2023 was a difficult year for me and it was not easy to find positives in a sea of losses. I wasn’t able to answer many of the topics that Jill Ball listed in her annual quest to accentuate the positive. This post therefore represents a personal review of my genealogy-related experiences in 2023 that I feel able to share.
I spent some time in 2023 revisiting research on my paternal ancestry. I wrote an article on the family of my 2x great aunt that was published in the Derbyshire Family History Society magazine early in 2023. At the beginning of that article I mentioned the connection to my grandparents. As a result I was contacted by a UK researcher whom I’d had first contacted over 20 years ago. With so many records now available online, I was able to follow our respective ancestral lines. Our common ancestors were my 3x great grandparents. He descended from the eldest son, I descended from the second son. When I did this original research in the late 1980s I was more concerned with researching the 16 children of my 2x great grandparents rather than researching all the children of my 3 x great grandparents – after all they were living in the late 1700s and research involved parish records. I aim to follow up on this connection in 2024. Writing this reminded me that I had also been contacted by another UK researcher who was working on a different line in my paternal ancestry. I plan to reconnect with him in 2024.
A second positive in 2023 was my involvement in an Intermediate 5-week course offered by the Genealogical Society of Queensland (GSQ) called Digging Deeper. This was a follow-on from the Family History Fundamentals 4-week course offered in 2022. Digging Deeper looked beyond the basics of family history research, offering sessions on convicts, military, immigration, and researching overseas. Each of these sessions was a stand-alone event, so attendees could attend those which were relevant or of interest to their research. I was a member of a small group that designed the program and I also offered two sessions. Each of these courses offered extensive Q&A sessions. Based on experience in 2023, both of these courses are being offered again in 2024, with a revised curriculum and new presenters.
On the topic of presentations, I designed and delivered for GSQ a program on researching non-conformist ancestors. I also presented a short introductory talk at GSQs Open Day in August. This was aimed at those just starting or thinking about starting to research their family history. I have not neglected my own education, attending a number of presentations throughout the year on a variety of topics, mostly via Zoom.
As well as presentations, I have written blog posts for GSQ on different topics; I have continued to convene the GSQ Writing Group with my co-convenor, Janice, and am grateful that she worked with me to develop a really interesting program for the group, taking us from the basics of writing through to publication. We had two guest speakers; one focused on publication design and the second on self-publishing. Janice and I will get together in January 2024 and plan our activities for the year.
On the topic of the Writing Group, we made tentative steps to hold one of our meetings as a hybrid meeting. The technology was called an ‘Owl’ and enabled those attending the meeting via Zoom to see what was happening in the room. The technology worked well after a few hiccups. We will probably have at least one hybrid meeting per year. One of the advantages was the opportunity to connect with long-standing group members who do not use Zoom.
I received so much genearosity in late 2023 when I had to travel to England at short notice. Many of my geneafriends stepped in to take over my commitments. I feel blessed that I am part of such a wonderful community.