The Genealogy Community

Genealogy, for the most part, is a solitary hobby. You sit at a computer and look for ‘your’ family online. You head off to the library, cemetery or archive for a day of research to find ‘your’ family. You correspond with others largely by email – so you get my point. It is usually a hobby that is yours … something YOU do.

But as with everything, there are exceptions, and you might be lucky enough to have a friend of family member to hang out with and help you along the way, but most of us don’t. But that doesn’t mean that genealogy is a lonesome hobby. NOT AT ALL. In fact, quite the opposite.

While we might do our research alone, there is this wonderful thing called the “genealogy community”. This is an amazing group of people who are there to share in your excitement, and frustrations, offer advice, and generally just be there for you when you need (genealogy related or otherwise).

For those who haven’t get seen or experienced the “genealogy community” you can find them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and so on). Follow them, learn from them, comment on their posts, share them and encourage them.

How do you find people to follow? Do you read genealogy books or magazines? If so, who are the authors? They are all on social media, so why not start by following them? Do you watch genealogy on YouTube, or webinars or listen to podcasts? What about your local genealogy society? Go and find them on social media, and follow. Want more … use the hashtags #genealogy or #familyhistory and see what comes up. I guarantee you’ll find more people to follow … but also don’t forget #oldphotos and #cemetery are great hashtags to find like-minded people to follow too.

This way you will build up a group of people to follow on social media – to learn from them, to find out the latest products, to hear what event are coming up … and when you get the chance to meet them in person, it really is super exciting. And that’s what I found happened again at RootsTech in Salt Lake City recently (yes, I do still need to write a report on that for you … soon, hopefully).

Anyway I was reminded of just how wonderful the genealogy community is. Being an introvert and going to a conference with 20,000 or so people might sound daunting. But for me it is such a buzz. Each time I go, I make a few new friends, and get to catch up with others I’ve met before from all around the world, which is awesome. Facebook is good, but it doesn’t beat meeting up in person, and just having a chat.

So if you haven’t yet, I urge you to discover and join the ‘genealogy community’.  Working in a genealogy bookshop, I still come across people who’ve been researching alone for 10-20-30 years, who have never been to a genealogy group, have never been to any society meetings, and in reality didn’t know that they even existed, let alone all the online collaborative help opportunities that are available now. So don’t do family history by yourself forever. There is a whole community out there who is willing to help you, and I guarantee you’ll find some friends …

My “Mad March” Begins Early

Here in South Australia we have a term called Mad March, which basically means that there are so many events going on throughout the month of March around the state, that it really does get crazy, hence the term “Mad March“.

In reality I avoid Adelaide city during March as it is chaos, and just too busy for me … however tempt me with genealogy and that’s another thing, and now my February and March calendar is booked up.

From not having travelled much in the last year or more – suddenly I have three trips almost back-to-back over the period of about a month. I’m excited, but exhausted before it starts. But looking forward to it all.

First up I’m off the the United States to ROOTSTECH. It’s been three years since I was there, and I’ll be awesome to get back there and catchup with friends, meet new ones, have a big long wander through the exhibition hall (getting everyone’s autograph of course), and going to some talks as well. It’ll be a fun, exhausting four days of conferencing. Bring it on!

Shortly after I get back, I’ll be heading off on UNLOCK THE PAST’S 17TH CRUISE to Tasmania. It’ll be nice to not have to travel prior to heading off, as this one leaves from Adelaide, then goes and visits Kangaroo Island (that’ll be nice to visit there again), and then on to Tasmania and back. Cruising for 8 days with great genealogy speakers and friends on board, it’ll be a wonderful conference, and great to see the places along the way. I just hope I’m not too jet-lagged to take it all in.

And then shortly after I finish that, I’m heading off to Brisbane to help out at the BEYOND BMDs conference featuring Else Churchill and Alec Tritton. They are the keynote speakers from the UK who are on the cruise, but after finishing it, they are doing a mini-tour afterwards, and I’m heading to Brisbane to help out at the seminar there …

… and by then we’re pretty much at the end of March!

Like I said it’ll all be fun, but it’ll be busy, and I’ll totally be playing catch-up when I’m back on South Australian soil.

And I promise I’ll report on it all when I get a chance.

“The Forensic Genealogist” – I’m a Fan

I’ve never been one to follow the latest trend. Instead I tend to come to the party late … if at all.

So it is with the latest additions to my book collection. I do love a good read. A good novel to tune out with, and I have a number of authors that I have read all their books cover to cover. And now I have a new name to that list, and that is Nathan Dylan Goodwin.

I know many of you have heard of him already, and are longtime dedicated fans … like I said, I don’t follow the crowd, but I usually get there eventually.

Anyway for the benefit of of the odd person who doesn’t know of him, Nathan writes fiction books with Morton Farrier as the lead character who is a forensic genealogist – yes, truly! Cool, eh?

He’s written 8 books in “The Forensic Genealogist” series to date, and I’m currently partway through them, but with some long plane flights coming up, I expect to get through another one or two.

I’m not going to tell you anything about the books, except that if you love a good read, lots of suspense, along with action, and genealogy – you’ll get it all (at least in those I’ve read so far). And you’ll get taken into Morton’s world of life as a researcher and see how he susses out his cases, visiting many archives and other places along the way.

The titles in this series (to date are):

  1. Hiding the Past
  2. The Lost Ancestor
  3. The Orange Lilies
  4. The America Ground
  5. The Spyglass File
  6. The Missing Man
  7. The Wicked Trade & The Suffragette’s Secret
  8. The Sterling Affair

Nathan even has a prequel to the series on his website, which you can download for free.

The Forensic Genealogist series are available in book form and as ebooks, so do yourself a favour if you like a good read, and check out NATHAN DYLAN GOODWIN’S books.


Getting Ready for RootsTech 2020

So the “end of year crazy season” has been and gone, added to that Australia’s insane bushfires, the Christmas that didn’t happen, as well as New Year – it’s no wonder I haven’t even bothered to think ahead to my upcoming trips until just a few days ago, and I have suddenly realised that there’s only 5 weeks till I leave for the US to go to RootsTech, and only 38 days till it starts. Seriously how did that happen??

So I actually sat down and got to work on listing what I need to do before heading off to the airport.

Before I get to that, let me start off by saying that in my 30+ years of going to genealogy conferences (I started young thanks to my family’s business), this will be the VERY FIRST time I will be going as a delegate, rather than an exhibitor … and I must say it feels very, very weird! Anyway I know I’ll enjoy it, and I look forward to going to some talks, and catching up with friends.

So here’s a list of some of the things I came up with (in no particular order).

1. Downoald RootsTech app
This one I have just DONE! Woohoo, one thing cross off my list.

2. Look at app
I have started looking at it, but I’m going to need more time to browse through the 300 or so talks, shortlist those I’m interested in, then go through the big list of exhibitors. Or I could just wing it and get to what I do!! We’ll see …

3. ESTA (immgration visa)
Before I do either of the above I really should do my ESTA application, as that’s needed to allow me to get into the US. For this I just need to head to US Customs & Border Protection website (, fill in the details, pay their fee, and I should have it soon afterwards.

the Family History Library, Salt Lake City

4. Research
I’m actually going to the US a couple of days early. Partly so I not so jet-lagged when RootsTech starts, but also hoping to get a day or two of research in at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (ie. you know, the Mecca for genealogists), so I need to work out what I want to research and come up with some plan, or else I really will just be wasting my time.

here’s what I was researching at the FHL, last time I was there, in 2017

5. Research – part 2
In reality I’ll probably pick up the research I did when I was these 3 years ago. But I need to find it, review it, and work out specifics of what else I’m looking for. Oh an enter it into my genealogy program. That’d be useful if I actually did that.

6. Autograph book
I must buy a new autograph book. Every RootsTech that I’ve been to, along with a few other major events I’ve attended, I’ve taken an autograph book for people to sign in. And being the introvert that I am, I have used it as a way to meet people, as well as creating a wonderful record of those I met there.

7. Accommodation
I booked my accommodation probably about the middle of last year (you need to book SOOOOO early to stay at the hotels near the Salt Palace), but it’s always best to double-check they have your booking prior to arrival. So I must send them an email to check this.

8. Weather
I must check the temps for Salt Lake City. It’s wintertime over there now and they usually have snow (they did this week), so no doubt it’ll be cold. But after having so many 30C-45C summer days here in my corner of Australia, anything in the 20s now feels cold to me … but I also know their buildings are hot – so wearing layers is always the way to go. Still I’m going to have to dig deep, and dust off my winter clothes I think.

9. Shoes
Comfy (and preferably warm) shoes are an absolute must. The Salt Palace is HUGE and from past experience I know just walking around the exhibiton hall you NEED comfy shoes, let alone going from one end of the building to the other for talks!! So I must head to the shops and get a new pair of sneakers.

There’s plenty more little things I can think of, but this will do for this list. As it is the research part will keep me busy between now and when I leave anyway.

As life has been a combination of busy and tragically sad, I can’t say I’ve been in the mood to get excited about going … but I’m starting to now. I’m really looking forward to catching up with friends from around the world, and meeting others for the first time.

I already feel that it’ll be a week long party of catch-ups and exhaustion, but that’s all part of it, and I will have 24 hours of flying (3 flights) to get home, to try and catch-up on some sleep.

And for those not going to RootsTech, while you don’t get the catchups, you can still enjoy and learn from the talks, as they have just announced their Virtual RootsTech Pass. So for US$129 you can watch 30 sessions from your own home. You can check that out here.