My interest in genealogy began at age nine (although at that time, l didn’t know the word ‘genealogy’) when my mother’s cousin presented her with “The Caligari Family”. I was entranced by the exotic surnames of Tonagini, Righetti, Caligari, Morganti, Pezzioni, Giacometti and Tomassini, who were passengers per Great Britain, arriving in Victoria, Australia in 1861. They were Italian speaking Swiss migrants. I went to school with Italians, but who were the Swiss? Where was Switzerland? And why was my name listed on that big chart, showing that l was a descendant of Antonio Caligari, born in Someo Switzerland to Battista Caligari and Celestina Righetti? I was fascinated by this new information and I read the document untold times.
Learning my history became vitally important so it was a natural progression to become a family history researcher. I have developed an extensive personal family tree tracing direct line ancestors over 13 generations, encompassing 56 surnames. It is the story of those who immigrated to Australia in search of new hope and for some, the lure of finding a fortune on the gold fields. Other ancestors were forced to the distant land, arriving as convicts. It is the story of devout Catholics and ardent Protestants. My history is the story of law-abiding policemen and of lawless thieves.
My story includes the lives of people who achieved great success, of others who struggled terribly to get through each day, and of a few who died in horrific circumstances. I am proud of my Swiss ancestry, my nine convict ancestors and my 2x great grandmother who was an Irish Famine Orphan. And of course l am just as proud of my other ancestors without classification, who simply took the brave journey to the distant land of Australia in search of a better life.
I attended Melbourne University where l obtained a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in history and criminology. I acquired a broad range of historical knowledge and understanding. I developed the ability to evaluate information and data and comment critically on contemporary sources and secondary material. I also learnt to present well written, clearly expressed, coherently organised reports.
I honed my highly developed research and investigative skills working as a managing research assistant and coordinator of volunteers on three Australian Research Council projects: Founders & Survivors, Convicts to Diggers and Diggers to Veterans.
Founders and Survivors: Australian Life Courses in Historical Context 1803-1920 was the study of 25,000 convicts transported to Van Diemen’s Land. The genealogy research of these convicts resulted in a longitudinal study of Australian settlement, the effects of forced labour and emigration on health and survival, family formation, intergenerational morbidity and mortality, and social and geographic mobility.
Convicts and Diggers: A Demography of Life Courses, Families and Generations was the study of 1,873 men born in Tasmania who enlisted for service in the First Australian Imperial Force during World War One. It explored long-term demographic outcomes of these men, their families and lineages.
Diggers to Veterans: Risk, Resilience and Recovery in the First Australian Imperial Force was a cradle to grave study of 12,032 men who served in Victorian-raised units in the First Australian Imperial Force during World War One. The project used service records and DVA files to analyse how servicemen coped with the stresses of war during and post service. The challenge and success of identifying many diggers who enlisted under false names ensures l am well credentialed to undertake your brick wall family history research.
I believe that l am well equipped to undertake family history research projects on your behalf. When you hire me to prepare a ‘Family History Research Project’ l will present you with family tree charts and pedigree reports including Ahnentafel and descendant reports. I will also collaborate the research into a personalised family history story intertwining local historical data with stories and events from your ancestor’s lives.