The Genealogist who loves to Teach

Fiona Brooker Genealogist and Chief Memory Officer

Fiona Brooker

When I tell people that I am a genealogist, one of the first questions is how far back have you got? For me it’s not so much how far back have I got, but what I have discovered about my family; the stories, the journeys and the connections like the moment of touching the document at National Archives that my five x great grandparents had signed in the early 1800’s.

My start came from a school project, and I still have the letter that my grandmother wrote me on behalf of my granddad telling of his journey from Aberdeen to New Zealand in 1924. That started an interest that my mother fueled with her own interest in a set of family letters that were written in the 1880’s from immigrants in New Zealand to family in Devon and then reunited with the New Zealand branch of the family in the 1970’s. You can see her early family tree sketch on the home page and the marriage certificate of the Devon ancestors too.

Whilst living in the UK, I had the opportunity to research in record office and archives and visit the places where my ancestors had lived (there is nothing like it!). I was also able to study and after a 30 week night course I achieved a Higher Certificate in Genealogy from the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies.

Beyond my own research I have served as both President and Treasurer of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) and worked with local branches. I convened the organising committee for the 2008 and 2018 NZSG AGM & Conference's in Christchurch. I am currently part of a team to organise the Christchurch Family History Expo in August 2022 (Yes, we're going to have another go after 2020 & 2021 having to gone online).

I was looking for a way to share family recipes written in my mother’s handwriting with my brother when I discovered digital scrapbooking. That’s where I met Lauren Bavin, on an American digital scrapbooking website (you can read more about digital scrapbooking here). Inspired by the designers and the other members I learnt Photoshop and how to design pages to capture stories and moments.

One of the design challenges on the website was “Preserving the Present for the Future”.  This is something that I really believe in and it’s just as important as preserving the past. Wouldn’t it be great to have a photo of your grandparent’s kitchen? Well, have you made sure there is a photo of your kitchen for your grandchildren?

Memories in Time grew from my desire to help others start tracing their family history. As a professional genealogist I have helped others get started; get through road blocks; get organised and find heirs to estates.

Outside of client work, my latest projects are:

  • Plan to Publish – a 12 step programme to take you on a journey from planning to publishing a family history book. Including free guides and a Facebook group to encourage family historians to get their research off their computer and into their families hands.
  • Talking Family History – a webinar chat programme with Michelle Patient. Michelle and I chat about some of the websites and records we have used during the week (with a focus on UK, Australia and New Zealand records) and give tips to help with your research.

I am a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG). With a background in adult education, I love to teach family history and digital scrapbooking. There is nothing better than getting someone else addicted to the hunt for their ancestors.

Oh and if you really want to know, I can trace my family tree back to the mid-17th century. Finding out about my bigamist great, great, grandmother… that’s another story.

Contact Fiona

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