A total of twenty three people gathered from as far away as Te Awamutu and Waihi Beach. This included a number of FIBIS members, with two more people applying for membership on the day.
The event began with morning tea and the opportunity for people to display their names of interest in rough alphabetical order for others to check for commonality. Within a few minutes two people had discovered their mutual interest in Dr Graham’s Homes in Kalimpong, so this was a worthwhile ice-breaker. It would have been very appropriate to have had the post-it notes on the brick wall, but we had to compromise by sticking them onto the glass doors instead.
Neville Thomas was the key speaker with a talk primarily about his wife’s family in India. Despite what I had been led to believe, they were not at all “typical insurgents”, and were in fact fascinating examples of five generations of British and Anglo-Indians who lived and worked in India. His session dove-tailed with that of Linda Evans in the afternoon, as she is a cousin of Neville’s wife.
During the lunch break Linda showed people the beautifully presented and preserved familyphotograph albums she had inherited from an aunt. Linda’s talk focused on the Waters family. Both speakers had immaculate PowerPoint presentations, illustrated with family photographs. Some examples of these are available in the FIBIS photo gallery.
To round-out the day, Eleanor Neil gave the group an overview of the India Office records now available through findmypast. Having explained what could and could not be expected in these newly-digitized entries along with tips for searching, the group was divided into two parties. Those with WiFi-enabled devices remained in the cafe and with the assistance of David Neil began their search for formerly elusive ancestors. The others moved to the College’s David Yaxley Memorial Library where they were able to access findmypast on the library computers. There were not quite enough PCs for everyone but, because they had to share, two people discovered that they had a mutual ancestor.
Everyone was very appreciative of findmypast sponsorship enabling free access and downloading of relevant digitized records. One attendee said “It enabled me to solve a couple of enigmas and created a few more…!“ Access was available for the whole weekend via the generic login and one person reported going home and searching the records until one o’clock in the morning. The voucher from findmypast for a free one-year world subscription to findmypast.com.au was awarded to John Badham, who had travelled from Hamilton.
Eleanor Neil, FIBIS New Zealand Liaison.