52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 21 Obituaries

July 6th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnneCampaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land Records Week 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers Week 12 Gazetteers Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames Week 14 Cemetery Records Week 15 Civil Registration and Certificates Week 16 Naturalization and Citizenship Records Week 17 Court Records Week 18 Almanacs   Week 19 Family Bibles Week 20 Mining Records

Week 21 Obituaries

This week’s topic is obituaries and sadly I have never found any on my own direct ancestors and I have only found a few on the siblings of my direct ancestors. But even these can be worth looking for because they may have clues that help to confirm your research on a direct ancestor.

My great greObituary Thomas Johnstonat grandfather Adam Johnston was a bit of a rogue (and left extremely interesting records) while his older brother Thomas Johnston was much more respectable. When Thomas died in 1909 an obituary under the heading of ‘Death of an Oxley Pioneer’ appeared in the Brisbane Courier and it even included a photograph. How exciting as I don’t have any photos of Adam.

But it was the detail in the obituary which really helped my Irish research. It reports that he was born at Knockbride in County Cavan. Knockbride is a parish located outside the town of Bailieborough. On Adam’s certificates I found just Cavan and/or various spellings of Bailieborough. Between the certificates and the obituary I had an exact place to start looking for their baptisms.  The search was successful but I have never been able to trace their parents back (yet).

My partner Max’s families were a lot more socially respectable than my families and I have a number of obituaries particularly for his Burstow family. Thomas Stephen Burstow came out to Queensland and became a very successful businessman, a distinguished freemason and even Mayor of Toowoomba at one stage of his career.

The obituary in the Brisbane Courier in 1928 was headed ‘Worthy Career’ and had a photograph of him in his Masonic regalia. There are details of his career, community involvement and his many Masonic  achievements  but what was more interesting to me was that the obituary reported that Thomas and his wife had gone back to the Old Country for a visit. I don’t think any of my own direct relatives ever did that so I found that snippet fascinating.Thomas Stephen Burstow in Masonic regalia, obituary 1928

There was also a smaller obituary in the Queensland Times (Ipswich) and a report of his death in The Queenslander. If someone is well known look for more than one obituary or account of their death as the information in each may be different.

Thanks to Trove we can now more easily search for and find obituaries. When I first looked for the Burstow obituary all I found was the one in the Brisbane Courier, now there are another two reports following his death. Remember that new newspapers are being digitised and placed online all the time so it is necessary to recheck from time to time for new information. Another option for me is to monitor new titles coming and I am ‘patiently’ waiting for a few titles this year!

Obituaries may have information that is not found in official documents so it is definitely worth spending some time to see if something appeared in the local newspaper after a person’s death. I know lots of people who have done a little genealogy happy dance after finding an obituary. Why not try it too?



52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 18 Almanacs

June 10th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focussing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnneCampaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land Records Week 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10 Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers Week 12 Gazetteers Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames Week 14 Cemetery Records Week 15 Civil Registration and Certificates Week 16 Naturalization and Citizenship Records Week 17 Court Records

Week 18 Almanacs

I love looking at almanacs as they are similar to directories and newspapers with lots of different information, lists of names and interesting advertisements. Once upon a time we might have used print copies if they were not too fragile or more likely it would have been microfiche or microfilm. This made them less easy to use (in my opinion) but now we have many almanacs digitised by Archive Digital Books Australasia for sale or in libraries, some are available through findmypast.com.au and some are even online for free.

Quite a lot of my research is in Queensland and I regularly use Text Queensland where you can get a range of digitised historical books and journals on Queensland, government gazettes to 1900, The Queenslander and Pugh’s Almanac all online for free. As this week’s topic is almanacs I will confine my blog challenge to Pugh’s.

The exact title varied over the years but most people simply use the generic title Pugh’s Almanacs. The range online is from 1859 to 1927 which is fantastic and you can search or select a particular year. The table of contents reveals how informative these annual publications can be. There are lists of people under all types of subjects including occupations, government departments, community organisations and clubs and country directories. The Ministers of Religion section is also useful as it tells you where various churches and denominations were at a particular time. An annual calendar of events, statistics on just about everything  and Men of the Time in Queensland that year are also features that I like to follow up.

The 186Brisbane to Gympie 1869 Pughs Almanac9 Pugh’s Almanac has a description of the Brisbane to Gympie goldfields route in the Country Directory section. As quite a few of my families went to the Gympie goldfields it is interesting to read how they actually travelled there. It not only gives the direct Cobb and Co route but also other routes depending on where someone was starting out from. This is a great section to look at because it outlines how people travelled around Queensland in 1869.

I have also found quite a few advertisements for various family businesses and even the death of my great great grandfather was listed in the calendar of events. In the 1898 Pugh’s Almanac  calendar of events for 4 June it simply states ‘a woodcutter named Gunderson was killed at Coorparoo’.  Although not much information it does show that all kinds of events were put into the calendar not just major or significant events.

The easBurstow advertisement 1899 Pugh's Almanaciest way to see what almanacs have been digitised (and therefore more easily accessible and searchable) is to check the catalogue at Gould Genealogy & History for the heading Archive Digital Books. This section is then divided up into national, state and territory and then subdivided up into subject categories including directories and almanacs. Once you have a title you can then search on Trove to see if it is held in a library near you or online. Your local genealogy or family history society may have copies too.

Like newspapers you can spend a lot of time looking through almanacs for direct references to your ancestors and background context to help you understand the local communities is which they lived. If you really want to know more about your ancestors lives in detail then almanacs will definitely help you to do that. Why not have a look?



52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 11 Newspapers

March 25th, 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focussing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnne, Campaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Cassmob Week 11

Anne Week 11 (for finding military exemptions in newspapers)

Sharon Week 11

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land RecordsWeek 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10 Occupation Records

Week 11 Newspapers

This week’s topic is almost too easy and I could probably write pages and pages and give innumerable examples. So what I will do is highlight how digitised newspapers can lead to new discoveries about our ancestors beyond the usual births, deaths and marriages.

In Australia we are lucky that the National Library of Australia has developed Trove and this is a portal to a wide range of resources as well as digitised newspapers. It is now simply a matter of doing a keyword search on a person’s name, narrowing the results by using the decade filter and perhaps also narrowing down further to one newspaper (or any of the other filters or combinations of).

For example, by entering “John Finn” in the search field I can now easily locate the report in the Brisbane Courier on his alleged crime of arson. (Tip – the use of quotation marks keeps the two words together and reduces the number of hits). Back in the late 1980s I found John in the Brisbane prison register indexes and then had to search the newspaper on microfilm to get more details of the alleged crime. Now that the newspaper is digitised and online, I can tag the item in Trove and add it to a list of items found in newspapers that I am compiling on my Finn family.

Tagging and listing are two features within Trove that are very useful for family historians as it can help to pull all your search results on a family together. It is simple to obtain a Trove account and then you can tag, list, comment, correct newspaper text and so on. These options are available on the top left hand menu area. How can it help? Well the search for “John Finn” as well as returning hits under Newspapers, also returns a hit under Lists so anyone searching for the same name or family will be able to see my list and hopefully contact me. This can be quite useful in tracing collateral lines of families that have grown apart over the decades. If you want you can also make your lists private and then no one else will see it.

It is important to remember that not all newspapers have been digitised yet and placed online. I have a fantastic article on the alleged arson case that was published in the Sunday Truth and it even has sketches of John Finn and his daughter Mary Finn, my great grandmother. This is the only image I have of John and it is only available on microfilm at the moment. What I did not find years ago were the two reports of the case in the Queensland Times but I have now found them easily via  Trove.

Papers Past is the New Zealand equivalent and again I have found useful snippets on families, usually in the police and court sections. Once you have these details of date and place you can then follow up in the Archives New Zealand to see if there is more information in the court and prison records. It does not have to be a major crime, there are lots of drunk and disorderly entries  and other lesser crimes.

I have also easily found obituaries and these were hard to find on microfilm as they could appear quite some time after a death. If you are lucky an obituary may include a photograph. For example, Thomas Stephen Burstow was a former mayor of Toowoomba and a Freemason and when he died there were numerous articles in Queensland newspapers. As he was sick for some time prior to his death, the obituary appeared in the Brisbane Courier the day after his death and included a photograph of him in his Freemasonry regalia which I had not seen previously.

Newspapers also reported on local sporting and community events  and you may be able to find information on your families that help to flesh out their daily lives. It can be time consuming as it is easy to be sidetracked by looking at advertisements, photographs or just reading the news of the day.  On the recent Unlock the Past genealogy cruise I did a presentation about Online Newspapers and you can see the slides on the Resources page of my website. Scroll down to Presentations. There are links in the presentation to overseas historic newspapers online as well as e-resources at the National Library of Australia.

Whenever I have a few spare moments, I try and do a Trove search on one of my family lines and I am rarely disappointed. There is so much to find and as it is continually being added to, you need to remember to redo your searches from time to time. Why not do a search now and let me know any big success stories! Good luck.


Search