Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Congress Presenter Interview - Jan Worthington

My latest interview for AFFHO Congress 2015 is from Sydney based professional genealogist, Jan Worthington. Apologies to Jan for taking so long to post this interview but my trip to Salt Lake City and Rootstech got in the way.

Learn about Jan from her detailed responses to my questions.

Jan Worthington

I am a professional genealogist, family historian and researcher specialising in probate genealogy, tracing family histories, locating missing living people and writing historical non-fiction.

Over 30 years ago my mother and my daughter introduced me to my own family history and from that moment the quest to find out more took over my life. I obtained my Diploma in Family Historical Studies through the Society of Australian Genealogists in 1984 and started up a genealogical company which grew to 17 people, which I recently sold. I then started up another company – Jan Worthington Genealogy. For over 25 years I was a Councillor/Director of the Society of Australian Genealogists and served in various roles as Vice President, Company Secretary and Convenor of the Computer Users Group, Computer Committee, Education Committee, Library Committee, Premises Committee, Awards Committee and Diploma in Family Historical Studies and Certificate Course Committee, which I still convene.

During that time I have spoken and given lectures at many conferences in various States of Australia, USA, UK and New Zealand. As a regular researcher at the genealogical library in Salt Lake City I have partnered with Perry McIntyre and taken several family history groups there, so that we could support and share our knowledge with them. I was elected President of the Worthington Family History Society ten years ago and chair the Annual General Meeting every year as well as host the biennial three day Gatherings in either the USA or the UK.

Genealogy has improved and changed my life in many ways. It has enabled me to achieve a lifelong objective, i.e. start and build up a small to medium size successful business. It has enabled me to travel extensively, meet and help people and given me an unexpectedly passionate, exciting and rewarding career in every way. I have been lucky enough to be recognised and rewarded by my peers. In 1994 I was made a Fellow of the Society of Australian Genealogists. In 2012 I was awarded the Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Achievement Award in Birmingham, Alabama and the Independent Book Publishers Silver Award in the regional Historical Non-Fiction category for my book Inky Fingers in New York. In 2013 I was made an Honorary Member of the Society of Australian Genealogists.

The problem solving aspect of genealogy is what I love about genealogy the most. Every new job is an exciting challenge and adventure into the unknown.

I have attended and spoken at many local, interstate and international Congresses over 30 years. In 1988 I was Convenor of the First International Congress on Family History and 5th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry in the newly opened Darling Harbour Convention Centre, Sydney. Many local, interstate and overseas speakers spoke to over 1500 attendees during this hugely successful five day event.

My topic for the Congress is The Abandoned Child – Social Changes in New South Wales 1850-1870 from the records of the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children. This was a time period of little government support for families in need of assistance and private enterprise came to the rescue. There is also a paucity of primary records for family historians researching the 1850s and what there are can be very misleading. My talk will open up further avenues of research for family historians unable to trace their families back past this point in New South Wales.

There are huge benefits in attending any conference as there is always something new to be learned, no matter how long you have been in the game. For the more seasoned attendee there are catch ups with faces not seen for a while. For newcomers to family history an exciting plethora of sessions to attend, people to meet, new friends to make and lots of things to see.

My favourite piece of advice or tip to share with anyone researching their family history is simple: When researching your family history always go forwards in time to go backwards in time; and always go backwards in time to go forwards in time. In other words if you are not making progress tracing ancestral families, or looking for living relatives, go back to your starting point, or the point where the problem arose, and review your findings again. At that point you may need to carry out further research before continuing. Good Luck!

The Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children

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