Introducing Caroline Haigh

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A post from Caroline Haigh, one of our Tasmanian members.

 

After a diverse career of teaching, Commonwealth public service and establishing a retail business, I took early retirement in 2008. What to do with my new found freedom?! I’d always had an interest in Tasmania’s convict past and out of curiosity, I chose a family line at random and began searching for a convict in my tree. No particular convict, just any convict! At that time, I only knew the names of my grandparents: my parents were able to fill in my great-grandparent’s names, but that is all we knew about them.  I found a convict but more intriguing for me, I found an unknown son of this convict, with a very large family. I was able to tell my father that his mother, Edith Shelton, had nine aunts and uncles, and numerous first cousins, unknown to us. This was a revelation and instantly I became hooked on genealogy!

 

In 2011, I returned to university to further study English and History, while still researching my own family tree during my free time. When UTAS offered its inaugural Diploma of Family History in 2016, the time was right to take my personal interest to another level.

 

I have deep Tasmanian and UK roots: all of my great-great-grandparents, bar one, came from the UK to Tasmania as convicts or free settlers. The exception was Jesse Haigh, a young soldier with the 99th Regiment of Foot, who arrived on a convict ship in 1842. I have a passion for Tasmania’s convict and Aboriginal colonial-era history and this is my key research area as an historian. I am a member of the Professional Historians Association (VIC/TAS). Within this time period, I also have a particular interest in the fate of women and children impacted by destitution. I am committed to bringing their stories to light.

 

As a genealogist, I am a strong advocate for utilising genetic genealogy with traditional genealogical methods and offer this service to all my clients. My enthusiasm for DNA analysis came from my own experience of identifying the parents of my great-grandmother, Annie Jones. There was no family knowledge about Annie, only that her father’s name was Walter. There was no birth certificate for her. It took two years of working collaboratively with other Ancestry members but we eventually struck gold: a new DNA match had documented oral history which explained the family history which was then verified. I discovered that Annie’s mother was convict Isabella Buckley, who had four children with husband George Hodgetts, before having three more children with convict Walter Jones. There is no official paperwork regarding the Jones children, just the oral history report – and unequivocal DNA evidence that Walter Jones was indeed Annie’s father.

My great-grandmother Annie Jones and her daughter Edith Shelton, c. 1914.

 

My own family history experience has shaped my interest and specialisations as a genealogist: Tasmanian history, particularly convicts and their children, as well as Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage and DNA analysis.  I also have extensive experience with South Australian records and offer research services for people interested in exploring their UK heritage.

Anita Payne: How did I get to join AAGRA, and what benefits have come to me as a member?

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AAGRA member Anita Payne writes on how she got to join AAGRA, and what benefits have come to her as a member.

 

In December 2017 I completed my Diploma of Family History with UTAS. It was a fantastic course and so worth my time to do it.

My long-held interest in my family history had been sparked by my maternal Grandma. She did it all the hard way, writing letters via a solicitor in Australia back to England to try to find any relatives. At the time there was a possibility of a possible inheritance if they could find the connection. I was only 8 years old at the time but clearly remember helping Grandma sort out the information that was returned from England. Sadly, they did not find a connection to the inheritance.

It has been a pleasure to find out heaps about my family and to pass this on to them. Friends found out about my knack of solving curious mysteries and offered to pay for my time.

After my graduation in Hobart I attended the graduation dinner. Conversation got around to whether I knew about AAGRA. Well, no I didn’t. I was fortunate to be sitting across the table from Dr Dianne Snowden, the AAGRA President who let me know all about it. I went home to Melbourne with a mission to complete my application to join.

I did that in early 2018 and was delighted to be admitted as a Record Agent in March 2018.

Since that time, I have had multiple opportunities to do research for clients who have approached AAGRA for assistance. All of these clients have paid for my assistance and service. Some enjoyed success in the mission to find what they were looking for and others not so. But that is what happens when you are researching a family or documents regarding a family member.

At present I am working on a project, which has come from an enquiry made to AAGRA via their website. This would never have happened without my membership and the opportunity to display my interests through the Association. As the top organisation in the field in Australia it is clear to those who find us that we are first-class experts.

Being a member of AAGRA has given me the opportunity to have my own small part-time business doing what I love – researching family history. My passion is now my profession. As they say, when you love your work you never do a day’s work.

 

 

Happy hunting,

 

 

Anita Payne

42nd AGM

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AAGRA held its 42nd AGM on Monday 9 November 2020 using Zoom videoconferencing.

The following office bearers were re-elected:

  • President – Dr Dianne Snowden
  • Vice President – Rachel Croucher
  • Secretary – Anne Young 
  • Treasurer – Douglas Browning

Jean Main, Peter Gill, Ray Thorburn will continue on the committee. Judy Purkiss and Anita Payne have joined the committee. Elizabeth Parkes has stepped down from the committee.

Dianne Snowden presented the following report to the meeting:

Australasian Association of Genealogists and Record Agents Inc. Annual Report presented to 42nd Annual General Meeting 9 November 2020

It gives me great pleasure to present the President’s Report to the 42nd Annual General Meeting of the Australasian Association of Genealogists and Record Agents.

AAGRA currently has 25 members, an increase of 2 since the last AGM. Welcome to our new members, Caroline Haigh and Phoebe Wilkens. Of our 25 members, 17 are accredited as genealogists; 23 are accredited as record agents; and 16 are accredited as both genealogists and record agents. No members are recorded as inactive. Although we have members from all States except Queensland, the ACT, Northern Territory and New Zealand each have only one member. For me, as President, recruitment remains a fundamental part of the Committee’s work. It is disappointing that so few who have completed the Diploma of Family History at the University of Tasmania have chosen to seek accreditation through AAGRA and this is possibly an area that we, as a Committee, should pursue. We need to persuade these recent graduates of the value of accreditation and membership.

We continue to work on refining our membership applications to make it easier for those seeking membership to understand the type and extent of information required.

Queensland and Western Australia remain the only entities not to have a State representative on the Committee. We welcomed Elizabeth Parkes from New Zealand to the Committee at our 2019 AGM and, as our only New Zealand member, Elizabeth has an important role in promoting the work of AAGRA and making us a truly Australasian organisation. We have yet to establish a way of working effectively with our State and New Zealand representatives and clarifying their role; they are an important promotional conduit.

Thank-you very much to all our Committee members for persevering with those many disruptions which have taken place in the last 12 months. All Committee members make significant contributions to our work and persevere with meeting changes and the frustration of not being able to meet face to face. I thank them all for their support.

Anne Young, our Secretary, conscientiously and meticulously undertakes the many tasks associated with her role. Anne is often the first point of contact for potential members and clients. She fulfils this role superbly.

Douglas Browning, our Treasurer, diligently maintains our books and maintains our strong financial position, ensuring that the Association is viable with its small membership base. Our income is based solely on subscriptions and at June 2020 our income was $1,636.25 with expenses totalling $639.30 and a balance of $996.95. Details can be found in the audited report.

We have been again reviewing our website – thank-you to Anne Young and Rachel Croucher for working on this. The website is one of the main ways we have of communicating with our members and promoting the work of our Association. It is also an important way of connecting with potential clients. Its companion is our Facebook page, which was created on 18 October 2015. Work on the website has been interrupted by external events and I look forward to the resumption of its development in 2021.

We continue to work on links with other professional genealogical organisations but, again, this has been complicated by the onset of the pandemic.

Since our AGM on 19 November 2019, our ability to meet has been hindered by external factors. We held our first ZOOM meeting on 28 September 2020 and this proved a successful way to conduct meetings.

In the coming year, once again, I see the three most important issues as recruitment, encouraging accreditation and promotion of the Association as widely as possible. Living in Tasmania I know well the difficulties of isolation and I hope that we can find a way of bringing all our members, not just the Committee, together at least once a year. Our Association is only as strong as its membership and I look forward to continuing to work with you.

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