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Door to store: Caring for your family history documents

Tania Riviere and Jess Wignell, National Museum of Australia, and Jenny Higgins, National Library of Australia, 11 July 2013

TANIA RIVIERE: Hello and thank you for coming today to the National Museum of Australia. My name is Tania Riviere. I am by trade a paper conservator and I work out in the conservation area of the Museum here. I am also your MC for today. I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today.

The journey of the objects and their life at the Museum is the inspiration for our series of Door to store: Caring for your collection talk. This workshop-style program aims to teach the public about the work that our conservation area does as well as the curatorial and registration teams. Each session demonstrates the techniques for handling, storing and conserving our collection and offers practical examples that can be implemented at home.

I would like to welcome everyone here today and I would also like to extend a welcome to everyone who is tuning in live from Kiama. I would like to cross to Kiama now and say thank you and welcome.

MICHAEL: Hello this is Michael, outreach services officer from Kiama library. I would like to thank you for the welcome, and we are always glad to take part.

TANIA RIVIERE: Today’s topic is family history documents. These documents really help us understand where our families came from. But how do we find them? And once we have found them, what do we do with them and how do we best look after them so that we can ensure we have them to pass over to future generations? Some of these questions hopefully will be answered today, and many more of your questions that you might have, from our two speakers.

Joining us today we have family historian Jenny Higgins from the National Library of Australia, who is going to provide some great tips on how to find your documents and information. Then we will talk to our paper conservator Jess Wignell, who will share some of her knowledge and expertise on how to look after those documents once you have found them and how to keep them for your family and for future generations. I would like to welcome Jenny to the floor.

JENNY HIGGINS: Thank you very much for the welcome. We have all got them. My mother keeps some in an old book about dressmaking, documents of special interest to her interleaved with pages about embroidery. She actually needs to come to this lecture. But the book is important too. My grandmother kept her treasures in this box. Even the box has a dedication inside it that helps with my family history. Here is a list of some of the items in grandma’s box [slide shown]. You can see there are some very interesting things and some things that perhaps are not useful. Her parents’ original marriage certificate was fabulous. There was a newspaper article about her husband’s hooliganism and various other things which to me didn’t seem to be very connected to the family history in the first instance or things that I didn’t understand. There is more of the list [slide shown]. It went on and on. This is only an excerpt of the some of the things I found in grandma’s box.

Any collection of treasured items in your family will help you with your family history. But where to start? What you need to do basically is start with paperwork. Starting from yourself, write down the name of ancestors you know and what you know about them, your parents, then your grandparents and so on. A chart like this is very helpful [slide shown]. I have put some on the table. I notice that some of you have picked them up. This chart is one where you can write down your name, and then your parents’ and your grandparents’ names and write down those essential details about them - where they were born, when and where, where they were married and where they died, and the places for those events. It gives you a very brief view of your ancestral lines and what you know and don’t know. I have always found when you start filling in one of these charts that you discover just how much you don’t know.

A second chart I would recommend is a family group sheet. This sheet is very information dense when you fill it in. It gives you a view of one entire family. It is very good for giving you a very quick look at a particular family.

Both these charts are available via the Ancestry.com website which is available in our local libraries here, in the State Libraries and in the National Library. I am sure it is available at the Kiama library as well. You can find other versions of these two charts on the internet. The two of them are very commonly used. Of course, you could also use an online service like http://www.ancestry.com.au or Find my past http://www.findmypast.com.au/ but the paper versions help you get a broad view, and in point of fact I use both.

Go back to your artefacts - note names, dates, places and type of events

For instance, my great-uncle’s war service records helped me identify his name and what war he served in, and then I could go to the National Archives to look for his war service records. There was actually only a few documents about his war service in grandma’s box.

Don’t worry if there is no obvious connection. The exciting part of family history is when an artefact suddenly makes sense. My great-grandmother’s job references made me look in New South Wales immigration records for her arrival rather than in Victoria, which is the place that I would have expected because she spent all of her life in Australia in Victoria - or so I thought. The reference also told me to look for her sister as well on the ship, because the reference said that she and her sister had been in New South Wales until the time they were about to leave for Victoria.

Her grandma’s marriage certificate told me her father was born in London, which turned out to be true, although grandma stolidly maintained that he was born in Slindon in Sussex where most of the family action took place.

Next - talk to the relatives

Talk to family members about the items and what they know about the family in general. Items in your collection are a great conversation starter. Rather than asking, ‘Tell me all you know about whoever,’ and you are just as likely to get a responses of nothing – ‘I know nothing about Great-Uncle George.’ But when you produce an item, it quite often sparks off a chain of memory or helps them focus on a particular event.

Give your interviewees the chance to tell you what they know. Don’t overwhelm them with your knowledge. They might even give you that one little clue to spark more research. An old aunt is fabulous for dating photographs, recognising long-gone faces and forgotton places. I would also like to say you need to go down that old auntie’s path and talking to the rellies many times, because as you increase your knowledge about the family, you will probably have more questions to ask. Also people quite often have a first interview and then go away and think about what they have talked about with you, and then they will realise they know more than they thought they did. The other piece of advice is: don’t delay these conversations because I know how many times I have thought if only grandma was still here, I could ask about that and I know she would know the answer.

The next step I think I would like to advise is to get a good research guide

Despite what we might think from the TV ads, family history research is a research process like any other and it’s good to get the guidance of experts plus background information about the records that you will need to use. For Australian and British Isles research, you can’t go past this book [Family History for Beginners and Beyond] that is published by the Heraldry and Genealogy Society of the ACT http://www.hagsoc.org.au/, but I don’t get a commission for any of its sales. I just think it’s one of the best books for Australian research. It’s up to date, easy to read, details the research trail, provides lists of good websites and books for background reading. You can buy it online or from the society or from the National Library bookshop or consult it in a local library or in the National Library. In the National Library it is on the shelves in the family history area.

There is also a wealth of books available for overseas research and research about particular subjects. In the National Library we have quite a number in our family history research area, so you can just walk in and read them. I am sure that is same in some local libraries and at the Kiama Library. Also try your state library or your family history society library. Also look for books and guides about particular areas of research such as convicts and immigration. People have written some very good guides about particular subject areas. The Internet has any amount of background information and guides to research. Try to use a reputable site such as a library, archives or a family history society’s website.

The next step: get the facts

Confirm your known events with official records or certificates. It’s essential that your research proceeds from the basis of correct information. You may lose a lot of time and money if you don’t. You may think that you know where your grandfather or grandmother came from or where they got married or how many kids they had, but it’s very important to check those things that you think you know with the official documents.

Family secrets can often be just that - secret - until you find the official record doesn’t match the family story. Get certificates to confirm your grandmother’s birth and marriage, et cetera. Get grandpa’s war service record and find a newspaper report on the accident that took great-uncle’s life. Discover that great-grandfather wasn’t a major at all in the war but a lowly private. How many times have we heard of the story of grandpa being a major and very important in the army, and it turns out he was a private like most other people.

My own great-grandmother said she was 17 when she married, but she was actually only 14 and maintained that deception all her life. Official records helped me sort out just who she was, and it cost me a lot of money - I can tell you to find that out - because I couldn’t find her birth certificate until I finally discovered that she was a lot younger than she said.

How to do this? Use birth, deaths and marriage indexes

Australian, English and Welsh indexes can be found in ancestry.com but also don’t forget the BDM indexes offered online by some state registers and the others that are available on CD and microfiche from the National Library and from some local libraries and also from family history libraries. You may find these are easier to use giving great searchability, have more details and sometimes - quite often in fact - have fewer errors than ancestry.com. I am just going to show you a list of the area on the National Library’s called E resources http://www.nla.gov.au/app/eresources/. You can see there a number of the electronic resources we have for birth, death and marriage indexes for Australian states. Each state has their own index. So it’s not all in one big lot like Ancestry is, but sometimes that’s an advantage for searching.

I would like to show you this search because it’s easy to think that a lovely, online, commercial family history service is going to provide you with the answer, but sometimes their indexes show less than what is actually freely available. Here is an example of a search on the South Australian birth index [slide shown]. On the left you can see there is actually only five items of information and the year of the registration is actually a year range rather than a precise date or a precise year. If you were to use the index which was published by Digger that is at the National Library and in other places, you get about 12 different items of information. You can see the wealth of detail there: an exact date, the name of the church, the ages and marital status of the parties, and the father’s name. It’s always a good idea to use the source that is going to give you the most information quickly, I think.

It’s important to get certificates for discovered events. They supply greater detail than the index and may tell you that you are on the wrong track or, better still, give you some vital clues for the next step for research. Some state certificates will give you parents’ names, dates of birth or how long in the colony and other vital clues which don’t show in the indexes.

Online family history services, national state and local libraries can also help you with other types of records such as immigration, convict records, cemetry transcriptions, occupational lists and descriptions, books for background information about general and local history, published family histories, biographies and war histories. For instance, if you have a railway employee, apart from their full service records in their respective state archives, they appear on lists in government gazettes every few years, which are available in the National Library and other libraries, giving you a potted history of their progress - or lack of it.

In recent years Australian family history researchers have become besotted - and that’s the only word I can use - about a particular major source of information for Australian people, and that is, Trove digitised Australian historic newspapers http://trove.nla.gov.au/. How many people have used Trove here or how many haven’t use Trove? I am glad I can talk to someone about it then. Trove is a free, online, fully searchable service and contains a growing collection of newspapers from all over Australia to 1954. In fact, within three years all New South Wales newspapers to 1954 will be included in the service. The Australian Women’s Weekly is included to 1982 and our local Canberra Times is being added to 1995 as part of our centenary celebrations.

All parts of the newspaper are included - this is the best bit for family historians - and are searchable. That includes personal notices, advertisements, sports results, photographs and all news items. As an example of what you might find, I searched for my grandfather’s cousin Eileen Higgins. There is the newspaper part of Trove [slide shown]. There are more parts to trove but I am just highlighting newspapers today. Here is the result for my search for Eileen Higgins who became a doctor in the early 1920s. What we are looking at there is the results of the search that gives me a number of items. That was with a full search with her middle name, but I did other searches with just Dr Eileen Higgins as well.

This is the full digitised version of the newspaper article that you can see. I not only discovered her university exam results from year to year, mentions of her in various hospital related activities and social functions, an advertisement she placed for home help, notification of setting up her practice in Collins Street, Melbourne, but I also discovered this report of a court action against her for running into another car. She was driving at 15 miles an hour and failed to sound her horn at the intersection. It sounds like she might have been a bit of a tearaway but the article does mention that she had her mother in the car, so maybe it was just accidental. But what a snapshot of a thoroughly modern woman driving a car in those times. Trove should be searched for all family names you know. You may be pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised at what you might find. It does come with buyer beware because sometimes there are some very nasty surprises in the newspapers.

The next step for your family history is to go local

Once you have built up a reasonable picture of your family, visit the area they lived. Absorb the local and social landscape and talk to the local and family history society. These organisations are great holders of local material, know old timers who might help and can add to your knowledge or debunk your favourite theory with a few local facts. Join a family history society in the area of your research plus you might consider joining one close to where you live so that they can help you with their expert advice. We have an excellent society here, which I have already mentioned.

That brings me back to the family treasures

Revisit them from time to time. Your new knowledge of family events will give them greater significance and possibly allow you to draw more information from them and to fit them into the family history. I can now interpret exactly the bars and stars on my grandmother’s mother’s badge and know that the funeral card, which had a name but I didn’t know who it was, is her mother’s cousin.

The other thing I would end up with is: don’t forget your own treasures too

Give your own descendants a headstart and write down the story of your own documents and keepsakes. The badge in my collection that simply says ‘MSA’ may have some people think that I was an employee of the Malayan Singapore Airlines but in point of fact is actually the membership badge of the Maths Students Association at a Melbourne university. What of the badge of a rectangular pink football? I reckon that is going to challenge a few people. Are there any questions?

QUESTION: Is there something like Trove for overseas newspapers?

JENNY HIGGINS: Yes, there are a number of services. There is a free service called Papers Past for New Zealand http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast. That is an excellent service. Are you interested particularly in the British Isles? There are a number of services for the British Isles and mostly they are not free. But if you are a registered member of the National Library, which is easy to do, provides at home access to those newspaper services. There are nineteenth-century British newspapers, Illustrated London News, which also includes news from the colonies, Irish newspaper archives and a few others too that go a bit further back. If you want to come and talk to me afterwards about that.

TANIA RIVIERE: We might have more questions at the end. Thank you, Jenny, that was fantastic. [applause]

We will now welcome Jess to the stage, our paper conservator here at the Museum. She will be talking about how best to look after your collection and how to store it in your home and things to carry it around in so your collection keeps safe.

JESS WIGNELL: Thanks Tanya and thanks Jenny. My name is Jess Wignell and I am a paper conservator at the National Museum. You will have to bear with me because I am a bit nervous. Family history documents, as we have just heard from Jenny, are a wide range of items - letters, bibles, documents, certificates, newspapers, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia. All paper-based items can be cared for in very similar ways. So when I talk about books or documents, you can apply these to almost anything.

The longevity of your documents can be threatened by numerous factors. We break these factors down into two different groups, being inherent and external factors.

Inherent factors like yellowing and pages becoming brittle are often due to the physical makeup of your documents. Correct storage and handling can slow these down but we are never going to be able to stop them.

External factors like your environmental conditions - pests, dust, light and mould - are a little bit easier to control. In the Museum we look after our environmental conditions and we maintain 20 degrees plus or minus 2 degrees and humidity at 50 per cent plus or minus 5 degrees. This is a bit difficult to achieve in your own home, but good storage isn’t.

Paper is an organic medium, which means that it expands and contracts with humidity. This means that if you can avoid dramatic changes and fluctuations in humidity you will be on a pretty good track. But temperature has an inverse relationship so if you are maintaining one, you will generally maintain the other. We are fairly lucky in Canberra though. We don’t have high humidity, not like Queensland.

Pests and mould outbreaks can tend to be related to poor storage environments so just check for the cause before you react. Maintain good housekeeping and check your storage areas regularly. Anniversaries can be often a good time to check your collection: if you are thinking about grandma, you can pick her birthday and have a look at it again.

As we said earlier, you can try to achieve good things in your own home. If you are putting things on display, avoid direct sunlight because that will obviously fade your object. If you are hanging things on a wall, try to look for internal walls rather than exterior walls. But if you are putting them on exterior walls, just check behind them so if there is any dew point you can address that.

There are many different methods for storing your objects at home. I have a few things here today. You are most welcome to come up and have a look afterwards and we can talk about them a little bit more. Generally keep your objects off the floor, away from external walls and the middle of your house is generally the most stable. Again, stay away from roof cavities and your uninsulated garage, because that is where your fluctuation is going to skyrocket.

Over here we have a few things that we will talk about today. In an ideal world we would have archival boxes are beautiful fitting lids. If your budget allows, purchase archival acid-free boxes. When you have your items in a box, you can pack your box out with paper so that your items don’t swim around and then you can also fit a few more things into that box.

We have other things like you can purchase four flap folders which have various grooves in them so you can adjust to the size of your objects. These are great for books. You can adjust for the height difference. Or you can make your own. On the web there are lots of different styles of little four flap folders that you can create specific to your item. You can interleave in these folders as well. So if you have small, discrete collections that are of similar size, these little boxes are great. They can then be packed into a bigger box and hidden away so that everything is together. It is good to maintain all of your collection together. I also recommend labelling your boxes. As you can see here, there is an area where you can clearly label your box so that, if you have it in your cupboard, you can identify what’s there. If you have a few boxes and you want to go to grandma’s letter, you know which box it is in.

We also like view books for family history documents, because again you can store them really easily. They are very easy to purchase and available from most of your general stationery shops or art supply shops. They come with plastic sleeves already. The advantage is that again you can keep everything together but you can see it from both sides. If the document is particularly fragile, you can slip a piece of paper in behind so that it will have a bit of extra support.

We have an example here where, using photo corners, we have secured two items of a similar size into the view book. This also means that they are not going to slip around and knock against each other. Once you have it attached to the view book, it means it is not going to apply pressure onto the item you have behind it so that nothing ever touches and damages each other.

For individual items, you can also make or purchase very slim and flat folders - again with the four flaps just so there is complete cover of your little object inside. Paper is really nice because you can annotate on the front what it is so that you don’t have to open it up. If you have a couple of these, you can pick the right one when you are going to show someone or you are going to look at it again.

We have different types of view books. That is one that you can purchase very readily. Then we have these other types of polypropylene or polyethylene folders that also have a slip cover that they can go into. With these ones you can add or subtract as many mylar pockets as you need. In here I have some mylar pockets and some polyethylene pockets, and again we have secured the documents with photo corners. Photo corners are your best friend.

You can purchase these mylar pockets in varying sizes. If you have something that is bigger or smaller, you can find ones that will cater to your needs. Here is one with two that slips in from the top. This is also where you can see from behind. Please come down and have a look and have a feel of these materials, because they do feel quite different and provide different support.

Talking about books, old bibles can be very fragile and they can be quite fat. We at the Museum make up our own book pillows. This one has beans in it, like a bean-bag. You can hear them there. We can fluff them up either side. What you are doing is you are supporting the spine in here. As you are turning your pages, you will see the book requires different support if you are to one side or if you are to the other side of the book. So we are able to really fluff up this side so that we can still view the book properly but it’s fully supported. That’s a really nice way to do it. At home, if you don’t have an old bean bag, you can use two small pillows inside a pillowcase that you can butt together and sit your book in the middle. Or if you have an old down pillow that you can fluff up, just like I have done there, that is a really good way to start as well. We also use handmade book supports. This is on a nice little triangle that is probably for a hard cover book, but these book pillows will work for a hard cover as well.

When you have books on a book shelf, when getting books off a book shelf it is not good to pull from the spine. When you are pulling them off, if you get your fingers around the book, you will actually support it much better and you won’t cause any damage to that top part of the book or any damage down the spine.

Most of these things can be applied to lots of different types of paper objects. But if you ever have a problem where you don’t feel comfortable or you are just a little bit unsure, it is probably time to seek a conservator. The AICCM which is the Australian Institute for Conservation of Cultural Materials http://www.aiccm.org.au can direct you to a local conservator and one that will specialise in the material that you have. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask and come down and have a feel. Thank you. [applause]

TANIA RIVIERE: If we could invite Jenny back to the stage, we are going to have questions for Jenny and Jess. We will start off with the Visions Theatre first and then we will cross to Kiama. We have a microphone that will be roving around. If I can ask you to speak clearly into the microphone if you have questions.

QUESTION: Thanks, that was really interesting. I was just wondering, Jess, if you could talk to us a bit about handling and whether it’s good to use gloves or not when you are handling paper objects.

JESS WIGNELL: Yes, gloves are one of these things that is quite debateable. Clean hands is first and foremost the way to go. If you have gloves, we do suggest that you have powder-free and close-fitting gloves so that you don’t cause any further damage by things pulling or catching. Generally if you are handling photographs, always use gloves because they will protect against your fingers etching into the emulsion of the photograph.

The other thing that I forgot to mention was a nice way of turning over an object with the assistance of another piece of paper. We have a little postcard here. Very easily we can pop a piece of paper over the top, turn the whole thing over, remove the paper and you have the other side. It is a very passive and supportive way of turning something small over.

QUESTION: With the plastics, are there any plastics to avoid when you are putting paper under plastics because in some instances plastic tends to grab the paper?

JESS WIGNELL: Yes, definitely. It’s a good question. I was trying to talk about the things we do use so that I didn’t put into your head that PVC is very bad so avoid polyvinyl chlorides. Always look for polyester or polyethylene and archival quality is usually the way to go.

QUESTION: You have partially answered my question because I was going to ask about the plastics too. That purple folder, is that just like the ones you get in Big W and all that?

JESS WIGNELL: Yes, sure is. A lot of these are being made without PVC for the reason that we know these chlorines are very bad. These are readily available. It’s a really good, cheap option.

FEMALE: They will often say ‘copy safe’ on them as well so you can know you are getting a good quality product.

QUESTION: What about the box - where does one get those?

JESS WIGNELL: These can be purchased from archival suppliers or conservation suppliers. The AICCM website will direct you to some archival suppliers but you can also Google search conservation suppliers, acid-free or archival suppliers. There are many different types of acid-free boxes in terms of shape and size so you can find one that is specific to what you want.

QUESTION: Is there any danger to these items when you want to store them electronically? Is there any damage that can be done when you do that sort of thing?

JESS WIGNELL: Sorry, what do you mean electronically, if you are going to take a photo and?

QUESTION: Taking photos and putting them those heat scanners.

JESS WIGNELL: I would stay well away from laminating - never laminate, because the heat and the adhesive will go straight into your object and you will never be able to get it out. It will cause yellowing and all sorts of yucky things. If you want to have a loose piece that you can pick up and move around other than inside your folder, I would tend to recommend a mylar pocket. The mylar is slightly more rigid than polyethylene sleeves, and that will give you a bit of extra support for your object.

TANIA RIVIERE: If you are concerned about the light that is coming through your scanner to your objects, you can put them in a mylar sleeve or in a plastic sleeve and that will reduce some of the light that is hitting through. You just need to make sure that you are happy with the image that results from that. It’s usually a short, sharp burst of light so, as long as you are not copying that one item over and over again, most items can usually handle that, including photographs. But if they are a particular colour photograph or a black and white one that has faded anyway, you might just want to do it just once. You don’t want to be putting things through automatic feeders because they can get caught on that.

JESS WIGNELL: Then if you do want to make multiple copies, copy from your copy.

QUESTION: Electronically storing them in CDs or DVDs, is there a shelf life on those? Should we worry about them after a few years?

JESS WIGNELL: Yes, you should worry about them. It’s not my area of expertise. I think digital formats are readily changing and evolving, so backing up all of your electronic records onto various formats is probably the safest way to go. There is information you can find on the web about digital formats and the way they become obsolete so quickly, so I would have a look there.

QUESTION: I was more interested in shelf life of the actual object like the CD or the DVD. I just heard that they die after a few years and was curious to know whether I should worry about some of the ones I have.

JESS WIGNELL: CDs, I would think so, yes. As I said plastics and those sort of CD formats are not my area of expertise. Paper-based stuff is. I am sure you could contact the AICCM and talk to someone who is a bit more up on that sort of stuff.

TANIA RIVIERE: It might be worth considering uploading them onto an external hard drive as well, so you have your CD there but you also have them on an external hard drive that is sitting separate from your PC.

QUESTION: If you have ink or something on the paper, not like a traditional pencil or pen, should that affect how you store it - if you had Japanese calligraphy or something?

JESS WIGNELL: Not necessarily. Amazingly enough, the Japanese calligraphy ink is extremely stable. It’s a carbon black ink. But it is a good idea to interleave so, if you have a stack of documents that have beautiful writing on them, I would interleave either with an acid-free tissue or with archive text, which is an acid-free paper, and that will stop any transfer if anything were to happen.

QUESTION: I am just wondering about storing of items that are already perhaps damaged, thinking of foxed paper, for example. Do we need to do anything special to save that from becoming a problem?

JESS WIGNELL: I would make sure that, with anything that has foxing or staining on it, you interleave it or keep it in a plastic sleeve that is separate from your other items. But there is nothing particularly that you need to do with foxing that is different as opposed to any of your other paper items. Foxing is something that has already happened within the paper. It will slow down by having it in a box and keeping it away from light and fluctuations of temperature and humidity. But no, there is nothing specifically special to do with it.

TANIA RIVIERE: Do we have any questions for Jenny before we move over to Kiama? No. We might cross to Kiama now for some questions.

QUESTION: Could you give me an idea of the best way to store old photographs?

JESS WIGNELL: With photographs, these small paper individual envelopes are a really good way of storing them by themselves and then stacking them in a box together. You can also store photographs in your view books, and there are specifically photograph pages that you can purchase. I will just find one here. This has a divider for four photographs, which is nice, because if there are any inscriptions on the back, you can view them without having to handle them on an individual basis.

QUESTION: Since you are going to be storing like items with like items as in all the photos together and things like that, do you have any suggestions on making a catalogue or an index?

JESS WIGNELL: If you do have the capacity to catalogue your items, that’s a really good idea. If you have a number type system, or whatever system you choose, using a very soft lead pencil to annotate that number on the back of your photograph is best. Never use pens to write on the backs of photographs, letters or any paper documents, because it will go through and you will see indentations. Otherwise if you are using these paper envelopes, you can write your number on the paper envelope, and that will avoid any damage to your photo. However, if you have a box of photographs, it might be a good spot to write your index on the top of the box.

QUESTION: I just wanted to know about larger size - not the usual A4 kinds of things – documents because your boxes and things mainly cope with just A4-type paper. What do you do, for example, with old certificates that are quite big or oversize pieces of paper for different things?

JESS WIGNELL: With oversized pieces of paper, folios, certificates or posters, you can purchase boxes that are a lot bigger and they can also be shallow so that you don’t have to put something that is quite big into a deep box. I recommend that, if you are carrying a larger piece and you have your workspace that is clean and free from clutter, you carry it with the corners and place it down. Mylar pockets and boxes are available in larger sizes. If you have the luxury of having a plan drawer or a plan cabinet to store your larger things in, that is really fabulous; otherwise you can create bigger folders as well.

QUESTION: I think we are done.

TANIA RIVIERE: That’s great. Thank you, Kiama, for your participation today. Do we have any more questions before we wrap up?

QUESTION: This is to Jenny who is dealing with the ancestry. I went to contact a Brighton cemetery and there is a group called the crematorians who do volunteer work. I sent an email and they sent me back the cemetery records about the births, the dates, the minister, occupation and all really good information of five relatives who are buried there. I was just wondering - I don’t know if you know this - can we just go to the cemetery and freely look up records there ourselves?

JENNY HIGGINS: I think it would vary from cemetery to cemetery, but a lot of cemeteries now have their burial registers online. Are you talking Brighton in Victoria or South Australia?

QUESTION: No, Brighton in Victoria.

JENNY HIGGINS: I have been watching the Brighton Victoria cemetery website for some time, because they keep on promising that whole lot is going to go up. You can certainly go and visit the gravestones at any time, but the burial registers do vary. The best thing to do is contact the cemetery itself and ask them that, I think.

QUESTION: Thank you.

TANIA RIVIERE: Before we finish up for the day I would like to thank Jenny and Jess for today. It’s been fantastic. Lots of information for you to go on and look through your family history and then you can store those documents properly. Thanks again to Kiama for getting on board, and we look forward to seeing you next time. Thank you. [applause]

Date published: 5 August 2013