REPORTER: The baby boomer generation are redefining travel, leading the charge in genealogical tourism.
CAROL BAXTER: Genealogical research is addictive, ask anyone who does it.
REPORTER: Combining an interest in family history with a love for travel this generation now hitting retirement age and as a result are jet setting internationally and domestically. Carol Baxter, Genealogist and Historian has spent her entire adult life travelling researching not only her family genealogy but many others. She says it can be incredibly addictive.
CAROL BAXTER: It is the thrill of the detective hunt, and the thrill of fitting together the jigsaw puzzle together.
REPORTER: Heather Garnsey, Executive officer at The Society of Australian Genealogists says that Genealogical tourism inspires people to travel.
HEATHER GARNSEY: It gives them that chance to go to places to visit to walk down the street or across the little bridge that their ancestors would have walked across or walked that street. And it allows them to visualise what it was like and I think for many people that actually inspires them to do more research.
REPORTER: Kate Downes is a baby boomer who gets great satisfaction connecting with her family history. This connection has speared Kate to travel from Berry to Sydney, in a quest to discover here genealogical history. This research is leading her to travel following her past generations.
KATE DOWNES: Here I have an album, it’s a photograph album, undated but that is typical of the time, it’s a beautiful album. And in it are photographs of a lot of people I don’t know, but some of them are my family.
REPORTER: Fantastic, so you’ve got a real connection.
KATE DOWNES: Indeed.
REPORTER: Genealogical tourism is a specialised form of tourism, in that people are specifically traveling, not for the usual tourist sights, but for the record offices and places off the beaten track. Visiting where their ancestors came from. Standing amongst the air and see first hand where they come from and walk in the footsteps of their ancestors.
CAROL BAXTER: The fascinating thing about genealogy is the number of people you research doubles every generation you go back. So it doesn’t take many generations, get yourself back to about the 1750’s and you come from 2,000 people, who, its only because they got together that you exist. So the more you do it, you can never finish, you really can’t finish, and there is a new fascinating story just around the next bend, because every person has a interesting story, and its that thrill of the hunt that keeps people going.
REPORTER: Today there are many ways to research family history. Whilst the Internet provides fantastic information this is no substitute for the collection of original photos, maps and other primary information that the society of Australian Genealogists provides. What does coming to The Society of Australian Genealogists do for you and for your research?
KATE DOWNES: Well it allows me to connect the research I can do at home on the Internet, with the actual physical things. Because the Internet is great as it gives you lots of background information about things.
REPORTER: Whilst there are huge amounts of information on the Internet, the majority of information is found only by going through original records. To get access to these records researchers need to travel to the local areas where their families once lived. As it is in these record offices and libraries that different documents will unlock the past secrets of family history.
HEATHER GARNSEY: They do a trip and then they come back and say, ok not I want to find out more about another family or another branch of the family. And do another trip in the future. So I think for many people it is quite an inspiration as well as hugely enjoyable.
REPORTER: How does it make you feel emotionally being able to come down and research your family history?
KATE DOWNES: It’s very fulfilling, and every time you find another bit of information whether its here or another place that you travel to, to find these bits of information, it just makes it all feel like I know these people now. They are really becoming alive and real people. Not just names.
REPORTER: With more time and less commitment to work it’s little wonder that baby boomers are zooming around researching their genealogical heritage. Yvette De Stoop baby Zoomers magazine.