OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor our sixth Cruise Speaker Profile we have a chat to Tiggy Johnson.

The 4th Unlock the Past Cruise will be Tiggy’s first cruise, and she’s really looking forward to not only meeting with fellow genealogists and gaining knowledge to aid with her own research, but also introducing the idea of poetry to genealogists as a way of sharing your family history.

If you’ve never considered putting your family history into poetry but are intigued, come along and meet Tiggy.


NAME:  Tiggy Johnson
HOMETOWN/COUNTRY: Brisbane, Queensland (originally Melbourne)
DAYTIME JOB:  Library circulation assistant/student/mother

Q1. Think back to your childhood … now what is your your favourite memory from that time?
It’s probably a toss up between something school/sports related or visiting my grandmother. It seemed like we’d visit often (which is possibly just memory tricks), and she seemed to have the biggest backyard. My brothers and I would climb the trees, play in the sprinkler and generally just chase each other around. And of course Nana would spoil us with delicious puddings, like golden syrup dumplings.

Q2. There’s always ‘something’ that sparks an interest in genealogy/history? What was it that sparked your interest?
I’d like to say it was the times Nana tried to tell me the stories that were tucked away inside the special brown suitcase she kept, but unfortunately it didn’t start until it was too late to hear those. I don’t recall exactly, but my eldest son, who was about 8 at the time, asked me something about my grandparents, and as I had never met one grandfather, I suddenly had to find out about him.

Q3. How old were you when you developed an interest in this hobby?

Q4. What countries across this big wide world did your ancestors come from?
I have 8 lines that have been in Australia since the mid nineteenth century: my husband is disappointed for me that I have no convicts (though I’m still unable to account for one, so hope remains). These eight came from: Hungary, Ireland, Prussia and England. Others are from Malta and again, England, with one or two (further back) having been originally from Wales.

Q5. Is genealogy/history your main job?
That sounds nice, but no.

Q6. Do you have a genealogy mentor or idol? Someone who has deeply influenced you in your research along the way?
Not specifically, but I do go through phases where I read the various family history magazines and of course watch ‘Who do you think you are’. Since becoming a member of the Genealogical Society of Queensland, I find that chats with other members can be motivating and influence me one way or another.

Q7. We all know that your family history can reveal some amazing things. Have any of your discoveries resulted in a life-changing experience?
This is a tough one. I think that becoming aware of your ancestors as individual people with unique stories is a life-changing experience in itself. Probably the only major change in real terms is that my relationship with my mother has changed as I keep going back to her time and again to ask more questions, even though she doesn’t know most of the answers. She’s not a great talker in this regard, but she does try to remember what she can to pass on.

Q8. What do you find most challenging about research?
Time. Also, as my children are young, I feel a little stuck in that I can’t travel to the other side of the world to look things up just yet: I’ve done most of my research online.

Q9. If you had a time-machine what relative (past, present or future) would you most like to meet?
There are two, but as they were married to each other, I don’t think I’m cheating. Honora Bentley was shipped over as part of the Irish Orphan Immigration scheme, and she went on to become an interesting woman, including that her name seemed to change every time she completed a form. She married a Hungarian, Albert Vincent Balzary, who may have fled the Hungarian Revolution, though it’s been difficult to trace him before he arrived in Australia.

Q10. Still using that time machine, you’ve been propelled into the future five years, what do you see yourself doing?
Visiting Ireland/London/Bideford to scour through registers?

Q11. What value do you think social media plays in genealogy these days?
I think it plays an important role and can be quite powerful for those who use it well. I’m not one of those people, though even so, I have made contact with distant cousins and been able to share information on common ancestors, and to just share in the delight of the search. It’s fun ‘meeting’ new family.

Q12. What do you do when you aren’t doing genealogy or history?
Too many things: studying for my Masters, parenting, working, baking, writing, and generally being involved in the local poetry community.

Q13. What do you hope to get out of a genealogy cruise?
I’ve never been on a cruise, so I hope not to get seasickness! Probably what I look forward to the most is meeting and talking with others who are also researching their family history, and of course the presentations, where I hope to get a whole heap of new tips, or have old ones brought back to focus.

Q14. Share with us a few (up to five) of the genealogy websites that you tend to spend the most time on?
Off the top of my head:
Free BMD
though I’m sure there are others.

Q15. Do you have any wise words for those just starting out in genealogy?
Learn to get by on little sleep, especially at first: buy good coffee.


For those of you who are going on the 4th cruise, here is a list of topics that Tiggy’s is expected to be speaking on, based on the Preliminary Program:
– Writing poetry: different ways to present your family history



Twitter @tiggyjohnson