Author: Maggie (Page 1 of 20)
It has taken me several days to come off Sydney time and the genie high that was the 15th Australasian Congress of Genealogy and Heraldry 2018. What a glorious four days! The weather was good, the venue superb, and the craic mighty – a winning combination. Hats off to the organisers for an amazing event, and to GeniAus for making it so welcoming to newcomers.
Among the presentations I attended were those given by speakers I’d heard and enjoyed before – Judy Russell, Paul Milner, Paul Blake, and Lisa Louise Cooke. Always good value! Kiwi Fiona Brooker gave a great talk on families who travelled back and forwards “across the ditch” (the Tasman Sea), and GeniAus Jill Ball shared some useful tips for family history bloggers. Kerry Farmer’s two presentations on DNA were excellent – one was on solving family puzzles using DNA (illustrated with case studies), and the other on chromosome mapping (which I want to tackle but haven’t got round to).
I also attended talks on the National Archives of Australia and Trove, but unfortunately my attention was elsewhere at the time as my daughter’s school camp in the South Island had been hit by a gastro bug and lots of messaging ensued between myself and the husband back in NZ trying to find a way to get her home. (She was one of the lucky ones who didn’t get ill!)
Ruth Graham’s presentation on Digital Humanities and Pauleen Cass’s on Uncovering your Irish roots both provided some food for thought, and Carole Riley gave us the low-down on Evernote and OneNote (though I still don’t know which I prefer). I loved Thom Reed’s tips on utilising the unindexed records on FamilySearch – there’s treasure to be discovered!
The only presentation that was disappointing was on How to be a professional genealogist, where I had hoped to learn a bit about the genealogy industry in Australasia. Most of the talk was taken up with audience members’ comments on the various (good) educational options available locally and little on other practicalities. However, I am comparing with a couple of day-long events that I attended in England, so perhaps unfair. And (as an audience member) Judy Russell’s advocacy for the APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) was marvellous!
Saturday night was the Congress dinner and obviously the genealogy gods were smiling as my table included both renowned NZ genealogist Jan Gow and American speaker Lisa Louise Cooke, as well as my two new Aussie genie-mates Janelle and Hillary. The food was good and the company even better. On Sunday night I had dinner with fellow members of the Guild of One Name Studies (thanks to Karen Rogers for organising).
The highlight of Congress was the wonderful conviviality and generosity shown by everyone. I had expected it to be similar to my first couple of genealogy events in England where (while I learnt a lot) I spent most of the time on my own. No chance of that with Congress!
Getting up at dark o’clock (3am) is not much fun, but heading to Congress in Sydney was worth the bleary-eyed start. It’s a three hour flight “across the ditch” (aka the Tasman Sea) and after arriving just after 8am it was good to dump my suitcase at the hotel and then head to pre-register.
The Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) had opened up their HQ for pre-registration and a ‘meet and greet’ opportunity. GeniAus (Jill Ball) was on hand to welcome everyone, especially first-time Congress attendees, and to hand out ‘First Time attendee’ ribbons. The tea and cakes were very welcome, as was the chance to meet other genealogists. As a geneablogger, I also got to pick up some blogger beads! These are a great way to recognise fellow bloggers at the conference (and a nice talking point when you don’t know many folks).
I had booked in for an afternoon tour of Hyde Park Barracks that SAG had arranged, and what an amazing place it is. Built between 1817 and 1819 by convicts, and designed by former convict turned architect Francis Greenway, it was originally designed to house labouring convicts. Transportion to New South Wales ceased in 1840, and by 1848 the building was being used to accommodate female immigrants as well as destitute women. From 1887 it was used for law courts and government offices, right up until 1979.
During the time convicts lived in the barracks, they slept in these hammocks. We were allowed to try them out – I almost fell asleep in one of them, they seemed so comfortable (or maybe I was just very very tired).
In the evening my Australian cousins took me out for dinner at Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel, the Lord Nelson Brewing Hotel. A fitting end to the day!
Today is Census Day in New Zealand! It’s run every five years by Stats NZ, and counts the number of people and dwellings in the country on a particular day. The last census was held in 2013 and you can view the type of information gathered and the resulting reports from the Stats NZ website.
Four of the family are here to be enumerated at home, but my daughter is away on a school camp in the South Island. Unlike most of the country who are filling out the forms online, she and her classmates will be filling out paper forms (with some help from the teachers, no doubt!). The days of census collectors going door-to-door are fast disappearing.
I wasn’t here in New Zealand for the last census, though we did make it into the UK one on 27 March 2011. It was the first UK census which could be completed online (though I also filled out and kept a paper copy for posterity).
Here’s a Beginner’s Guide to the Census from 1986, courtesy of NZ On Screen:
RootsTech is the annual genealogy-meets-technology conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, and this year is being held Wednesday 28th February to Saturday 3rd March. Not all of us can make it over there in person, but we can watch some of the presentations at home. Inspired by Sylvia Valentine who has “translated” the timetable from MST (Mountain Standard Time) into GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) for UK and Ireland folks, below is the timetable in NZDT (New Zealand Daylight Time). New Zealand is 20 hours ahead of Salt Lake City, so don’t get confused by the “Wednesday General Session” happening on a Thursday, etc!
There’s an excellent line-up of speakers, and if you have British Isles ancestry I can definitely recommend Myko Clelland and Brian Donovan – I’ve heard them both speak in person and they’re bound to give engaging and informative presentations.
For more details on the presentations and the live stream, visit the RootsTech website.
Alarm clocks at the ready!
|Thursday, 1st March|
|4:30am||Family History in 5 Minutes a Day||Deborah Gamble|
|7:00am||DNA—One Family, One World||David Nicholson|
|9:30am||Organizing and Preserving Photograph Collections||Ari Wilkins|
|11:00am||Finding the Answers: The Basics of WWII Research||Jennifer Holik|
|12:30pm||Wednesday General Session and Innovation Showcase||Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International|
|Friday, 2nd March|
|4:30am||Thursday General Session||Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York|
|7:00am||MyHeritage DNA 101: From Test to Results||Yaniv Erlich|
|9:30am||Google Photos: Collect, Organize, Preserve, and Share||Michelle Goodrum|
|11:00am||Unlocking Roman Catholic Records||Brian Donovan|
|12:30pm||A Gift of Life: Who’s Writing Your Story?||Deborah Abbott|
|Saturday, 3rd March|
|4:30am||Friday General Session||Scott Hamilton|
|7:00am||findmypast’s British and Irish Hidden Gems||Myko Clelland|
|9:30am||Finding the Right DNA Test for You||Jim Brewster|
|11:00am||How Not to Leave Your Genealogy Behind||Amy Johnson Crow and Curt Witcher|
|12:30pm||Finding Elusive Records at FamilySearch||Robert Kehrer|
|Sunday, 4th March|
|4:30am||Saturday General Session||Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Natalia Lafourcade|
|7:00am||Civil Registration Indexes of England and Wales||Audrey Collins|
|9:30am||Advancing Your Genealogy Research with DNA||Anna Swayne|
|11:00am||Pain in the Access: More Web for Your Genealogy||Curt Witcher|
My first full year back in New Zealand and we still haven’t fully unpacked! I did manage to squeeze in some study, a bit of research, and a few genealogy events.
A great newspaper article I found was about the visit my great great grandfather made back to England in 1907. In fact, there were two articles, and they provided a huge amount of detail (and some considerable hyperbole).
A geneajourney I took was to Auckland for the NZ Society of Genealogists’ annual conference, where the society was celebrating its 50th year in existence. A wonderfully run event with a great range of speakers. I’m looking forward to this year’s conference, Echoes of our Past, being held in Christchurch.
A geneasurprise I received was having a DNA match turn up for my mother, a descendant of her 2 x great grandfather’s half brother.
A (not so) new piece of technology I mastered was Excel. Although it’s not new to me, it’s been a long while since I’ve taken it for a proper spin, and I’m now able to generate some cool-looking charts and population pyramids.
I joined my local genealogy society and volunteered for the Wellington War Memorials project, and have met some lovely like-minded folks.
A genealogy event from which I learnt something new was the monthly series of family history talks held at the National Library of NZ in Wellington.
A blog post that taught me something new was any by John Grenham.
A great site I visited was Old Napier Cemetery, where many of my O’Rourke relatives are buried.
A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was Kate Tiller’s English Local History: An introduction.
It was exciting to finally meet Seonaid Lewis from Auckland City Library, and many others since being back in NZ.
I am excited for 2018 because there’s Congress! A triennnial Australasian genealogy conference, this year being held in Sydney. I’m a Congress newbie, so looking forward to attending, plus I get to catch up with some cousins.
Another positive I would like to share is… I’m halfway through the Advanced Diploma in Local History, a distance course run by the University of Oxford. It has been such a huge learning adventure, and despite the incredible amount of time and work it involves, I am absolutely loving it.
Thanks go to Jill at GeniAUS again for her great Accentuate the Positive geneameme. You can read about the 2017 highlights of other geneabloggers on the GeniAUS website.
I’ve written before about my relative (first cousin, thrice removed) Peter Gaffaney, who died during World War I. A couple of years ago I met some members from that side of the family, who very kindly gave me photos of Peter’s war medals and his memorial plaque (commonly referred to as a “Dead Man’s Penny”). So often these items are lost or sold on, and it was wonderful to know that Peter’s had been kept and treasured in the family.
Peter’s service record shows that his medals were issued to his brother Vincent, noted as his legatee.
Memorial plaques were issued to the next-of-kin of British and Empire servicemen and women who died as a result of the First World War. They were issued along with a commemorative scroll and letter, though sometimes these were sent separately. Peter’s scroll was sent on 13 June 1921, and his plaque on 16 Feb 1922.
Lest we forget
My 3 x great grandparents George and Elizabeth Tunnicliff are buried in Grave 56 of St Mary’s Cathedral churchyard, New Plymouth (Taranaki, New Zealand). In 2014 John Pickering, graveyard manager of St Mary’s, spearheaded a project to repair all the old gravestones in the churchyard. Desecendants, where known, were contacted and asked to help fund the project. Through an earlier blog post, some money was raised towards the repair of George and Elizabeth’s gravestone, but the majority was funded by donations from local parishioners.
The churchyard is a Category 1 historical site, and as such, only registered memorial masons could carry out the repairs. As you can see, a wonderful job has been done! Heartfelt thanks must go to St Mary’s Cathedral and its generous congregation, and especially John Pickering, for looking after our heritage sites.
The inscription on the headstone reads:
In loving memory of George Tunnecliff died 13 February 1912 aged 80 years also Elizabeth Tunnecliff died 24 February 1916 aged 86 . At rest.
- Tara Shasky, “Taranaki Cathedral graveyard clean up complete”, Taranaki Daily News, www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/68290024/taranaki-cathedral-graveyard-clean-up-complete, 6 May 2015.
Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.
The last year has been a crazy busy year full of study and work and moving countries. It’s been lovely to look back and see that I actually did manage to cram in some genealogy fun as well.
An elusive ancestor I found was… not an ancestor, but a relative – a missing baby I had heard rumours of, and now have found. Ha!
An important vital record I found was the birth certificate of this missing baby, my 2 x great aunt’s illegitimate daughter.
An ancestor’s grave I found was my great grandmother’s in Taruheru cemetery, Gisborne, along with her husband, parents, and daughter, and it was very moving to visit it at last.
A geneasurprise I received was a framed collage of photos from my fellow IHGS students as a leaving present before I moved back to New Zealand.
A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was Les Mitchinson‘s Report Writing course held in Petersfield, Hampshire.
I taught some members of the public how to start their family history research when I volunteered on the Ask the Experts sessions at Who Do You Think You Are? Live in Birmingham.
A genealogy book that taught me something new was Susan Moore’s Family Feuds: An Introduction to Chancery Records.
A great repository/archive/library I visited was the archives at Tralee Library in County Kerry, Ireland, where I viewed original workhouse records for the area.
A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was Manorial Records for Family Historians, written by my cousin Geoffrey Barber.
A geneadventure I enjoyed was taking the kids to Belper in Derbyshire, and following in the footsteps of my 2 x great grandfather.
Another positive I would like to share is… after six years of study, 88 assignments, and one exam, I finally completed and PASSED the Higher Certificate of Genealogy from IHGS in Canterbury. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
Thanks go to Jill at GeniAUS again for her great Accentuate the Positive geneameme. You can read about the 2016 highlights of other geneabloggers on the GeniAUS website.