‘What’s Your Story?’: The Afterword

IMG_20180526_150901722trmThanks to all those who helped organise or attended our second year of participation in the amazing, community-based South Australia History Festival this past May. Once again the Bookshop was pleased to host a public speaking event, dedicated local history book displays, and our Memory Postcard exhibition which takes short postcard-length anecdotes or recollections shared by the public and transforms them into South Australian postcards.

On May 26th, over 30 people gathered at the Unitarian Church in Norwood to hear Dr Geoffrey Bishop, Kym Pennifold, and the Bookshop’s own Peter Mitchell share their varied experiences and recommendations for researching, writing and publishing local history through a focus upon personal and family histories. Dr Geoffrey Bishop engaged our curiosity with a tale of coincidence, photographic clues, and the value of local knowledge and chatting, as we longed to find out who the handsome lady in the sepia photograph was… Kym Pennifold gave us all very practical and relevant advice about structuring research, writing, and formatting publications for family histories spanning centuries and continents. Options for research methods including combining a love of travel with on-the-ground research to clarify contradictory details and gather visual references – all of which can be immensely time consuming and may only be possible (as Kym pointed out with a nod to his wife) with a supportive spouse. Peter Mitchell, who is our Bookshop’s Volunteer Coordinator, reflected upon the writing of a memoir and options for self-publication. Peter grew up in Adelaide’s western suburbs during the 1950s as a baby boomer and his memoir ‘An Adelaide Story –  Ten Cars, A Couple Of Pushbikes, A Flaming Scooter, And A Jet Or Two’ entertainingly recounts family life and his local experiences in parallel with significant historical events at home and abroad.

Following, a Q&A was opened up with some very interesting questions about online research tools, how to approach filtering through an excess of information, and the dilemma of contradictory records. The dynamic conversation continued over a friendly afternoon tea where further connections were discovered and wondered at …but that’s the usual Adelaide story right? All this made for a well spent afternoon!

Many thanks to our featured presenters who volunteered their time and expertise, Genealogy SA, the Unitarian Church of South Australia for making the venue available, and our Bookshop Volunteers who organised and ran the event.

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