Well…. that’s Day 1 done and dusted!
Canberra has turned on a beautiful day but several hundred people have only glimpsed it through the windows of the National Convention Centre today as they moved from lecture theatres to exhibition halls and back.
Opening proceedings at 8.30am saw us all in the Royal Theatre, welcomed to Congress and to Canberra by Kerrie Gray, chair of the organising committee. The opening address by Dr Mathew Trinca from the National Museum of Australia was both personal and global – a fascinating insight into his family’s migration experience. He emphasised the importance of examining the family experience in the light of local, regional and global influences and how we can enrich our research and the stories we tell of our family and our own understanding of self if we take a wider view.
The rest of my morning programme included David Berry presenting about the digital resources for tracing my ancestors available through State Library of NSW
Digital resources are becoming the primary means by which researchers, especially those not held locally, can access primary and secondary sources – and its amazing the range of material held in public institutions like libraries. Seonaid Lewis from Auckland Libraries, NZ, reaffirmed this in the second presentation I attended this morning when she detailed the wide range of digital resources held by her libraries and these were just the materials relevant to researching and commemorating WW1!
The afternoon Keynote Presentation was from Roger Kershaw from The National Archives, UK. He gave us many avenues to pursue in finding out how our ancestors arrived here in Australia – from the UK end of the process. Tracing those who came freely is far harder than following those who arrived unwillingly and at the insistence of the Court!
Carol Baxter’s presentation “Help! What information is Correct?” was a great refresher for me as I have just finished a unit of study at UTAS on Family History with Dr Diane Snowden. How easy is it to just accept that record or family story as the truth? Too easy! Carol’s talk reminded us all, no matter how seasoned a researcher we may be, of the necessity to think critically and to analyze carefully what we have uncovered. Find Carol’s website and information about her books here
Lastly I decided that David Holman might be able to offer me some background and insight into British Medals. My grandfather had been awarded a Military Medal in Oct 1917 and not two weeks later, Mentioned in Despatches. He was 20 years old and had been in the Australian army since 1915 after having fudged his way through the medical (his eyesight was was definitely suspect!)
David’s talk gave me a much clearer understanding of the history and hierarchy attached to the awarding of medals, citations and commendations for members of the British and Commonwealth Forces.
An early night is on the cards ….. a chance to process all the information and refresh before Day 2.