Down Under: A visit to Australia


Daniel Horowitz, MyHeritage's chief genealogistMyHeritage’s chief genealogist, Daniel Horowitz, recently visited Australia. Here’s his report.

In March, I traveled “down under” to Australia.

I was invited by the South Australian Genealogical & Historical Society (SAGHS) to present a keynote talk at the 13th Australasian Congress on Genealogy & Heraldry. I spoke about how we share and preserve memories in today’s digital age. In addition, I presented a program about MyHeritage’s unique and well-known facial recognition technology, which helps researchers discover relatives in family photos.

The conference was a wonderful experience, and I enjoyed meeting some long time genealogy community friends and speaking with regional experts. While staffing our exhibit hall booth, I greeted MyHeritage users and informed others about the advantages and features MyHeritage offers.

The audience for Daniel's keynote presentation
The audience for Daniel's keynote presentation

Kim Heras, our former country manager, came from Sydney to help and introduce me to many people, such as Alona Tester and Helen Smith, who helped staff our exhibit hall booth during very busy hours. Both are enthusiastic MyHeritage users and shared their own experiences with booth visitors, while helping them find relatives with MyHeritage’s SmartMatches after importing GEDCOMs.

This was my first visit to Australia and my first time in Asia, so I couldn’t just fly in and out in a week. On the way, I stopped in Hong Kong, met with Jewish Historical Society members and lectured there. In Australia, I visited Sydney – a marvelous city – where I had the opportunity to meet many members of the genealogy community. I lectured at the Sidney Society of Australian Genealogists and presented a genealogy introduction class to seventh-grade students at a local school.

In Melbourne, I spoke at the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society and at the Genealogical Society of Victoria, which has a great location in a business building’s basement. I know what you’re thinking, but no, it isn’t a dark, small and musty place. Previously a bank, some of the society’s records are kept in the vault (as they should be!). Their library is huge and includes almost every magazine, book, tool and form needed to advance members’ research.

Just before I left for home, the South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society (SAGHS) hosted a special evening for a farewell program. Housed in a lovely old building filled with books and computers, the society has a large database of people who lived in the country.

Daniel with (L) Helen Smith, genealogical researcher, speaker and author and Judy Webster genealogist and writer
Daniel with (L) Helen Smith, genealogical researcher, speaker and author and (R) Judy Webster, genealogist and writer

I was received warmly by everyone everywhere I went. I made many new friends and hope we’ll remain in contact and I’m hoping to plan a return visit.

Thanks to all those who attended the events. If you were there, please leave us a comment with your thoughts about the events.

Although this was a very long (in distance) trip – and intense (in activities) journey – it was well worth every day of the nearly three weeks I was away from my family. I’m fortunate that they “allow” me these getaways. After all, they’re the real motivation for all my work.

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