Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Genealogy Notes 5-6 Feb 2014 Days 2-3 of geneacruising

It is only Day 3 of the Unlock the Past cruise and I am in need of a nanna nap! In the last Diary I briefly mentioned that I was going to the meet and greet that night so I will start there with this geneacruise account. It was really amazing to see Cleopatra's Needle ( a rather large lounge area on Voyager of the Seas) packed with family historians. It must be the biggest geneacruise so far and I spotted friends from all over Australia. After Alan introduced the overseas speakers and other key people it was photo time. I ended up in the Geneabloggers, Kiva Genealogists for Families, the GOONS (Guild of One Name Studies) and Queensland photos.

I should also mention the first night dinner. Seating is allocated before hand so you don't know  who your dinner companions are until you are escorted to the table. Two old friends from the Gold Coast Family History Society were already at our table, always nice to see smiling faces, then we were joined by a couple from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, one of our favourite places and then a lady I knew from Wodonga in Victoria joined us. The 8th place was vacant so we are not sure if someone is there or it is vacant. Might allow us to ask a person to join us for dinner which would be good.

Day 2 - I was up early to get ready for my talk, have breakfast and be in the room on time for Chris Paton's talk on British and Irish Newspapers which attracted a full house and sadly some missed out. It is the only session where there was just one talk on offer, most of the other sessions have 2 or 3 speakers. As usual Chris gave an entertaining talk as well as some interesting sites to look at. He has a handout online but after something Thomas MacEntee said about his handouts and copyright I'm not going to give out their private links to handouts. I will follow it up with both of them as I have not come across private links before. Mine are always on my website which is public.

I followed Chris with my talk on Follow the Gold: Mining Ancestors which is the subject of one of my new research guides out this month Tracing Mining Ancestors: A Brief Guide to Sources in Australia and New Zealand. For some reason the screen started flickering during my talk (but not for Chris) which was a bit off putting but verbal feedback indicated that people enjoyed the talk and got some useful tips for their own research. As usual I have done a PDF of the presentation and it is on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

After a short break I went to Thomas MacEntee's Building a Genealogy Research Toolbox and this was not quite what I was expecting. I realised that I already have a number of toolboxes in Word, Excel, Chrome Bookmarks and Evernote and so on. It is more about how we organise and find all those useful websites that we use on a regular basis. So not the collection of gadgets like scanners, cameras, and other techno bits that I thought would be in a toolbox. There is a handout but as I mentioned earlier, I need to check that with Thomas.

After lunch it was Helen Smith talking on Document Analysis and aside from the flickering screen it was a good session. Helen made lots of interesting points about really reading a document, transcribing it exactly, citation and so on. A lot of it is usual research practice but sometimes in our excitement or haste we forget the basics and years later we will not remember what we did or why. Helen also mentioned two websites I have not come across before - Clooz3 and Evidentia. Both of these help with document analysis so now on my to do list to have a look. I missed the very beginning of the talk so not sure about handouts - something else to follow up.

Next was Neil Smith talking on That Elusive Digger and this was an overview of Australasian military ancestors. It was an interesting talk with snapshots of individual soldiers interspersed throughout the session. Neil also gave the usual suspects for research including the National Archives of Australia, the Australian War Memorial and the DVA Nominal Rolls for various wars. Neil has written quite a few military books which can be found in his online catalogue at Mostly Unsung.

After a short break where I raced up to the 12th floor for a cup of tea and a bit of sunshine, it was back to the 2nd floor for another session with Thomas, this time on Pinning Your Family History. (A trip like that in half an hour makes you realise just how big this ship really is). I got a Pinterest account when it first came out but then realised it was just something else I would have to do and maintain. However, I can see the benefits from Thomas' presentation and it could certainly be used as 'cousin bait' as these sites are searchable by Google.  Other sites mentioned included Google Maps (I have tried this but I could make it much more interesting having seen Thomas' examples), What Was There, HistoryPin and Some of these sites were totally new to me which is why it is great having visiting overseas speakers. Thomas also covered copyright and his advice is to use your own images but if the people concerned are still alive then you should also get permission as not everyone wants their image online or it may not be a flattering photo, or it is embarrassing in some other way.

I missed all the other great talks in streams 2 and 3 but hopefully other geneabloggers attended different sessions to me and I will get to read about them in their blogs. The after dinner session was Kerry Farmer talking about immigration and as I have heard Kerry before, we took the opportunity to go to the comedy show in the ship's theatre. On the long trek back to our end of the ship we were a little peckish (believe it or not) so we stopped for some pizza and hot chocolate at one of the little free cafes on the 5th floor or the promenade as it is known.There is always something going on somewhere on the ship.

Day 3 was in port at Melbourne and as we lived here for 9 years we decided to simply stay on board. We tried out the spas and the swimming pool, fell asleep reading on the deck chairs, toddled into lunch and this afternoon I have caught up with emails, Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Tonight after dinner is a panel session on the future of genealogy with myself, Chris Paton and Thomas Macentee so that will give a good cross section of views from Australia, the UK and the USA. I will report more on that next Diary.

Tomorrow is another full day at sea with a fantastic line up of speakers and talks. Stay tuned for an update unless of course, you are one of my lucky fellow travellers on this cruise!


  1. It's always good to hear what you have been doing - it's such a big ship that our paths don't seem to cross too often.

    1. I really wanted to go to your talk on Beaut blogs but I was talking in the other room! Can't be everywhere but we try. So much to do on this cruise.

  2. Great report, love your stuff, thank you. Thomas actually has a public toolbox here that can be found by searching Google interesting!