Unlock The Past Cruise 2013 Review

Genealogy CruiseI’m home from the 3rd Unlock The Past cruise 2013 and even though I picked up a cold on my way home (thanks Sydney!!) I am buzzing with all the things I’ve heard, seen and experienced. I’m sure it will take many weeks to process it all, but I have a list of things I must do and look at, and I keep thinking of new additions for the list.

Let’s start with the ship, the Voyager of the Seas is huge, it seemed to dwarf the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. It holds 3,500 passengers and crew so it is almost a floating village. I wouldn’t go on a cruise on this ship if it wasn’t a genealogy cruise, it’s aimed at families and teenagers not someone who isn’t interested in swimming pools, casinos or Disney Parades, although I must say Shrek & Princess Fiona were nice to talk to whilst waiting for the lift!!

Having said that it was ideal for a genealogy conference. An area situated in a quiet part of the ship that could be configured into one to four rooms plus overhead projector screen, microphones etc. all made for a professional set-up. We had a large, medium and small room set-up which worked well, although one of my talks in the medium room was standing room only (she says with pride !!).

I met so many great people on this cruise from the ladies that I dined with every night to the speakers to the Gould Books team to all the 140+ participants. Thank you all for your company over the nine days Smile

So what did I learn? Here is a quick run down of just some of the information, hints and tips that I got from the conference. I shall be posting more in-depth articles later.

Paul Milner His talk on Irish Land Records inspired me to get researching my Pottingers in Belfast, not a direct line, but  very interesting people. Paul also reminded us that we should all be rereading our beginners genealogy books again and again as there is always something new to be learnt from them.

Jill Ball Jill gave a total of nine talks on technology and genealogy. I was inspired by her talk on the Flip-Pal Scanner to buy the last one that Gould Books had on their sales table on the ship. I shall have to explore the tools that Google has to offer for social media, expand my Genealogy Circle on Google+, have a go at running a Google Hang Out and I shall be talking to my local genealogy group about them having their own blog.

Shauna Hicks – Shauna spoke on Australian genealogy, I learnt a lot more about sources I can look at for my Aussie ancestors, I don’t have a lot, but the chance of looking at some new types of records is irresistible. Shauna also instructed us to go get a State Library card and also to register with Trove, the great Australian Newspaper Archive website. I had one day free in Sydney on my way back so spent the afternoon registering for my NSW State Library card, that fact I didn’t live in Australia didn’t matter, two forms of ID – passport & Visa card – and I got my card. The staff in the Mitchell Library were great and in no time I was looking at a set of letters written by Joseph & Robert Mason who were friends and fellow rioters to my Diddams & Silcock ancestors. I have registered with Trove and will take the time to explore the vast amount of info that the site has available.

Would I go again on an Unlock The Past Genealogy Cruise? You bet ya !!


That’s all for now, I must attend to the over 100 emails that I have sitting in my inbox and then go out and buy some tissues, cough mixture and throat lozenges !!


Unlock the Past Cruise 2013

clip_image002We are into Day 4 of the Unlock The Past Cruise 2013 and because of electrical problems are still in Noumea and will be missing out on Fiji – such is life at sea !! The ship Voyage of the Seas is huge and I am sure that many of the 140 participants will use today to explore the ship as no presentations are scheduled.

It has been a privilege and pleasure to be associated with the other presenters such as Jill Ball, – the genealogy techno whizz, Paul Milner who is speaking on British Isles records and Shauna Hicks an expert on Australian research. So far I have given my “London Cemeteries & their Records” and “Researching New Zealand Ancestors from afar” talks, both have been well received and I have been asked by Alan Philips of Gould Books who organises the cruise to speak on next year’s cruise.

I’ll upload some photos when I return home, the internet is horribly expensive on-board and it would clear out the bank account to do so whilst here !! Meanwhile I shall remain sitting beside the pool with an exotically coloured cocktail close at hand. Oh what a great life on the oceans waves!!

Off on the Ocean Waves !!

clip_image002In a couple of hours time I shall be taking the first of two flights to get me to Sydney, Australia to join the Unlock The Past Genealogy cruise. As internet charges aboard ship are very expensive I shan’t be posting any news until I return home on 20th February.

I am giving four talks whilst on-board and when I’m not doing that I shall be listening and learning at a host of presentations given by leading genealogists. What fun !!

See you all on the 20th when I am sure I will have lots to tell you Smile





Jill Ball alias Geniaus has issued a challenge to other genealogists to share their positive genealogical experiences in 2012.

Here is Mad About Genealogy’s response Smile

1. An elusive ancestor I found ….. not so much elusive as waiting in the wings, I had been promising myself for ages that I would get round to finding out more about Enoch Willis who left Stanford in the Vale, Berkshire and emigrated to Dunedin, NZ. 2012 was Enoch’s year and whilst I have more to research on his children I have found out quite a lot about him already. Using the UK Newspaper collection on FindMyPast and the NZ Papers Past websites has been a great help. Hope Enoch didn’t disturb too many people when he and his wife got very drunk in Stanford and then roamed around the village in the early hours of one Saturday night in 1871 !!

2. A precious family photo I found …. photos of Albert & Gilbert Diddams which I found via Ancestry. They were put online by Antonia Parker. Not many of my ancestors seemed to have the spare shillings to have a photo taken so any images are always precious.

3. An ancestor’s grave I found….. my 2nd great Grandmother’s place of burial was found via DeceasedOnline. Caroline Cannon nee’ Warren was buried in the Cheshunt Burial Ground in 1894, she was only 59 years old and died of liver cancer.

4. An important vital record I found was ….. the christening of Susannah Sarah Clark , this lead me to her parents, her siblings and their families. I now just need the christening of William Clark who according to the 1841 census was born somewhere other than Middlesex around 1775, he died before the 1851 census when he would have been asked exactly which parish he was born in. Sad smile

 5. A newly found family member who shared … Maree Anderson has been so generous with information about Richard Elliott who emigrated to Australia leaving behind in Berkshire a rumour that my father’s family had someone who went to the antipodes !!

6. A geneasurprise I received ….. being awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the NZSG for commitment to the Bay of Islands branch.

7. My 2012 blog post that I was particularly proud of was ….. starting to put family history lessons onto www.madaboutgenealogy.com.  As always I was surprised by what knowledge I had accumulated over the years and also humbled by the fact that there is so much more to learn.

8. My 2012 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was ….  Putting Your Family History Online For Free. Not sure why, but can only think that genealogists like the idea of publishing their research online and doing it for nothing!!

9. A new piece of software I mastered was …….. no new software this year, but I am still battling to find how I can solve Microsoft error 8024402f !!!!! I’ve tried everything that is recommended online and still it stops me doing updates. Some say it just disappears overnight so here’s hoping!!

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was …. I’m still very much a novice with regards to social media, but I do my best on Twitter, Google Plus & Facebook.

11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was…. Rootstech and National Archives UK Podcast series. Sigh … so much to learn and so little time.

12. I am proud of the presentations I gave at ……. Bay of Islands NZSG branch. Didn’t do too many presentations in 2012, but have some great booking in 2013. Always good to talk to family historians.

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was ….. concentrated on my website so no journal/magazine writing in 2012.

14. I taught a friend how to ….. research her family history online by using lots of Google tricks and the wonderful and ever expanding Google Books.

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was …. not a true genealogy book, but re-reading Peter Laslett’s book “The World We Have Lost – further explored” gave valuable insight into ancestors lives. If you haven’t read this book, then beg, borrow, steal a copy and enjoy the world of historical population studies.

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was ….. British Library, I got to spend 2 fabulous days reading books and pamphlets which just aren’t available elsewhere. Good tip is to be there at least half an hour before it opens to get a seat and then don’t leave that seat vacant for the rest of the day. No seat ticket = no books.

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was …. “The Victorian Celebration of Death” by James Stevens Curl. Published in 2000 I now have my own copy and it is THE book for understand the Victorians attitude to death. London cemeteries being a side interest of mind that goes hand in hand with genealogy.

18. It was exciting to meet ….. the team who run the Sandwich, Kent Archives. They were so welcoming and helpful and allowed me to handle documents hundreds of years old once they were satisfied that I knew what I was about. Will be back to visit them in May this year. Genealogy has some wonderfully knowledgeable volunteers.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was ….. a 10 week trip to England, luck enough to be going back again this year and hope to visited the Berkshire Record Office and the Museum of English Rural Life Open-mouthed smile

20. Another positive I would like to share is ….. that I feel lucky to have ‘found’ genealogy when you could handle documents at record offices and feel the dust of ages on your fingers and lucky that I am now able to sit at home and have scans of the same documents at a press of a button. I have experienced the best of both worlds.

Dear Genealogy Santa

Dear Santa,

I have been very good this year and thought I might be entitled to a Christmas stocking filled with family history goodies.


1. Find My Past subscription

2. Ancestry subscription

3. Deceased Online credits

4. Forces War Records credits

5. Who Do You Think You Are magazine subscription

6. Your Family History magazine subscription

7. Gould Genealogy Book Voucher

8. Unlocking The Past Genealogy Cruise ticket

9. The National Archives Book Voucher

10. Someone to do the housework whilst I do genealogy all day every day.


Santa, I’ve kept the list short, just put in the essentials as I don’t want to appear greedy.


clip_image002Best wishes,