It was terrific lining up to enter the Show this morning to hear animated conversations both in front and behind me as we waited to enter the venue. Behind me two individuals had struck up a conversation on how much the process of family history research had changed over the 30 years they had both been doing it. It was really nice to hear the passion in their voices, still, about their hobby, after all that time. Similarly in front of me, two women had also struck up a conversation relating stories about their family, one noted to the other that she had married an Indian herself which had opened up a whole new direction in her research.
So I busily eavesdropped as I read the Show Guide.
I had planned to attend some more talks today as well as spend some time visiting exhibitor stands. A tweet reminded me that there were in total 85 sessions with 65 speakers, just on today. This illustrates that no individual can have the same experience at a show like this, there is so much to see and do.
I joined the “genealogy huddle” for the last day, although weather wise, it was not as cold today reaching 2 degrees. I think that crowds may have been less today.
Burials and Newspaper reports was presented by a very passionate local historian Phoebe Merrick who has researched her local Church Graveyard in the small village of Romsey. Together with a Friends group she helped form, the project has “grown like topsy” with the database of deceased names now being added to with newspaper reports and other information. Although I was surprised they did not yet have a photograph database of headstones. She provided advice on looking for reports of the deceased in newspapers including looking for regional papers, as not all local towns and areas had local newspapers (something to also consider when searching in Australia). Look for a report of a death up to two weeks after the date of death, look for paid notices inserted by family members as well as more editorial and news type articles, probate, legal notices and more.
Jackie Depelle then inspired her audience with tips for Writing your Family History. She suggests starting with your family history software program and building on the information we have in our pedigree and individual record charts. Add context of local and historical events, use photographs, ensuring you describe and date these and explain the relationship to you as an author. Add location to your writing, include maps, both local and broad based. If you feel you are not creative, think about the use of descriptive words relating to your ancestors experience of touch, taste, smell, sigh and hearing.
Gerry Toop has worked at The National Archives since 1972. He knew his stuff too, and it was a challenge to keep up with his slides while he presented TNA – Using the National Archives Website for Family History Research. There is a wealth information here and it really must be among the first ports of call for UK family history research. Gerry suggested the use of the Research guidance links and Looking for a person link. He also described some of collections they describe as Licensed Internet Associations which can be accessed in partnership with subscription websites such as Ancestry. He also described the catalogue portal Discovery which Yarra Plenty Regional Library and other Australian public libraries now subscribe to where a catalogue search can be conducted and individual digitised records downloaded.
The TNA theme continued with Simon Fowler’s talk on Researching Old Bill: How to Find Out About The Six Million Men & Women Who Served in the British Army during World War 1 based on his new book Tracing your World War 1 Ancestors . A major source is service records although not all have survived. Medal card indexes can be accessed via Ancestry.com. If your soldier received a gallantry medal there may be reference in the London Gazette. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is also an excellent source.
The day’s talks concluded with an enjoyable talk by Eileen M O’Duill with the enticing title: Mrs Fancy Tart Is Coming To Tea – Making Sense of Family Stories. Eileen recounted beautifully stories from her own family and the lessons we can learn from them including looking outside your own family for stories about your family, adjusting your perspective from time to time and the importance of just listening.
The big boys of the genealogy industry were certainly represented at the Show, but I was also interested in the smaller stakeholders. I enjoyed speaking to a number of people associated with various organisations. I have given myself homework with lots of reading material from organisations that I look forward to reading in detail. This includes material from Scotlands People, PRONI, FIBIS (Families in British India Society), Suffolk Family History Society and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to name a few.