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 - Sydney 2018

Event Information

  • 26 Apr 2018 9:00am - 27 Apr 2018 4:50am
  • Parramatta RSL Club, Corner Macquarie & O’Connell Streets
  • Parramatta
  • New South Wales
Other Information
  • Cost: $87 for both days, $57 for one day

Scottish - German - DNA - newspapers (more than just Trove)
FamilySearch - convicts - historic photos online - story telling
surnames - Freemason ancestors

A two-day Exploring family & local history seminar with

  • Carol Baxter (NSW)
  • Kerry Farmer (NSW)
  • Rob Hamilton (Vic)
  • Eric Kopittke (Qld) 
  • Rosemary Kopittke (Qld)
  • Paul Parton (NSW)

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 26-27 April 2018

WHEREParramatta RSL ClubParramatta RSL
Corner Macquarie & O’Connell Streets
                Parramatta, NSW 2150


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 26 April 2018

9.00amregistration and exhibition
9.25amwelcome and seminar introduction                                                           
9.30amConvicts: trial to freedom - K. Farmer
10.20amOnline newspapers: what happened in the “dash” - R. Kopittke                                            
11.10ambreak and exhibition
11.40amResearching in German church and civil records - E. Kopittke
12.30pmlunch break and exhibition
1.40pmThe madness of Mac and other surnames - C. Baxter
2.30pmGEDmatch and other DNA tools - K. Farmer
3.20pmbreak and exhibition
4.00pmFamilySearch - P. Parton

Friday 27 April 2018

9.00amregistration and exhibition
9.25amwelcome and seminar introduction                                                          
9.30amFinding historical photos online for family & local history - K. Farmer
10.20amtopic and speaker TBA
11.10ambreak and exhibition
11.40amResearching your Freemason ancestor - R. Hamilton
12.20pmprize draw
12.30pmlunch break and exhibition
1.40pmStory telling in family history - C. Baxter
2.30pmtopic and speaker TBA
3.20pmbreak and exhibition
3.40pmScotlandsPeople: the place to launch your Scottish research - R. Kopittke                              



Carol Baxter (NSW) - biography to come

The madness of Mac and other surnames

Story telling in family history

Kerry Farmer (NSW) - biography to come

Convicts: trial to freedom

Gedmatch and other DNA tools

Finding historical photos online for family & local history

Rob 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.

Researching your Freemason ancestor

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.

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.

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.

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.

Paul Parton (NSW) - www.familysearch.org
Biography to come


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 - the club’s multi-storey car park opposite the clubhouse provides ample parking for members and guests free of charge

Access - there is a small flight of stairs to negotiate to get to the Auditorium. A chair lift can help those who can't use the stairs, but this is not suitable for those who cannot get out of a wheelchair

Sponsors and exhibitors 

  • FamilySearch
  • Ryerson Index
  • Teapot Genealogy

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