Each year, my geni-mate, Jill Ball asks blogging genealogists to Accentuate the Positive as we reflect on the year just past.  Here is my take on a wonderful year of family history, particularly as I became further involved in the community.  Not so much time was spent on my own family tree, but new skills were learned and many fun times were had.

Embracing the Past: The Ironclad Sisterhood Project

After nearly 12 months work on this digitisation project, “Ironclad Sisterhood” was launched – an online website and database. Documenting the lives of approximately 4,700 convict women, this project became a personal passion and along with four other team members we launched the project to over 500 people in July. Through creative biographies, podcast, and AI-generated images, we all found a deeper connection with these remarkable women, bringing their stories to life in a way we never thought possible.  This project will continue in 2024 with further updates and collaborations planned around this remarkable group of pioneer women.

The Dawn of AI in Genealogy

2023 was also the year I delved into the fascinating world of Artificial Intelligence in genealogy. Initially, it was to be a single presentation for the Society of Australian Genealogists but this group into a 3 part webinar series and many subsequent workshops.  The cutting edge nature of this technology means it is ever changing and certainly requires constant updating of material and key ideas.  New avenues for exploration continue to be opened up as tools are developed and the skills of manipulation are refined. The formation of a special interest group around AI and technology was a highlight, marking a significant step in my commitment to modernizing family history research.

Community Connections: Speaking and Learning

One of the most rewarding aspects of this year was the opportunity to engage with various family history groups, community library members, and probus groups. Sharing my experiences, learning from others, and discussing all things related to family history was not just enlightening but also incredibly fulfilling. These interactions reinforced my belief in the power of community in our field.

Technological Enhancements: A New Era of Presentations

Investing in new technology, including a streamdeck, standing desk, and enhanced lighting has hopefully transformed my online presentations. These tools not only improved the viewer experience but also allowed me to streamline my delivery, making each session more impactful. My talk during History Week about the role of technology in family history and the regular inclusion of quizzes in my presentations were steps towards more interactive and engaging sessions.  2024 is already looking busy with many speaking engagements already booked.

The Touching Story of Leslie Thomas WHITE

A deeply personal achievement this year was helping someone who reached out through my website. They needed assistance in finding information about a cousin, Leslie Thomas White, who had passed away as an infant. Successfully unraveling this mystery and providing answers was a profound reminder of the impact the work in family history can have on individual lives.  I look forward to further opportunities like this one in the coming years and using my skills to assist others.

Advancing Education: Successful Funding Grants

A significant accomplishment for the Society of Australian Genealogists, and a project I was proud to be part of, was securing funding grants to enhance IT education through the Be Connected Network. This initiative, aimed at equipping members with skills in various technological tools, signifies a step towards a more digitally empowered genealogical community. Several in person and online courses were conducted around effective web searching, using cloud apps and connecting with others via Zoom.  I am excited to see this program grow and evolve in 2024.

Looking back at 2023, I feel a sense of accomplishment and gratitude. Each of these experiences has enriched my understanding of family history and reinforced my commitment to this field. I eagerly anticipate what the future holds, ready to embrace new challenges and opportunities in the ever-evolving world of genealogy, always remembering it is the stories of our ancestors that make the research so rewarding.