Genealife in lockdown – Only in Tassie

DNA disproved great great grandfather William Smith half Samoan

As part of NFHM2021, I was asked by the local library where I volunteer every Friday, if I would run a few sessions related to family history. I have one I have presented a few times about “Discovering your family history” that has the participants thinking about what they might already have at home that could start them with their journey and how are they going to share their knowledge.

  • Birth, death, marriage certificates
  • Passports or naturalization certificates
  • War records
  • Photographs – hopefully named and dated
  • Heirloom objects handed down
  • Maybe some audio interviews on tapes or CDs
  • A family tree researched by another person – hopefully sourced well

I then introduce them to pedigree charts and family group sheets and different ways of organizing your family history instead of having lots of notes on slips of paper. Colour coding their files is also mentioned. Finally, where can they go to next.

  • Ask for help from librarians – a book might be published about your family
  • Talk to Sue on Friday afternoons at Rosny library – book a one hour session via Eventbrite
  • Join your local family history society
  • Take an online family history course
  • Create a private Facebook group for family to exchange stories
  • Buy a software program
  • Get DNA tested

So last Friday, I had six participants taking part and I used as an example my half Samoan great great grandfather (who from DNA is now no longer my relative). As I was mentioning where to find other records, one of the ladies and the librarian who was in there helping, said they were related to Captain William Smith. Only in Tasmania could that happen – 8 of us in the room, two related and one thought they had been related.

The two ladies enjoyed looking at all the research I had done on Captain Smith who ran many whaling ships in the 1860’s-1880’s from Recherche Bay, southwest of Hobart, out to the whaling areas of the Pacific Ocean as well as the Great Australian Bight.

Readers: Have you had a chance encounter with someone who turns out to be related to you?

Genealife in lockdown – Disappointment

As mentioned in my previous post about genealife in lockdown, I have not had much change in the way I live my life here in Tasmania.

But last night, I felt great disappointment for many of my fellow family historians.

geralt / Pixabay

It was graduation day for students in the Diploma of Family History at University of Tasmania.

Back in August 2017, at the graduation of the first group studying this subject, we filled 3 or 4 front rows of seats at the Hobart Convention and Exhibition Centre (part of the Grand Chancellor Hotel) where the ceremony takes place. We were nearly the first students presented with our diplomas and we had students ranging in age from early 20s to their 90s.

Each ceremony (held August and December) there is 100-200 students graduating with the diploma. The convention centre is usually full of students in the lower auditorium area being presented with degrees, PHDs, diplomas and other awards.  The top seating area is usually filled with family, friends and well wishers.

But yesterday, due to lockdowns in most states and restrictions coming into Tasmania, there was only about 10 family history students going across the stage. Instead of being seated next to each other, there were free seats between them all. There was a limit on the number of family or friends who could also be seated in the convention centre. In the Sunday Tasmanian newspaper printed today, there were nearly 150 students who could have been present.

In the weeks prior to our first graduation Judy Eindorf, a local Hobart student, and Lyn Francis from WA, suggested we all meet before or after the graduation and have a meal together. A way to meet face to face and get to know each other better. Judy booked us in to the Hope and Anchor Tavern across the road from the Grand Chancellor, but due to family concerns, she asked for someone else to take over the organizing of the meal. This is where I came by the job.

At that first meal we had about 80 people (students and their partners) in one upstairs room. It was very crowded. We had pre ordered our meals from a set menu and they came out on time. A bar was available in the room as well.

L to R: Sue, Terry, Prapaphan, Stephen and Anne

But the meal last night had only 5 keen participants – two students and their partners and myself. We got to know each other, chatted about the subjects, how we were planning to use what we had learnt in our future life and what we learnt about our family history from doing the course. Terry and his partner came from South Australia while Anne and her partner came from regional Queensland.

So this is one disappointment caused by Covid and restrictions within states. I hope once we get closer to zero cases in Australia and over 80% vaccination rate, that restrictions will lift and perhaps at the December 2021 or definitely the August 2022 graduations, there will be more students going to the actual ceremony and eating with us at the Hope and Anchor again.

Readers: What is one event you have not been able to participate in due to Covid and restrictions?