Day 1 of Congress 2015

Feeling a little weary from our late arrival, nearly midnight last night, but very excited, I stepped out this morning to find Congress 2015. It was a tad cooler than I expected after the last few days of humidity at home, but once I got used to it, it was quite refreshing…and woke me up.

  

Mum and I mucking around waiting for the plane at the GC airport. (Wine was involved!)

My first stop was to register and then I headed into the Exhibitors’ Hall to see what was around. I was very excited to see a FIBIS stand and decided I had to spend some time there finding out all I could that might help me track down hubby’s Indian ancestors. I was also able to say hello to Helen and Alona, and Cassie and Ben from Inside History. Lovely to see familiar faces.

I caught the opening address by Dr Mathew Trinca from the National Museum of Australia. His address set family history within the broader context of history, making us think about the roles our families have played in many events and also every day life over the ages. I particularly enjoyed his anecdotes about his 5 year old son who sounds very much like my 6 year old son, who also likes to ask many, many questions.

Wandering around at morning tea I managed to run into Pauleen Cass who I know via social media but had never met in the flesh. It was lovely to finally meet and have a chat, even if she is sporting a Queenslander sticker on her lanyard.

Next up was Simon Fowler who spoke about researching assisted emigrants in English archives. Simon’s talk suffered somewhat from the whiney sound system and the rather odd setup of screen, presenter’s computer and somewhere for the presenter to stand. The room also seemed too dark. If they could move the screen back a couple more metres I think that would help. Anyhoo, I was interested to learn more about why and how they assisted people to emigrate, particularly some bods that they would rather not keep in their own country. Why not ship them off to Canada!

Paul Milner’s talk on Buried Treasure:What’s in the English Parish Chest as informative and entertaining. Paul is a funny speaker who clearly knows what he is talking about. He took us through the records you might find in a Parish Chest, using just one Parish as an example, and highlighting where your ancestors may be found in various documents. The various types of settlement record seemed particularly interesting, and I need to follow up on one of my ancestors who was an apprentice and see if there are records of him being indentured in his local Parish.

Wandering out of this talk to lunch I ran into Shelley from Twigs of Yore. I was excited to also meet Shelley in person because we have ‘known’ each other for quite a few years, mostly through Twitter and our blogs, but had also never met. We spent a great lunch telling each other our life stories!

The next session was Roger Kershaw from the British National Archives. He shared a wealth of information about what may be found in their records. The record set that particularly interested me was MH12, Poor Law Union correspondence that has been digitised no is now searchable and downloadable from their website. I will have to look for a couple of my paupers there.

Carol Baxter gave an interesting and entertaining talk about evidence and historical truth. I’m going to go and have a little peek at her stand tomorrow and check out her books.

Shelley happily snaffled a chocolate biscuit at afternoon tea whilst I finally managed to track down Jill Ball for my geneablogger beads. Jill is so busy she can be hard to find sometimes! So with my new beads, fancy stickers and shiny Trove badge, I feel like I’m really into Congress 2015.

The last session of the day I attended was Helen Smith’s on English Workhouses. Helen set a fast pace to try and squeeze a lot of information into a short time frame and did a fab job of covering a great deal. There are quite a few things I need to follow up on from her talk, in particular, searching the Internet Archive for Poor Law Union records, inquiries etc. you never know what may have been digitised!

And then it was time to head off, meet Mum and grab some food for dinner. And some wine. Busy day with more to come tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it!

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