Shauna 1975 leaving BrisbaneFor our third ‘Cruise Speaker Profile’, we delve into the mind of Shauna Hicks.

Shauna is well-known throughout the Australian archive, library and genealogy industries, having worked in the field for many years. These days she is a regular speaker at genealogy events around the country (including genealogy cruises), and never fails to inspire those who attend her talks.

With a wide range of knowledge on so many topics, there is ALWAYS something you’ll learn from attending any of Shauna’s talks.

The photo to the right shows Shauna leaving to go on her first ever cruise back in 1975. With  the 4th History & Genealogy Cruise coming up in February 2014 being Shauna’s 7th cruise, she now gets to enjoy not only her love of cruising, but also her passion for genealogy together. What could be better!


NAME:  Shauna Hicks
HOMETOWN/COUNTRY: Bribie Island, Queensland
DAYTIME JOB:  Genealogist, Author and Speaker

Q1. Think back to your childhood … now what is your favourite memory from that time?
Feeding the kookaburras on the back veranda of our home

Q2. There’s always ‘something’ that sparks an interest in genealogy/history? What was it that sparked your interest?
I watched Roots the TV series in 1977 but I had always been interested in history.

Q3. How old were you when you developed an interest in this hobby?
21 so younger than most people, especially back in 1977!

Q4. What countries across this big wide world did your ancestors come from?
England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway and I had a GGG grandfather who went from Norway to USA and a GGG grandfather who went from Scotland to Canada while their children came to Queensland.

Q5. Is genealogy/history your main job?
My interest in genealogy led me to do university studies in history and from my clerical job with the government into one in archives and libraries where I managed to have positions that revolved around family history and helping other researchers.

Q6. Do you have a genealogy mentor or idol? Someone who has deeply influenced you in your research along the way?
I knew Nick Vine Hall for many years and we had long talks whenever we got the opportunity. I was inspired by his crusade to save the Australian census and I think that will be something appreciated by researchers in the future.

Q7. We all know that you family history can reveal some amazing things. Have any of your discoveries resulted in a life-changing experience?
I think just starting my own family history was life changing as it led to a whole new career path which has seen me work in Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne.

Q8. What do you find most challenging about research?
As one of the old school (ie pre computers, indexes and other modern research tools) I find it hard to convince some people that it is not all online and that you still need to visit archives and libraries and do real research. So many people start with the you beaut superdatabases but don’t know the basics of how to do research step by step and why you need at least two pieces of evidence for each family history fact. To me it is the research of tracking back people and then filling in the pieces of their lives that is the challenge, not just extracting names, dates and places. I want to know who they really were and what their lives were like.

Q9. If you had a time-machine what relative (past, present or future) would you most like to meet?
Wow what a tough question – I would start with James Henry Trevaskis my Cornish miner who disappeared from Copperfield, Queensland between 1868 and 1873. His wife remarried in 1873 as a widow but after 35 years I still can’t find his death. I would like to ask him what happened to him!

Q10. Still using that time machine, you’ve been propelled into the future five years, what do you see yourself doing?
Probably the same thing I’m doing now – semi retired writing articles and books, doing research for clients and speaking at genealogy seminars and conferences.

Q11. What value do you think social media plays in genealogy these days?
I love social media – I learn so much from Twitter and reading other people’s blogs and my own research has also benefitted from my own blogs as long lost relatives can now find me and my research courtesy of Google.

Q12. What do you do when you aren’t doing genealogy or history?
You mean there is more to life? I do like to read, garden, cook and we travel a lot.

Q13. What do you hope to get out of a genealogy cruise?
Meeting new people is always interesting and I like to see if I can solve a few brick walls although last cruise they all had some of the biggest, oddest brick walls I’ve ever come across, and from a personal view point I expect to learn lots from the other speakers. I always come home with a notebook full of ideas and suggestions to follow up.

Q14. Share with us a few (up to five) of the genealogy websites that you tend to spend the most time on?
This depends on what line of the family I’m following at any given time but in general, the top one would be Trove (simply love it), National Archives of Australia, and I’m fond of Easy Google Genealogy Searcher as it lists most of the key Google tools on a single page which is a good starting place for beginners or for those who want a quick reminder of all the various Google tools.

Q15. Do you have any wise words for those just starting out in genealogy?
Read a beginner’s how to book and learn the search methodology as well as how to cite your sources so that you can find them again later on.


For those of you who are going on the 4th cruise, here is a list of topics that Shauna’s is expected to be speaking on, based on the Preliminary Program:
– Follow the gold: mining ancestors
– Mapping ancestors in Australia
– Newspapers online (including Trove)
– Family history on the cheap: now ever cheaper
– Lost in asylums: missing ancestors



Twitter @HicksShauna