Monday, August 9, 2010

Hawkesbury Family History Fair - The Speakers

When I arrived at the fair at 9:00 am I did not know whether I would stay for an hour or two or the  whole day. After perusing the program I decided on taking the day option as there were a number of engaging speakers in the lineup and some of the topics were of particular interest to me.

HFHF Program

After racing up the street to raid an ATM for spending money I parked myself in the front row of the Tebutt room to hear Lindsay Allen from State Records discuss Family history resources for the Macquarie period. In deference to the range of  interests and experience in the audience Lindsay prefaced his short Macquarie talk with an overview of the history, business and resources of State Records and gave pointers to genealogists who may wish to use those resources for research.
Lindsay Allen makes a point

Allen then showed some screenshots from and discussed The Lachlan Macquarie Digital Gallery that  "celebrates Macquarie by featuring iconic documents (together with transcriptions with some interpretation) from the wealth of Macquarie related material in our collection."

Allen then went on to talk about the history and value of The Colonial Secretary's Records and outlined Convict Records that are available to family historians. Allen was a knowledgeable, competent and engaging speaker. He regularly travels around the state giving presentations - details of upcoming talks can be found on the Activities pages of State Records.

Cathy McHardy
The delightful Cathy McHardy, a librarian from Hawkesbury City Library was stunned when the  audience for her talk in the Charles Harpur Room overflowed into the library. Cathy connected with her audience with  a well-structured and pertinent talk on "Searching Land Titles" in NSW. My understanding of this tricky topic was greatly enhanced. Cathy provided attendees with a wonderful handout that will be one of my treasured resources and so useful when I journey into the Lands Department to research family properties.

As the descendant of a couple of Hawkesbury convicts I was  pleased to stay put in the Charles Harpur Room for a talk by Hawkesbury Local Studies Librarian, Michelle Nichols on Researching Hawkesbury Families. By the time she gave this talk poor Michelle, who had been running from room to room all day fielding questions and solving problems, appeared a little flummoxed. Michelle rose to the occasion and gave an interesting talk illustrated by slides with pertinent illustrations of the area. I was encouraged to visit the Local Studies area of the library where I found files on my ancestors in the library's collection. As I had my digital camera on hand I was quickly able to copy relevant documents before taking off to the next talk.

Heather Garnsey
 In a tweet from the next talk I attended I said "Heather Garnsey talking at a rate of knots with loads of fab info at the Hawkesbury Family History Fair". Heather, Executive Officer from The Society of Australian Genealogists spoke on "10 websites you can't live without as a genealogist." Pint-sized Heather who could barely see over the lectern, delivered her talk with enthusiasm. It was obvious from the whispered comments of some audience members around me that what they were hearing from Heather was quite new to them. I loved Heather's talk and delivery style but would probably replace one of her choices!
Heather's Top Ten Sites

Bruce Fairhall
I have been a user of TMG (The Master Genealogist) software for over ten years but am still a novice user. As Bruce Fairhall said in his presentation "Introduction to The Master Genealogist (TMG)" this is a package that can be used "straight from the box" but it is also a very powerful piece of software that is eminently customisable. I was glad that I stayed around for Bruce's presentation that confirmed that I am a novice user. Bruce, who is passionate and enthusiastic about the product gave a live demonstration (much more effective than using screenshots) of a TMG database. I was most impressed by the modifications Bruce has made to the program. Bruce spoke of the TMG Sydney user group that has its regular meetings at SAG. Although I subscribe to the TMG Sydney blog their Yahoo Group and am a fan on Facebook I have not yet attended a face to face meeting. Bruce, you have inspired me to come along.

I had a great day at the fair and would be interested to hear reports of others' fair experiences. I hope to see some reports in the blogosphere or on mailing lists soon.

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