Wednesday, 8 April 2015

#AFFHO Congress 2015 - Part 2

Day One of AFFHO Congress 2015 continued . . .
Roger Kershaw gave the after-lunch keynote address, Tracing Free Emigrants to Australasia.  His talk explained the records held by The National Archives (TNA) in the UK relating to a variety of government assisted schemes to encourage emigration to Australia & New Zealand.

Carol Baxter’s presentation, Help! Which Information is Correct? Tried-and-True Strategies for Determining Historical Truth, was so energetic & engaging.  It had me thinking about primary & secondary sources that are used in genealogy research.  This concept caused a lot of confusion & anxiety for many people who participated in UTAS’s Introduction to Family History unit over the summer; it also sparked a lot of discussion between the students, which was a good thing.  Carol analyses information sources in three ways: by its source, the information contained & the evidence it gives.  She categorises sources as original, derivative or authored work; information as primary, secondary or undetermined; & evidence as direct, indirect or negative.  Something Carol said that really resonated with me was to listen to a document’s voice when you weigh its evidence to help you determine whether the source is primary, secondary or undetermined.

I decided to go to Helen Smith’s presentation on The English Workhouse & its Records thinking that it might give me more insight into an ancestor’s experiences in an Irish workhouse.  Part way through the presentation I remembered that I had another ancestor who was in an English workhouse with some of her children after her husband had left the parish to avoid debtor’s prison.  In fact, several sources state that she died in Ticehurst Union Workhouse in Sussex in 1832.  However Helen’s talk, & further research into the Ticehurst Union Workhouse, shed doubt on this – this workhouse wasn’t built until 1835.  Helen discussed the social & political conditions that led to the formation of union workhouses, how people were admitted into the workhouse, what their life was like inside the workhouse & how people could leave the workhouse.  She also described what kinds of records are available for workhouses & where to find them.  Helen’s talk gave me some new avenues to research - now I just need to formulate a research plan (or several).


  1. Hi, I often found I would be thinking of how the talk applied to my research like you did with Helen's workhouse talk. I tried to write a note so I did not forget but a few a very short and not that clear. Glad to see you enjoyed the conference, Fran

  2. Thanks for the feedback Sherie. I went to different sessions so appreciate hearing what you learnt.