On Mondays, I often publish brief e-mail interviews with our lookup providers. This week I’d like to introduce you to Ben Hollister, our first provider from Australia.
From benhollister‘s profile
Ben’s passionate about teaching, history, and information/knowledge management. His extensive educational background includes a sub-major in Australian Culture and History and a Graduate Certificate in Applied History and Heritage. He’s a member of the South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society and NGS. On Genlighten, Ben offers lookups covering South Australia vital records (BMD), Australian Army Service Records, and cemetery photos in the Adelaide area.
Nine Questions with Ben
1) How did you get started doing genealogy research?
I have always loved history. My grandmother had compiled a huge amount of family history research, and for some reason all family papers and heirlooms seem to end up with me. I found out so much that I didn’t know that I just had to do more myself.
2) Do you have a genealogy superpower? If so, what is it?
No superpowers here, just the tenacity to try a variety of searches to see if a record exists.
3) Describe a tricky research problem you’re particularly proud of having solved?
When I first started chasing my BOHLMANN family, I found that previous researchers had identified 2 separate Johann BOHLMANNs in South Australia with 2 separate families. After a certain amount of digging, I proved that it was the same person. He had been widowed shortly after arriving and all of his family had died young, then he remarried and started another family.
4) What are the ideal elements you like to see in a well-formulated lookup request?
Details, Details, Details….and dot points (Ed.: otherwise known as ‘bullet points’.) Don’t leave anything out that may even be vaguely relevant, but make sure that it isn’t buried in too much padding.
5) What’s the most interesting record source or repository you’ve utilized in your area?
The General Registry Office (Old Land Titles Section) is fascinating as the Deeds are produced on parchment and contain a history of so many of the early buildings on Adelaide.
6) What technical tools do you use to produce the digital images you provide to clients?
As much as possible I like to scan at about 600dpi, but luckily my wife is a photographer, so when I have to take photos of documents on site, I sneak out with her digital SLR and table tripod!! I use Adobe Photoshop 8.0 to adjust and edit, and Transcript 2.3 to do my transcriptions.
7) Any new lookups you’re considering offering?
South Australian Land records (old and new system), electoral rolls (all of Australia), and any other series from the State Library or State Archives that I can quantify.
8 ) What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started as a lookup provider?
Be really clear about what you want to offer and make sure that your prices are comparable to others for the service level and quality you provide.
9) What other passions do you pursue when you’re not at the archives doing lookups?
That’s funny!!!! Well I sometimes come home and search archives online(for a change), I am always studying (just finished my 3rd post-graduate degree -one in computer science, one in education, and one in applied history), and occasionally my wife pulls me up for air and we work on renovating our house.
Lookups benhollister offers
- South Australian Death Lookup, 1836 – 1972
- South Australian Marriage Lookup, 1836 – 1937
- South Australian Birth Lookup, 1929 – Current
- South Australian Death Lookup, 1973-Current
- WWI Australian Army Service Records, 1914-1920
- Cememtery Photos – Metropolitan Adelaide, South Australia, Any Range
- Additional Cemetery Photos – Metropolitan Adelaide, South Australia, Any Range