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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Dec-Jan 2012
Active RetireesTM | 29 such mistakes more common, even if you no longer buy an around-the- world ticket to realise them. “It’s become easy to start your research online on Monday and share it online on Friday without having verified your documentation,” according to genealogist Heather Garnsey. “The problem is not only that you might have false information but that others might take that information as gospel.” Joan Matthews has heard plenty of stories about people wasting years following bad leads. But there are bad leads in hands-on archives as well as online, so no matter where you get your information, double-check it. “Verify the information you find from at least two other sources,” recommends Matthews. The more serious family researchers go further, delving into the social history of their ancestors in order to better understand their lives and the records they leave. “There’s nothing more rewarding than following the detective trail that is offered by archives and private papers,” according to Professor Caine, “but one can’t always interpret these sources without a much wider historical knowledge.” Sharing and caring After several decades of drawing on the resources of her local libraries and family history societies, Joan Matthews now enjoys giving back to the community. She sits on the organising committee for the Australian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry’s conference – ‘Your ancestors in their social context’ – to be held in March 2012. Since beginning her research without a computer in 1980, Joan » FEATURE R Cemeteries are prime real estate when it comes to tracking down your family history and, ifyoufindanoteonthe headstone of a relative, you just may have hit the ancestry jackpot. Finding my family history After thirty years of research, Joan Matthews has dug through records in state archives, has trawled internet forums, has searched through databases, and has even given her blood to piece together her family history. The internet led to a remarkable reunion with long-lost uncles, and DNA testing led to a discovery of national importance. Despite her varied experiences, Joan’s advice for beginners is refreshingly simple: “start with yourself and build outward, one generation at a time. ” Joan began by asking her living relatives questions and then progressed to searching for her surname in state and library archives. When the internet arrived, she started posting queries on discussion boards. She awoke one day to an email from London. “ A man in England was studying my surname and suspected I had a long-lost uncle living in Adelaide. He was right.” A few months later, Joan attended her long-lost uncle’s 80th birthday, where she received a second shock: her long- lost uncle’s brother. “M y second long- lost uncle was adopted out as a child and his name had changed. I never would have found him if not for the man from England.” Joan now works in both hands-on and online archives, slowly uncovering generation after generation of her family history. She has participated in the Fromelles Project, where DNA evidence and family history is used to identify and re-inter WWI soldiers. Joan’s research, and a blood sample, led to the identification of an ancestor killed in combat in Fromelles.
Active Retirees Oct-Nov
Active Retirees Feb-March 2012