2014 Plans for the Future

2014 Plans for the Future

In my last post I reflected on the happenings of 2013. In this post I will use the same themes and share what I have planned for 2014.

Blog and Writing – On the blog I will continue to highlight and review new online and print resources. If there is a topic that you would specifically like to know about let me know and I will see how if I can point you towards good resources.

In addition I want to focus on the fact that 2014 is the centenary of the start of World War One. Almost anyone with family connections in the British Isles in 1914 will have someone who served in the war or was affected by the war. All the new online indexes are making it so much easier to find family members who served in one of the branches of the armed services or the auxiliaries. What I am finding though is that students don’t appreciate what they have found, what the records contain, or what clues they provide to go to the next step. I plan on examining some of the records in detail and demonstrating how to go further.

I am also working with a good friend, a technologically savvy genealogy blogger, to provide mutual support to write for our blogs on a consistently regular basis. The hope and expectation is that we will both post on a more consistent schedule.

In other writing, I am working on a manuscript explaining the records within the English Parish Chest, to be published by UnlockThePast. I will let you know when my new book, already with the publisher – Discovering English Parish Registers becomes available.

I will also continue doing my reviews for the Federation of Genealogical Society’s FORUM magazine, plus for the newsletter of the British Interest Group of Wisconsin and Illinois (BIGWILL).

Genealogical Speaking – I teach an English track and a Scottish track at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama as part of a three year cycle with David Rencher teaching the Irish track this year. This therefore is my year off while David teaches.

Instead I will be teaching a week long program for the 2014 British Institute – Scottish Research: Understanding the Fundamentals and Beyond – October 20-24 in Salt Lake City for the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History. Plan on coming to join me for what will be a great learning opportunity. I will also be lecturing at both national conferences – National Genealogical Society conference in Richmond, Virginia (May 7-10) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in San Antonia, Texas (Aug 27-30). In addition there will be a number of regional and local events. Keep an eye on my schedule for a more complete itinerary.

Personal Research – I hope to make some time for my own research, especially my Milner, Finnigan and Doran lines. I will try to share some of their stories. I will be using my World War One focus to explore and learn more about my many family members who served and died during the war.

Please Join Me in this journey by reading my blog regularly, which you can do by subscribing to the RSS feed or subscribing to an email version of this blog. If you know fellow researchers with a British Isles interest do not keep me a secret, let them know you are reading my blog and suggest they may enjoy it.

Happy Hogmaney to all my readers. Let’s all enjoy 2014 and do good research.

Reflections on an Australian Lecture Tour

I have just returned from four weeks traveling and lecturing in Australia. I was the keynote speaker, giving fifteen lectures and participating in a panel at a genealogy conference on a 9 day cruise out of Sydney. I also gave 4 lectures in each of six cities: Hornsby (Sydney); Brisbane; Perth; Adelaide; Canberra and Melbourne. Everything was wonderfully arranged by Alan Phillips at Unlock the Past.  In total, I presented 39 different lectures on 15 different aspects of British Isles research.

Audience interest met and exceeded our expectations throughout the tour. During the conference, I was gratified to find that people kept coming to my lectures and in fact, began bringing their cruise companions along. During the cities tour, we exceeded attendance expectations, sometimes having double the numbers we expected.

It goes without saying that I had to be well prepared to give 15 different lectures for the cruise, and ensuring that each one was chock full of information.  In point of fact, I had to cut content to meet the 50 minute time limit of the format, since in the U.S. audiences expect a lecture of 60 to 75 minutes. Thank heaven for the power point changer with its built-in timer keeping me on schedule!

Each city venue chose its own four lectures from the fifteen given on the cruise, often with very different subjects to appeal to a wide audience, rather than being chosen to form a cohesive package. Using power point slides meant that I could make adjustments to my presentations while traveling, and thus ensure that the lecture met the specific needs of each audience as we traveled from city to city.

My goal was to make sure that everyone attending learned something new about how to do their own research, and that the beginners did not feel left in the dust. Feedback tells me we succeeded in meeting that goal.

The lectures would not have been so successful without excellent physical arrangements, and for this we thank Unlock the Past.  Venues varied greatly, but were often in clubs (rare to non-existent in the US), such a RSL (Returned Service League), Celtic , Irish, and Broncos (sports team). Major benefits of using the clubs were ample parking and on-site restaurants. Other sites included a town hall and (the best from the presenters’ perspective) the banked auditorium within the State Library of Western Australia.

Events were set up with typical 9-4/5 schedule, but during the week in a 1-9 time slot so that folks could come without missing a whole day of work. Registrants could also choose between a full or half day of presentations, for further flexibility of participation.

Mini lectures on Flip-Pal or Find My Past, given by Rosemary Kopittke, were scheduled in the middle of my four presentations. This was a very smart scheduling move, as it gave me a break. Then, while the audience members had their break, I was 100% focused on answering individual audience questions.

And this brings me to my comments about the audiences I encountered.  Their numbers varied from 80 to 150. Across the board, their base knowledge of general British history, geography and UK genealogical resources was generally far above what I would find in a typical US audience. Many more were themselves or had descended from recent immigrants; therefore, the likelihood that they had traveled extensively in the UK was also much higher than I encounter in the U.S.

I also learned that the standard procedure in Australia is not to provide handouts at the event. I was concerned about this, because it is my practice to provide a content-rich handout so that participants can focus on the examples and do not need to take extensive notes in the lecture. But I found out that it worked well with such a sophisticated audience. I provided the handouts downloadable from this website after the lectures.

Participants were eager for knowledge, case studies, and for resources. They participated actively in the discussions and in the profiling of their needs and interests that I conduct at the beginning of each session. I could readily see that they went away excited and eager to do more research.

It was great fun and a real privilege to lecture to diverse audiences.  My thanks to all! We also made some great new friends along the way.

Blogger Trail leads to online Irish Civil Registration Map

It is always fascinating following the trail laid down by the Blogger network for you never know where it will take you and what gem you will find. This morning I logged on to read John Reid of Anglo-Celtic Connections with a post celebrating the third anniversary of Ruth Blair’s blog – the Passionate Genealogist. I followed the link to Ruth’s blog and scrolled down to read a post from January 18 entitled Ruth’s Recommendations.

In Ruth’s list was a link to a free Handy Map of Irish Civil Registration Boundaries available through FindMyPast.ie. What a delightful map it is. Yes, similar maps of civil registration boundaries are available in print, but this is the best that I have seen online and in color. The result is that it got clipped and inserted into my updated lecture on Finding Your Ancestors in Ireland, which is one of the 38 presentations I will give on my upcoming Australia lecture tour (leaving the US this coming Wednesday).

Yes, I did leave the FindMyPast.ie logo on the map to give them credit, and to also remind me and my audience where I got the map from in the first place.

Thanks for the lead.