Monday, 6 April 2015

#AFFHO Congress 2015 - Part 1

I had a brilliant time at AFFHO Congress 2015 at Canberra last week.  I attended a lot of genealogy sessions, bought some books & met some fellow geneabloggers.  I got to hear some presenters that I have really been looking forward to & I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the talks by many other presenters who I didn't know much about before Congress, apart from reading their interviews with the official Congress bloggers, Jill BallPauleen Cass & Shauna Hicks.

Although it was only a week ago, so much has happened since then that I wish I had taken the time to write down my thoughts during the conference about the different talks I attended.  I stayed with my son when I was in Canberra, & this was the first time I have been to visit him since he moved to Canberra for university 2 years ago, so I spent as much time with him as possible.  I was also surprisingly exhausted each night during the conference.  When I got back to Sydney, the last few days of Term 1 with my class were jam-packed, & I went to pick up my new puppy from the airport on Good Friday.  I have been living in puppy bliss since then  J

So this blog post about the conference won't be as comprehensive as it could have been. 

Day One of AFFHO Congress 2015
This was the first time I used my mobile phone as an alarm clock – I have to say that it wasn’t very effective.  About the only thing I think to take with me was my own alarm, which is very persistent & loud & will keep yelling at me for an hour straight no matter how many times I hit snooze.  I missed the Opening Address (in fact I missed all of the morning key note addresses), which I firmly blame on iPhone’s alarm.  Seriously though, my alarm clock will probably be the first thing I pack from now on.

The first presentation I attended was by Simon Fowler, ‘Shovelling Out Paupers’: Researching Assisted Emigration in English Archives.  It was a good introduction to the conference, as I hadn’t ever attended a genealogy event before.

Next up was Paul Milner’s Buried Treasures – What’s in the English Parish Chest.  I have heard of the mystical ‘Parish Chest’ before but to be honest, I didn’t know that it was particularly useful or accessible, so I hadn’t really looked into it.  I had seen Paul’s book of the same name publicised a few days before through Gould Genealogy’s newsletter, but didn’t give it too much thought for the same reasons mentioned previously.  Before the talk had even finished, I was convinced that I absolutely have to access parish chests because they are a veritable treasure trove of information.  A lot of the records have to do with providing welfare to the poor or needy as the parish of settlement was responsible for the welfare & old-age care of it members.  Other records include:

  • vestry minutes;
  • churchwarden accounts which list the expenditures of the church;
  • parish lists, which may list all the inhabitants in the parish or just those who participated in a parish function;
  • local militia lists, which may contain the names of all men in the parish who are eligible for militia service, or just those who actually served; &
  • parish charities.

Paul was such a casual but engaging speaker - I think I could happily listen to him talk on almost any genealogy-related topic.

This blog post will have to be broken into several posts.

Btw, I loved the Congress app!  It made organising my schedule & knowing where I had to go & when I had to be there so much easier.  I’m even using it now to help me write this blog post J


  1. So pleased you enjoyed your geneaconference initiation Sherie.

  2. I missed some of the opening days speeches too. It was not my iphone alarm but me. I do find it necessary sometimes to put my phone across the room so I cannot reach the snooze button without getting up first. I enjoyed my first congress too. Fran