Sunday, February 2, 2014

Calling Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, Sydney and Perth!

Photo by bitzcelt - License - some rights reserved

Have you longed to go on a genealogy cruise?  Would you like to meet other genealogy bloggers in person? It's not a cruise, but it's the next best thing!  Unlock the Past is hosting a series of seminars around Australia with visiting experts and I went to the first yesterday, held in Brisbane.  Because I pre-booked it only cost $39.50 for the whole day which was unbelievable value.

It was so much fun!  The best part was getting to meet fellow bloggers Helen V Smith and Caitie from Genealogically Speaking.  But of course there was so much more.

The day began at 9am at the Broncos Leagues Club.  It's the kind of place that would make my mother spin in her grave if she knew I'd even darkened its doors but it's designed to host large numbers of people and feed them quickly, at a reasonable cost and in reasonable comfort - if you can just ignore those ghastly poker machines. 

My big tip to you if you attend these seminars in another city at a similar institution is bring your membership card if you belong to that kind of club - you'll jump the queue somewhat.  Broncos accepted RSL membership cards too.  Otherwise, like me,  you will have to join the queue to sign in and then join another queue to register...sigh.

The organisers gave us an hour to register which I thought was very generous but by the time we had signed in, joined the queue to register and then found the toilets we had 15 minutes left to check out the stalls and grab a coffee.  So there's another big tip...don't be late...or maybe be very late and join the end of the queue but have had your coffee on the way.

Also, despite the heat in Brisbane, these places are air-conditioned so you might want to wear 3/4 sleeves or bring a cardi with you.....

The day got off to a great start with the lovely Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers and Hack Genealogy fame.  I took notes on my iPad using its Notes app which I could then email to myself.  Broncos didn't seem to have free Wifi up and running on the day though I think they have the capacity to do so. Thomas' first session was entitled Building a Research Toolbox.  This was a great guide to choosing tools to help you store and organise your research.  My colleague from work was inspired to give Evernote a try as soon as she got home.  We were both sobered by Thomas' story of the librarians in the Family History library regularly finding up to 50 USBS a day left behind in the library by researchers.  So my take away from that session was the importance of putting a text file on your USB with the name IF FOUND....and your contact details.

The next visiting expert was the engaging Chris Paton of the British GENES blog and author of countless very helpful genealogy guides.  Chris spoke to us about Irish Land Records.  His talk reignited my interest in pursuing my Irish research which I don't seem to do very well and which by and large remains a bit of a mystery.  My takeaway from his session was to look more closely at Household Returns i.e. not just form a, but to check out forms b and n too which might give you more leads in your research.  

The lovely Rosemary Kopittke then gave us an overview of MyHeritage.  To be honest, I wasn't particularly interested in this but I will check out the free software disc that we were given.  Rosemary made the excellent observation that because the program/website is available in 40 different languages, you may be able to discover European connections not availalbe on English only sites.  I was also intrigued by the Memory Game for kids function which I thought might be fun.

This was followed by a demonstration of the fabulous FlipPal scanner but readers of this blog will know how besotted I am with mine and so my colleague and I sought the early lunch option and made a discrete exit.

We enjoyed a lunch upstairs at 88 Restaurant and Bar with the lovely Caitie and exchanged stories about dreams and weird career path-taking and the joys of genealogy.

Caitie and Alex 

After lunch we browsed the stalls again which were staffed by enthusiastic volunteers and staff from organisations such as the Genealogical Society of Queensland, History Queensland, the Queensland Family History Society, State Archives of Queensland, State Library of Queensland, Find My Past, Unlock the Past and Gould Genealogy and Guild of One Name Studies.

GSQ, History Queensland and Find My Past stands

QFHS Booskhop stalwarts!
Fabulous free goodies from the State Archives stall
Then there was the prize draw.  On the way in we had each been given a lucky door ticket. There were 15 prizes drawn for $1400 worth of goods/vouchers.  Out of approximately 150 delegates we reckoned we were in with a fair chance.  And I won the QFHS prize!!!  How about that?  Those who know me well will get a giggle out of this.

This very bad photo shows you that I am now the proud possessor of the brand spanking new CD off QFHS press - the Queensland Passports Index 1915-1925.  The CD provides (this is taken from the flyer) :

 "an index to information in a series of passport registers compiled by the Collector of Customs, Brisbane and currently held by the National Archives of Australia (Brisbane) (NAA Series B.P. 384/1).  During the 1974 floods in Brisbane the registers were submerged for 2-3 days.  Following this they were transferred to the National Archives where action was taken to preserve them.  This index complements the Queensland State Archives on-line indexes to Passport Registeres 1926-1939.  The index has 13,268 entries, covering name, address, date, destination (begun in 1922), type of record (e.g. Issue, Renewal, Visa, Inspection, Endorsement), register volume and page number.  The CD costs $34.50 incl. GST plus $2.00 postage.  QFHS members can buy it for $29.50 plus $2.00 postage.  Those from overseas can purchase for $31.50 plus $5.00 postage.  Contact The Secretary, QFHS, PO Box 171, Indooroopilly QLD 4068 or via the website.

Other prizes included:

Books from Unlock the Past

Book from the Guild of One Name Studies 

12mth subscription to Find My Past

6mth Inside History subscription

4 genealogy ebook 50% off vouchers off from Gould

Myheritage –1 yr premium subscription

GSQ muster roll parts 1 & 2

Unlock the Past book on Digital Imaging Essentials 

Unlock the Past cruise 2 x $200 vouchers 

What's not to like?  We Aussies love our lucky door prizes!

After the prize draws, local societies/organisations were invited to speak for 5 minutes about their good works.  GSQ, QFHS and SLQ took up the opportunity and gave enlightening, concise and delightful overviews of their services.

The last two sessions for the day were from our visiting experts - Thomas MacEntee and Chris Paton.  Thomas' session was entitled You use WHAT for genealogy?  Wonderful uses for unusual tools.  He spoke about all sorts of tools ranging from Blogger to Facebook, how to find them and the importance of sharing your finds.  For me the takeaway from this session was, a free bibliography and citation generator tool,  which I hadn't heard of before and he also explained the Wolfram Alpha app to me so that I understood it for once.  I had downloaded it before but never really "got" it.  

Unfortunately I had to miss Chris Paton's presentation on Scottish inheritance records as I was already late for a Rainbow Unicorn party for a very dear 4 year old.  My phone was dead as a doornail by the time I left Broncos (note to self, fully charge mobile phone before an event such as this!!) so the photo above was taken by the proud father.  Needless to say I was impressed by the unicorn shaped fairy bread and the enormous and very colourful cake.  I think small ones slept very well after the exciting slip-n-slide in the backyard as indeed did I after my full and fun day!


Alona Tester said...

Oh Alex, it sounds like you had a very full-on, fun day!!

Helen V Smith said...

Yes meeting up with the other Geneabloggers was definitely a highlight of the day! We should probably try and meet in person more often!

Anne Young said...

Thanks Alex for an engaging report.

Janelle Collins said...

Sounds great! I'm looking forward to the Sydney one. I listened to Thomas' Toolbox talk via the Wisconsin FHS webinar, & it was very interesting. I'm sure he'll be lovely in person too.

Alex Daw said...

Thanks Alona I did. I believe I was grinning from ear to ear from go to whoa!

Alex Daw said...

Indeed Helen...that would be great :)

Alex Daw said...

My pleasure Anne - I hope I did it justice.

Alex Daw said...

I haven't heard Thomas' talk before but I have heard him on webinars and was keen to meet him. He is a very affable soul and I am in awe of all that he does.

Shauna Hicks said...

Thanks Alex now I'm really really looking forward to the cruise!!

Alex Daw said...

Bon Voyage Shauna!!

Caitlin Gow said...

An excellent post Alex! :D
And yes, we should meet up more often!
It was truly a wonderful day. I'm still buzzing!

Alex Daw said...

Thanks Caitlin. It was such a great day wasn't it? All smiles this end. :)

Ann ODyne said...

A hat-tip for those hints to make it more pleasurable for their next meet. In Victoria the Bendigo FHS has organised several weekends comprising representation by many sources of info and the 2 I attended were packed with visitors from far and wide. (actually I think it was a front for the CWA to fund raise by selling many expertly made sandwiches. We have to think of them in the bushfire season as they keep the firefighters energy fuelled.)
Congratulations on your prize as I know you will get something amazing from it.