Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Genealogy conferences 2019, digitised gaol photos & other news: Genealogy Notes 1-8 May 2018

It was a big week for exciting announcements and I had a fabulous time discovering new information on my own families. Even after 40 years of research I am still learning new things about some family members who have always fascinated me. New online indexes and digitised records make it a must to go back and relook at your previous research.

While working on my two talks for the Cooroy-Noosa Genealogical & Historical Research Group on convicts and prisoners I was simply amazed at how much more is online and more easily accessible than when I did my convicts thesis for the Society of Australian Genealogists Diploma back in the early 1990s. Similarly while working on this week's talk on parish registers for Australia and the UK for the Bribie U3A advanced family history class I had even more finds. Now I want to review all my early Australian research. My to do list just gets longer and longer.

The Chyebassa, image courtesy State Library Victoria
My Trove Tuesday post was the Voyage of the Chyebassa to Queensland in 1883. My great grandfather Herbert William White made his way to Charters Towers after leaving the ship at Townsville. Searching in Trove gave me insights into the voyage and what it was actually like travelling on board the Chyebassa including what they ate. Another wonderful Trove discovery.

My overseas plans for next year were all thought out with a planned trip to my first ever Rootstech conference from 27 Feb to 2 Mar 2019. I've been promising to do that for years but something else has always been happening in the early part of the year. Plus I have wanted to go to Salt Lake City for years. This is a four day event which is better value than just a two day event unless you combine the trip with some tourism or genealogical research.

There is also an Unlock the Past Mediterranean cruise with some of my favourite speakers Paul Milner, Janet Few and Caroline Gurney in Sep 2019 going to Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar and on to France and Italy. I've been to the first three places but not the last two so I'm tempted.

This week I found out about two conferences which seem to be stepping into the empty space left by WDYTYA. The first is Family Tree Live on 26-27 Apr 2019 in London's Alexandra Palace with lectures, workshops, displays and stands aimed at all levels of family history experience. It is being organised by Family Tree in partnership with the Federation of Family History Societies. To receive the latest show information you can sign up for the e-newsletter at Family Tree. I love going to London but it is expensive for accommodation and I have been there.

The second conference The Genealogy Show is on 7-8 Jun 2019 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham where Mum's Price family is from. The Midlands are somewhere I have not managed to get to yet. So a big temptation. The organisers have already set up a Facebook page for The Genealogy Show 2019 where you can get all the latest updates.

Also on next year is the local Waves in Time conference at Caloundra on 24-26 May and that is a definite must attend, apart from it's only an hour or so up the highway from where I live. It will also be a lot cheaper to attend.

Decisions decisions - pity you can't go to everything so I'm back to next year's planning board. Genealogists downunder definitely need 'beam me there' technology.

Convicts and Prisoners
From the introduction you will see it's been a week for looking at convict and prison records. State Archives and Records NSW has some wonderful online guides, indexes and digitised records but I was pleased to see that there are now digitised gaol photographs online (last time I looked it was just the index). It was thrilling to see a photo of my great uncle Denis Patrick Finn in 1928, not because he was in gaol but it was the only the second photo I have even seen.

Denis Patrick Finn, image courtesy
State Library of Queensland
The first was as a 17 year old soldier heading off to the Western Front in WW2 on what was probably his big adventure, having lied about his age to do so. Denis spent his 18th birthday in a German prison of war camp and as his prison alias in QLD was Johann Romanoff, there was a lasting legacy from his teenage experiences during the war.

Looking at his life (through prison registers in QLD and NSW and his two broken marriages) you can easily see that Denis could not settle back into a 'normal' way of life. His two brothers, John and Robert, also returned from the war but instead of trying to live in an urban area, both never married and lived in remote regional areas.

The other website that amazed me with new records was the Biographical Database of Australia. I found new information on my early Sydney convict families and the database groups the information together if they are  sure it is the same person. However, you still need to check other entries for the name as it may not all be together. One drawback is that the database only lets you search on a name which is fine if it is not a common name, but if you are looking for John Smith there are lots of results to skim through. Still it is a useful resource for early NSW in particular. It is free to search but to see the full record there is a reasonable subscription as it is a not for profit project.

The weekend saw me finish Nathan Dylan Goodwin's The Wicked Trade - now to do the review. As usual I can't wait for the next book!

Virtual Genealogy 
In some ways it was only a matter of time before we started having virtual genealogy societies. Many of our traditional genealogy and family history societies now have members only areas for those who can't attend meetings or the library in person. This is a fantastic benefit and the primary reason I am still a member of four Australian societies.

Last year I mentioned I won a subscription to VicGum and while I have been looking at their newsletters and email posts, I had yet to look at the members only area. Technology is amazing as I have been watching some of their meetings and guest speakers and it is just like being in the audience.

So this week I joined the Virtual Genealogical Society which is a global organization serving family history enthusiasts of all levels, geared towards those:
● whose circumstances make it difficult to attend local genealogical society meetings
● who prefer online presentations, special interest groups (SIGs), conferences, and socializing
● with an interest in connecting, networking, and mentoring with global genealogists.

They aim to provide a forum for genealogists to connect, network, and mentor with genealogists around the world through monthly meetings online, webinars, social networking, annual conferences, and in-person meet-ups at conferences, institutes and events around the world. It will be interesting to see how this develops and if it will change how existing (real not virtual) societies operate.

What's Coming Up?
A big week with today's talk on parish records in Australia and the UK at Bribie U3A and on Monday my talks on convicts and prison records with the Cooroy-Noosa Genealogical & Historical Research Group in partnership with Noosa Libraries. If you are at either event do come up and say hello.

Plus I have to start adding all my new information to my database and there must be a blog or two in these new stories. Sometimes it is hard to choose - spend time discovering new information or stop searching and spend time writing it up!

Have a great genealogy week until next time.

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