited in the museum. You know that the owners of some of these items would have been very upset when they were lost. They include gold lockets, rings and children’s prizes from the popular Penny Arcade and amusement park.

Then the tram ride home to go and register for the AFFHO 2012 conference, slip back to the hotel and get changed for the welcome reception.

The welcome reception was also held at the Convention Centre. There were a number of people in historic dress. It was great to catch up with Shauna Hicks, Carole Riley, Kerry Farmer, Jill Ball handed out some Mardi Gras beads to the bloggers among us so if you see us wearing these beads come and chat as we are  some of the 2500 Geneablogger people who write genealogy blogs.

I also met Daniel Horowitz from My Heritage.  I have recently joined this site and I have to say am quite impressed as I had uploaded 196 of my direct line ancestors recently to My Heritage. It was an easy Gedcom upload and the Smart Matches started to occur. This is where the site does a check and suggests other entries that match your information. 256 Smart Matches were suggested of which I could immediately confirm 251, do some further checking on three and reject two on which I had not included much information. So I was quite impressed with this result.

I also had a nice chat to the team from FindMyPast and exciting things are happening there! Even better when I got back to the hotel to watch the new Australian episode of Who Do you think You Are? there was a Twitter announcement that FindMyPast UK had just released 1.3 million London Westminster parish records!

The conference presentations start from tomorrow morning at 9.00 with the official opening and the Exhibition Hall opens from 8.30am. Remember you are able to register on the day just to visit the Exhibition Hall to chat with all the exhibitors if you are not able to attend the conference.

Now it is time to get some sleep so I am fresh and alert for the many presentations I will be attending tomorrow. So goodnight all.

Mar 272012
We arrived in Adelaide yesterday to glorious weather! The sun is shining and the day was  beautiful.
 It was great to see a Congress Banner at the airport welcoming attendees to Adelaide.
We arrived at the Oaks Embassy and are staying in a very nice apartment on the 6th floor. I am very much in favour of apartment living on breaks as you have the option of cooking your own meals if you wish and you have more room. This two bedroom unit worked out (on a good special at only $160-180 a night) which split between two and right across from the conference venue was good value.
Apart from Congress the particular thing I wanted to do while I was here was to visit the Migration Museum so I headed off there yesterday afternoon accompanied by Seonaid Lewis Family History librarian extraordinaire from Auckland library and Robyn Williams NZ AFFHO representative and also NZ Society committee member.
 As you walk along the street you see these high walls. The walls were made of this lovely stonework although in previous times they would not have been considered as nice as these walls surrounded the Adelaide Destitute Asylum from 1852-1918, a place of last resort. The Migration Museum was established in these grounds.
As you enter the gateway surrounded by high walls,  you first see this marvellous sculpture of a migrant family.The statute caption says it all:
“Courage, Price, Dreams, Achievement”

Then straight ahead is the entrance to the Museum.

Along the wall prior to entry are plaques of a number of community groups who have contributed to the Museum. As expected it is a wide range of groups as Australia today has migrants from 185 countries.
The Museum has been designed with interactive exhibits, some electronic.  I would have loved to have had some children with me to share in the joys of discoveries and they would loved being able to interact with the exhibits.. 
The entrance into the first room had citizenship documents from a range of times.
The displays were fantastic and have obviously been designed and curated by very experienced and artistic people.
There are information boards available giving further information. In this first hexagonal room there was a fantastic item in the middle. it was like a ships wheel that you could turn to a defined time period and in the floor there were cut-outs which showed some key points about that time period.
There were timelines showing what was happening around the world and also what was happening in Australia. There have been times in our immigration history of which we are not proud such as the “White Australia Policy” and these are also displayed. A board which showed some of the emigrants who tried to get in and the response from immigration officials showed this very clearly and has more stark impact that simply reading of facts will ever give.
Stolen Generation, child migration, post WW2 immigration are all covered as are the more recent emigrants.
Lastly in this building we looked at the Forum where any community can do a display of their emigrant experience. The current display is from the Armenian Community. It shows the Armenian heritage and then the Genocide in 1915 where 1.5 million Armenians perished. This was a particular tragedy in which efforts were made to give relief by people from South Australia who collected food and clothing to help the starving refugees.
A major tragedy as this experience has been repeated by other ethnic and religious groups through time. One day all peoples will be recognised as people by everyone.

Entry into the Museum is free although donations are accepted. I would strongly encourage you to visit this museum and to take along your children,
The Migration Museum run regular events for school-children and also regular exhibitions so keep a watch on their website
Also on the site is the pavement of people who have emigrated. People were able to donate to the museum and have the name of their emigrant placed on a brick.  A great range of dates and originating countries.
There was also a lovely exhibition about a Japanese artist Tomono Wynn, resident in Australia with some of her artwork, memento and story. 
The last exhibition we saw was the display of the Destitute Asylum on the site from 1852-1918 (after that the site became the Chemistry laboratory).
This is a saddening experience.Not many items from the Asylum survive but these are well displayed. Some of the heart-rending stories of the inmates are shown. 
The Lying-in Hospital was also part of the Asylum. Maternity cases were not admitted to the Adelaide hospital and if you were also unfortunate enough to be single and pregnant there was not usually anywhere you could go. You were considered to be one of the “immoral poor”. The Asylum was a feared place but was able to give some help to the destitute and needy of Adelaide.
After this experience we ambled back to our hotel then went and dinner at the Grosvenor. We arrived for Happy Hour and what better beer could you have for a Family History conference attendee than James Squires One Fifty Lashes?
Jill Ball and her husband Robert joined us for dinner after an exchange on Twitter and a great time was had by all. Photo on Jil’s blog kindly taken by Robert.
And now off to visit Glenelg before the welcome reception tonight and the official start of the AFFHO 2012 conference!

Mar 232012

Family History Fairs and Expos are wonderful events for an attendee as they have access to speakers on a variety of topics,  historic displays, online data providers, books, postcards and other goodies to buy. They are also able to learn more about  many smaller specialist societies that are present at the Expo.

People, often, already know something about the larger societies such as their State genealogical society but don’t know much, if anything, about the smaller specialist society. In many cases the specialist society may not have an Internet presence so are not easily found by Google or other search engines. If your ancestor came from a specific area or was involved in a certain occupation you really want to know if a society exists that specialises in these topics.
An Expo or Family History Fair is a great way to gain exposure for the specialist society, both  pre-event and at the event. The Society gains positive publicity by being mentioned as exhibitors on the event’s website and on various printed promotional material.  
During the Expo/Fair the society gains  more exposure as they are seen by  a lot of people who are interested in history and genealogy. You can also put a brochure in a goody bag that is handed to all registrants as this will also give some exposure to your society.
Some groups decide not to exhibit as they feel they don’t have a lot to present at an expo, perhaps they don’t have many publications for sale or feel “why would anyone want to talk to us?”
I can understand anyone who has not exhibited before, being a bit fearful at first, but it is important to remember that there is no-one else around who is likely to know more about your specialist topic than your society. Whether it is the history of an area, knowledge about an occupation, knowledge of the contents of a particular museum or about a military unit, your society is the expert in your field. 
A local history society may not have a lot of publications for sale but they will know a lot about their area so may have access to a burial register, knowledge about a particular industry in the area, have historic photos of the area, have a collected database of people who have lived in an area,  all of which will be of interest to the patrons of the Expo. If any of these resources are able to come  to the  Expo you would have a lot to talk about with the visitors to the Fair or Expo.
Some societies don’t exhibit because they are fearful of the committment required and volunteer assistance may be difficult to find. This is a real concern but there are ways around this problem.
Firstly, you do not have to have a stall that is manned all the time, of course you will have more exposure if the stall is manned but having a stall with a static display and printed A5 brochures giving information about the society with contact details can still be beneficial for your society.
 Static displays of historical photos, year-books, directories, newspapers, postcards of the area, sporting certificates, school registers etc can be very visual and can attract a lot of attention. I attended an Expo last year where the Coffs Harbour Museum had a static display of lovely women’s gowns which attracted a lot of attention and gave publicity to their Museum.
The society may be able to twin with another society where you share a table. You, then,  are able to give each other toilet breaks and lunch breaks. I am sure there are many other ways that  smaller societies could help each other out at an Expo or Fair
Perhaps once you have set up the table you only man it for the peak times or you say it will only be manned on one day of the fair. Obviously in these situations you would want your display protected in some sort of display case. I have seen a laptop in a protected case with a continuous slideshow of historic photos and memorabilia being shown. You may have display boards behind the table area showing maps and old photos of your area. Family group charts of the first settlers in an area especially with photos works well and there are so many other ways of promoting your society, museum, library or archive.
As an attendee it is the smaller specialist societies or people with a particular passion that I look to find. There was a gentleman at one I attended recently who had a database of people who had been hurt in mining accidents, there was a lovely lady who was collecting information about unmarked graves in a specific geographic location where there had been a number of burials not in recorded cemeteries. These were hugely interesting people to talk to but may not have been what some people would think of as exhibitors at a Family History Fair or Expo.
Then you have your professional researchers, photo restorers, people who transfer video to DVDs, book publishers, postcard sellers all of whom have place at a Family History Fair.
About 1910 Central Railway Station Brisbane

Mar 232012

The 7th Unlock the Past History and Genealogy Expo is being held in Brisbane 25-27th June. Bookings are now open.

At the Geelong Expo

It is being organised by Unlock the Past in conjunction with History Queensland, Genealogical Society of Queensland and Queensland Family History Society.
History Queensland will not be holding a separate Family History fair this year.

A program of about 39 presentations in two streams will run almost continuously throughout the Expo.
Presenters will include Audrey Collins from the UK National Archives, Shauna Hicks, Judy Webster, Helen Smith, Carole Riley,  Kerry Farmer, Jill Ball and others from Queensland and interstate.

Most talks will require a ticket to attend. Key presentations by Audrey Collins will be $10 while most of the other talks in these streams will be $5 each. In addition there will be over 20 additional FREE talks and product demonstrations.

David Evans a Gulid memebr giving advice
Goodies available

As well as the talks there will be an Exhibition Hall with an expected 70 exhibitors including Gould Genealogy, FindMyPast (Australian, UK, Irish, British Newspapers and now also in the USA), Guild of One Name Studies, Judy Webster, Clean Cruising, Inside History magazine, Irish Wattle books, Ryerson Index and Stephen Dando-Collins already committed.

In other expos we have seen libraries, archives, family history societies, historical societies museums, photo restorers, online data providers, FamilySearch, researchers, specialist societies, book publishers and more. Keep checking back to see the ever expanding list of exhibitors .

There will aslo be a Research Help Zone where you can ask questions and you will be able to book an appointment with an expert for some more detailed advice. These are fantastic opportunities to help solve that brick wall problems you may be experiencing. Remember to come prepared with the background information about your problem, where you have already looked and what you found, what documentation you may already have and you will then be able to get the most out of your session with the expert.

The Expo opening hours will be

Mon. 25 Jun:  12 noon – 9:30pm     (Talks 1.00-5.00pm and 6.30-9.00pm)
Tues. 26 Jun:  9am – 5pm                (Talks 9.30am-4.30pm)
Wed. 27 Jun:  9am – 4pm                (Talks 9.30am -3.30pm)

Event being held at Centenary State High School, 1 Moolanda St, Jindalee, QLD 4074. Easy access by car via the freeways, it is also on a bus route. Parking available.

Note: Images shown were from the Unlock the Past Expo at Geelong in 2011

Mar 202012

I have been a bit jealous of  Jill Ball and the Flip-Pal scanner she bought back from Rootstech last year.  

There has been lots of dicussions about the scanner and what it can do on Facebook and the various discussion forums and Jill has a demo video on her site..

There have been a number of Australians who have visited the States and bought back a Flip-Pal with them and I know it was on a number of people’s 2011 Christmas list.

I am really pleased today, as I have ordered a Flip-pal scanner for myself from an Australian distributor. Gould Genealogy are now selling the Flip-Pal with various accessories.
I ordered the one with the Creative Craft CDs (shown above) as I still like to play with craft things when I have some free time, not that I have had a lot of that lately.
It is a portable scanner that has a good depth of field and there have been reports of people visiting relatives and scanning photos still in their frames (does depend how far behind the image is but most people have no problems). The scanenr comes with stitch software which also allows you to scan large items such as deeds and even quilts and then the program ‘stitches’ the images together.
I also ordered the clear frame you can write on which is a great addition as you can scan a photo then write on this plastic cover as to who the people are or distinctive items in the photo then rescan the photo with this sheet over it so you have an identified photo as well as your original scan!
On a recent Geneabloggers Blogtalk radio episode it was suggested you should get two of these sheets then you could get a real assembly line going with your scanning and identification. Good idea but as I don’t have a partner in crime one sheet will do me for now!
My last treat to myself, mainly to keep everything together was a cover. I had a choice of colours. I was tossing up between the red and the purple but the purple won out!
Added 23 March

Caroline Pointer has just published an excellent post on reasons why you would buy a Flip-Pal. Well worth a read!