Unlock The Past will be at

Unlock the Past Cruises

Judy Russell and Paul Blake downunder - Presenters

Judy RussellJudy Russell - The Legal Genealogist (US) – all cities except Melbourne
is an American genealogist with a law degree. She writes, teaches and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical topics, ranging from using court records in family history to understanding DNA testing. A native of the American west with roots deep in the American south on her mother’s side and entirely in Germany on her father’s side, she is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society (U.S.) and numerous state and regional genealogical societies. She has attended numerous genealogy training programs including the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) at the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C., and was a Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. prizewinner in Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis at the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University in Alabama.

Now on the faculty of IGHR as well as the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), she is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), from which she holds credentials as a Certified Genealogist℠ and Certified Genealogical Lecturer℠. She has written for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, the National Genealogical Society Magazine and BCG’s OnBoard newsletter.

Click here for more on Judy.

Paul BlakePaul Blake - (England) – all cities except Brisbane
Paul is a full-time researcher, lecturer and writer, with over twenty years experience, and he holds the Diploma in Genealogy from the Institute of Heraldic & Genealogical Studies. Based in London, England he specialises in London and military ancestry but has wide general expertise and is therefore available for commissions for all England and Wales. He is a regular visitor to The [British] National Archives and the several London record offices. He is joint author of two books. Paul lectures widely on a variety of genealogy and related subjects, in England, in North America and elsewhere overseas, and on cruise ships. Paul has served on many committees. He is a past chairman, of the Society of Genealogists Executive Committee and of its Lectures Committee. He was vice-chairman of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Family History Societies, and its Director of Publicity. He serves on The National Archives Online Advisory Board and on the Regular Users Committees of TNA and the Family Records Centre. Paul is President of the East Surrey FHS and a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists. 

Click here for more on Paul.

KesslerLouis Kessler (Canada) – Melbourne only
Louis Kessler is a programmer, genealogist and promoter of family history research to the masses. A member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Louis has been Chair of the Archives Committee, Board Member and President of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada. Louis has led projects such as his society’s Cemetery Photography Project, written a genealogy column for a local newspaper, and given many lectures on genealogy and genealogy technology to societies, including being a speaker on the 3rd Unlock the Past Cruise in 2013 and at RootsTech in 2014.

Louis built his own website at lkessler.com in 1997. He designed and operates gensoftreviews.com, a site where genealogists can rate and review their genealogy software, and in 2011 at beholdgenealogy.com he released version 1 of his own software program Behold – destined to be the world’s first report-based data editor for genealogy.

Louis has university degrees in statistics and computer science. He lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with his wife and two daughters. His daytime job is as the manager of the forecasting department at his province’s electric and gas utility company. Genealogy and programming are his after hour passions.

Louis is an active Geneablogger and blogs at beholdgenealogy.com blog, tweets at @louiskessler, Google plus at +louiskessler and participates in the Q&A at genealogy.stackexchange.com.

Click here for more on Louis.

BaxterCarol Baxter (New South Wales) – Brisbane only – an experienced and informed historian and genealogist, an internationally-acclaimed, award-winning author and a dynamic, inspirational presenter.

Carol has been a genealogist for over three decades, having first become interested in family history research while still at school. Her career as a professional genealogist began when she was appointed Project Officer of the Australian Biographical and Genealogical Record (ABGR). In that role she edited six volumes of early New South Wales muster returns (similar to census returns) and later the convict indents for 1788-1812. She edited other record series when she became General Editor of the ABGR’s new incarnation, the Biographical Database of Australia. She is a Fellow of the Society of Australian Genealogists and an adjunct lecturer at the University of New England, and is now a full-time writer and speaker. She has already spoken on three Unlock the Past genealogy cruises and will be the lead presenters on the Barrier Reef cruise in March 2016.

Carol began writing ‘popular history’ in 2004 and is the author of four ‘true-crime thrillers’. An irresistible temptation: the true story of Jane New and a colonial scandal (2006), Breaking the bank: an extraordinary colonial robbery (2008), and Captain Thunderbolt and his Lady: the true story of bushrangers Frederick Ward and Mary Ann Bugg (2011) were all published by Allen & Unwin to critical acclaim while The Lucretia Borgia of Botany Baywill be published in 2015. Both Breaking the bank and Captain Thunderbolt received first prize in writing competitions. In 2013, Britain’s Oneworld published The peculiar case of the electric constable: a true tale of passion, poison and pursuit. It has received international acclaim – Britain, America, Canada and Australia – with The Times (London) writing that it is ‘as lively and readable as a crime novel’ and Britain’s Independent praising it as ‘totally irresistible’.

‘How to’ genealogy books are among Carol’s other works. Writing Interesting Family Histories was published in 2009. She has also published Help! Historical and Genealogical Truth: How do I separate fact from fantasy and Help! Why can't I find my ancestor's surname? along with books on convict research and New South Wales research. She has two guide books published by Unlock the Past. 

Carol is also the author of the History Detective newsletter, a free email newsletter with tips on history, researching, writing and publishing along with information about her forthcoming publications (including pre-publication discount offers). You can subscribe to the newsletter and find out more about Carol and her books and talks via her website.

Click here for more on Carol.