Oct 282013

Just before the Society launched I showed my husband our first newsletter; and whilst he is not at all interested in genealogy or related matters, he was intrigued by our newsletter title, Destinations.

The first comment he made to me when he had finished reading was, “I love the ship theme, and do you know if you as secretary were on a ship, you would be a Writer Logistician. They deal with the administration of the vessel when it is at sea.”

I know nothing of ships, or the Royal Navy, and in fact I often refer to ships as boats before being informed by my beloved that “boats have oars and ships have engines!” Whilst he is absolutely correct, I am not telling him that!

So, as I sit here, reflecting over the last two months I am amazed at the depth of knowledge and excitement from fellow researchers. After a really busy few months leading up to our launch, Kim our webmaster and I were simply amazed at the enthusiasm shown by others. Not just in terms of us taking an idea and making it happen, but also by the good wishes, applications for membership and study registration.

Today, I have just processed our 70th member, and while I am sure that some might say, 70 is not many, it is not about the number. It is about the engagement of researchers to want to pull together in a common organisation, using the facilities offered, learning, sharing and being part of something very exciting, new and evolving.

Those 70 members are scattered across the globe: New Zealand, Australia, United States, Canada, England, Scotland and Wales. The registered studies represent nearly 60 locations, again scattered across the globe: Australia, United States, Canada, England, Wales, Scotland and Sicily.

I read something today that truly inspired me. It related to volunteers. Over the last 25 years I have contributed in various guises to a variety of genealogical societies. In that 25 years, I have been part of a founding group where we systematically formed a Society from a long overdue need. There cannot be too many people to say that. The first Society celebrated its 13th birthday earlier this year and I have to say I was proud to be part of the forming structure. Have we though, turned a corner because of the internet and are we making Societies a thing of the past?

Absolutely not! – This blog post, the one you are reading now, was in fact not the one I wrote ten days or so. I shelved that for a future time. My reasons for that are fairly simple. Last night we, as a Society held our first online, virtual meeting. It was very enjoyable and I have to say a little ambitious for being two months old, but it was a success and demonstrates our collective ambitions and determination to be a different type of Society.

from the collection of Julie Goucher, Painted by Esther Bellasis nee King circa 1802. The original is held at the Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW Australia

from the collection of Julie Goucher, Painted by Esther Bellasis nee King circa 1802. The original is held at the Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW Australia

The internet has revolutionised the way we research our ancestry, research our historical interests and engage with others. I ponder on one of my early ancestors, Esther King, who sailed from England to India at the end of the 18th Century. Esther was in her early twenties when she married her husband, George, who was a Captain in the Honourable East India Company. In 1801, her husband challenged a fellow colleague to a duel for being dishonourable to his sister in law. He was sentenced to 14 years in Botany Bay. Now there is a whole mass of data and detail that I am not going to share with you, except this. George was subsequently pardoned and he and Esther returned to England. Esther died in 1805 in England and George returned to his former position in India and married another sister in law.

Through the course of my research, from the comfort of my messy and crammed study, I managed to locate a drawing that was done by Esther. It was left in Australia and is among the earliest piece of art work in the country and by a woman.

That makes me very proud. The point I am making is that 200 years ago, Esther left the shores of England, and yes she travelled, but the conditions were gruelling. The voyage to India took months and the voyage to Australia was yet more time in poor, unhygienic conditions.

Esther had no idea, probably didn’t give it a thought, that someone in the future might find her picture, much less a relative. What would Esther have thought if she knew that I had in fact established the details of her life without leaving my home?

So it was in absolute contrast that yesterday, I “sat” with 9 other people talking about our One-Place Studies. None of us was in the same room, two of the nine were in two different continents – North America and New Zealand. The closest any of us got was that two of us were in the same county.

We are a new, modern, 21st Century Society. We have had our first of many online meetings, we publish an online newsletter, Destinations, and we have this blog, where we share news and one place study ramblings, thoughts and updates; each post written by one of the committee. I shall share with you all, over the coming months, details about the registered studies. I have already spotted some fascinating ones, including two that have a link to my own family, yet the studies are 12,000 miles apart, and neither are run by me. To find out more, keep reading this blog!

Whilst we tend to research alone, we do have some Societies that have joined us and registered their collective study. You can be part of a like-minded organisation that promotes education, development and engagement.

We are global! A truly international Society where you can be anywhere, and you can be researching anywhere.

Come on, come aboard!

Julie Goucher

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