Day three of the AFFHO conference started with Michael McKernan talking about the impact of the First World War on those at home in Australia. To do this he focused on the experiences of the families of a couple of individuals, such as the family of Jack Fothergill of the 6th Battalion, who died on the first day of the landings at Gallipoli. His parents put an In Memorium notice in the newspaper every year (except one) from the first anniversary of his death in 1916 until his mother died in 1948. Each one contained a unique poem written in memory of their son Jack. He also talked about the Whitelaw family, who had six sons who enlisted, of whom four died. One of those sons, Angus McSween Whitelaw, was only 16 when he enlisted, though said he was 18. His mother found out and tracked him to his training camp and told him that if he didn't tell the authorities what his correct age was, then she would. He told her that if she did that she would never see him again. Torn between these two options, she said nothing and eighteen months later he was dead.
His talk was interesting, but considering he describes
himself as a WWI historian and has led battlefield tours, I was very surprised
when a question from the audience showed that he didn't know that the
commemorative medallions given to the families of the deceased were known as a "Dead
Man's Penny", and that he said they were not given to the families of
Australian casualties, which is the not the case, and I have seen some examples
The first Keynote of Day 4 was David Holman, whose talk was entitled Fascinating facts and figures from five centuries. This is an amusing "after-dinner" type talk, with some interesting statistics about names and some very funny examples of marriages (e.g. William Axe marrying Mary Killer). He had also given this as a Keynote talk in Adelaide at the previous congress, but it's amusing and a bit of light relief after three days of intensive learning.
The final keynote of the conference was the only talk I attended that was given by Cora Num this time around. She gave all her talks via video link, as she had injured her neck not long before the conference and was unable to travel. This talk was Front page to back page – using online newspapers. For most of us in Australia, using online newspapers is second nature. Trove has spoilt us, and we go out looking for additional "hits" of our favourite "drug", so most of us are familiar with the Gale offerings, the British Newspaper Archive, and New Zealand's "Papers Past". Useful as this talk was as a compendium of the offerings available (and therefore even more useful in its full form in the Congress Proceedings), I'm not sure that this was what I'd have chosen as a conference keynote.
|Cora Num giving her keynote via video link|