Sunday, August 5, 2012

An 80th Birthday

Yesterday the Bambino took me out west to State Records NSW for a special birthday celebration.

As part of its 80th birthday celebrations The Society of Australian Genealogists hosted a seminar for members at State Records Western Sydney Records Centre at Kingswood. Society Vice-President, Martyn Killion, opened proceedings and explained the format of the day. As it was an 80th celebration There were to be four presentations each of which would highlight 20 things related to genealogy.

Emily Hanna, who is the Officer in charge of the reading rooms at State Records NSW, spoke about 20 State Archives you can't live without. After describing the history and activities Emily told us about the 20 record sets that can provide information for family historians. Her talk was supported by images of items from the archives and the often grisly stories behind those images. While I was aware of these records it was useful being able to hear about them as a genealogical collection and to learn about the scope of some of the record sets. The one record set that I haven't fully explored is Photo Investigator; I'm going to take a look to see what I can find on the places where my ancestors lived, worked and played.

At morning tea in the sunny courtyard  we were all treated to a cupcake to celebrate the Society's birthday. I met up and got chatting with a couple from Northmead who, like me, love using technology in their genealogical activities.

Heather Garnsey's first presentation was "20 tips to help you research successfully". There were many nodding heads as Heather discussed each of the tips she had drawn together in a personal brainstorming session. Heather, who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of  family history practice expanded on each of her points with practical examples. I need to heed "Remember you won't live forever" and get my records organised and make sure my family knows what I want done with my genealogy "stuff" when I leave this earth. I need to let them know how much blood, sweat, tears and money has been poured into this pursuit lest they hire a dumpster and ditch the fruits of my labour.

After a break for lunch in the courtyard we moved back into the seminar room for Martyn Killion's presentation. "20 websites to visit". Martyn categorised the sites under five headings: Ensuring you don't reinvent the wheel, Births, deaths and marriages, Putting meat on the bones, What's on the internet anyway and Join a Society. There was only one surprise in this list for me and it was the AFFHO website, www.affho.org, which has a listing of genealogy sites that those with an interest in Australian genealogy might join. Martyn suggested  finding and joining a society focusing on your ancestors' localities. Martyn is one of the best Australian genealogy speakers I have heard, he has an engaging personality, a sense of humour and engages his audience. His voice and diction are excellent and his knowledge of genealogy is evident as he speaks with just his slides to keep him on track.

The courtyard was the venue for afternoon tea where we were treated to more sweet things. After tea  Heather Garnsey, the Society's Executive Officer,  presented a new topic "20 research repositories you need to visit". In her 100 miles a minute style (which I love) Heather told about the services and resources at ten Australian and ten overseas sites. I am fortunate in having visited most of the places on her list. Having listened to Heather I will put the Vaughan Evans Library at The Australian National Maritime Museum on my list. I was pleased to hear Heather suggest The Society of Genealogists in London as a very useful place, she especially recommended browsing the print collection there. She has convinced me to visit there later in the year when I am in London; I just wonder whether I should join the Society or pay the per day research fee to use their facilities.

Although the focus of the four talks at this event was at beginner level I was pleased that I attended. The speakers were knowledgeable and competent, the venue was good, there was parking practically at the front door, I met some interesting new people and it was free.

Thanks SAG for inviting me to your birthday event.

Link to Martyn's photo taken at morning tea. (I think he and I were the only people who tweeted from the event)


4 comments:

Helen Smith said...

Jill If you are going to visit more than once at SOG I'd join. This also means you could spend a few hours there one afternoon and drop back in another day. The print and manuscript collections are great also worth checking their catalogue for microfiche etc you may not have access to at home.

With membership, from memory you also get a discount on items purchased from the bookshop. The SOG has online databases available now as well.

Judy Webster said...

I enjoyed reading your report. Martyn and Heather are two of my all-time favourite speakers.

Jill Ball said...

Thanks for advice, Helen.
Judy, It was a fab event.

Martyn Killion said...

Thanks for the review Jill (blush). It really was a great day with a wonderful vibe to kick of the SAG's 80th celebrations!

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