Auckland Libraries and the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) Computing Group organise the annual Auckland Family History Expo, as part of the August’s Family History month festivities here in New Zealand. Last time I attended was two years ago, so I was looking forward to this year’s event.
I flew up early Friday morning so I had time to catch up with a couple of friends, and also sneak in a first-time visit to NZSG’s Family Research Centre Library in Panmure. Fantastic resources there, including access to the main subscription websites, and the helpful volunteers chased down maps of early Auckland for me. I will be back!
The Expo opened with a reception on Friday afternoon, though I was a little late arriving due to accidentally getting onto a motorway and enduring barely moving traffic until I reached the next exit. Luckily I arrived in time for snacks! The two keynote speakers gave presentations after the reception – Cyndi Ingle (of Cyndi’s List) with Genealogy and the Internet, and Dr Nick Barratt (probably best known as the genealogical consultant for television programme Who Do you Think You Are?) on the Future of Family History. What a fantastic choice of speakers!
Saturday morning it was standing room only at Cyndi Ingle’s talk on Building a Digital Research Plan. It was to be a feature of the weekend, with many talks completely full (and ‘health and safety’ kicking in pretty swiftly so no standing at the back allowed for most of them).
I was on the Guild of One Name Studies stand for most of Saturday morning, helping Michelle Patient (who was also wearing an AncestryDNA hat for the weekend). It was fun explaining about the Guild and I think we may have even picked up a couple of new members.
Saturday afternoon’s presentations I managed to see were Jan Gow on collating a reference library for your research, Raymon Naisbitt from Family Search on using their digital records, Nick Barratt on researching and writing your family history, and an entertaining and inspiring talk on maintaining an organised computer from Cyndi Ingle.
On Sunday morning my cousin and I arrived at the venue nice and early to snag a seat for Nick Barratt’s presentation on medieval and early modern sources for research, and straight afterwards Cyndi Ingle’s talk on hidden treasures in libraries, archives and digital collections. DNA was the focus of several talks I attended – one from Michelle Patient and two from Fiona Brooker. It was good to reinforce what I knew and also to pick up some great tips and tricks – all good preparation for the DNA Down Under event in Sydney in less than two weeks! (Pre-booking closes today for Sydney, tickets available on the door for Adelaide on Tuesday 20th, Melbourne and Canberra now booked out.)
Two resources I learnt more about:
- Digital NZ‘s new feature that’s about to launch – the ability to upload your own images to stories you’ve created on Digital NZ. (I like the facility to specify copyright level, too.)
- Andy Fenton (from NZ Micrographics) shared examples of organisations using Recollect, a platform to share stories and images. There are some wonderful sites out there – West Coast NZ History is a great example of a digital archive, run by volunteers.
I barely had any time to check out the stands, but was pleased to buy Family Tree Maker for the princely sum of $70 (which includes a free upgrade to the 2019 version). I’m hoping it will be useful in backing up data and documents I have on Ancestry, and provide some different charting options to what I have already.
Unfortunately I had to miss the last session of Sunday as I had a plane to catch (which was then delayed, grrr!) – the perils of booking flights before the programme was released.
Hats off to the organisers for a fabulous weekend, with an excellent range of presentations for all levels of family history researchers. Apart from the talks, it was also fantastic to catch up with other genie friends, and I’m definitely keen to return next year.
Next up on the calendar is another Family History month event, Wellington’s Family History Open Day [PDF, 1.2MB] on Saturday 24th August in Lower Hutt. The presentations on offer look like they’ll provide a great introduction to researching your family as well as highlighting new resources, and there’ll be plenty of assistance available from volunteers. Don’t miss Richard Foy’s talk at 2.30pm!