Unlock The Past will be at

2018 Congress - Mar 2018
2018 Seminar - Seattle - Sep 2018
2018 UTP cruise - Alaska - Sep 2018
2019 UTP cruise - Mar 2019


Exploring family & local history - Melbourne 2018

Event Information

  • 19 Apr 2018 9:00am - 20 Apr 2018 4:45pm
  • Veneto Club, 191 Bulleen Rd
  • Bulleen
  • Victoria
Other Information
  • Cost: $87 for both days, $57 for one day

Scottish - German - War (WWI & WWII) - newspapers (more than just Trove)
midwives & nurses (and female ancestors) - convicts
beyond indexes (source records) - Freemason ancestors

A two-day Exploring family & local history seminar with

  • Rob Hamilton (Vic)
  • Eric Kopittke (Qld) 
  • Rosemary Kopittke (Qld)
  • Neil Smith (Vic)
  • Susie Zada (Vic)

3 top reasons to be there

  1. LEARN - over two days to learn from leading Australian genealogists/historians
  2. NETWORK - two days to interact with exhibitors and others with similar interests
  3. SAVE - with seminar specials and hundreds of $$$ worth of prizes

When and where

 Thursday - Friday 19-20 April 2018

WHEREVeneto Club
             191 Bulleen Rd
             Bulleen VIC 3105


Both days - $87         one day (Thu or Fri) - $57

CLICK HERE or the icon below to go to the booking page


Program - preliminary, subject to change

Thursday 19 April 2018

9.00amregistration and exhibition
9.25amwelcome and seminar introduction                                                           
9.30amLocating your ancestor’s place of origin in Germany - E. Kopittke
10.20amOnline newspapers: what happened in the “dash” - R. Kopittke
11.10ambreak and exhibition
11.40amMidwives and nurses: and researching female ancestors - S. Zada
12.30pmlunch break and exhibition
1.40pmUnderstanding the system: a brief overview of the history of the German region - E. Kopittke
2.30pmConvict ancestors - S. Zada
3.20pmbreak and exhibition
4.00pmResearching in German church and civil records - E. Kopittke

Friday 20 April 2018

9.00amregistration and exhibition
9.25amwelcome and seminar introduction                                                          
9.30amUnderstanding your World War One ‘Digger’ - N. Smith
10.20amBeyond just indexes: why we should check source records - R. Kopittke
11.10ambreak and exhibition
11.40amtopic and speaker TBA
12.20pmprize draw
12.30pmlunch break and exhibition
1.40pmResearching your Freemason ancestor - R. Hamilton
2.30pmTracing your World War Two Australian military ancestors - N. Smith
3.20pmbreak and exhibition
3.40pmScotlandsPeople: the place to launch your Scottish research - R. Kopittke                              


HamiltonRob Hamilton (VIC) - Rob is an inspirational speaker specialising in all things Masonic. Born into a family steeped in Freemasonry dating back to his great grandfather and the Island of St Helena. Rob first joined the order of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Victoria 48 years ago, and during that time He has occupied every position in what is affectionally known as the “lodge” at a local level, he currently holds the Masonic rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer. An 18th degree Freemason, Knight Templar and numerous other side orders associated with masonry He is a member of several Masonic study circles and The Victorian Lodge of Research, from which he holds a certificate of Masonic studies. He is also a freemason in the English Constitution.
     Rob has written numerous papers on various Masonic and related topics including, The Knights Templar, The Schaw Statutes of 1598 (and its influence on the current fundamentals of industrial workplace conditions), Symbolism in freemasonry, and Freemasonry is it a religion. He speaks on Masonic topics such as, The spread of freemasonry through the British empires conquests into America, and the Indian Sub-Continent. The arrival of freemasonry in the colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land in the 1780’s. Masonic symbols and monuments found in cemeteries. Interpreting Masonic photographs. What Masonic records can tell us, and where they may be found? Interpreting the Masonic language found in Trove, What were the various constitutions that were operating in early Australia? Rob delivers Masonic knowledge from his 48 years of research into Freemasonry and family history. He has amassed an extensive private library of books and documents, some dating from the mid 1700s, research papers and modern electronic sources.

Eric KopittkeEric Kopittke (QLD) - click here for full biography. Eric's blog
Eric is a former teacher of Physics and Mathematics, having taught at St Peters Lutheran College, Indooroopilly from 1973 to 2014.
     He has been researching his families from Australia, England, Germany and former German areas for over 30 years.
     He and his wife Rosemary transcribed, indexed and published the lists of direct emigrants from the port of Hamburg for Australian and New Zealand ports from the years 1850–1879. The publishing of these lists has helped many researchers find how their ancestors reached Australia and New Zealand from Germany.
     As well as being a presenter on several Unlock the Past cruises, expos and events, Eric has presented talks on many aspects of German family history at family history groups. He convenes the Queensland Family History Society's Central European Interest Group and often presents there. He has presented at two Australasian Congresses and at the Queensland State conference in 2017.
     In addition to the Emigrants from Hamburg to Australasia series, he has written: Locating your German ancestor's place of originResearching in German civil and church recordsIntroduction to German family history research for Australians and a Handy guide to civil registration – births, marriages and deaths in Germany (published through Unlock the Past and available through Gould Genealogy & History).
     Eric has received the Queensland FHS Award for Services to Family History (1990); was made a Fellow of the Queensland FHS (2000); and in 2006 was awarded the AFFHO Award for Meritorious Services to Family History.

Locating your ancestor’s place of origin in Germany - Finding your German ancestor’s birthplace is essential for locating both civil and church records since German records were stored locally not centrally. This presentation shows how to use Australian records to identify a place of origin in Germany.

Researching in German church and civil records - Obtaining a birth or marriage certificate from Germany for an immigrant ancestor is a goal that many researchers set for themselves. Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths was introduced at different times between 1792 and 1876 in the German States. Before civil registration, church records of baptism, marriage and burial were used instead. This presentation looks at using German civil and church records for research.

Understanding the system: a brief overview of the history of the German region - Most of us would have learned about British (especially English) history in school, but probably very little of the history of Germany and its neighbours. In this presentation, a broad look is taken of the history of this region enabling the researcher to understand better the forces which shaped the lives of his/her ancestors.

Rosemary KopittkeRosemary Kopittke (QLD) - click here for full biography - www.rosemarykopittke.com
Rosemary has been tracing her family history since 1985 – in Australia, England, Scotland and Ireland. A statistician by training, she has worked in that field as an hydrologist, teacher, and biometrician. Her tertiary qualifications include a BSc (Mathematics) and BA (Computer Science) both from the University of Queensland and the Diploma of Family History from the University of Tasmania. She currently works as a consultant for Gould Genealogy & History and is regularly invited to speak at family history events.
     She has published numerous indexes to cemeteries and government records though is probably best known for her work with husband Eric on the Emigrants from Hamburg to Australasia 1850–1879 publication. She is editor of Unlock the Past publications and author and contributor to several.
     She served as the Queensland member of the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations Council (2009 to 2013) and on the Queensland FHS Management Committee for 21 years. Rosemary is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society and in 2006 received the AFFHO Award for Meritorious Services to Family History.

Beyond just indexes: why we should check source records - Indexes to records are a great boon to our research but we need to be aware of their limitations, recognise their failings and go beyond just indexes when producing our family tree. Too often we can miss vital clues or fail to find errors in the indexes – disastrous family trees are the evidence that many people research using only indexes!

Online newspapers: what happened in the ‘dash’ - On headstones we often see just the name of the person followed by the birth and death years – with a “dash” between the years. There are many sources which can gives us information about births, deaths and marriages but newspapers can tell us so much more about what happened during a person’s life – the “dash” on a headstone.

ScotlandsPeople: the place to begin your Scottish research - ScotlandsPeople is the official online source of parish register, civil registration, census, land valuations, wills & testaments, coats of arms and military service appeals for Scotland. Use the records you find in Australia to discover your Scottish roots. Searches are now free with ScotlandsPeople so there is no reason for not checking out your family.

Neil SmithLieutenant Colonel Neil C. Smith, AM (Retd) (VIC) - www.mostlyunsung.com.au
Neil was raised in Western Australia. He spent 24 years in the Australian Regular Army with postings throughout Australia and overseas including a tour of duty in South Vietnam. He qualified at various staff training schools and was later awarded the Member of the Order of Australia for Explosive Ordnance Disposal in the Solomon Islands. With a broad service experience no one knows better how to get the most out of military records and archives.
     Since resigning from the army 20 years ago Neil has pursued an interest in military history which had started whilst stationed in the United Kingdom. With his wife Sylvie he established Mostly Unsung Military History Research and Publications and has published scores of unit histories and other works and articles on Australian and British military history. Neil has written six guide books and one handy guide for publication with Unlock the Past.
     Neil often provides presentations on military history with a particular focus on how to research the man behind the medal. He has undertaken much TV work from both sides of the camera and has also researched in detail tens of thousands of individual service personnel for a range of official and private clients, many of whom are genealogists.

Susie ZadaSusie Zada (VIC) - www.zades.com.au
Susie Zada has been researching her family since the late 1960s and working as a genealogist, historian and researcher since 1990. She completed an Associate Diploma in Local and Applied History at University of New England (Armidale) in 1996 and has been working in the area of the built Heritage since 1996. She has been guest speaker on various topics at genealogical and historical societies and community groups across Victoria and in 2002 and 2016 presented the VAFHO Don Grant Lecture.
     She has worked on Heritage Studies in various municipalities in Victoria including: - Shire of Mitchell; Shire of Moira; Golden Plains Shire; City of Greater Geelong; and Moorabool Shire, as well as Conservation Management Plans for sites in Melbourne and across country Victoria.
     She has researched and published several books as well as historical interpretive displays, CD-Roms, indexes and extensive web sites on local history. She is a former President of the City of Richmond & Burnley Historical Society, and the Bellarine Historical Society. She has been editor of the Geelong Historical Society journal, and was on the committee of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria History Support Group.
     Positions have included the Geelong Heritage Centre (part time) and with the Genealogical Society of Victoria. 

Other information 

Exhibition - an exhibition with information and sales tables will be open in all breaks and before the first presentations each date

Food - this is not included in the seminar cost. We recommend the club's restaurant, cafe and bar for food and drink at the venue

Parking - there is ample onsite parking

Access - for those who need it there is a lift right next to the stair case to access both levels. There are also ramps leading to the function room as well as stairs.

Sponsors and exhibitors 

More to be advised

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