As you know there are three official bloggers for Congress 2015 in Canberra: Shauna Hicks, Jill Ball (aka Geniaus) and myself. We thought it might be interesting for you to learn a little more about the speakers at Congress, who they are, and what their interests cover. Shauna has already interviewed a few speakers but Dr Perry McIntyre is my first interviewee. I know Perry from Shamrock in the Bush and I’m really looking forward to hearing her speak at Congress so I hope this interview tempts you to join me in her sessions.
Q: I wonder if you could tell us a little about your background? Are you a genealogist, researcher, historian or representing your organisation?
A: I began my steps into history through genealogy when I returned to Sydney from living in a mining town in Central Queensland. The stint in Sydney was to be short and I was 8 months pregnant! Five years later with two babies I’d completed the Diploma of Family History at the Society of Genealogists and was on the way to leaving my Science Degree and teaching career behind for a life in genealogy and history.
How has genealogy/family history/history/heraldry improved or changed your life?
These first steps in to family history ultimately led to more academic history study ending with a PhD in history inspired by the wonderful documents at State Records of NSW which linked transported men with their free families back in England and Ireland. Other spin-offs were a career as a professional genealogist, working for academics as a researcher on large projects, helping Richard Reid lead tours to Ireland in the 1990s and first decade of 2000s. Ireland had by then become a place that had to be visited often. Getting into genealogy also inspired me to write up some of the research projects and, with a fellow historian, we formed a small history publishing company. Keep an eye on www.anchorbooksaustralia.com.au
What do you love most about genealogy/family history/history?
Pulling together the stories of peoples past, so I guess I’m still a genealogist at heart although one current obsession is the lives of all 4114 Famine orphan girls who came to Australia between 1848 and 1850 – not mine but still genealogical principals. I am current Chair of the Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee and manage the website working with descendants to tell the stories of these young women.
Have you attended Congress in previous years?
Quite a number of them since the Canberra one in 1986 [was it 1986?]
What are your key topics for Congress?
An examination of why we remember and trace our families and a taste of a new project looking at criminality in Ireland and who was and was not transported. This is exciting work in the National Archives in Dublin.
How do you think your topics will help the family historians at Congress 2015?
Encourage genealogists to think beyond the mere pedigree and also show them that not all the records in Ireland were destroyed – two topics to broaden understanding and open minds.
What do you think are the benefits of attending a large conference like this, for you personally and for others attending?
Catching up with old friends, making new ones and there is always something new to learn.
Do you have a favourite piece of advice or a tip or trick you can share with conference attendees?
Go back over old documents. As we learn more we see what was not so obvious when we first started. Keep your mind open and read broadly.
Is there somewhere we can connect with you online?
Not really. Have a look at www.irishfaminememorial.org and you can email me off that site at firstname.lastname@example.org but only if you have an Irish famine orphan girl who came under Earl Grey Scheme.
Thanks Perry for such interesting responses to the questions. With so many of us researching Irish ancestors I’m sure your topics will be of great interest at Congress.