Unlock the Past Expo - Coffs Harbour

I was able to attend the second day of the Unlock the Past Expo in Coffs Harbour. It was a busy day as I moved quickly between various presentations.

What did I learn today?

National Library of Australia - Jenny Higgins
Even though I am a teacher librarian and knew this I have never ordered microfilms to view at my local library. You can guess what I'll be doing in my next holidays - viewing microfilms of Cooma newspapers!

I already have a library card from the NLA so my other task from this presentation is to take a more detailed look at the eResources available with particular reference to the Illustrated London News, Irish Newspaper Archive and the Freeman's Journal.

Finding the Address Isn't Enough - Dr Carol Liston

I have heard Carol speak in the past but can't remember where or when. She spoke on things are are close to my heart. There is no point just collecting names and dates. You need to fill in the story. People, place and time are intimately linked. Understanding what happened when provides clues of where the information might be about the people who were there at a particular time.
One of her really significant points was that you need to know all the names that a particular place may have so that you have a better chance of finding all records available.

My task from this presentation is to take a good look at the Land & Property Management Authority's website. My aunt has always visited the Sydney Office to look for anything I need so perhaps it's time to take a look myself.

Caring for your Family Records - Shauna Hicks

Shauna discussed having a record keeping system that is consistent for both physical and electronic resources. Your system needs to be easily understood by others. Be aware of direct sunlight, temperature and humidity, pests and vermin, dust and accidents or disasters. One good tip was if you are going to undertake any conservation on your own, photograph before you start in case it's a disaster.

I wanted to go to this presentation as I need a big kick to get everything I have organised. I have suitcases of framed photos, certificates rolled up in cylinders dating from the 1840s and boxes of trophies and medals. I have old clothes - a flowergirl dress from 1965 and my 30 year old wedding dress. The list goes on and on. My records are OK, it just all the ephemera and realia that are worrying me.

Bound for Botany Bay - Mark Cryle

Mark's enjoyable presentation told the story of the Irish in Australia through story and song. He was very interesting to listen to. He mentioned the Jerilderie Letter. Perhaps I should have told him my Baumgarten family are mentioned in this letter.

German Research - Eric Kopittke

As a result of this presentation I need to find some German maps of the pre 1850 period so I can learn more about the changing boundaries of Germany.

Breaking Down Brick Walls - Helen V Smith

One really obvious point Helen made was that the relatives out of town are those who are likely to have photos of and letters from your family.

During most of the presentations I took notes, but as Helen provided a handout I spent my time while listening to her presentation taking some notes about a couple of my brick walls. Did Betty Ogden get any support for her illegitimate son Samuel in 1815 ? Can I find out who the father was this way?
I still don't have any ideas about how to find out the name of Andrew Silas Waters, a convict in 1834.

P.S. - Perhaps I should have just searched a little further as it's all there now. Records are obviously more readily available than they were 30 years ago.

Scotland's People - Rosemary Kopittke

Rosemary went through each of the sections of the website and explained how to search for information. She showed many useful examples throughout the presentation which highlighted what was to be discovered with each resource type.

Although I have registered for this site, I have never paid any money even though I know is a lot of information just sitting there waiting for me. My holiday work will be to actually hand over some money and purchase a few certificates for my Scottish families.

I also managed to introduce myself to Kerry Farmer as I have enrolled in a few courses through the NIGS and it is always good to be able to place a face to a name.

All in all, a profitable day.


  1. Sounds like a great day!! Thanks for the summary.

  2. I said it on Twitter but will reiterate here. Thanks for sharing your experiences on the event and for your tweets during the day.
    You've done your bit for social networking!


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