I attended the Scottish and German roadshow in Melbourne a few weeks ago. Chris Paton predominantly spoke on Scottish and Irish sources. No matter how much you know or think you know you always learn something. Chris provided electronic handouts for his presentations but his British newspaper handout only provided links to the websites so I wished I’d taken notes. A lesson learned – always take notes even if the presenter is providing handouts. The list of websites was sufficient though.
Another talk was on British censuses and their substitutes. I didn’t realize that the suffragettes boycotted the 1911 census so if you can’t find someone maybe they were a suffragette! It’s even sadder that the Irish censuses were destroyed when you found out the information they contained. Some highlights in their early censuses from 1821 included names, occupations, relationships, then from 1841 place and date of marriage and those who had died since the previous census. An even greater loss to our family history study.
Another presentation was on Scottish records prior to 1800 which included land and inheritance records which I love. I’ve spent many an hour ‘translating’ Scottish sasines. A source I must look into more are the burgh records. I’ve looked at some in Dumfries but need to explore some weavers from Dundee as well as others.
The following day Dirk Weissleder spoke on all things related to German genealogy. It was interesting to hear that in Germany genealogy has predominantly been the domain of men but that it was changing. Dirk had been surprised at how many women were involved in America, the UK and Australia.
He really emphasised understanding the history and culture of Germany to understand their approach to genealogy which included the two world wars of last century. An interesting fact was that Germans only retain a place in a cemetery for 25 years and in Munich only four before the grave is reused! Perhaps a reason my first german to Australia forebears don’t have a stone marking their grave. More likely their children didn’t pay to have one.
He offered practical advice to the group and individually offering and providing help where he could. Their national German genealogy conference is coming up in late September in Dresden and how much fun it would be to go. My command of the German language would not be good enough though. He did stress a knowledge of German was helpful although Germans also struggled with reading the older German records.
It was an inspiring day and has caused me to update my German!
I was an ambassador for the event which was a first for me.