Unlock the Past Cruises

Presentation outlines

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Carol Baxter

How to become a skilled historical detective and writer - During her years as a researcher and writer, Carol has determined that four separate processes are involved iproducing a family history or other work of non-fiction: mining, combining, refining and publishing. This series of eight seminars covers all of these areas.

Mining: How to become a skilled historical detective - Overview: The following three seminars teach research fundamentals and reasoning strategies

  • How to become a skilled historical detective
    Since ‘history’ is everything that happened from today 
    backwards, this seminar provides the principles and practices that all researchers—including genealogists, historians and memoirists—need to understand in order to achieve the maximum benefit from their research endeavours. This includes understanding the distinction between primary/secondary source records and primary/secondary source information, recognising errors in original records, and even understanding how researchers' own natures influence how they interpret information. 
  • Help! Which information is correct? Strategies for determining historical truth.
    In these days of 
    information overload, individuals often struggle to know how to separate fact from fantasy. This seminar provides a dozen reasoning strategies they can apply to their research endeavours – or even to everyday life. 
  • Solving the ‘unsolvable’ 
    When Carol began the research for Captain Thunderbolt and his Lady, she was 
    told that she would never be able to discover the truth about Thunderbolt’s lover, Mary Ann Bugg, as the woman had fallen through the archival cracks. This journey of discovery offers practical advice about solving seemingly insolvable puzzles, using strategies covered in the previous two sessions.

Combining: Structuring

  • Structuring a family history or other work of non-fiction
    This seminar focuses on basic structuring 
    techniques for writers. It includes a general overview of structural necessities as well as guidelines for those writing family histories. 

Refining: Polishing Prose - Overview: The principles of good writing are the same whether the subject is fiction or non-fiction. This series of
three workshops provides writing insights and allows attendees to gain some practical experience.

  • Crafting a good book
    In the same way that researchers need to understand research fundamentals, 
    writers need to understand writing fundamentals. This workshop covers some of the tools found in a writer’s toolbox including authorial voice, narrative voice, style, tone, person and story-telling. 
  • Gripping writing
    This workshop shows writers how to use historical context, action, dramatic tension, 
    dialogue and description to engage their readers. 
  • Sensory writing
    This workshop shows writers how to engage their readers by drawing upon all of our 
    senses, and burrows down to the individual word level.


  • Publishing options: this seminar covers most publishing options including mainstream, niche and self publishing as well as journals, newsletters, websites and books.

Karen George
  • Oral history for family and local historians
    description to come
Shauna Hicks
  • Newspapers: Finding Online Family & Local History News!
    Digitised newspapers are a wonderful resource for discovering little known information about our ancestors and this presentation looks at what is available online in Australia, New Zealand and overseas.

Genealogy SA

  • topic and presenter to be advised


The Lutheran Archives

Presenter: Rachel Kuchel

  • topic to be advised

State Library of South Australia

  • topic and presenter to be advised

State Records SA and National Archives of Australia

Presenters: Tamara Wenham and Nicholas Gleghorn

  • Finding stories inside the Commonwealth, State and Local Government archives
    This presentation aims to help researchers identify, locate and order records within Government archives which may provide valuable sources of information for their stories. Topics covered will include: an introduction to archival arrangement, services which can be expected in a research centre or via enquiry, and useful record types.