Our Conference Speakers

David Roberts

David Roberts is an Associate Professor of Australian History and Head of the Department of Archaeology, Classics and History at the University of New England. His teaching areas include colonial and convict Australia, as well as aspects of Aboriginal history. He has published several books and book chapters, and many journal articles that provide contemporary perspectives on Australia’s history.
He is a member of The State Archives Advisory Group that plays an important role in increasing awareness of the work of State Archives among key user groups and the broader community.
David is the editor of the Journal of Australian Colonial History. This refereed journal publishes scholarly articles on a wide variety of subjects including convict history, bushranging, Aboriginal-settler relations, colonial literature, and various aspects of Australia’s early social, economic and political history.
He is also the director of The Heritage Futures Research Centre, established to promote research into local and regional history and heritage and their implications in the national and international contexts. The Centre’s interests include: the history and role of community organisations; indigenous, settler and immigrant heritage; and historic objects, sites and precincts.
David is the conference keynote speaker and he will present ‘The John Vincent Crowe Memorial Address.’

Julie Keating

Julie Keating has published a series of books on Newcastle in the 1800s.  The most recent title is Wickham, Islington & Tighes Hill: the early days near Throsby Creek. This is the seventh in the series.

Julie worked in local university, TAFE and secondary school libraries for over forty years. Since retirement she has combined two interests – research and local history to provide information on Newcastle’s early history, first as a penal settlement and then as a coal exporter. She is a regular speaker at various groups including Probus Clubs, Newcastle U3A and Newcastle Family History Society.

Opportunities for Australian Women during the 1800s

Women in the 1800s had little input into the financial and business affairs of the country. This was mainly due to the fact that our legal system was based on English law. This was a feudal based system that wanted to perpetuate land being handed down through the male line in the family. Women did not have the right to inherit property, usually received no education and thus had few avenues to obtain financial independence. Historical events, such as the gold rushes, and the geography of the country, mainly its vastness, created opportunities for women to change their lives.

Peter Mayberry

At the conclusion of my initial Surveying degree in the early 1970s and subsequent studies at UNSW, I embraced the pursuit of family history following the sudden death of my dear grandmother in 1975. Visiting great aunts & uncles with pen & paper was a joyful pastime. Tracking down my Braidwood bushranging families became an obsession. With the purchase of an IBMPC 640kb computer & the ‘PAF’ genealogy program, the research into family history really took off in the early 1980s. By 1986, the complete BDM registers of the Catholic parishes of Araluen, Braidwood and Bungendore were indexed. Researching every convict on the ship, “Tellicherry” which had arrived in February 1806, set the stage for my preoccupation with convict studies. With fervent encouragement from Dr Ruan O’Donnell during a visit to Ireland, my passion culminated in the indexing of the Irish convicts to NSW (Port Jackson) from 1788 until 1849 using the resources found in the ARK & AJCP microfilms & microfiche held by the NLA. It further developed into an online Convict website containing over 30,000 individuals. The website was subsequently used by the National Museum of Australia in its Canberra exhibition titled, ‘Not Just Ned’ in 2011 and numerous authors. In 2017 & 2020, I revised the Convict chapter on ‘Researching Convict Ancestors’ in the HAGSOC publication titled, ‘Family History for Beginners & Beyond’. I have been a member of Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra (HAGSOC) for nearly 30 years with current participation in its Special Interest Groups namely the Irish, Convict and DNA.
I am married (1973) to my UNSW sweetheart, Tricia who is a Science graduate in Clinical Psychology. Our daughter, Anna is a graduate of ANU here in Canberra.

Whole-Group Presentation:
Irish Convicts to NSW

My presentation is not for the faint hearted. I will endeavour to explain the Irish convict process from typical capture by the parish watchmen to eventual boarding of a transport bound for Sydney Cove. I will pay particular attention to the responsibilities of a ship’s master and its convict superintendent-surgeon. Both had distinct instructions for the passage. By comparing two specific voyages, I will describe what brutal disasters occurred when these instructions were ignored. Don’t expect to find the reasons on ‘Ancestry’ or ‘Find my Past.’ When sheer greed or a callous indifference rears its ugly head, convicts paid the price with their lives.
Before concluding I hope to show the different ways of searching my website database as well as mentioning the scanning of the AJCP by the NLA as it relates to Irish convict records. The use of Pivot tables to analyse my convict database is beyond the scope of this talk.

Diane Blishen

I have been involved in historical and family history for more than three decades. Over the last eight years I have been collecting maps, plans, crown plans, surveyor records, title deeds, primary applications, court records, wills, correspondence and so on, overlaying old maps and plans over Google Earth showing the locations of places than no longer exist or not well known or known at all. Title Deeds help to further confirm the exact locations, along with records showing the buildings design and position that brings the past and present together.
My research has primarily concentrated on Maitland but also have extensive research on other areas. I have spent quite some time at the NSW State Library and NSW State Archives & Records with the intention of gathering as many records as possible, where in the case of Maitland, bringing Maitland’s history to Maitland from the letters and records of the early settlers who were on the scene at the time.
I have mapped out pubs, schools (private and national) churches, hospitals, court houses, gaols, coal mines, wells and water supplies, railways, trams and much more.
Google Earth is a freely available program with the ability of being able to add written research on a place that allows the project to be somewhat interactive.
As a descendant of the First Fleet I have mapped out the gathering of the First Fleet, the journey from Portsmouth to the Colony of New South Wales, the setting up of the settlement and its early days.

Historical Mapping

We are going back in time! This Mapping Project uses Old Maps, Plans, Crown Plans, Surveyor Sketches and more overlaid over Google Earth, a freely available resource. These old records have recorded the past. By overlaying them over a present day mapping resource it brings the past and present together, making it easy to SEE where locations not widely known, if at all, were.
Concentrating on Maitland & Newcastle, in the available time, we will have a brief overview of the project and look at such things as the spot where Frederick Ward called himself Thunderbolt. The location of a Pagan Burial Ground in Maitland, which was in part an Aboriginal Burial Ground. Churches, Schools, Pubs, Private Railways, Court Houses and many more. All have records to support the locations.

Sach Killam

Cemeteries are enduring places of sacred significance.  Caring for these landscapes and monuments requires considered approaches based on conservation:  repairing, maintaining and preserving gravestones for future generations while avoiding causing any immediate or long-term damage.  However, permanent damage has been caused to historic gravestones due to a loss of skills in the stonemasonry industry as well as negligent practices by monumental masons, and occasionally by well-intentioned persons without the necessary tools or training.

Sach Killam is a cemetery conservation specialist at Rookwood General Cemeteries with 30 years of experience in Canada & Australia, with training in monument care, safety assessments, lettering, as well as specialty lime mortarwork.  In addition to leading the Monumental-Heritage team at Rookwood, Sach is a long-term member of the National Trust NSW Cemeteries Committee and was on the Australian Standards committee establishing improved monument design and installation standards.  Recent projects include specialty stone conservation work at Hyde Park Barracks and Vaucluse House,  gravestone repairs at St Johns Parramatta, Mays Hill, Moyne Farm, and other State Heritage Register listed sites, as well as on-going cemetery conservation projects at Rookwood Necropolis and Glebe Cemetery (East Maitland).

Monument Care: Conservation, Cleaning, & Repair
Best Practice Techniques from Thirty Years Caring for Cemeteries

Cemeteries are enduring places of sacred significance.  Caring for these landscapes and monuments requires considered approaches based on conservation:  repairing, maintaining and preserving gravestones for future generations while avoiding causing any immediate or long-term damage.  However, permanent damage has been caused to historic gravestones due to a loss of skills in the stonemasonry industry as well as negligent practices by monumental masons, and occasionally by well-intentioned persons without the necessary tools or training.
Monument Care: Conservation, Cleaning, & Repair will discuss Best Practice techniques for gravestones as well as reviewing damaging and inappropriate treatments.

Anny Druett

Anny is 4005th descendant of the Ngemba mob, and fifth-generation daughter of Crookwell. Both mobs are located in NSW Australia.
As a fifteen-year-old Anny started tracing her own family tree with tutoring from one of her neighbours. Her passion for tracking information from all sorts of nooks and crannies shows her tenacity and determination to not only find her mob, but to find the stories that connect her with her ancestors. Anny takes you on a journey you don’t want to get off.
Yet you may have walked the same path in your own search for long lost family members.
Anny has a strong background as an accredited trainer and coach spanning over three and a half decades.
Over the past 2 years she has been honing her skills in the speaking space.

Whole-Group Presentation:
Kinship,  Convicts  and Identity

Have you ever wondered why it so difficult to chase up Aboriginal ancestors of either your parent,  your partner, or perhaps an adopted son or daughter? For far too long genealogists have faced multiple challenges in obtaining sensitive information about their Aboriginal family members.
From my own experiences I’ve found the “shame, guilt and blame” cards have been overplayed when seeking information.
For over 40 years I’ve had a one step forward and two steps backward approach to  tracking down my maternal family.
When I was fifteen a family friend from the local historical society taught me the basics in tracing and tracking my family tree.
Ever since then my obsession has been to find out about the grandmother I never knew, what motivated her and how she become one of Australia’s standout human rights activists who helped change Australian history.  
I’m so grateful to a handful of historians from both the Aboriginal and the non-Aboriginal world who have successfully discovered the truths I have been so desperately seeking.
I am a proud 4,005 generation Aboriginal-Australian woman descendant from the Ngemba mob, English and French mobs.
Today more than ever we must get the blessings from our living family members to the relevant documents so we can acknowledge who are are, where we belong and how we are connected.  
Now is the time for us to reassure our parents and grandparents of our desire to know and not harm, to learn and not blame, to reassure, respect and strengthen our relationships.
Come and hear my talk about my story so you learn some more tips to add to your family tree tool kit.

Jeffrey Madsen

Jeffrey Madsen has had a long career in Information Technology using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) software to prepare maps and use aerial photography. His interest in genealogy highlighted that map imagery and historical geography can enhance a family tree or story to become more than just names and dates.
Advanced skills in digitising records were acquired when left the legacy of a large collection consisting of World War 1 diaries, glass negatives, photo albums, celluloid negatives and 16mm movies needing to be archived.
He is currently managing the digitisation of manuscript material for the Society of Australian Genealogists.

Whole-Group Presentation:
Removing Roadblocks in your Research

The 30-year mystery surrounding the disappearance of Ann Maria GRIFFITHS (nee UNDERWOOD) was solved by accessing some different sets of records.
She was born and married in London, raised her family in Hobart and then disappeared, ie. no trace of her could be found.
Hear how we learnt through various archival records of my great, great, great grandmother’s life and overcame numerous roadblocks to eventually find her not in Hobart as assumed but resident in Lambton, Newcastle, NSW.

Paul Parton

Paul Parton is a presenter for FamilySearch in their Outreach program. He also gives technical support to 145 Family History Centres Australia-wide. He has had an interest in family history for more than 45 years. Paul was a professional trainer prior to his retirement as Pacific Area Director of Information Technology Services with FamilySearch’s parent organisation.

Lilian Magill

Lilian is an enthusiastic genealogist who has been researching since 1985 and enjoys finding out interesting things about her ancestors and helping others find their ancestors, as well.
She has had articles and photographs published in Australian Family Tree Connection magazine and in 2017 published a book about her Vaughan/Chasmar ancestors. Lilian is a regular contributor to the Surname Society’s newsletter.
Lilian has completed a Certificate in Genealogical Research from the Society of Australian Genealogists and has also completed her Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies: Australian Records, with The National Institute for Genealogical Studies, Canada.
To keep her skills up to date, Lilian regularly attends seminars, talks, webinars and lectures. In both 2016 and 2017 she attended RootsTech, in Salt Lake City, Utah, attending lectures on a wide range of topics.
Lilian is the co-ordinator of the Society of Australian Genealogists, Writing Discussion Group and General Secretary of the Botany Bay Family History Society.

Whole-Group Presentation:
Not Just Trove; free websites to use in your genealogy research

This will be a live session, with me using my own laptop and modem. I will load and demonstrate websites covering such things as surnames, free BDMs, capital punishment, AIF database, to name just some of them.
I will have links on my blog page and do a handout for the class. I will ask the class for names to search for.

Sharn White

Sharn White has a background in teaching and has studied history, local history and family history at a number of universities. She has been researching her family history for over twenty-five years and writes four family history blogs, three of which have been archived by Trove’s Pandora website for their contribution to Australian historical research.
Sharn appeared on the television documentary, Coast Australia, after researching the convict history of Norfolk Island and presents regularly about a number of topics, including House History Research,  Convict History, German  Immigration to Australia, Blogging Family History, and Telling Family History Stories.
In 2012, Sharn branched into researching house histories in and heritage reports and works both  independently and for David White Architects, a Heritage Architectural Practice.
Sharn has been a Rootstech Ambassador each year since 2015, attended the first Rootstech London Conference in 2019 and is looking forward to being an Ambassador at Rootstech 2020 in Salt lake City.

Mary-Anne Gourley

A family historian for nearly thirty years, Mary Anne’s interest in India came about after discovering her Scottish ancestor’s marriage in Calcutta in 1847. Her ongoing investigations lead to her writing and publishing his biography The Travelling Scotsman, The Life and Times of Paterson Saunders, Senior. This publication also includes a facsimile edition of Paterson’s book Two years in Victoria (Calcutta 1863), important historically for the description of the colony of Victoria and its pitfalls for the unwary at the height of the goldrush.

Mary Anne is a member of the GSV and has been FIBIS representative in Australia since 2012. She is a member of Clan Maclean and visits the UK and Scotland regularly to research her family connections particularly in Dundee and Ardgour.

Using FIBIS website to locate information & resources on HM Army Regiments in both India and Australia. 

A brief outline on using FIBIS for research. Demonstrating the use of FIBIwiki to locate information on those British Army regiments who served in both India and Australia. Reference will also be made to the BL website and Archives and manuscripts collection for further resources however many of these will not be available online.

Pat Helion

Pat Healion has been admitted to the Supreme Court of NSW and to the High Court of Australia.
She holds the degree of LLB(hons) and has taught in the legal faculty at Avondale College and the University of Newcastle.
She is also the vice-president of the Newcastle Family History Society.

Directors’ Legal Duties

So, you’re on the Board/ Management Committee of your Family history society. What are your legal responsibilities and obligations?
As an incorporated body, whether through Fair Trading or ASIC, there is legislation that governs your behaviour. We will look at the legal obligations that govern your decisions as a member of the Committee/Board.

Conflicts & Disputes at FHSs

Conflict, privacy and other hiccups that can impinge on your enjoyment of your local family history society. How to deal with conflict and resolve disputes, how do privacy laws effect your society and other issues/questions of concern.

John Rochester

John Rochester is currently the Communications Manager with the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea. He has more than 25 years professional experience in communications, marketing and public relations having worked in government, corporate and not-for-profit sectors. Previous positions include Senior Advisor to Former Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie; Communications and Marketing Manager for the Queensland Council of Social Service;  and, General Manager, Corporate Communication at a large Corporate Communication firm assisting corporate and not-for-profit clients. In addition, John has held Board positions in the not-for-profit sector including Centacare Brisbane, Queensland AIDS Council and Micah Projects.

IT & Social Media for FHSs

John will present a Masterclass on using social media and developing technology to present their family history societies to the wider world. He will speak about using different medias to allow groups to project their message to a wider audience. The use of web sites, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, flip charts, etc to engage members, using zoom, Skype, etc to hold meetings with distant members and the knowledge and equipment necessary to develop podcasts, webinars and videos to educate members. It would be a wide ranging look at the possibilities offered by technology to societies to spread their word with a wider audience.

Pauleen Cass

I have been researching my family history since 1986 and remains obsessed with the joys of discovering new family information and sharing it with family.  In 2003 I published the Kunkel family history, Grassroots Queenslanders: the Kunkel family which was the winner of the 2004 Alexander Henderson Award (AIGS) and joint winner of the 2004 QFHS Queensland Family History Book Award. In 2006 I gained an Advanced Diploma in Local Studies by online study through Oxford University.
In 2009 I took the leap into the online world and have been blogging about family history for the past 10 years. My main blog is Family History Across the Seas (https://cassmobfamilyhistory.com/)
When time permits, I also research the emigrants from East Co Clare, Ireland and Dorfprozelten in Bavaria; as well as Murphy’s Creek, Queensland. From time to time I add my research to these blogs as well: East Clare Emigrants (https://eastclareoz.wordpress.com/) and From Dorfprozelten to Australia (https://dorfprozeltenaus.wordpress.com/).

Whole-Group Presentation:
Hidden Links, Hidden Stories

The story of the Catholic emigrants from the Bavarian village of Dorfprozelten to the Hunter Valley, the Monaro and the Darling Downs.

Gay Hendriksen

As an art and history curator and writer, Gay has researched and interpreted cultural and social histories for 30 years. Content has ranged from Colonial times to the present with an emphasis on women’s stories. Her writing and curatorship has focused on early Colonial Australia. She curated the national award winning Women Transported – Life in Australia’s Convict Female Factories and has toured exhibitions nationally. Her curatorial work has achieved a Museums Australia MAPDA award, Local Government Projects and Partnerships Award, NSW and the NSW Museums and Galleries IMAGINE Award for excellence.
Gay’s curatorship has covered a range of objects including social history, art, archaeology and archives. She has curated in the following museums: Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum, Penrith Regional Gallery, Parramatta Heritage Centre, St George Regional Museum, Tongarra Museum, Elizabeth Farm and Rouse Hill House Estate. Consultancy work has included State Archives of NSW, Bundanon Trust, Wollongong Heritage and Stories Museum Digitisation, Blue Mountains Museums Advisor and Villages of the Heart illustrated and oral histories of Central west NSW.

The Home Curator

The Home Curator Master Class will cover essential practices to ensure the best outcomes and ethical decisions  for your family history objects and custodianship of  your family collections.
If you are the custodian, researcher and interpreter of your family histories and collections then this masterclass will provide a guide to help you in your role of custodian. It will include:

  • keeping the objects through collection management of your family treasures such as how to handle, interpret and catalogue
  • what you need to do to ensure the stories stay connected to the family objects, records and images; interpretation, writing
  • Providing access to others now and in the future

 Your home may be the only place these objects and stories survive for the next generations. They are as important in their own way as the public museum objects and stories we know so well. Your role as home curator is essential to the future of your family history.

Dr Janis Wilton

Dr Janis Wilton OAM is a public and applied historian who, until her retirement in 2017, was based at the University of New England where she coordinated and taught into the university’s courses on local, family and applied history. A former President and Council member of the International Oral History Association, a former member of the editorial board of the Oral History Australia Journal, and awarded the Hazel de Berg Award for Excellence in Oral History in 2009, she has thirty years’ experience as a practiced and published public and oral historian with a passion for sharing skills and possibilities.

Whole-Group Presentation
Recording Family Memories

We’re family historians. We are on the search for details about our families. We are always advised to listen to family members and record what they have to tell.  This talk will provide insights into the role oral history can play in this process. It will look at a variety of contexts and triggers for recording family memories, what we can learn from those memories, and ways to record them.
Website: https://www.une.edu.au/staff-profiles/hass/jwilton

Kim Katon

Kim Katon is a non-Aboriginal family history researcher who has been working with Aboriginal people, particularly members of the Stolen Generations, for the past twenty-five years.

Finding Aboriginal Ancestors

Many people are becoming aware of their Aboriginal heritage but are unaware of the vast amount of information regarding Aboriginal family history and where to look for it. The presentation will provide a guide to the records created specifically about Aboriginal people, where to find them and how to access these records.

Carol Baxter

Carol Baxter, the History Detective, is a Fellow of the Society of Australian Genealogists, an adjunct lecturer at the University of New England, and an inspirational presenter who teaches researching and writing skills to genealogists and writers. Her interest in genealogy and in names began while she was still at school. Later, her university major in linguistics – which helped her understand the sounds of surnames – and her years working for the Biographical Database of Australia as a transcriber – which helped her understand the letters of surnames – and her access to the BDA’s database of linked biographical entries led her to explore, with a view to explaining, the distortions that can make even our most common ancestor’s surnames difficult to find. She communicates the results of her research in talks and in books including Help! Why can’t I find my ancestor’s surname? and The Madness of Mac Surnames.
Carol is also the internationally-acclaimed, award-winning author of six historical true crime thrillers of which one is being turned into a big budget TV series by the producers of Lion, one into a feature film, and one into a computer game. She also tells her true tales of murder, mystery and mayhem on international cruise ships.

Whole-Group Presentation:
Tracing Your Family History

Have you ever asked yourself ‘Who am I?’ or ‘Why am I here?’ Some people seek answers in philosophy or religion or other forms of spirituality. But there’s a simple scientific explanation that overrides all others. We are here because an awful lot of people had a Fantabulous Time. And our task as a family history researcher is to identify those people so we can blame them for … everything.
This presentation is a must watch for the curious as well as the keen – and also those who appreciate a genealogical laugh. Full of humour and cartoons, it discusses information we might already hold in our family files as well as vital sources such as church and civil records, census returns, newspapers and immigration records. It confronts brick walls. It also explains that if we trace our ancestry back far enough we are all related … relatively speaking. Tracing Your Family History: a simple guide to the art of chasing our own tale.

Retribution! Colonial criminality and the secondary penal settlements

‘The convict who misbehaves after transportation has but a very slight chance of ever retrieving himself as an honest subject. He is flogged and sentenced to a penal settlement, to drag out a period of debased servitude among the vilest of the vile. ’
(Peter Cunningham, Two Years in New South Wales)

British law remained the law in colonial Australia so certain crimes received the same punishment: transportation. Over the decades, the New South Wales authorities established a number of secondary penal settlements:  Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Moreton Bay (Brisbane) and finally Norfolk Island. This seminar discusses the policies, the punishments, and the records relating to convict recidivists.

John Graham

John has been actively involved in genealogy since starting to research his own family in 1975. His interests subsequently expanded to embrace local history, in particular the area of the South Coast of NSW centred on the town of Gerringong. He has written five books on aspects of local history of the area, and co-authored a sixth with his wife Joanne.
From 1998 until 2005 John was head of the Sydney Dead Persons Society, during which time the DPS founded the Ryerson Index. He is currently President of Ryerson Index Inc.
John is a life member of Gerringong HS, and a member of both Shoalhaven FHS and Richmond-Tweed FHS.

Whole-Group Presentation:
In the Footsteps of Private Abraham Chapman

Abraham Chapman was a private in the British Army, enlisting in 1813 at the age of 15. He had an interesting career, spending his first 2 years in Europe fighting Napoleon, then on the Canadian border during the closing days of the War of 1812. He returned to become part of the British forces of occupation in post-Waterloo Europe, followed by peace-keeping duty in Ireland (where he found himself a wife) before embarking for NSW as a guard on a convict transport.
His military career in NSW was varied – he spent time at the Westernport Settlement (where his son was born), Melville Island and Moreton Bay, before leaving the army in 1840. He then spent 7 years as the superintendent of the hospital on Norfolk Island before joining the police force in Newcastle, where he served until retirement.
Abraham’s wife, Hannah, travelled with him throughout his military career. Although not formally trained, she had sufficient nursing experience to be appointed as deputy matron at Newcastle Hospital during the 1850s.
Abraham and Hannah are buried in Sandgate Cemetery.

Cathie Sherwood

Passionate about history and addicted to family history, Cathie has been researching her Irish, English and Scottish ancestors for over forty years. She has managed her own consultancy business and worked in universities for over twenty years, as a lecturer in information technology and education, retiring as an Associate Professor. Cathie is a great believer in the value of family history education and regularly attends conferences, seminars and institutes in Australia and overseas. She shares her knowledge by volunteering at her local family history society and has presented at local, state and international conferences, seminars and other events on a range of family history, education and IT topics.

Whole-Group Presentation:
Advancing Your Genealogical Research: Evidence, Analysis & Documentation

Advanced family historians need to learn how to use records in ways that may be neither intuitive nor obvious and which can help resolve questions of ancestral origins, identity, relationship, events and other situations.
This presentation is designed to develop and foster advanced family history research skills by concentrating on problem-solving techniques, particularly on understanding how to develop an evidence orientation eg:
• Knowing the difference between genealogical information and evidence
• Understanding the types of sources and evidence – circumstantial, indirect and negative
• Determining the accuracy, purpose and provenance of evidence.
Practical examples of tracking tools will be provided and the use of research logs, reports, citation formats and proof arguments to help with resolving conflicting information will be discussed.
The presentation will also take you through the different types of genealogical information and placing that within legal, social and economic contexts to determine the validity or otherwise of the data. You will be given examples of the difference between searching and researching and sources versus information as well as other evaluation and analysis tools including the use of DNA.

Hidden ancestors: Finding females

It is often thought that to have an ancestor called John Smith is an impediment to further research but our female ancestors can also prove to be elusive as most 19th century and earlier historical records have been created by, for and about men. Women who married took on their husband’s surname, losing their original identity and, more often than not, were referred to as “the wife of…”.
Yet half of our ancestors are women, the bearers of the children and in many cases, they are also the keepers of the family traditions and stories.
So how can family historians locate someone who is ‘invisible’? The problem isn’t that there are no records available, but rather how thoroughly we investigate the sources presented to us.
This presentation will discuss how tracing women requires going beyond the standard research strategies and sources. For example, which records require thinking “outside the box” when looking for the women in your family? Record collections with important information could include land records, probates and wills, newspaper articles, school records, trade directories, hospital admission registers and so on. How can you be creative when searching in these records? What tips and tricks and innovative strategies can you use? What level of detail may be found when investigating friends, neighbours and associates (the FAN club)?

Michael Adams

Michael Adams is a Special Collections Librarian at the State Library of NSW. Michael provides access to the Library’s unique treasures, as well as training and guidance in family history to the public through the Library’s regular workshops and programmes. His specialties include maps, the history of land in NSW, and sporting history. Michael has a background in local studies and a passion for the research and exhibition of Australian social history.

Jill Ball

Amateur Australian genealogist Jill (GeniAus) Ball, is a former librarian, teacher and IT specialist. She has presented at International, National and State Genealogy, Library and IT Conferences. A member of local and international societies, Jill is passionate about using social media for genealogy. She shares her enthusiasm for integrating technology with genealogy through her blog GeniAus.

Genealogy Blogs for You

Where do you share your family stories? Are they locked away in your head? Would you like to record them for future generations but are daunted at the prospect of writing a book? Do you have some gems in the family photo collection that you would like to share and preserve?
Blogs which are used extensively by amateur and professional genealogists to document their research and share stories of their own and ancestors’ lives. It’s time to spread those stories that you have stored away. Geneablogging provides an easy and economical way to ensure that your precious memories will live on for future generations.
In this session Jill will explain the mysteries of geneablogging and how and why you should consider reading and writing blogs.

Six Feet Under Downunder

“At the establishment of the Colony for a long time no piece of ground was set apart for a Burial place. Persons buried their dead in one place and some in another… Prisoners who had no friends were buried without coffins” Rev. Samuel Marsden, letter to Archdeacon Scott, November 1827.

After a discussion of the history of burial practices of indigenous and early European arrivals in the colony of New South Wales we will explore the development of cemeteries, crematoriums and memorial parks down under. We will discuss current legislation regulating burials and cremation and look at some current trends, practices and statistics for burials in Australia.
The major focus of the talk will be on resources available for locating details of people who were buried or cremated in Australia since European settlement in 1788. We will examine a range of free and subscription print and online resources that provide such details.

Bob Atkins

Bob has been researching his family history since 1970.
Started using Ryerson in 1998 when it was first inaugurated.

  1. Began indexing in 2009.
    Joined the Ryerson Management Committee as Special Assignments Coordinator in 2016
  2. Promotes the Ryerson Index in visits to Family History Groups through talks/workshops.
  3. Manages a program to engage Family History Societies to participate in indexing, in particular, their local newspaper.
  4. Currently indexes the Central Coast Express Advocate and Muswellbrook Chronicle from its inception in 1898, as well as the 1946 funeral notices of the SMH.
  5. Has visited 10 FHS groups in the last year and established indexing groups at Maitland, Ulladulla and Hornsby.
    Currently in discussion with 8 FH Groups for talks/workshops in 2020.
  6. Has recruited and trained 20 new indexers since 2018.
  7. Was a guest speaker at Batemans Bay State Conference in 2018.
  8. Represented Ryerson with display tables at 2018 and 2019 State Conferences and Botany Bay FHS Heritage Day events from 2016 to 2019.

The Ryerson Index

  1. Background, growth and objectives of the Ryerson Index.
  2. Outline promotional program to involve Family History Groups in indexing their local newspaper.
  3. Explain the interaction between the Ryerson Index and the Australian Cemeteries Index, both amazing resources for family historians.
  4. Discuss what an indexer or gatherer does to spread the good news of the Ryerson index, and how to become involved.
  5. Report on progress of new indexing groups
  6. Answer your questions.

Christine Woodlands

Family history was Christine’s “retirement project” but the power of genetic genealogy has become her focus!   A former public servant, she has qualifications in commerce and law.  Using genetic genealogy and traditional research, Christine’s broken down “brick walls” in her own family and enjoys working with others to solve “DNA dilemmas”.  She’s a member of the DNA Research Group at the Society of Australian Genealogists and regularly presents both beginners and more advanced DNA sessions.  She uses social media and blogs to share the stories of her family.

Using genetic genealogy to reunite the children of James and Eliza Cahill.

James and Eliza Cahill arrived in the Hunter region from Ireland in 1855.  Using autosomal DNA, Christine was able to “prove” that James and Eliza were her great-great-grandparents and “reunite” their eleven children  Some long untold stories were  uncovered along the way.
Christine will demonstrate that, using your AncestryDNA match list and various tools and techniques, “DNA dilemmas” are waiting to be solved.  There’ll be suggestions for your research and a useful handout to take home.  Christine’s message is “know your tree, know your matches”.

Jason Reeve

Jason Reeve joined Ancestry in August 2016 as the Content Manager for Australia and New Zealand. A passionate advocate for all things history, Jason works closely with a range of archives, registries, historical & genealogical societies to uncover new record collections and share them with the Ancestry community.

Whole-Group Presentation:
Using Ancestry.com for Family History & An Introduction to AncestryDNA

Have you heard of Ancestry.com? Why should you use it? How can you find the help you need to overcome obstacles with your research and where does AncestryDNA fit in to the picture? Join Jason Reeve, Ancestry.com’s Content Acquisition Manager for Australia and New Zealand as he explains using Ancestry, taking an AncestryDNA test and discovering your own family history.

Elizabeth James

Over three decades as a classroom teacher, school leader and family history researcher, Elizabeth combined her skills with a developing interest in research, writing and publishing. She has investigated and produced many family histories over the years and assisted others along the path to producing a lasting legacy in print. A growing collection of documents on her own family led to her first self-published book A Gentleman Lag: The Journeys of William Swallow Evison, receiving a 2017 Don Grant Award for Historical Biography from the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies. Further studies led to the Certificate in Genealogical Research from the Society of Australian Genealogists and the Graduate Diploma in Local, Family and Applied History from the University of New England. Elizabeth contributes journal articles and conducts workshops for the Newcastle Family History Society, among others. Elizabeth has also conducted research and written narratives for the 2019 NFHS publication They Sent Me North: Female Convicts in the Hunter. She continues to develop and share her genealogy skills, attend and present family history workshops, conduct research for others and pursue independent projects to add to our understanding of colonial communities and their unique and hidden stories.

One Road to Self-Publishing a Non-commercial Family History

Your research is completed as far as it can go. The details are recorded in some form or other. And you would like to put it all together as a book to pass down through the generations of your family. Where to start? Elizabeth will discuss the processes of compiling a self-published book and the decisions she made, and why, to produce her award-winning publication: using genealogy software reports, who to include, adding context and images, design and format, copyright, referencing, editing, citation, printing, etc. This class presents one road to sharing your hard-won research for future generations.

Louise Gale

Louise is a passionate family history researcher who suffers withdrawal symptoms if she doesn’t get her daily dose of genealogy.
Louise is a member of Maitland and Beyond Family History Inc. and a member of their Research Team, providing volunteer support to members and visitors. Helping others to develop their research skills is a particularly rewarding aspect of volunteer work. In addition to helping members and visitors during regular opening hours, Louise has conducted workshops for small groups using structured case studies to help participants extend their research skills by using a wide variety of resources to track down elusive people. For some years Louise was also Journal Editor for MBFH Inc.

Using Digitised Newspapers at Trove (www.trove.nla.gov.au)

The digitised newspapers on the National Library of Australia’s website (www.trove.nla.gov.au) are indeed a treasure trove for family and local history researchers. By searching for information about people or places, you can discover the stories that help flesh out the lives of your family. Information about your ancestors you can find in newspapers includes: birth, marriage and death notices, funerals and obituaries, probate notices, divorce hearings; shipping and immigration details; court and police reports; land selection and purchases, house sales, auctions of furniture and effects; membership of Lodges, churches, societies, sporting clubs; accidents, illnesses, admissions to hospital; Publicans’ licenses … and more!
Trove has digitised approx. 1500 newspapers, from all over Australia and they are all searchable.
This presentation will concentrate on search techniques using the Advanced Search page to help you get the most out of this website. Many people say they have tried using Trove, but they don’t find anything useful. In most cases this is because they don’t know how to search effectively. Techniques include use of special characters and words in the search box, and when to use or not use filters for date, place, title, and category. Although the presentation will not deal specifically with Government Gazettes on Trove, the same search techniques apply.
If time permits, we will take a brief look at saving articles and correcting errors in the scanned text.

What family history researchers can learn from 19th Century NSW Electoral Rolls

In 1843 the Legislative Council of NSW had elected members for the first time. Electoral Rolls commenced from that time, and are available on microfiche and microfilm at places such as the State Library of NSW and regional libraries. From the very beginning, land ownership was not the sole criterion for eligibility to vote, yet misconceptions persist that only people who owned land could vote. By 1858 there had already been a number of changes which increased the categories of franchised voters. By 1893 the property criterion was abolished.
Although not all electoral rolls have survived from the very early years, there is complete coverage of all of NSW from 1869 onwards, and substantial coverage for some earlier years. This presentation will include information about the major changes in who could vote, how to identify the Electoral District of your ancestors, and will examine what we can learn from Electoral Rolls. The Rolls list the qualifications to vote, so we can see whether the voter owned or leased land or was a resident. From 1894 this was replaced with the person’s occupation. Although birth and death registration indexes on NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages post-1856 can tell us the registration district of the event, Electoral Rolls can show us a more precisely where the family lived. By tracking a person through consecutive Rolls we can gain an idea of how long they remained in one area. Can’t find a death registration for great-great grandfather? Perhaps clues from Electoral Rolls may solve some of your family mysteries.

Joy & Allan Murrin

For more than 40 years Allan and Joy have been researching their Family History.  In 1995 Joy was appointed as an Accredited Transcription Agent by the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The family business has grown from the NSW Transcription Service to include Registrations and Certificates for England/Wales, Scotland, Victoria and New Zealand.
Since 1989 they have been volunteer consultants at the Mortdale Family History Centre giving them practical experience in FamilySearch.

Their vast involvement equips them to speak on a wide range of topics.  They have also written a number of books.   Allan recently completed studies which led to his graduation from the University of Tasmania.
Allan & Joy continue to find joy in their own family, and in assisting others find joy in family history.

Whole-Group Presentation:
NSW Birth, Death & Marriage Registrations

Using the index and knowing what can be discovered with case studies from the registrations.

Kerry Farmer

Kerry Farmer is a researcher, presenter and teacher in genealogical studies and has been teaching family history classes since 1997. With degrees in both science and humanities, she is on the Board of the Society of Australian Genealogists and convenor of their Education Committee.
She is Director of Australian Studies for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, developing their Australian Records courses. She is a regular speaker at conferences and other events.
Kerry authored 
DNA for Genealogists (4th edn, 2017), Arrivals in Australia from 1788 (2015) and together with Rosemary Kopittke wrote Which Genealogy Program? (3rd edn, 2012).

Search For Samuel

How using a very wide range of records helped solve the mystery of an ancestor who appears to have tried to cover his tracks.

Samantha Ashby

Dr Samantha Ashby comes from Kent, England – the site of many swing riots in the 1830s. She is an academic in Occupational Therapy at the University of Newcastle. In her ‘spare time’ she uses her research skills to assist people to map their family histories and in doing so has developed an in-depth knowledge of the Swing Riots, Cornish Tin Miner migrations, Watchmaking in Clerkenwell, and Musical Instrument makers and publishers in London (1680-1850).

“The Swing Rioters  and their transportation to Australia”:  Implications for Family History Research

The Swing Riots took place in England during 1830-31 and led to the transportation of men from villages from counties in Southern England. The aftermath of the Swing Riots included plans to support  ‘assisted travel’ for unemployed agricultural labourers and others who would otherwise have been supported under the “Poor Law Act  provisions. This encouraged them to leave their parishes – with the gentry and landowners of parishes encouraging those unable to finance migration to leave the UK. While the Highland Clearances in Scotland are well documented this more ‘undercover’ action decimated whole villages. Despite the threat of transportation the attacks on machinery continued through the 1830s.
This presentation will focus on i) the historical context of Swing Riots and a brief summary of timelines. Ii) how to discover if your ancestors were among those  transported to the Hunter Region of  NSW, or Tasmania. iii) understanding the social and political decisions behind the assisted package schemes (1830-1860) that allowed families to come to Australia.

Jenny Joyce

Jenny has been researching her own family history for the past 40 years, and for the past twelve years has been a professional researcher, lecturer, teacher and writer. She has lectured at various societies, and at the Australasian Federation of Family History Societies Congresses in 2015 and 2018. She has also spoken at RootsTech in Salt Lake City and taught genealogy and history courses at local community colleges in Sydney. Together with core genealogy, Jenny has a deep interest in medieval English history and genealogy, DNA in relation to genealogy, paleography and historical photography.

Whole-Group Presentation:
Why did they come?

It’s self-evident what brought the convicts to our shores, but what about the free settlers?  What made them embark on a treacherous sea voyage of several months to come to the Great South Land? The answer varies according to the time they came and the place they came from. This talk will cover many of the “push factors” that led to our ancestors making the perilous journey to Australia.