Unlock The Past will be at

2018 Congress - Mar 2018
2018 Seminar - Seattle - Sep 2018
2018 UTP cruise - Alaska - Sep 2018
2019 UTP cruise - Mar 2019


Australia - National

Australia - National

Bail Up! The story of Australia’s most successful bushranger

In 1863, colonial-born horsebreaker Frederick Ward and a fellow prisoner escaped from the Cockatoo Island penal establishment in Sydney Harbour, the only successful escapees from this barbaric prison. On the run from the authorities, he became the bushranger Captain Thunderbolt and roamed in northern NSW from 1863 until his dramatic denouement in 1870.

- 30/60 minutes – no equipment necessary but Powerpoint slides are available

Australia’s greatest bank robbery

In 1828, thieves tunnelled through a sewerage drain into the vault of the Bank of Australia and stole the equivalent, in today’s terms, of nearly $20 million, making it the largest bank robbery in Australian history. The crime, in a penal settlement of all places, nearly broke the bank. This talk tells the story of this astonishing robbery; it also provides insights into colonial times and reveals parallels with society today.

- 30/60 minutes – no equipment necessary but Powerpoint slides are available

Free at last! Records of Pardons, Certificates of Freedom and Tickets of Leave.

Records relating to freedom are an important source of information about convicts. In fact, they are often the only means of determining whether a certain person was your ancestor or not. This seminar covers the types of records that have survived, their purpose, contents and location. 

– 45/60 minutes – Powerpoint presentation

Australian newspapers

Newspapers provide a wealth of information about ordinary people living their ordinary lives. Many researchers have accessed the newspapers published on Trove, but are unaware of the availability of other newspapers. This seminar provides detailed information about newspapers and how to access them. It also uses the case study of Captain Thunderbolt’s lover, Mary Ann Bugg, to show how a picture can be built up using snippets of information from different newspapers, and how a failure to correctly interpret these reports can lead to serious biographical errors.

Colonial crimes and criminals

Was your ancestor a NSW criminal or the victim of a crime or a witness to a crime? This seminar provides a detailed examination of the sources (both common and obscure) available to researchers. It will use as examples Carol Baxter’s research into the Bank of Australia robbers in the 1820s, and bushranger Captain Thunderbolt in the 1860s. These sources can sometimes provide the only record of our ancestors “voice” as they recount their experiences of the crime in question.  

– 45/60 minutes – Powerpoint presentation

Retransportation: researching convicts sentenced to secondary penal settlements

Colonial criminals were often sentenced to secondary penal settlements such as Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Moreton Bay, Norfolk Island and Cockatoo Island. Among them were the bank robbers Carol Baxter wrote about in Breaking the Bank and the bushranger Captain Thunderbolt and his accomplices. This seminar provides information about these penal settlements and their surviving records, using the bank robbers and bushrangers as examples.

– 45/60 minutes – Powerpoint presentation

Arrived by sea: a comprehensive examination of “Free” passenger records

As editor of the passenger records published in the CD-ROM Free Passengers 1826-1837, and General Editor of the Biographical Database of Australia, Carol Baxter spent many months finding and processing records relating to non-convicts arrivals. This seminar provides an exhaustive examination of the types of records available (both well-known and obscure), their purpose, contents and location.

– 45/60 minutes – Powerpoint presentation

Transported beyond the seas: a comprehensive examination of convict transportation records

Most family historians examine only the convict indents published in the Archives Kit to find details of their ancestors’ trial and transportation.  As Editor of the CD-ROM Convicts to NSW 1787 to 1812 and General Editor of the Biographical Database of Australia, Carol Baxter spent months sourcing and processing convict transportation records. This seminar provides an exhaustive examination of the different types of convict transportation records (both well-known and obscure), their purpose, contents and location.

– 45/60 minutes – Powerpoint presentation

Finding your World War 1 ANZACs

Online resources for researching your ancestor who enlisted in World War 1 - whether in the Army, Navy, Flying Corps or Nursing Services. Also covered are resources for researching those who enlisted in the New Zealand or British services.

We Paint Your Portrait

Open Hours
  • 24 hours 7 days...contact us online

Old photos of your ancestors may continue to fade or be damaged and lost. We can turn them into magnificent hand painted oil on canvas paintings. We have produced many wonderful results. Simply send us the photo of your ancestor either by email...or by maill. We will scan the picture you send and return it...or we will use the emailed image to create a colour, painted portrait in the size yoiu nominate...frame it and send it to you...wherever you are around Australia ...or around the world. You can see examples of our work on our website.



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