Saturday, 3 December 2011

Unlock the Past 2nd Cruise: At Sea Again

We are now on our way across the Tasman to Burnie which is on the top of Tasmania.  This  means two wonderful days at sea with a full conference program.  With 19 (yes that is 19!) presentations over the two days including Shauna's and my postponed talks, it was a fantastic but very busy two days. 


I am not going to review all the talks there is simply not enough time but do look at some other cruisers' blogs such as Shauna Hicks  and her second blog  ,Jennifer Jones   and Chris Paton as they will also cover some of these.


Chris Paton did a talk on Scotland Censuses 1841-1939 (yes that is 1939) and one of the most important things to remember is that Scotland is NOT England and some things were done differently, some better some not as nice for us, such as the fact the 1911 census returns available are not the actual household returns filled in by your ancestor as is available in the English and Welsh 1911 census.  It is an important point and can have quite an impact on your research if you are doing Scottish research particularly as previously mentioned in doing land research.


Rosemary Kopittke continued her excellent series of presentations on the online databases: FindMyPast UKThe Genealogist, Ancestry AU and MyHeritage . These were all well attended as Rosemary has a knack for showing people what is available and the best way to search the databases for the greatest returns using her searches particularly for her research name Beeston.


Keith Johnson gave a presentation on the Biographical Database of Australia which intends to publish biographies of Australians on-line by linking together entries from original records, with their biographical material appended. Keith Johnson and Malcolm Sainty are ideally suited for this task as they were the originators of the Australian and Biographical Genealogical Record which gave us so much wonderful material that is taken for granted by so many today. This includes these records ably edited by the enthusiastic and talented Carol Baxter:

Musters and Lists, New South Wales and Norfolk Island 1800-1802 (ABGR, 1988)
Musters of New South Wales and Norfolk Island 1805-1806 (ABGR, 1989)
General Musters of New South Wales, Norfolk Island and Van Diemen's Land 1811 (ABGR, 1987)
General Muster of New South Wales 1814 (ABGR, 1987)
General Muster and Land & Stock Muster of New South Wales 1822 (ABGR, 1989)
General Muster List of New South Wales 1823, 1824, 1825 (ABGR, 1999)


This project has amazing potential for all future researchers and is one I am watching with major anticipation! Major announcements are expected in 2012. I look forward to supporting this project in any way I can.

Richard Reid gave two more presentations: The Great Famine 1845-55 - Irish ancestral experience and memory and The Australian Imperial Force on the Western Front 1916 -1919. 

Richard's presentations are full of information, much of it not so much about the records but about the life, the experience and the things that made it real to the people involved and to us. He adds colour and life to these subjects and others on which I have heard him speak. He is a professional historian and this shows through in his presentations. Again, if you have a chance, definitely go to these presentations whether or not you have ancestors involved. if you have, it will give greater meaning but this is history which has an impact on everyone.

Shauna gave her postponed presentation on using Google for your Family Tree and as always gave an excellent presentation. Google is an excellent search engine and Shauna gave many tips on using it more effectively to do the searches and find the items you want. 

Google also has so many facets and depths apart from being a search engine. so many people don't use it to capacity but everyone who attended this presentation should be able to go out and use it more effectively. Google images, scholar, blogs, books, translate and so much more!

I gave my Researching in UK Archives from Abroad about which I received  some positive comments which are always nice to hear.


Chris Paton did a nice talk on DNA. Many presenters make this an overly complicated topic wanting to show you how clever they are knowing big words without showing the practical applications and problems. Most people are very happy to use a digital camera or computer without needing to know exactly how it works. DNA testing is the same, it is simply another tool which can be useful if used for the right reasons. It is not a replacement for good research. Chris showed how it could be used in real situations remembering people are real and non-paternity events do occur.  Name changes also can occur for a variety of reasons which can impact on expected DNA results.


It has been an amazing few days with a lot of information from the presenters and also from the cruise participants. So many people with their own research experiences and expertise.