Meet Susan Lark – Record Agent

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My study of family history started more than 30 years ago when I began investigating my Tasmanian convict roots. From there I moved on to my Victorian, and NSW ancestors who were a mix of convicts and free settlers. In 1996 I began working as a volunteer at the Kiama Family History Centre. It was during my volunteer time that I studied for and gained my Advanced Diploma in Local, Family and Applied History through the University of New England, Armidale.

In 2006, after ten years volunteering experience, I took over the role of Manager of the Kiama Family History Centre as Kiama Municipal Council’s Family History Officer. In this fulltime role I supervised 30 volunteer research and indexing assistants.  During my tenure the Kiama Family History Centre launched 9 indexes on CD and published 3 books. As the Family History Officer, I personally undertook all research projects. These projects varied from queries about local families to information about families who settled as far away as Canada and South Africa. The position allowed me to develop strong genealogical research skills, not only in Australia but throughout the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and parts of Europe. It also allowed me to develop friendships and contacts with other professional researchers in many other countries.

I resigned from my position as Family History Officer for Kiama Municipal Council in late 2019. In early 2020 I began operating my own genealogical consulting business. Since that time, I have been lucky to have found myself able to work consistently. I have undertaken research projects for people residing NSW, Qld, ACT, NZ and Scotland. The projects undertaken have seen me researching in Far North Qld, Tasmania, Victoria, Cornwall, London, Bedfordshire, locally in Kiama and as far away as Sicily, Italy.

I am the author of three books:

  • Discovering Kendall’s Private Burial Ground Kiama
  • Thomas Chapman of Hartwell House, Kiama
  • Discovering the Wesleyan Methodist Churchyard Cemetery, Jamberoo

Research Enquiries:
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://kiama-ancestry.com
Facebook: Kiama Ancestry & Local History Specialists


Genealogy Pro Tip – Always use maiden names when recording females.

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This provides consistency ie: it doesn’t matter whether the female remained single, married once, twice or more, was widowed or divorced, her maiden name always belongs to her.  If females are recorded by their maiden name you and others will always know how to find them in your tree as they are all recorded the same way.  Use of the maiden names also ties them to their birth family and that is an important step in finding her ancestors.

When searching you would search by maiden and married names.  If you are using software, then as long as you have the female entered by her maiden name and add her spouse then most genealogy software programs automatically searches by both her maiden and married surnames when looking for records about her.

Genealogy Dataset in Australian States – NSW – First Fleeters

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Each month we look at a genealogy dataset in Australia or New Zealand.  This month we look at NSW and The First Fleet.

The Australian National University have a list of First Fleet Ships and Passengers. The page lists the ships in alphabetical order and the passengers on each ship are also in alphabetical order.  Next to each passenger it lists their status ie: crew, convict, marine, marines family etc.  You can also see if the passenger was known by an alias.  Some passengers are linked to other records so you can find out further information.  There are many other websites that also provide lists of the passengers on the first fleet and if you have an ancestor that was on one of the ships, then it is worth checking out all lists as some websites provide links to further information about the passengers.

The Sydney Living Museum provides information about the voyage itself.  If you are in Sydney you may wish to visit the display at the museum.

If you find you have an ancestor who was on the First Fleet then you may wish to check out the website of the “Fellowship of First Fleeters” who have further information including a list of gravesite plaques. If you need assistance with finding how or when your ancestor came to Australia or New Zealand then you may wish to contact one of AAGRA’s genealogists or record agents.

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