Have you attended a Congress?

12th May 2024
By Engagement Committee
Family History ACT has been involved in family history congresses since the first gathering

The first Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry was held in Melbourne in 1977. It was hosted by the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies and promised Papers, Lectures, Workshops and Discussions on all aspects of family history and research. Sessions were offered for beginners and advanced genealogists. A number of members represented HAGSOC and two presented papers at this congress. First, Bill Marsh spoke on The importance of Historical Records and Authorities’ lack of interest in this preservation, chastising government authorities for their lack of attention to preserving precious historical records and urging these same government bodies to make records more available for use by researchers. Second, Niel Gunson spoke on Genealogy in a changing Society where he noted that “A revival of interest in in family history in recent years reflects society’s growing concern with social issues. … Family history at the level of the common man is seen as being as important in a nation’s history as the story of the great families.”

And thus, began a long history of Society members attending, giving presentations to and hosting the regular congresses that still occur today. Initially promoted as an Australasian event for family historians from across and Australia and New Zealand, Congress took on a decidedly international flavour when it was hosted in Sydney in 1988 to coincide with the bicentenary of European settlement in Australia. Since then Congresses have continued to attract overseas speakers and attendees, and have usually adopted a special theme for each event

Canberra has played host to two Congresses. First, in May 1986 when over 500 family history enthusiasts descended on (some might say took over) the Australian National University for the fourth Congress and to hear speakers from across the country and overseas. The theme for that year was Bridging the Generations. In 2015 Canberra hosted the 14th Congress at the National Convention Centre. This event had the theme Generations Meeting Across Time, intended to symbolise the attendees from the 1986 congress returning and meeting and connecting with the next generation of family historians.

 The 17th Congress will be held in Brisbane from 21 to 24 March 2025. This event will be held in conjunction with 5th Queensland History State Conference and is being advertised as “Australasia's premier event for local and family historians, ancestry researchers and genealogists to uncover the past, celebrate the present and tap into the future”.




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