Archive for October, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History Week 43 Worst School Subject

October 29th, 2011

I’m participating in the weekly Geneabloggers theme of 52 Weeks of Personal  Genealogy & History and sadly I don’t always get the time to do each week’s topic. This week is your worst school subject and I simply had to do this challenge. I only ever failed one school subject and that was Art. Personally I don’t think it should have been a compulsory subject in Year 8 because not everyone is artistic.

I’m a very practical kind of person and not all that patient and the idea of sitting around and sketching, drawing, painting and colouring never really did anything for me. So I attended the classes with no real development of any artistic skills and then time came for the final exam. We had to design, draw and paint a wallpaper for a bedroom and this was the late 1960s. At that period of my life I had already painted my room a striking purple with even darker purple trims and picture rails.

So as I sat there waiting for inspiration it finally came in the form of one of my true loves – the night sky, the moon and the stars. To me the black sky, the planets, moon and stars all looked fantastic on my exam painting and perhaps it was my best work as I was truly inspired.

However when the teachers (the art teacher had asked other teachers to also give their opinions) saw my work they did comment it might be a bit too dark in the room with black wallpaper. For someone living in a purple room it didn’t seem that dark to me but I did take their point. They did praise me for my vision, imagination and artistic skills but the exam was for a bedroom wallpaper and therefore it was the big F.It was the only F ever received and I don’t think I have ever drawn anything since.

Sitting here reliving that moment in my life reminds me of another teacher, my English teacher, who was forever telling me what a boring writer I was. I needed to get more interesting so I find it a bit ironic now that I spend a great deal of my time actually writing blogs, articles and books that other people actually like to read. When did I become interesting (and how)?

My final recollection on this impromptu theme of people’s negative comments, is where shortly after leaving high school in 1972, I applied for a job in a library and at the interview, the librarian in charge told me that I wouldn’t make a very good librarian. I’ve often wondered if it was the purple hair I had back then (I was always ahead of my time, now I would fit in very well!).

Ironically many years later I joined the staff of the John Oxley Library and that particular librarian was working at the State Library of Queensland too. Not long after I started she came up to me and said ‘I remember you’ and I replied that I remembered her and that long ago interview. We went on to do many genealogy events and desk rosters together and at one point I thought I might even try for her job when she eventually retired. That was not to be as I was lured back into archives by Queensland State Archives.

I’ve always believed we end up where we belong, doing what we should be doing – but how we get there is not always that clear. I wonder what they would think of me today (although I still colour my hair, wear makeup and have long painted nails) so perhaps not much has changed at all?


Beyond the Internet Geneameme

October 27th, 2011

Pauleen from the Family history across the seas blog has created a Geneameme Beyond the Internet which focuses on genealogy resources beyond the Internet. Geneamemes (named by Geniaus) seem to be quite the trend lately so not to be left out, here is my contribution to this new geneameme.

For background I started researching my family history in 1977 so most of it was done pre Internet days. I have been able to solve some of my brick walls using the Internet and online databases especially census records. Also working in libraries and archives probably gave me an advantage as I was able to spend lunch times researching and found records I would never have found otherwise! It takes time to search original records which may only be indexed on a yearly basis or may not even be indexed at all. Looking at my results here, it is quite clear that I am more at home with a pre Internet geneameme than I was with the Tech Savvy Genealogists Geneameme!

Things you have already done or found: bold face type

Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)

Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

You are encouraged to add extra comments in brackets after each item

  1. Looked at microfiche for BDM indexes which go beyond the online search dates. Also CDs.
  2. Talked to elderly relatives about your family history. Wished I’d done more when I still had the chance!
  3. Obtained old family photos from relatives. Otherwise I wouldn’t have any!
  4. Have at least one certificate (birth/death/marr) for each great-grandparent. Have all of them – they were only $5 when I started!
  5. Have at least one certificate (birth/death/marr) for each great-great-grandparent. Again most of them.
  6. Seen/held a baptism or marriage document in a church, church archive or microfilm.
  7. Seen your ancestor’s name in some other form of church record eg kirk session, communion rolls. Does my ancestor’s brothers count – recorded in minutes of church meetings and helped build the local church.
  8. Used any microfilm from an LDS family history centre for your research. Used to spend every Friday night at the library back in the late 1970s.
  9. Researched using a microfilm other than a parish register (LDS family history centre/other). Mostly UK and Scottish census films.
  10. Used cemetery burial records to learn more about your relative’s burial.
  11. Used funeral director’s registers to learn more about your relative’s burial.
  12. Visited all your great-grandparents’ grave sites. All but one who died in remote western Queensland but have contacted local historical society who will take me out there when I get the chance to visit – they have put a memorial on the graves as it is now an historic cemetery.
  13. Visited all your great-great-grandparents’ grave sites. Most of them but still one I can’t find dying anywhere!
  14. Recorded the details on your ancestors’ gravestones and photographed them. Wish more of them had gravestones – would like to put plaques up at some stage.
  15. Obtained a great-grandparent’s will/probate documents. Only a few had wills, some intestacy files too!
  16. Obtained a great-great grandparent’s will/probate documents – again wish there were more to be found but where they exist, info was great.
  17. Found a death certificate among will documents. This is quite common in Queensland and saves money! Sometimes in land records too!
  18. Followed up in the official records, something found on the internet. TROVE has let me find more refs to my criminal relatives so I have dates and places to get into court and prison records.
  19. Obtained a copy of your immigrant ancestors’ original shipping records. Have all of them although it took some time to find them all.
  20. Found an immigration nomination record for your immigrant ancestor – do land orders count (common in Queensland and immigration agent records told me who my Norwegian ancestors went to work for after leaving the barracks).
  21. Found old images of your ancestor’s place of origin (online or other).
  22. Read all/part of a local history for your ancestor’s place of residence.
  23. Read all/part of a local history for your ancestor’s place of origin.
  24. Read your ancestor’s school admission records. Parents and grandparents (some)
  25. Researched the school history for your grandparents. Have looked at centenary or other histories where they exist.
  26. Read a court case involving an ancestor (online newspapers don’t count for this). Too many of them but then who wants a dull family history.
  27. Read about an ancestor’s divorce case in the archives. Mine didn’t divorce, just separated but have seen divorce files for collateral lines.
  28. Have seen an ancestor’s war medals. Handed down on the male line on my mother’s side, and no one knows where my paternal grandfather’s medals are. I have had replicas made for myself.
  29. Have an ancestor’s military record (not a digitised copy eg WWII). From SCMA in Melbourne before files were transferred to NAA.
  30. Read a war diary or equivalent for an ancestor’s battle. Especially for the Boer War.
  31. Seen an ancestor’s/relative’s war grave. Only in photographs from Commonwealth War Graves Commission but have visited local war memorials and seen their names engraved. Also some have a memorial notice on their parents grave although they died overseas.
  32. Read all/part of the history of an ancestor’s military unit (battalion/ship etc).
  33. Seen your ancestor’s name on an original land map.
  34. Found land selection documents for your immigrant ancestor/s.
  35. Found other land documents for your ancestor (home/abroad) – found letters written by my ancestors relating to their land files.
  36. Located land maps or equivalent for your ancestor’s place of origin.
  37. Used contemporaneous gazetteers or directories to learn about your ancestors’ places.
  38. Found your ancestor’s name in a Post Office directory of the time. Also electoral rolls.
  39. Used local government sewerage maps (yes, seriously!) for an ancestor’s street. Now digitised (some) in Melbourne.
  40. Read an inquest report for an ancestor/relative (online/archives). Lots of inquest files – mostly accidents.
  41. Read an ancestor’s/relative’s hospital admission.
  42. Researched a company file if your family owned a business. Had shares in the company and their names were listed in company file.
  43. Looked up any of your ancestor’s local government rate books or valuation records.
  44. Researched occupation records for your ancestor/s (railway, police, teacher etc).
  45. Researched an ancestor’s adoption.  None that I am aware of – although one gg grandmother took her stepfather’s name and threw my research out for quite a few years.
  46. Researched an ancestor’s insolvency. Quite a few in Queensland in the 1890s.
  47. Found a convict ancestor’s passport or certificate of freedom.
  48. Found a convict ancestor’s shipping record.
  49. Found an ancestor’s gaol admission register. Lots of them, both males and females.
  50. Found a licencing record for an ancestor (brands, publican, etc).
  51. Found an ancestor’s mining lease/licence.
  52. Found an ancestor’s name on a petition to government.
  53. Read your ancestor’s citizenship document. A Norwegian naturalization certificate, not a lot of info but did have his signature in Norwegian.
  54. Read about your ancestor in an undigitised regional newspaper. Working at the John Oxley Library in Brisbane gave me an advantage!
  55. Visited a local history library/museum relevant to your family. Lots of them – have made most of my holidays around Australia to places where my ancestors lived.
  56. Looked up your ancestor’s name in the Old Age Pension records. The widow of my gg grandfather – she was his second wife.
  57. Researched your ancestor or relative in Benevolent Asylum/Workhouse records. Another favourite place to find my ancestors.
  58. Researched an ancestor’s/relative’s mental health records. Still waiting for access to one file in Queensland.
  59. Looked for your family in a genealogical publication of any sort (but not online remember). Too many to remember but used to read lots of magazines from other societies at my local family history society library.
  60. Contributed family information to a genealogical publication. Many times.


Writing Family History Again

October 21st, 2011

Back on 24 August 2011 I wrote a Writing Family History blog and since then I have met and talked with two interesting authors and have read and reviewed their books.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have been a fan of Hazel Edwards for many years and recently I had the pleasure of chatting with her over afternoon tea. It was really good to talk to another author about publishing and e-books and the use of social media. I also took along my first edition copy of Hazel’s How to Write a Non-Boring Family History so that she could sign it for me. When I purchased the second edition in August Hazel also signed that copy.

The other surprise I had for Hazel was a copy of the original article she wrote for the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies journal, The Genealogist in March 1993. It is titled A Non-Boring Family History by Hazel Edwards and morphed into her book four years later. The article sets out the ten commandments of crafting a non-boring family history and I used it to start writing my own (still draft) family histories.

Although it has been 18 years since I started writing, and 34 years since I started researching my family history, I have to say in my own defence that my life has been fairly full and busy over that time. However, I equally appreciate that I can’t take another 18 years to finish them! The only trouble is that I have become a master of procrastination in this area. But no more!

The other inspiring author I met recently was Goldie Alexander, who like Hazel, is more well known for her children’s books. Goldie is currently  conducting classes based on her book Mentoring Your Memoir which is more about writing your own story, although many aspects are also relevant to writing family history. I’m hoping to attend one of Goldie’s sessions next year, as I had conflicting appointments for her last classes this year.

Both these books are worth reading if you are considering writing family history and as both authors are Melbourne based, if you are in Victoria keep an eye out, or check their websites, for details of any talks or workshops they may be doing in 2012. Here is my review of How to Write a Non-Boring Family History and my review of Mentoring Your Memoir.

Now I’m going to go back and read their chapters on overcoming procrastination!


My Ancestors’ Geneameme

October 15th, 2011

Geniaus is one of my favourite Australian bloggers and I can easily follow her posts on Twitter. She likes to issue challenges from time to time and here is another Meme challenge – The Ancestors’ Geneameme. This was issued on Friday and I notice that there is already a good response so time to add mine to the list.

The list should be annotated in the following manner:

Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type

You are encouraged to add extra comments in brackets after each item

Which of these apply to you?

  1. Can name my 16 great-great-grandparents (only 15 as I have one illegitimate gg grandparent)
  2. Can name over 50 direct ancestors
  3. Have photographs or portraits of my 8 great-grandparents
  4. Have an ancestor who was married more than three times
  5. Have an ancestor who was a bigamist
  6. Met all four of my grandparents (I would have liked to have met Mum’s father but he died when she was only 3 years old)
  7. Met one or more of my great-grandparents (seven were well and truly deceased by the time I came along but my grandmother’s mother was still alive and she died when I was 7 years old – but I have no recollection of her – my granny didn’t get on too well with her family so perhaps I never did meet her mother)
  8. Named a child after an ancestor (my son after the gg grandfather allegedly eaten by a crocodile in Oxley Creek, Brisbane – just one of my family ‘stories’)
  9. Bear an ancestor’s given name/s
  10. Have an ancestor from Great Britain or Ireland (lots – Cornwall, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire, Wiltshire in England; Angus in Scotland; Cavan, Armagh and Wicklow in Ireland)
  11. Have an ancestor from Asia
  12. Have an ancestor from Continental Europe (my father’s family were Norwegian)
  13. Have an ancestor from Africa
  14. Have an ancestor who was an agricultural labourer
  15. Have an ancestor who had large land holdings (even small land holdings would have been nice)
  16. Have an ancestor who was a holy man – minister, priest, rabbi (does a lay Baptist minister count?)
  17. Have an ancestor who was a midwife
  18. Have an ancestor who was an author
  19. Have an ancestor with the surname Smith, Murphy or Jones (hasn’t everyone?)
  20. Have an ancestor with the surname Wong, Kim, Suzuki or Ng
  21. Have an ancestor with a surname beginning with X
  22. Have an ancestor with a forename beginnining with Z (strangely I do – Zenobia)
  23. Have an ancestor born on 25th December (not a direct ancestor)
  24. Have an ancestor born on New Year’s Day (no – but I did have ancestors’ who married then)
  25. Have blue blood in your family lines
  26. Have a parent who was born in a country different from my country of birth
  27. Have a grandparent who was born in a country different from my country of birth
  28. Can trace a direct family line back to the eighteenth century
  29. Can trace a direct family line back to the seventeenth century or earlier (several English lines and my Norwegian line back to 1688)
  30. Have seen copies of the signatures of some of my great-grandparents
  31. Have ancestors who signed their marriage certificate with an X
  32. Have a grandparent or earlier ancestor who went to university
  33. Have an ancestor who was convicted of a criminal offence (too many of them!)
  34. Have an ancestor who was a victim of crime
  35. Have shared an ancestor’s story online or in a magazine (Tell us where) – I have been blogging on my website and have been writing articles for genealogy magazines for years and it’s surprising how many other distant relatives have contacted me because they have read these mags or Googled and found my blogs
  36. Have published a family history online or in print (Details please) – still working on it!
  37. Have visited an ancestor’s home from the 19th or earlier centuries (have visited all the places my ancestors lived in Australia but no ‘homes’ still exist
  38. Still have an ancestor’s home from the 19th or earlier centuries in the family
  39. Have a  family bible from the 19th Century (a cousin has the family bible on my mother’s side)
  40. Have a pre-19th century family bible


Ongoing Value of Genealogy Conference Papers

October 5th, 2011

In my ‘spare’ time, I have been compiling a list of all the conference papers presented at VAFHO (Victorian Association of Family History Organisations) conferences between 1995 and 2010. Conferences are usually held every two years but there are exceptions especially if the AFFHO (Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations) Congress is being held the same year.

I’m happy to say that I have finally completed the listing. Over the last few years I have managed to pick up copies of all of the proceedings except for two conferences. I had to borrow copies of those so that I could look at the papers as it is not always easy to work out what a paper is about simply from the title.

I finally settled on the following headings: name of paper, presenter, subject, place of conference, year of conference and the conference theme. I then put it all in subject order but I must say the subjects are very broad and I tried not to have too many. Where necessary I did list some papers under two subjects.

Why did I do this? Well I find that conference papers often have information and resources listed in them that are not readily found elsewhere. Of course, some papers do date very quickly but others are still as relevant today as there were when first written. After a conference everyone goes away totally motivated and excited but after a while, the proceedings end up on a bookshelf and may never be looked at again.

I would like to see more use made of these resources hence my listing and placing it online here for everyone to look at. Of course once you see a paper you want to read, you need to then find a copy of the proceedings or arrange for a copy via inter library loan. Ideally it would be good to see the proceedings all digitised and available in a single volume for sale. Or perhaps even online so that the papers can be directly linked to the digital copy.

At the next VAFHO committee meeting I will be reporting on the completion of my listing and raising the issue of how others can also access the articles easily. Either way I’m glad to tick a major item off my to do list! As always, I am happy to receive any feedback.


52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History Week 39 Least Favourite Foods

October 1st, 2011

I’m participating in the weekly blogging theme 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History and this week’s topic is all about our least favourite foods. When I first saw the topic all the horrible things Mum used to cook for me as a child instantly came to mind. Now before anyone says that’s not nice, I have to say my statement needs to be placed in the context of the times.

This was Brisbane, Queensland, Australia in the late 1950s, early 1960s before we had any real impact from the European and later Asian and African migrants who would make Australia their home. It was very much a meat and potato type diet and as my parents were not very well off, it was more offal than meat. My earliest food memories are of tripe with onions in a white sauce, lamb brains crumbed, lambs fry and bacon, steak and kidney with more kidney than steak and all served with lumpy mashed potatoes, peas and carrots.

Meal times were a bit of a battle as I simply could not eat tripe, brains, kidneys or lambs fry without gagging and eventually I ended up having sausages instead. The only trouble was Mum usually cooked my sausages in with the other ‘foods’ so they still smelt strange but at least they tasted like sausages. Even today if I see mashed potato, peas and carrots on my plate I have trouble eating them and there is no way that I can eat offal.

The best day of the week was Sunday when we had the traditional roast, usually lamb but it was probably mutton, and I can remember my brother and I fighting over the shank. That was always the best part.

As the 1960s progressed, I remember going to our first ever Chinese restaurant and having chicken chow mein and soon Chinese became a regular weekly takeaway event. When  my brother started playing soccer we made Italian friends and discovered pasta and pizza and again I discovered there was a whole world of good food out there. In the early 1970s I discovered Mexican food and chillies at Byron Bay and I use chillies in just about everything I cook today.

Mum wasn’t into baking so I don’t have any memories of cakes and biscuits and as she went back to work once my brother and I went to school, there wasn’t too much time for cooking anyway. I’m not into cakes and biscuits either but I do try and cook exotic dishes for dinner most nights. These days my taste is very much Asian and anything hot and spicy is good. My partner and I both like trying cuisine from different cultures and when we travel we always try and eat the local foods. Although the frog dish we had in Bali reminded me a lot of my experiences with offal!

I know my family was not alone in eating offal back then and some people still eat it today – but if you ever come to my place for dinner, I can guarantee you won’t be served any form of offal. It is still my least favourite food!


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