Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Family History Conference in Canberra - report on the main talks

Here are some selected comments on the first day of lectures in the 2013 NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies' Conference. I have not commented on everything, nor attempted to report everything that was said, because if I do I will never get around to posting this report.
The presentation by Chris Boyack on what’s new in FamilySearch didn’t tell me much that I hadn’t already seen or knew was coming (through reading blogs) except that in the future you are going to be able to add not just photos and stories to people on your online family tree, but also documents “like certificates”.  Those were his words.  I have serious concerns about that – certificates are copyright and cannot just be posted online without permission.
Martin Wood, maps curator from the National Library of Australia, spoke about using maps.  He started off with the comment that maps should be the first thing people look at, but are usually the last. He also told us that the National Library are in the process of digitising many of their out-of-copyright maps. These include the NSW parish maps, and in some cases these are different dates than the version on the Land and Property Information web site. The maps that have been digitised can be accessed through the NLA catalogue - restrict the search by selecting "maps" and looking for those online.
Gail Davis's talk on Education and school records in the State Records of NSW was full of information as usual. In fact it was so full of information that I missed taking down some of the details.  The main thing to remember is to consult the various Archives In Brief (numbers 9, 26, 76) and Short Guides 6 and 10 for all the details.  I really enjoyed her talk, and got a lot out of it (even if I couldn't write down all the dates at the time), but I did hear someone near me say that they hadn't enjoyed it - that it was just too much information too quickly and that they didn't like her presentation style.  I guess that just shows that everyone has different methods of learning.
The conference dinner on the Saturday night was really well done - one of the best I have attended. The table decorations were fantastic and all in keeping with the conference logo colours and images.  The food was really good, as was the entertainment, and I had good company at my table. 
My favourite talk of the whole conference was Angela Phippen's talk on Royal Commissions and Legislative Council Select Committees. It sounds like these would be boring and contain no information of value, but nothing could be further from the truth. Angela gave examples from five Royal Commissions: one into the Lunatic Asylum in Gladesville from 1846; one on noxious and offensive trades from 1882; a report from the committee on immigration from 1835; a report on the condition of the working classes of the metropolis from 1860; and a report on alleged Chinese gambling and immorality from 1892.  This was covered at a much faster rate than Gail's talk, so it wasn't possible to take down all the details. But fortunately Angela had given us a handout with the details of the five reports she had covered and also the finding aids.  The main point was to illustrate what a wonderful resource this can be, and how a dull title might be hiding invaluable information that appears to have no connection to the title.
The final couple of highlights I want to mention are Cora Num's talk on Women migrating alone and Angela's on Women and Divorce.  Both were excellent.
Before we knew it the conference was over for another year and it was time to say good bye to those people that we only meet at these sorts of events.  Can't wait for next year's conference.

1 comment:

  1. I thought Angela Phippen was an informative and engaging speaker too - the star of the conference for me.