Marg Doherty photo.jpg

For our next Unlock the Past Cruise Speaker Profile we chat to Marg Doherty, who is the President of the Genealogical Society of Queensland, and also of History Queensland.

Marg started doing her family history back in the 1980s BC (before computers), and now that she’s retired, family history is a dominant part of her life. But when you’re president of two big organisations, it’s going to be isn’t it!

With a passion for cruising AND genealogy, I don’t think Marg would want to miss this cruise!


NAME:  Margaret Doherty
HOMETOWN/COUNTRY: Brisbane, Queensland
DAYTIME JOB:  Retired Public Servant

Q1. Think back to your childhood … now what is your favourite memory from that time?
I loved going to my maternal grandparents home in Kalbar.  A couple of my aunts lived there as well and they held the family photos which I was able to copy later when I was interested in family history.

Q2.  There’s always ‘something’ that sparks an interest in genealogy/history? What was it that sparked your interest?
My father comes from Pittsworth about 25km from Toowoomba.  The local paper wrote about the 3 Porter brothers that were the first selectors in the area.  These men were my great grandfather and his two older brothers.  (I was a Porter and it is still probably the family I identify with most.)  Geoff does his own family history..

Q3. How old were you when you developed an interest in this hobby?
Abt 30

Q4. What countries across this big wide world did your ancestors come from? 
They didn’t venture far – 4 GGGPs Scottish; 2 Irish (Catholic and Pres); another probably Irish; 1 GGGP English

Q5. Is genealogy/history your main job?
Yes between President GSQ; President History Qld and studying Grad Dip Local, Family and Applied History at UNE – to be completed 2013; occasionally I do my own research.

Q6. Do you have a genealogy mentor or idol? Someone who has deeply influenced you in your research along the way?
All the long time Library assistants and speaker from GSQ – I did my beginner’s course with then and then have researched there and asked advice.  Volunteers at family history societies are often an untapped treasure.

Q7. We all know that you family history can reveal some amazing things. Have any of your discoveries resulted in a life-changing experience?
Perhaps not really life changing but I have found out that most of my ancestors had much harder lives than I have had.

Q8. What do you find most challenging about research?
I love looking below the surface – looking beyond BDMs and seeing what stories I can find.

Q9. If you had a time-machine what relative (past, present or future) would you most like to meet?
Ann Laird Porter Bland, my 2 x Great grandmother who came out to Qld in 1849 with her husband and five children from Perthshire.  Brisbane had not long opened to free settlement and I think she would have had a hard and interesting life.  Her husband died after about 10 years when their youngest 2 children would have been 10 or younger.  She later remarried a man who I have fairly recently discovered was a convict.  Apparently she was also a midwife. To summarise, a pioneer woman who had to rely on herself in early colonial Queensland.

Q10. Still using that time machine, you’ve been propelled into the future five years, what do you see yourself doing?
Doing family history and maybe further research on my favourite subjects – woman, nursing and colonial Queensland.

Q11. What value do you think social media plays in genealogy these days?
It links us with other researchers across the world and at home.  We can hear speakers and read blogs on areas that interest us and keep up to date with what is happening in areas we are researching.

Q12.  What do you do when you aren’t doing genealogy or history?
Reading and eating out.

Q13. What do you hope to get out of a genealogy cruise?
Identify new resources; meet interesting people; maybe get ideas for knocking down brick walls.

Q14. Share with us a few (up to five) of the genealogy websites that you tend to spend the most time on?
Trove, Trove Trove – my most favourite
NAA First World War records  – I am currently researching Central Qld WW1 nurses
Local council burial registers

Q15.  Do you have any wise words for those just starting out in genealogy?
Look at siblings not just your direct lines as often collateral lines hold the key. And don’t forget the women!


For those of you who are going on the 4th cruise, here is the topic that Marg is expected to be speaking on, based on the Preliminary Program:
– Uncommon lives: nurses in central Queensland