My “Wordless Wednesday” post this week was one of my favourite pictures of my daughter and her husband. When I scheduled that post to appear, I was getting organised to head off to town to be near them both as it appeared that she was going to deliver her first baby early.
It was quite a funny feeling – this being my first grandchild. I wasn’t sure whether I was excited, nervous or what?
In some ways it’s a blessing that you can schedule posts in advance on this blogging platform, because that grandchild had arrived by Wednesday and, by then, I was far more interested in getting to meet her and to see that my daughter was okay rather than writing blog posts.
It was a joy and delight to be able to sit down to my computer (when the dust had settled a bit) and add a brand new name and another generation to the family tree on my genealogy software, Reunion.
A week ago it was the final day of Congress 2018 and participants were rushing to make photo calls, laughing and chatting in the sunshine with their new found Genimates, bolting down lunch in between sessions and wondering whether they should risk the Light Rail/Train combination to the airport to meet their scheduled departure times.
There was a full day of lectures to attend as well as the closing ceremony which made for a very full day indeed.
Readers may wonder why, if it is a week after the end of the Congress, is she finally getting around to writing about it? After all, hasn’t it all been said?
My Congress 2018 experience closed with a flight to Melbourne, then a long drive home to finally see my own bed around midnight. My throat had been flaring and flaming sore all afternoon despite some honey and lemon throat lozenges and I wasn’t feeling all that flash. Fast forward four days and I am finally back to some semblance of normal – well, at least I can remain upright and not spend every hour of the day asleep.
I’ve read the contributions of other Geniebloggers recapping and celebrating Congress 2018 and the fabulous work of the organising team from Society of Australian Genealogists. What more can I add? It was a marvelous learning experience, great social atmosphere and I am very pleased I was a part of it.
Anything Jill Ball (GeniAus) touched, she turned to gold. This woman is remarkable for her energy, her commitment, her scholarship, her welcoming skills, her capacity for inclusiveness and her all round goodness. We thank you, Jill.
Meeting Marilyn Rowan from NSW Transcription Services and learning about her new service for ordering certificate transcriptions through Ancestry.com.au I hadn’t realised that the little shopping trolley that was popping up in the search results linked to Marilyn’s service. What a bonus! I’ve used Marilyn’s service in the past and found it prompt and good value as a means of obtaining the next best thing to an extract. Given the budget doesn’t allow for too many full priced certificates, this makes for a viable alternative.
Marilyn has already sent through one transcription requested and, when I was finally seeing straight, I have ordered four more!
The UTAS group – current students and Alumni – owe a substantial debt to Dianne Snowden. She headed the team delivering the very first unit of the UTAS Diploma of Family History and has supported us first as students and now graduates of the course. Perhaps we can blame her for our new found addiction to online education? Her continued support of the family history sector and her encouragement of all budding professional genealogists is fantastic. It was great to catch up with her, hear her presentations to the Congress and to have her as part of our UTAS photos.
To all the people I’ve met and reconnected with, the new friends I’ve made, UTAS fellow students, bloggers, Facebook group members and new FB friends and connections: it was and is a great pleasure to have had the opportunity. My thanks to those who shared their expertise and experience, who asked the questions, gave the answers, shared a smile or a joke or a glass of water.
I hope I haven’t shared any of my germs with you 😉
We have, at day one and a half, had several photo sessions trying to get all the UTAS students and graduates together for a group photo. One session yesterday morphed into three when a couple of latecomers missed the first group shot.
Today we’ve gathered some more of the alumni who missed yesterday for another photo. The plan is to blend all the shots together so we are all recorded in one group.
Herding cats? yes…. it has been a bit like that, but it has been fun to put faces to the names that, for the last three years of the DipFamHist, we have mainly known online.
Some time ago, it was recommended that those of us from interstate should look at getting an OPAL card if we were intending to travel on public transport whilst in Sydney for Congress2018.
Being a Victorian, I was quite used to having a MYKI for public transport use, so the idea of being able to organise an OPAL before getting to Sydney was very appealing. The last time I had traveled on public transport in Sydney, I was still able to purchase a ticket with cash and this also predated my elevation to SENIOR status.
Obtaining an interstate SENIORS OPAL Card online was a relatively straight forward process as long as you had access to both a printer and a scanner and a bit of time. It was necessary to complete the application form, download it to sign it, scan it and also scan the front and rear of the appropriate pensioners or Seniors Card. Then all those scans are attached to an email to Transport for NSW.
The card is then mailed to your home address. My email was sent on 15 Feb and I received the card yesterday (27 Feb) I was pleasantly surprised at the speediness of the service considering that I am way out of a capital city and postal deliveries here can take every bit of the requisite four days (and then some) for standard letters.
So now its off to the website to register the card and load some dollars onto it so I can train it from the airport and light rail it around to the conference venue!
This morning, my Facebook feed informed me that there were just two weeks to go to the start of Congress 2018. Two weeks and I haven’t really started to think about how I can make the best of this event’s offerings. I’ve been caught up in the rush of organising a trip overseas in 12 weeks time and had put Congress on the back burner, thinking I had plenty of time to ensure everything was in place. Silly me!
There’s a list being compiled regarding names people are researching – do I need to add any of my names to the list? Which line would benefit most from some in depth research? Which is the most pressing brick wall? Should I consider seeking help/connections/references that will enhance my overseas trip? Which lectures and presentations should I see?
There are almost too many questions to answer!
Faced with all this, I decided that I should apply some of the skills I use every day when researching family and local histories – and start a Congress 2018 equivalent of a Research Log. So what would this entail?
Preparing my questions
Consider the resources available through the Congress 2018 programme
Contact fellow researchers ahead of time and make appropriate appointments
Prepare a Congress 2018 timeline
Check I have all my bookings in place, appropriate equipment packed including my Blogger Beads
Check my diary for times I have committed to attend social engagements, meets and appointments
Breathe. Breathe. Smile and last of all, breathe.
Jill (GeniAus) reminded us recently about those who posted blog reports on Congress 2015 – there wasn’t a great deal to be seen on my site. My resolutions about posting daily went out the window as there was so much to do and see, there seemed little time to reflect. I admit to being a little busier on Twitter throughout the event but even that interaction fell short of my self imposed expectations.
Events like these can be overwhelming – there is so much to take in, so many people to meet and so much information to absorb – that all you want to do at the end of the day is to give your brain a rest before the next day’s onslaught.
In the past, I have felt that I have not been a good attendee if I didn’t attend every available session in the event’s timetable. I’ve sat through some less than adequate presentations and come away feeling cheated of time I could have spent more productively elsewhere. I’ve enjoyed some amazing speakers yet felt rushed to get to the next place and consequently not able to fully absorb, reflect and respond to a brilliant presentation. This Congress will be different – I plan to be selective and to give myself time to really enjoy the material/speakers/presentations that are relevant to me which means I am likely to sit out a few sessions.
Why would I do this?
The filing cabinet of my brain is full to bursting – something has to give. I want to make best use of the time and the expertise on offer so I am going to be choosy and what I will choose will reflect Point 1 up above – the questions to which I want to try and find answers will guide my lecture/presentation choices. If there’s not something offered in a particular time slot that may answer any of my questions, then I’l do one of two things. I’ll find a quiet spot, grab something to eat or drink and reflect on what I have done so far or perhaps chat with someone who’s also sitting out a session. Otherwise I’ll follow up what I have just learned with a bit of connected research or writing up of notes or discussing my particular question with a likely helper.
Attending any sort of conference is not just about sitting and listening to experts as much as we appreciate their skill and time. For me, its about where it can take you during the conference and after those experts have shared their wisdom. There are times I have found where you need to make immediate steps in your own research as a result of something you have learned as its all too easy to lose that great hint or other light bulb moment if you don’t attend to it straight away.
For me, during this Congress, there will be the equivalent of play breaks where I spend some time exploring leads, crashing through those brick walls and discovering some of those answers.
Its hard to believe that today is February 1st and that we are already one month into the new year. All my resolutions to spend the summer break finessing some of the lines of research I had pursued over the last year have disappeared in the heat haze.
Next week I begin a short course offered as MOOC through FutureLearn and the University of Glasgow:
Early Modern Scottish Palaeography
So – what’s Palaeography?
According to Wikipedia, its the study of ancient and historical handwriting – see their entry here.
What does this mean for a family historian? Let’s face it, the typewriter, printer, computer etc are all relatively modern inventions. Not everything we might wish to examine appears neatly completed in Times New Roman and easily read. If we have been successful in tracing our family’s line back to a time where all documents were handwritten in a variety of styles and on a variety of surfaces, we will find ourselves challenged to interpret them even if they are in a language we are supposed to understand.
Being able to interpret historic writing styles in handwritten documents will give us much better access to the content of original material which we should hopefully decode with enhanced skill thus reducing the risks of errors in our research.
It’s an additional skill in our repetoire as researchers and historians, and continually building that investigative skill set can only serve to broaden our knowledge and understanding resulting in better quality research results.
There is still time to enroll in this course – follow this link to the information page: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/ems-palaeography While you’re at it and on the FutureLearn site, you might like to consider the University of Strathclyde’s short “Introduction to Genealogy” course as well.
Some time ago I wrote about tracing back the women in my family especially as the name Fairfax had popped up as a middle name throughout the generations. Currently I’m having a little break from study – next semester’s units don’t start for a few weeks yet – so I thought I would continue the task begun with the unraveling of those Fairfax, Kirkby and Welch intermarriages.
Rigorous examination of the marriages of the various daughters over the generations have revealed quite a few more Fairfax middle names as well as a whole new (to me) branch.
My 4x Great Grandfather, Benjamin Fairfax (b 1758) married twice – to Dorothy Kirkby (b 1766) and to her younger sister Mary (b 1768). Mary became my step 4x G grandmother as well as already being my 4x great aunt. Mary gave Benjamin two more children to add to the five borne by Dorothy. Those two children became cousins as well as half aunts and uncles.
Following down and across the generations, I’ve discovered a whole raft of family out there – a family that supported and cohabited across three generations when the child bearing aged women didn’t survive. Benjamin’s daughter Charlotte (b 1789) lived to ripe old age of 82 and over time, took in her nephews and nieces, her widowed brother and his grandchildren. All this time, she was herself kept busy as a grocer and storekeeper in Mile End Old Town.
For a short period around 1841, she was living with two of the Richardson sisters in Wellclose Square, daughters of my 4x great Grandfather, David (b 1746) and one of his other wives (he had four!) The Richardson family lived in Wellclose Square in Wapping right through the 1800’s and possibly longer – that’s another piece of detective work that awaits.
I had managed to bring most of the lines down to the period covering the first and second world wars, so I thought I would look for any that had served and had not come home.
I found Henry James Fairfax (b 1859). Henry was the great grandson of Benjamin and Mary and that made him my 3rd cousin twice removed. Henry was the eldest of seven children – and like the rest of the family was ‘in the trade’ – he was, for most of his working life, a grocer’s assistant. His father had been a commercial traveller as was one brother and their interests lay in spices and ‘farinous materials’ – that’s flour to you and me!
Henry never married and remained living with his mother and other unmarried siblings until at least 1911. There must have been a touch of the mid life crisis happening as he made a complete shift into the Merchant Marine and became a steward on a steam freighter. He was certainly too old to have been considered for active service at the outbreak of WW1.
Henry was a Londoner – its probable he couldn’t swim. He was the only casualty when his cargo ship, the Peninsula, was torpedoed by U-46 and sunk in the Bay of Biscay on 25th July 1917. Henry’s name can be found on the Merchant Marine memorial, Tower Hill. He was 57 years old.