Monday, 30 July 2012

Genealogy Notes 30 Jul 2012 - 9th Family History Feast

Despite the heavy traffic on the freeway, I made the trek into Melbourne in good time for the 9th annual Family History Feast (previous years' podcasts are also available at that link). It doesn't really seem nine years since Anne Piggott (National Archives of Australia), Anne Burrows (State Library of Victoria) and I (then Public Record Office Victoria) sat down (over lunch) to start planning the first ever Feast. Like all events, it needed a name and Anne Burrows reminded people yesterday that I had come up with the name. So for posterity and the record, I will briefly say how Feast came about.
Some of you may have seem the 1987 Danish movie Babette's Feast which is based on an Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) novel. She also wrote Out of Africa another favourite book/film of mine. The movie Babette's Feast also won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It's a great story and if you want a plot spoiler read about it here but to me, what the two Anne's and I were trying to do back then, was to bring to our clients a 'feast of family history'. I think that we have achieved that over the years and although Anne Piggott and I have moved on, our place in organising Feast has been taken on by other NAA and PROV staff members who assist Anne Burrows.
Enough memories, on to a report of the day. As usual the presentations were included on a PROV USB given out as you registered and there was the usual goodies bag - this year a stylish blue PROV bag with brochures from Museum Victoria, PROV, Immigration Museum Victoria, Geelong Heritage Centre, Bendigo Regional Archives Centre, State Library of Victoria, National Library of Australia and TROVE, National Archives of Australia, Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies, Founders and Survivors, Victorian Association of Family History Organisations (VAFHO) and their 4-5 May 2013 conference Under the Southern Cross and the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM). It was great to see so many supporters.
After a welcome from Anne, the audience were introduced to the new CEO and State Librarian Sue Roberts who spoke briefly about her background. I was the next speaker with Google Genealogy - Are You Making the Most of Google? which from verbal reports was well received. I was a bit mortified that I had the wrong title on my presentation that was included on the USB stick given out to attendees. I checked the talk endlessly but not the cover slide!! I have put the 'correct' presentation up on my website on the Resources page (scroll down to Presentations).
Next was Daniel Wilksch from Public Record Office Victoria who talked about Old Records, New Access and it was good to hear that by the end of the year they hope to start putting the digitised inquests to 1925 up on the PROV website. It will take about 12-18 months to put them all up which is a sobering reminder of just how huge that wills, probates and inquests digitisation project with FamilySearch was when it started back in 2004. Daniel also invited people to start making more use of the PROV Wiki to help make access to records more easy.
After lunch Mark Brennan from National Archives of Australia talked about Pictorial Records in their collection and although I was familiar with PhotoSearch and Faces of Australia (227 images and found under Snapshots of the Collection), I had not heard about Destination Australia. It is 20,000 images of migrants post World War 2 and it is interactive ie you can add in your own stories or comments. In fact, NAA is looking for more active online participation by users, especially with their pictorial records.
Last Feast speaker for the day was Susan Long from State Library of Victoria Pictorial Collection who talked about photo albums, their history and meanings. I liked her comment that albums hold 'the DNA of history' and she pointed out that photos within albums still have their original context where as when they are digitised, they lose that context unless there is an attempt to keep the digitised images within that context.
For the last few years the Victorian Association of Family History Organisations (VAFHO) have been holding their annual Don Grant Family History Lecture at the end of Family History Feast. This year the speaker was Professor Janet McCalman on Vandemonians in Victoria. Janet is associated with the Founders and Survivors Project which is linking Tasmanian convicts to their World War 1 descendants where applicable.
Carmen was the official SLV blogger for Feast and her reports can be found on the Library's Family Matters blog.
At the end of a long but stimulating day, the lucky seat prizes were drawn and Anne announced that 5 August 2013 would be the date for the 10th Family History Feast. Although I will be in Queensland then, I will have to make a quick trip to Melbourne as I wouldn't want to miss something that has been part of my life for so long! Roll on National Family History Week - I'm having a great time!


  1. I think a visit to Melbourne may be in order this time next year. It's sad Sydney doesn't have a similar celebration.

  2. You need to book early Jill as it books up fast. The disappointing thing is that some people book and then don't show up or stay all day and their seats are wasted.It's always a problem with free events.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed the day. And thanks for your Google tips, Shauna.