12th AFFHO Congress in Auckland – more education in one place than you’ll see anywhere else!

If you are considering going to Auckland in January for the Australian Federation of Family History Organisations 12th Congress then let me remind you that the early-bird registration closes on the 30th September. If you were not considering going then let me try to change your mind!

This is a marvellous opportunity to hear speakers from around the world and to learn more about how to find your ancestors and discover more about their lives. The opportunity to mingle with other researchers is also a huge, often overlooked, benefit. People who think the way we do! People who don’t think it’s odd to include cemeteries in the sights of a town, and who understand how exciting each new discovery is.

Dick Eastman, the technology guru; Paul Allen, co-founder of Ancestry.com and now the CEO of FamilyLink; Elaine Collins, Commercial Director of FindMyPast; John Grenham, the Irish research guru; Michael Gandy, editor of the Society of Genealogists’ journal and a very entertaining speaker; Megan Smolenyak, an expert on DNA research; Cora Num, website guru; these are a few of the famous international speakers that will be lecturing and running workshops over the four days of the conference.

Topics cover research in Australia, England, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, technology, DNA, and specific how-to sessions such as preserving documents and heirlooms and writing your family history. Many sessions run concurrently so that you can always find something of interest for every session, and some lectures are repeated at other times so you can sort out clashes in the programme with other lectures you want to see. Hands-on workshops are available in many of these subject areas as well.

Accommodation is available at the College where the conference will be run, or alternatives can be found in nearby motels.

These Congresses are only run every three years. The last one was in Darwin in 2006 and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it; it could have gone on for another four days and I would have been happy! The next one will be in Adelaide in 2012, which seems a long way away at the moment.

Here is the message from the Convenor, Richard Hollier:

REMINDER

For those of you who have not yet registered for the AFFHO 2009 Congress this email is to remind you that the earlybird registration closes on 30 September 2008.

Still undecided?

Look at the benefits:

  • Around 15 speakers from outside Australasia
  • Four consecutive lecture streams
  • Plus parallel workshop stream with up to 4 additional options
  • Networking with fellow genealogists from throughout the world
  • On site accommodation in gorgeous surroundings
  • Range of social events and tours
  • Registration cost lower than previous AFFHO congresses and comparable to NZSG when compared on a daily cost
  • Convenient online registration

Go online http://www.affhocongress2009.org and register now

Don’t miss this highlight on the 2009 genealogical calendar!!

Any questions or issues please email me or one of the congress committee. Contact details are on the website.

Regards

Richard

Richard Hollier
Conference Convenor
c/- 24 Gretel Place
Hillcrest, North Shore City 0627
New Zealand
Phone: +64 9 4190521
Email: convenor@affhocongress2009.org

I personally will be taking advantage of the opportunity to do some research on my long-neglected New Zealand ancestors and I am going over a week early. Perhaps I’ll see some of you there!

Your genealogy library

IMG_7033_300x200My first thought whenever I need to learn something new is to buy a book, and there are many to choose from. I like to have them on my shelves at home so I buy them, but there is nothing wrong with using the resources of your local library.

I have to admit to being a bit of a book collector from way back. I learned to cook, to grow pot plants, to make curtains, to program a computer, and a great many other things, from books. (Yes, as my Mum will tell you, she was never interested in cooking and I had to learn elsewhere).

So when I wanted to know how to take my family history further I started buying books, and I haven’t stopped. I stay on the lookout for new books, and I update them when a new edition comes out. I now use LibraryThing to catalogue my books so that my catalogue is available to me anywhere, even on my mobile phone. You can see a random selection of my genealogy books at right.

These days a library does not only contain books but also CDs and links to websites, among other things, but I think you really have to start with books. Here are some of my favourites.

Australia

For Australian genealogy I would suggest that you need these books:

  • A good beginner’s guide. Who Do You Think You Are? The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History (Australian Edition) is a good choice – informative and entertaining at the same time.
  • Tracing Your Family History in Australia by Nick Vine Hall is the most comprehensive guide to sources in every State. He started updating each state on CD, starting with Tracing Your Family History in New South Wales, before he passed away last year. The New South Wales version is now out in book form.
  • Any book by Cora Num: Convict Records in Australia; How to Find Shipping and Immigration Records in Australia, Occupational Records in Australia, Websites for Genealogists. She has an excellent website as well.
  • If you are really interested in convicts then you also need State Records New South Wales’ Guide to New South Wales State Archives relating to convicts and convict administration.

Britain and Ireland

  • An excellent general reference on British family history is Ancestral Trails by Mark Herber. Although it concentrates on English records the principles are the same for Welsh, Scottish and Irish records and where there are differences he spells them out. Now in it’s second edition.
  • The standard general reference for Ireland is Tracing Your Irish Ancestry by John Grenham. Now in its third edition, you can’t go past it.
  • An excellent series for the beginner is The Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your English/Irish/Scottish Ancestors. These books are American and give a great introduction, with pictures of the records, to records from these countries.

Genealogical standards

  • Evaluate and cite your sources correctly and you can’t go too far wrong. The essential reference is Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Her examples are mostly from American sources but the principles are the same wherever you are.

There are many, many other books that a good library should have but they vary depending on your interests and the geographic situation of your ancestors. As you progress in your research you will probably move from introductory family history books to more detailed guides to specific subjects, such as convicts, immigration, land or schools. We will cover these more specific areas another time.

Sometimes there isn’t a book available in the subject you need to learn, or a book may have been published but it is no longer in print. Second-hand book stores are always worth searching, especially the online forms such as AbeBooks or SeekBooks or even eBay. I use eBay often because I can get it to alert me when a book or a subject I am interested in becomes available.

There is no substitute for a good library. Take advantage of all those people who have gone before, who have spent the time looking for what you need and know how to find it. Buy the books (and read them) and learn from them.

Irish Education Opportunities

There is a wealth of seminars and other educational opportunities concerning Ireland and the Irish in the next few months. They are not all in Sydney so be prepared for some travel.

From There to Here – Exploring 19th Century Irish migration to Australia

Celtic Club 316-320 Queen Street Melbourne     Saturday 13th September 9:30am to 4pm

This seminar is being hosted by Genealogical Society of Victoria Irish Interest Group. Facilitator is Dr Val Noone and the speakers are:

  • Dr Richard Reid – Why They Came (Keynote address)
  • Dr Keith Pescod – 19th Century migration hostels – care or control?
  • Dr Richard Reid – The Irish in Australia
  • Dr Pauline Rule – Irish Women in 19th Century Colonial Victoria
  • Dr Charles Fahey – The Irish in Northern and Central Victoria

This is a rare opportunity to hear such learned speakers covering a single topic of Irish relevance in such depth. Cost is $45 including lunch and morning and afternoon tea. Bookings through the Genealogical Society of Victoria on (03) 9662 4455.

Far From Famine – a gathering of the descendants of Irish Famine orphans 1848-1850

St Clement’s Monastery, Galong, NSW           Thursday 2nd to Tuesday 7th October

St Clement’s Monastery is host to Shamrock in the Bush every year. This special gathering is to be held in honour of the 4114 female orphans sent to the Australian colonies from Irish workhouses between 1848 and 1850 during the Great Famine, although you don’t need to be descended from one of these orphans to attend.

Keynote speaker will be Irish archaeologist and historian Michael Gibbons. The long list of speakers will include Richard Reid, Cheryl Mongan, Perry McIntyre, Cora Num, Brad Manera, Jeff Brownrigg, and many others on a range of topics related to Irish and Australian history and the immigration of the Irish to Sydney, Moreton Bay, Victoria and South Australia.

Workshops and research assistance will be available from Cora Num and other experienced researchers. Irish Australian music and culture will be on display, with entertainment provided in the evenings. A ecumenical thanksgiving service and commemorative tree-planting have also been organised.

This is a marvellous opportunity to immerse yourself in the history and culture of this period in Australia’s history. The price includes accommodation, all meals, lectures and entertainment, including the official dinner in Galong House on the Saturday night. The price varies according to the accommodation chosen from $570 to $640 for 5 nights with a discount offered for payment before 30th August.

Full details of the programme and further information can be found at the website or by emailing the organisers at famine@shamrockinthebush.org.au.

Convicts! – a day of seminars at the Society of Australian Genealogists

Richmond Villa, 120 Kent Street, Sydney Saturday 25th October

Not strictly about the Irish, to be sure, but so many of the 140,000 or so convicts brought to this country were Irish that I thought this day warranted inclusion. Topics include:

  • Getting started with convict research
  • The administration of government-employed convicts
  • Beyond the basics – finding out more about your convict
  • Convicts/transportees and those colonial convictions in the UK and Ireland

A collection of convict items will be on display. Morning and afternoon tea are included in the price of $50 for members of the Society and $60 for non-members.

Irish Day – a day of seminars at the Society of Australian Genealogists

Venue to be confirmed Saturday 29th November

This seminar day is still in the planning stages but promises to be another excellent opportunity for Irish researchers in Sydney. Organised by Perry McIntyre. More details will become available at the Society of Australian Genealogists in the next few weeks.

Tour of Ireland May 2009 with the Society of Australian Genealogists

A regular feature on the calendar of the Society of Australian Genealogists is a genealogical tour of Ireland hosted by Perry McIntyre and Richard Reid. These tours are very popular and focus on repositories of interest to researchers. The exact itinerary can be tailored to the interests of participants.

I hope to see you at one or more of these events – please say hello!

If you know of any other Irish seminars or events please let me know and I will include them here.

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