Discovering your family tree at sea
on 27 Nov 2018
Everyone has a family history, whether they know or have even thought about it. Everyone has: 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents and so on. Do you know all their names? When did your immigrant ancestors come to Australia? What countries did they come from? Why did they come? What ship did they come on? Where did they first settle? What did they do? Do you know about their war service (most of us have ancestors who served)? Do you have any famous ancestors or distant cousins? Or infamous ones? Do you have ‘Australian royalty’ (convict ancestors)? The chances are you have if your ancestors came here 150 years or more ago.
Stateside, Alex Haley, author of the hugely popular 1976 novel ‘Roots’ once said that black Americans needed their own version of the Plymouth Rock – upon William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims stepped in 1620, rather a genesis story that didn’t begin or end at slavery. His 900-page tome - a family saga that took the reader from 18th century Gambia in West Africa to the United States, certainly delivered. It shared with many Americans the emotional and intellectual rewards that come with the discovery of the identity of one’s ancestors.
No one knew it at the time, by Haley’s best seller, and the blockbuster television series it spawned in the 1970s were the beginnings of a genealogy craze that would sweep America. Fast forward four decades, and genealogy today is the second most popular hobby after gardening, according to respected broadcaster – ABC News. Genealogy is also the second most visited category of websites, after pornography! A billion-dollar industry, the insatiable thirst for genealogy has spawned profitable websites, television shows such as ‘Who do you think you are’ and ‘Long Lost Family’, the plots for television dramas, a hundred weight of books and a burgeoning industry in DNA ancestry testing.
Back here in Australia, a nation comprised of the descendants of transported convicts and Eureka Gold Rush workers, not to mention 20th century migrants from post-war Britain, Europe, Asia and beyond has shaped the modern 21st century nation that Australia is today. And, just like the in America and across the globe, genealogy has also captured the imagination and interest of Australians.
As for the birth of our nation, between 1788 and the end of transportation in 1868, around 162,000 convicts were sent to the colonies of New South Wales, Van Diemen’s Land and Western Australia. An estimated one in five Australian’s has convict history. In Tasmania, the figure is even higher. In 2009, 74% of Tasmania’s population was estimated to be descended from convicts. In the 1950s and ‘60s, historians argued that Australians should not romanticise either the convict system or the people within it. Manning Clark and Alan Shaw viewed the convicts as a ‘disreputable lot’, citing they were basically perennial petty thieves who made an active choice to supplement their relentless poverty with criminal spoils, rather than suffering virtuously, like the poor people who didn’t have a criminal conviction. Today, enough distance has passed to allow Australians to look back on their convict heritage with interest rather than repugnance.
Operating genealogy-themed cruises since 2011, our partners—Unlock the Past Genealogy Cruises offer Genealogy-themed cruises across the globe. In 2019 – cruises include the Italian Mediterranean and Sydney to Singapore, whilst in 2020 – there is Tasmania.
Aboard these cruises are a package of speciality presentations. Unlock the Past is offering a competitively priced course consisting of 5 specialty presentations especially designed for the budding genealogist. This is for you if you have:
- Never researched your family history but would like to know how.
- Just started out but would like to learn more.
- Seen and enjoyed the TV show Who Do You Think You Are? or other similar discovery programs. Why not find out ‘who you are’. Caveat: Don’t expect the head of a major record repository to deliver your family documents as seen on TV, though it does illustrate what can be done.
- Been to funerals and realised the generation above you is passing away and it is too late to ask them about family history.
- Realised that life is passing by for you and your children – and you don’t know much about your family’s story.
- Cautionary advice: If you do this course you might get hooked!
- The desire to enjoy one of the most care-free holidays you’ll ever go on. Add some Genealogy to the cruising mix, and you’ll return relaxed and with your interest piqued in all things genealogical!
And for the advanced Genealogist, the major theme aboard for example the Tasmania Genealogy Cruise is ‘Convict Research and DNA’. The complete package offered as a Genealogy Conference on 3 ‘at sea’ days comprises a very comprehensive range of specialised presentations (50+ topics across 2-3 theatres) conducted by expert-in-their-field lecturers, historians and genealogists and aimed at participants who have a deeper understanding of genealogy and its many facets.
See our range of Genealogy cruises for details of the courses available at sea for both the budding and advanced Genealogist. The cost for the budding Genealogist is $95, whilst the cost for advanced Genealogists (based on 2 persons) is from $495. Esteemed and educated speakers, with credentials in this specialist field will be present at all scheduled events aboard our Tasmania, Italian and Sydney to Singapore cruises.
If you are curious to know more about Genealogy at Sea, come along to our ‘Genealogy at Sea’ information session on Saturday 8 December 2018 at 1100hr here at our Glenelg branch. On the day, special guest – Alan Philips – Genealogist and Melanie Wynne – Project Manager will give a special presentation.
Go to our Event section on www.pht.com.au to register your attendance!
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