Using the State Library of Victoria From Afar!

October 2nd, 2013

Back in September I was asked to do a guest blog for Family Matters, the genealogy blog of the State Library of Victoria. I’m including it on my website for those who might not have seen the Library’s blog.

When I left Victoria last year for sunny Queensland, one of the places I was going to miss was the State Library of Victoria which has a great genealogy collection. While I can’t personally visit these days, I can still do so online and it’s surprising how much genealogy information the Library has online. Plus there are digitised images, maps and books. This blog will explore some of these great resources.

On the home page under Explore there is a link to Family History Resources which is a great starting place with links to specific genealogy resources. If you can’t attend an event in person, the Library often records the talk and these are available under the watch and listen link. Of particular genealogy interest are the annual Family History Feast sessions which include the Don Grant lectures – remember to check under both the audio and video tabs. One of my favourites is Geoffrey Blainey talking about family history which was a Don Grant lecture in 2010, it doesn’t seem that long ago!

Like other libraries and archives, State Library of Victoria has a range of research guides providing easy access into the collections. Topics include Aboriginal people and family history; Adoption and Forgotten Australians; Australian Colonial Forces and family history; Early Australian census records; Gold miners and mining; Key Victorian family history resources; Maps for family history; Performance in Victoria; Picture research; Publish your family history; Researching your overseas ancestors; ships and shipping; Tracing a person in Australia; Victorian immigration and emigration; What happened when and World War One: Researching soldiers. As you can see, lots of topics on all aspects of family history to follow up.

From the Family History Resources page there is a link to the very useful Caring for family history documents section with information on copying originals, storing documents and when to seek advice from a conservator.

On the Home Page under the Collections tab, there is a link to the Library’s digitised collections and as at 2012, they have digitised 43% of the Library’s unique Victorian material comprising 49,741 heritage items and 233,098 Victorian items all online and free. There are a range of interesting resources collectively grouped together as the Port Phillip papers and the other extremely useful resource is the Victorian historical publications digitisation project. Under this project you can find the digitised journal of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria from 1911 onwards amongst other publications.

Searching in the Library’s online catalogue will also reveal all kinds of information available online but I will mention just two. First is the Victorian Government Gazette 1851-1986 which is a vast treasure trove of information and the second is the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) detail plans which are fantastic for locating individual places in Melbourne.

As the previous paragraphs show, the State Library of Victoria has an incredible amount of material available online for free. Anyone with Victorian ancestors should take the time to explore the website, online catalogue and research guides to see what information they can locate on their Victorian families and the communities in which they lived.





NSW & ACT Conference Sessions Canberra Sep 2013

September 24th, 2013

This is part of a series of blogs following my attendance at the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies annual conference – this year hosted by the Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra (HAGSOC) in Canberra. My report on the Family History Fair can be read here and the social activities and other news can be read in the various entries on my blog Diary of an Australian Genealogist.

This blog is all about the conference sessions over the two days. After the Welcome to Country it was straight into the John Vincent Crowe Memorial Address. This year presented by Dr David Headon with a really interesting presentation titled Magic to Stir Blood: the Canberra Grand Narrative We Should All Know. I lived in Canberra for a few years a decade or so ago so I’m reasonably familiar with its history but I had never considered all the philosophical ideas from leading thinkers of the day had played such a big part in how it was developed. A great opening to the conference.

After morning tea there was a trivia quiz on family history and everyone had their own entry form. It was a lighthearted bit of fun and I don’t think I was alone in finding some of the questions ‘hard’. Then it was back to the presenters with Chris Boyack from FamilySearch next. His talk was on the new FamilySearch and how you can construct family trees and connect with researchers. I have to say I like their new logo and the idea of using photo frames as part of the family tree.

Next was Cora Num on Research Tools for the Digital Age and as usual Cora did a brilliant talk. I always think I put too much into my talks but Cora seems to put even more. It’s amazing how much information she can share and how fast she talks. The good thing is that she does have an e-handout on her website so you just have to listen and not worry about notes. She also has a new book on this topic and of course, I just had to buy eRecords for Family History.

Then it was lunch time and there was lots of food, talk and people browsing the exhibitors area. I finally gave in to temptation and went back and bought the books I didn’t buy yesterday!

After lunch there were two streams and the tricky bit of deciding which one to go to when they were all interesting. I went to the Where Were They When? which was a great talk by Martin Woods, the map curator at the National Library of Australia. I hadn’t realised just how many maps they have now digitised plus he gave links to State library digitisation projects too. When using Trove we tend to just head for the digitised newspapers, but really we should be exploring some of those other categories too! I missed out on Barbara Hickson’s talk on Cobb & Co Reflections on a Bygone Era.

The next session was easier for me to choose as I had heard Kerri Ward talking about 20th century immigration records at the National Archives of Australia (NAA). In fact I used to work with Kerri when I worked at NAA in the collections access area before I moved on to the Prime Ministers project in late 2000. Gail Davis from State Records NSW gave a wide ranging talk on education records looking at pupil admission registers, teacher records and correspondence records. As usual Gail’s talk was well received and left people with lots of ideas to follow up.

Following afternoon tea there was the AGM of the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies which I attended as a visitor. They kindly allowed me a few minutes to talk about National Family History Month 2014 and I briefly mentioned some of the changes and invited them all to participate next year. They have about 50 member societies so it would be fantastic if they all joined in and helped spread the word about NFHM.

The conference dinner was in the evening but I will talk about that in Diary of an Australian Genealogist as this blog is dedicated to all of the presentations.

Angela Phippen set the pace with a great talk on Royal Commissions and Legislative Council Select Committees (some of my favourite records) which can help to put context around your ancestors lives and if you are really lucky, they may even be mentioned by name. Then there was another family history trivia quiz and although the questions were supposed to be easier, I still didn’t too that well.

Next was a sneak peak at the Australian War Memorial’s new website (due to be released in December 2013) presented by Robyn Van-Dyk. This looks fantastic and I can’t wait to have a little play with some of the new online collections as well as explore the website’s new features. Roll on December.

Rosemary Kopittke followed after morning tea with a presentation on making the most of searching in Findmypast.com.au and there were lots of useful tips to make sure you don’t miss anything. I’m always surprised by all the new collections and even the older ones that I’ve forgotten about or weren’t originally relevant to me. Last session of the conference was a Women in Records panel with Cora Num, Angela Phippen and Megan Gibson.

Cora did an amazing presentation on women in shipping records and she covered so much in her 15 minutes that I was almost out of breath too. As usual there is a e-handout on her website. Angela focused her 15 minutes on divorce records which was a good summary of what the divorce laws were at various times and what records you can find. I couldn’t quite hear Megan’s talk and she had no slides but she is the author of Family Tree Time so I think she was talking about making more time to do research ourselves.

Then there was the call to Illawarra Family History Group who are hosting next year’s conference (details not yet up). I’m not sure what I’m doing next year but I’ve put the dates in my diary just in case! The raffles were drawn and then it was all over for another year.

I’m covering the social aspects of the conference in Diary of an Australian Genealogist but from my perspective it was a great conference and I’ve got lots of tips to follow up and possibly blog about. The networking with new and old friends is also fantastic and the ability to see so many exhibitors at the one time is really good. I’d go to a conference every week if I could but they take a lot of organising and hard work so I would like to finish up by thanking the HAGSOC team and their supporters. Well done.

HAGSOC are also hosting the AFFHO 2015 Congress and that is a must attend event. Visit their website and put your name down for the news updates between now and then. I heard one of the committee say that they were expecting about twice the number of attendees for Congress as they did for the conference, so that will be mega and not to be missed!





NSW & ACT Family History Fair Canberra Sep 2013

September 23rd, 2013

The NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies holds an annual conference each year and if it is somewhere I can easily get to, I try and attend. They started in 1984 and this was my 7th conference  (my 1st was 1994) and although now living on Bribie Island it was relatively easy to get to Brisbane and then fly to Canberra. A bit of a trek but I’m glad I did it as it was a great conference and good to meet up with old friends and meet new ones.

As there was so much happening over the three days I’ve decided to split this blog report on the conference into two parts – firstly the family history fair and a report on all the exhibitors. The second part will cover the conference speakers and their sessions. For the social side of the event I will include that in my Diary of an Australian Genealogist blog posts.

On the Friday there was a free family history fair with talks on the half hour between 10am and 4pm. I missed most of these as I didn’t arrive until almost lunch time and then I was busy trying to see all the different exhibitors as well as chat to people I knew.

Sessions included Early Church Records in NSW with Joy Murrin from Family History Services; Charting Your Family History with Barb Toohey from Eezy Charts; Treasures from the State Archives with Kaye Vernon from Teapot Genealogy; How to Prepare Document Files for Printing with Rick Cochrane from Bytes’n'Colours; Which Society Magazine had the Article About? with Joan Edwards from the Blue Mountains Family History Society; Flip Pal Scanner with Rosemary Kopittke; The Huguenots: the Almost Forgotten People with Robert Nash from the Huguenot Society of Australia; How to Find NSW Court Records with Gail Davis from State Records NSW; The Guild of One Name Studies with Karen Rogers from the Guild of One Name Studies; Treasures in the State Library of NSW with Anne Reddacliffe & Renne McGann from the State Library of NSW and DNA Found my Grandfather with Frank Atkinson from HAGSOC.

For a free event that was an amazing smorgasbord of family history topics and they could also see all the exhibitors in the half hour for lunch! Most of the sessions were fairly short but lots of information in the ones I attended. Also on the Friday were three Masterclasses (for a fee) and these were on Trove with staff from the National Library of Australia, NSW Land Records with Carole Riley and Writing a Non Boring Family History with Hazel Edwards.

I spent 4 hours looking at all the exhibitors, most of whom were there for the conference as well, but the conference sessions didn’t leave that much time for browsing hence I tried to do most of my looking on the Friday. There was a fantastic range of exhibitors and I’ll include them in the same order as the conference committee grouped them.

Under Research Services there was Bytes’n'Colours (book printing); Calvary eHealth; DatacomIT (digitising) ;Eezy Charts; FamilySearch; Finding Your Ancestors (charting); Findmypast.com.au; Inside History (magazine); Irish Wattle (Irish convicts/publishing); Joy Murrin Family History Services (NSW transcriptions); Lifeline Canberra (2nd hand books); transcriptions.com.au (Marilyn Rowan); and the Philatelic Society of Canberra.

Under Research Questions were the Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra (HAGSOC); the Ryerson Index; Shorelines and Shadows (heritage tours); Teapot Genealogy and Unlock the Past.

The really big section was family and local history societies and I will just list the places rather than full names for most of them. They included HAGSOC (Canberra); Blue Mountains; Camden Area; Central Coast; Coffs Harbour; Friends of Mays Hill Cemetery; Guild of One Name Studies; HAGSOC Legacy Users; Holroyd; Huguenot Society; Illawarra; Kiama; Newcastle; New Zealand; Parramatta Female Factory Friends; Parramatta; Port Macquarie; Ryde; ShoalhavenSociety of Australian Genealogists (SAG) and Wyong.

Under Archives and Institutions there were ACT Office of Regulatory Services; Australian War Memorial; Biographical Database of Australia; National Archives of Australia; National Institute for Genealogical Studies; National Library of Australia with Trove and Reader Services; Noel Butlin Archives Centre & University Archives; State Records NSW and State Library of NSW.

I’m almost exhausted listing them out so you can imagine what it was like walking around and looking at all their handouts, publications for sale and talking to them and getting your questions answered. (Does anyone ever click on my links or am I wasting my time doing them, I often wonder) Given all this wonderful, free genealogy offerings it was not surprising that there were about 400 people there throughout the day. I’m not sure what the official figures were for the day but there were a lot of people all having a good time.

There were lucky door prizes and a raffle and I’m very pleased to say that I won the 9th prize which was a copy of Geoffrey Rasmussen’s new book Digital Imaging Essentials published by Unlock the Past and donated by Gould Genealogy & History. I never win anything so I didn’t even attend the prize draw, too busy talking to exhibitors so I’m very grateful to HAGSOC friend Julie Hesse for getting the prize for me. I’m looking forward to reading it as I think it will be very useful.

I’m sitting here surrounded by the contents of the conference satchel which will probably take me days to read too. There were copies of Inside History Magazine, Australian Family Tree Connections, National Archives of Australia’s Your Memento, HAGSOC’s The Ancestral Searcher, pens, pencils, lollies, bookmarks, leaflets etc etc plus all the info I picked up on my travels around the exhibitors. The bottle of water was most welcome to keep up our energy and enthusiasm.

My next blog post will include a report on the two days of the conference including speakers and what I learnt from each session. The social parts will be in my Diary of an Australian Genealogist and I hope to finish everything over the next day or so. Stay tuned.





The Bloggers’ Geneameme for NFHM

August 31st, 2013

For National Family History Month, Geniaus compiled another one of her popular geneamemes as a cyber activity. As usual I can’t resist her geneameme challenges so here are my responses to her Bloggers’ Geneameme.

  1. What are the titles and URLs of your genealogy blog/s? I have two blogs – my first is on my website and is called SHHE Genie Rambles which is fours years old this month and the second is Diary of an Australian Genealogist which was two years old last month.
  2. Do you have a wonderful “Cousin Bait” blog story? A link to a previous blog post might answer this question. I became total believer in blogs as a means of finding long distant relatives after I wrote my Letters Home: My Irish Families in March 2010. This one post allowed me to make contact with descendants of my gg grandmother’s siblings who I would never have found without them reading my blog after doing a Google search on the family name and place they came from in Ireland. The comments say it all.
  3. Why did you start blogging? Is there someone who inspired you to start blogging? When I retired after 35 years working in government I set up a small part time research and consultancy business with a website and a blog facility in August 2009. I didn’t know much about either but I soon came to see the advantages to blogging both in business and also for my own family history research. Now I can’t imagine life without writing blogs or reading other blogs. They’ve almost replaces newspapers and magazines for me!
  4. How did you decide on your blog/s title/s? Deciding the name of your blog is the hardest part I think. SHHE is the acronym for my business name and Genie Rambles is short for my ramblings on all things genealogy. Diary came about because I was showing people how easy it was to use Blogger and I created Diary as an example which took on a life of its own. I always liked reading Anthony Camp’s Diary of a Genealogist in the UK Federation of Family History Societies print journal (back in the last century) so I thought why not an Australian version.
  5. Do you ever blog from mobile devices? What are they? No only from my laptop as I much prefer a full keyboard to work with. It’s much quicker and easier for me.
  6. How do you let others know when you have published a new post? I use various social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and there are regular subscribers and sometimes my blogs are on shared by cyber friends.
  7. How long have you been blogging? Oops I answered that question in question 1.
  8. What widgets or elements do you consider essential on a genealogy blog? I think letting people make comments is very important, especially if they are long lost relatives. It should be easy for people to sign up to follow your blog and also to share it with others. I also like to see something about the writer and who they are and why they are doing it.
  9. What is the purpose of your blog/s? Who is your intended audience? There are two real purposes – the first is to share my knowledge of genealogy and family history with others and the second is to connect up with others researching my families.
  10. Which of your posts are you particularly proud of? I’m fortunate to go to many genealogy conferences, expos, cruises and I like writing up reports of these events for those who can’t get to these events. I include information and links so that they can get some idea of what I learnt and experienced.
  11. How do you keep up with your blog reading? I used to use Google Reader before it went the way of the dodo, now I have a reading list within Google Blogger. My old list was very ambitious so my new list is more selective but it does depend on how busy I am.
  12. What platform do you use for publishing your blog/s? Diary is on Google Blogger and my website is Wordpress. I haven’t tried anything else.
  13. What new features would you like to see in your blogging software? I’m not very techno but I would be happy to adapt any new technology that was useful and suggested by my blogging friends.
  14. Which of your posts has been the most popular with readers? These are usually related to genealogy expos, conferences or cruises that I have attended. I find they have the highest reader statistics.
  15. Are you a sole blogger or do you contribute to a shared blog? Sole blogger although I am a member of Geneabloggers.
  16. How do you compose your blog posts? It depends eg during National Family History Month my posts were mostly related to that or I contribute to specific challenges like ANZAC Day or other bloggers’ theme challenges. Diary is more an ongoing record of what I am doing with genealogy events and my own research and genealogy news that I want to share with others.
  17. Do you have any blogs that are not genealogy related? If you wish please share their titles and URLs. No my whole life is genealogy (sad but true)
  18. Have you listed your blog/s at Geneabloggers? Yes it’s a great way to find out what other blogs are out there.
  19. Which resources have helped you with your blogging? I’ve always liked writing and don’t really use any resources as such. Reading other blogs often gives me inspiration and ideas re style and use of images etc. I probably should use more photos.
  20. What advice would you give to a new Geneablogger? Just do it! Blogs are searchable by Google and you are almost guaranteed that some relative will find you one day. If not, at least you have written up some of your family stories and shared them with others.





31 Activities for Societies during NFHM – the Final 16!

August 29th, 2013

For National Family History Month I compiled a list of 31 activities for researchers and 31 activities for genealogy/family history societies to think about during August. Read about the first 15 activities for societies here and below is the final 16.

16 Convert your card indexes (if any) to a computer database for easier access (not to mention a back up copy)

Rekeying data can be a time consuming and boring task but it is worthwhile as it makes the data much more easier to access. Also it’s a once only task and you can then have backup copies stored off site. Call for a volunteer now!

17 Does your society newsletter or journal need a new look

Most societies have a change of look when they get a new editor or there is some other push to review the journal or newsletter. Have you ever thought of entering your society’s publication for the Nick Vine Hall awards? AFFHO presents these every year during NFHM so think about entering in 2014.

18 Does your library need a new layout (or tidy up)

Most societies do a shelf check each year to identify any missing items or items that have been misfiled. Donated items always need to find a home and computer equipment always needs upgrading. Is there a better way of organising your space?

19 Contact your local newspaper for publicity on society meetings and any special events

How successful are you at doing this? The local papers are usually very good for getting in notices of meetings but I also find that if you put a few paragraphs together with a photograph they may also be interested in publishing that. It’s a great way to highlight a visiting speaker or a workshop you may be holding not to mention your NFHM activities.

20 Hold a new members session at the library

New members often feel a bit lost when visiting a society’s library so having an orientation session is good and once people are more comfortable finding their way around the library, they may even find time to do library duty. I always found when I did library duty that I learnt a lot from helping others with their own research and if it’s quiet, there is always time for your own research.

21 Have members bring a friend to the next meeting

This could be a great way to gain new members and to let others know what resources the society has to offer. Remember to make visitors feel welcome – sometimes we are so busy organising the meeting or catching up with friends we don’t see the newcomers.

22 Investigate what local events you could have a display at

Local shopping centres are an obvious place to have displays with lots of people passing by. What about your local newsagent who stocks genealogy magazines ? Are there any local heritage events or markets where you could promote your society to the general public.

23 Focus on attracting younger members

As someone who started researching genealogy in 1977 while in my early 20s, I’m conscious that societies need to attract younger people to ensure that societies continue to exist and be a place that helps people trace their families. That’s why we should be using social media tools to connect with younger (and not so young) researchers and we aren’t going to find them in nursing homes – so before you accept an offer to speak somewhere, think about will this bring new (younger) members into the society?

24 Have someone greet visitors or new members at each meeting

Many societies already do this but often I find these people are popular and everyone stops to talk to them and the newcomers get overlooked or sit down without making contact. I’ve even found that some visitors and new members think there are cliques that they can’t be part of and this is probably more common with younger people who turn up at meetings. So make sure everyone does feel welcome and that they want to come back again.

25 Consider doing something for the centenary of WW1 in 2014

This is an obvious activity for every society next year and it should also be possible to connect up with other projects in your area – look out for potential collaborative projects and follow up with the organisers.

26 Are the war memorials in your area transcribed? If not think about doing it and perhaps even adding information on those listed especially for WW1

Lots of these have already been done but check out your area and confirm what has been done or still needs to be done. Take photos as well as transcribing the names.

27 If you have a website how user friendly is it?

Do people find your website easy to use? What resources do you have online – have you thought about a members only area? Is your list of meetings up to date and are library opening times current? Review each page and take down out of date information.

28 Start a genealogy book reading club and get members discussing new resources

Book clubs are not for everyone but it is a way of getting members to learn about new publications and in today’s modern times, it could even be a website or an ebook. Of course it needs someone to coordinate the group so see if there is an interested person who would like to start one up. It could even be a virtual group!

29 Encourage members to write their stories for your journal, perhaps even a prize for the best story each year

Journal editors are often desperate for articles so try and encourage members to write their stories. Do you have a writing family history special interest group where they can learn tips and tricks as well as share their stories?

30 Look at what other societies are doing for more ideas

There are hundreds of genealogy and family history societies and they all do similar things but there are also differences depending on resources, local expertise and available volunteers. Survey at least three other societies to see what they do that you don’t do and consider introducing a new idea or two.

31 Plan to participate in NFHM 2014

Many of these 31 activities are not something that you can do quickly or even only do once. Many can be adapted into NFHM activities so start planning now and the NFHM web calendar will be available from 1 October 2013 for activities in 2014.





31 Activities for NFHM (researchers) – The Final 16!

August 28th, 2013

For National Family History Month 2013 I created a list of 31 activities for researchers to do. My blog for the first 15 activities is here.

Here are the final 16 activities:

16 Attend or listen to a webinar
There has been little time for this luxury but one site that I like to check out is Legacy Family Tree webinars. I use Legacy software for my own family history but their webinars are on all kinds of topics (mostly US but there are generic and UK topics too). They are free to listen to live or you can watch them for free up to seven days after the live event. I find after the event is sometimes best as the US times are not always a good fit with Australian time! Watching and listening to them on my laptop at home is easy and I find webinars a great way to learn. You can see upcoming seminars and also archived seminars on the website. I’ve just noticed that two of my favourite presenters are coming up – Dear MYRTLE and Thomas MacEntee – so I’ve just put them into my diary!

17 Read a family history blog
I do this all the time as I have a number of people who I follow on a semi regular basis depending on time. If you are unfamiliar with blogs you might want to look at Inside History Magazine’s article by Jill Ball on 50 Genealogy Blogs You Need to Read in 2013 – some of my favourites are there too.

18 Start your own genealogy blog writing stories about individual ancestors or families
There is free software that allows you to do this. I used Google Blogger to set up my Diary of an Australian Genealogist and I found that fairly easy to use and of course you learn more as you go along. If you don’t want to put your stories online yet, don’t let that stop you from at least writing them in the first place.

19 Have another look at that brick wall – construct a time line of known facts and relook at everything
I find that time lines help me to see any gaps in what I know or what I have looked at. Also write down all the possible spelling variations for any given names or surnames and then ask someone else how they would spell it. Use wildcards. Have you got all the relevant certificates? What about any new resources either online or in print? With new online resources I’ve slowly solved my brick walls but I still have one GG grandfather who doesn’t want to be found! Read Still Looking for James Henry Trevaskis here.

20 Did your ancestors own land?
Land records can be more than just knowing they owned a particular portion of land in a parish. The land files on my GG grandfather John Finn contained numerous personal letters between him and the Lands Department which have invaluable details about the family’s struggle to keep their farm against all kinds of hardships. I would never have found that information elsewhere.

21 Did they leave probate records?
Not many of my people had detailed wills but I did find interesting information in administration files including married names of daughters, addresses and so on. When my GG grandfather Thomas Price died at a mining site away from this family, I was very pleased that his estate was handled by the then Public Curator. The wealth of information in that file was hard to believe and you can read some of the details in my blog Wealth for Toil – Thomas Price.

22 What about their school years – was it one school or did they move around?
If you live in Queensland you are lucky as the Queensland Family History Society have indexed a lot of the school admission registers and school histories and have published their indexes on CD. The indexes are also available through Findmypast Australasia too. I have found lots of information on my Queensland families and was even surprised to find my own name as a list of pupils who attended Bardon State School was included in the school’s 50th anniversary book and indexed by QFHS!

23 Visit your local newsagent and see what genealogy and family history magazines they have. Australian Family Tree Connections http://www.aftc.com.au/ and Inside History Magazine http://www.insidehistory.com.au/ are both sponsors of NFHM
I was surprised to find five newsagents on Bribie Island and I did find both Inside History Magazine and Australian Family Tree Connections as well as a selection of UK magazines. The only trouble is if I see a magazine and it has topics that I’m interested in, then I don’t always resist the temptation to buy myself a new magazine! Of course the local library also has genealogy magazines but you have to be quick to get the latest issues.

24 Subscription databases such as Ancestry and Findmypast are often available at your local council library or your genealogy library – book a session time and see what you can discover. Both are sponsors of NFHM
The content of both of these sites just keeps on getting better and better with new material going online all the time. Every time I use either database I find something new. I once heard a talk by Jan Gow, a noted New Zealand genealogist, on doing genealogy in your pyjamas and it’s true – an at home subscription (or pay as you go) allows you to do it whenever you want and you don’t have to stop just because the library is closing. Of course you do have to remember to go to bed!

25 Check out the Gould Genealogy & History online catalogue and be ready when the family ask what you want for Christmas/birthday etc. Another sponsor of NFHM
Whenever family say ‘what do you want for your birthday’ I can never think of anything but in recent years I’ve gotten smarter and there is usually some book or CD that I want from Gould Genealogy & History. They have an extensive range on just about everything genealogy related so make sure you give your family the URL!

26 Explore the new FamilySearch and perhaps do one of their tutorials. Also a sponsor of NFHM
FamilySearch is continually being updated and you really do need to keep checking and rechecking. I love all the digitised records that are being added so make sure you don’t miss them. Scroll down to the Browse by Location section and the bottom of the Home Page and then browse the collections – you might be surprised what is there and it’s free access. The Learning Centre is also worth looking at (find it under the Get Help link) and I often use the Library catalogue and wiki to see what is available for areas that I am interested in.

27 Join Trove and correct newspaper text after you make that exciting family discovery
My love affair with Trove shows no sign of fading away and only the other day I discovered that the Ipswich Times is being added and there were references to John Finn and his celebrated arson case – the articles aren’t online yet as they are still going through the process but I gave my email address and they will contact me when the article is totally online. How fantastic is that! When I do find articles on my family I put tags on, add them to my lists and correct the text. Saves me having to do the searches again, especially if it wasn’t easy to find in the first instance.

28 Plan to attend the next AFFHO congress in Canberra in 2015 http://www.congress2015.org.au/
I wouldn’t even think of missing the 2015 Congress: Generations Meeting Across Time in Canberra as it will be a great place to hear good speakers on all kinds of topics not to mention all the trade displays where it is easy to spend money with all their tempting goods. But for me the best part of attending Congress is catching up with all my genealogy friends and colleagues from around Australia, New Zealand and overseas. I’ve registered my interest in attending and I submitted two papers for consideration in the program so fingers crossed.

29 Make sure all your photos are identified (both print copies and online) and explore Picasa’s facial recognition capability
This is an ongoing project for me as I am slowly scanning and identifying where I can my mother’s old photos and albums plus trying to tag and caption all the digital photos we take. I found using Picasa’s facial recognition technology easy to use and it certainly helped me to group identify lots of family members once I put in the key information on who people were.

30 Make a start on writing up your family history or perhaps just one family’s stories
Another one of my ongoing projects with drafts done for all my major families. I just need to stop looking for that last bit of information and finish them!

31 Start planning a family reunion or a family gathering
We’ve had a few over the years but I’m thinking of having another one for Mum’s 80th birthday next year. She is the last of her generation and there are still a few of her nieces and nephews around. My brother and I are the youngest of that generation and many of our cousins are in their 70s so getting everyone together could prove a bit challenging but worthwhile.

Well that’s the end of my 31 activities for researchers in National Family History Month 2013. But many of them are long term projects and can’t be done in a single day. I hope they have given you some ideas to further your own research during August and into the future. NFHM will be August 2014 so stay tuned for updates (I volunteered to be the national coordinator again)!





Third Unlock the Past genealogy cruise review

February 25th, 2013

This will be an overview of the whole cruise as I’ve already given detailed account of the genealogy sessions in my Diary of an Australian Genealogist blog – check out Days 1-5 and Days 6-9. As this was my fifth cruise and third genealogy cruise I’m usually a very happy cruiser but I have to say I was a bit disappointed with some of the Royal Caribbean policies (we haven’t sailed with them before).

Of the nine nights on board we only got three reasonable nights sleep – normally on a cruise ship we never hear our neighbours and we sleep soundly. Not this time and for some reason that I still can’t understand we were allocated a cabin with an adjoining door to some very noisy teenagers. Their parents were in a cabin on the other side – my complaint is why weren’t the parents allocated the adjoining room to their own kids???

Not only are adjoining doors not sound proof, they are not light proof and these teenagers were up to all hours and every night we had to call security several times in the early hours of the morning. The kids took no notice and security had to come back when the parents got home, usually between 1-2am and then we had to listen to the father tell the kids off. I can probably understand why the parents wanted to get away from their kids but I don’t see why some poor unfortunate other couple had to put up with them.

While the kids then slept through the morning, we had to be up, dressed and breakfasted before the first genealogy session at 9am and some days I felt more like a zombie than a professional presenter! What really depressed me was that neither security or the desk staff who took our daily complaints could really do anything about the problem although we were grateful that the Clean Cruising staff person on board did offer to exchange rooms with us, but then why should she also suffer.

The other strange Royal Caribbean policy is that you can’t change dinner tables so that you end up having dinner with the same people over the nine nights. Part of a genealogy cruise is meeting new people and networking and learning from others so having the speakers at different tables or dining with new friends makes sense over the length of the cruise. I know others missed this opportunity that we had on previous cruises of dining with new people every night. In a it’s a small world example, we were surprised to find that one of the ladies on our table was also from Bribie Island and lives not that far from us. So we made another friend on the Island without even trying!

The other disappointment was not making it to Fiji but then I would rather stay on in a port (Noumea) and get repairs done there then run the risk of totally breaking down at sea somewhere. Still I had been looking forward to visiting Fiji again as I was last there in 1976! As all travellers know, anything can happen on a trip and sometimes you just have to make the best of these unforeseen changes.

Those were the only three things I didn’t really like on this cruise. Everything else was great and I found the speakers easy to listen to and learnt lots of new things. It’s always good having international speakers but as one lady said to me, it’s also good having Australian and New Zealand speakers too as that’s where a lot of our research is to start with.

Perhaps the afternoon sessions were too long as I mentioned in my Diary but on the 4th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise in 2014 there is a port almost every second day so that will definitely break up the sessions more as this time there were only two ports. One point in the Voyager of the Seas favour is that it does have a dedicated conference area which meant that we didn’t have to fit things in around the ship’s program and all three rooms were great.

I also enjoyed the one on one sessions I had with various other cruisers. It’s always good when you can suggest other avenues to research which may or may not help them break down their brick walls. One cruiser, who I’ve known for a few decades, gave me a really good one so I’ve brought it home with me – I think it must be spelling variations but that doesn’t explain every roadblock he has. Still it gives me something to play with on these rainy days in a very soggy Queensland!

The food was great and plentiful, some of the cocktails might have had a bit too much ice in them, the on board entertainment was good and the cabin and wait staff very pleasant and helpful.  So this experience hasn’t put me off cruising but I will ask a few more questions re cabin allocation next time. It never ever occurred to me that we would be landed with some one else’s noisy kids. Why couldn’t we have had other UTP cruisers on the other side of the door, at least they would probably go to bed about the same time as us!

I’ve happily accepted an invitation to speak on the 4th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise and I’ve got some new talks and books in the pipeline which I’m really excited about. I also know some others have already booked or are planning to book for it too. In some ways it’s like going to annual conferences where you get to meet up with friends and colleagues from all over Australia and New Zealand. So despite the not so good parts of this trip, overall I wouldn’t have missed it and I am definitely looking forward to next year’s with Chris Paton and Thomas MacEntee as the main international speakers. Why not plan to join me and other regular UTP cruisers!


Blog of the Year Award

January 8th, 2013

I am honoured to have been nominated for Blog of the Year Award 2012 from Geniaus for my My Diary of an Australian Genealogist blog.  Jill wrote that she read the Diary for the ‘news, views and a slice of life’ which is a nice way of saying that sometimes it’s not always genealogy related. My change of abode (in 2 weeks time) and a more settled lifestyle should see a return to more genealogy time in 2013 (I hope) but the Diary will always include my travels as getting out there and seeing where our ancestors lived can sometimes help us to know them better.
I’m grateful that Jill and others enjoy reading the Diary and this recognition makes it all worthwhile when I sit there thinking what to write about next. Thank you Jill for the nomination, it is most appreciated.
Geniaus (aka Jill) nominated some of my favourite Aussie blogs along with a UK and a US blog. You can see the full list here.
Nominating blogs for this award is difficult as there are so many fabulous ones out there in the blogisphere. My five nominations for today are:
Lone Tester HQ - Alona Testerfor her family history through the alphabet challenge which inspired many to tell their family stories
British GENES (British Genealogy News and Events) – Chris Paton – for keeping us all up to date with news ‘over there’
From Helen V Smith’s Keyboard – Helen Smith –  really interesting stories about her family through participating in various blog challenges throughout the year
Inside History Magazine – Cassie Mercer – for their news, great competition prizes and blogs on their weekly Facebook Q&A sessions
‘Genealogists for Families’ project – Judy Webster – Details the progress of a brilliant geneaproject (this was Jill’s nomination but it deserves a 2nd or more nominations)

The ‘rules’ for this award are simple:

1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award
2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
3. Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/ and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them
5. If you choose, you can now join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience
6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars… For further information on collecting stars, just click on the link provided in Rule 3.


Accentuate the Positive 2012 Geneameme

January 1st, 2013

Good geneafriend Geniaus has thrown down another geneameme challenge to get us all thinking right at the start of 2013. As usual I can’t resist so here are my responses to her Accentuate the Positive 2012 geneameme. All contributions will be collated so if you also take on this challenge let Geniaus know too.

Remember to accentuate the positive – please delete the statements that are not relevant to your situation.

1. An elusive ancestor I found was – this year I haven’t progressed backwards but I have discovered more on a lot of my ancestors through Trove – digitised newspapers are allowing us to find more easily all sorts of information about their daily lives. Looking forward to more of that in 2013.

2. A precious family photo I found was - in the packing up of my house prior to relocating to Queensland I ‘rediscovered’ an early photo album of my paternal grandmother who had always claimed there were no photos. This turned up when we cleaned up after she died so none of the photos are named or dated. When I unpack in mid January I’m keeping this album out to see if I can identify any of the photos.

3. An ancestor’s grave I found was – again no new graves but I revisited a number of family graves in Toowong cemetery during a visit to Brisbane. We spent a good few hours weeding and tidying up as sadly it didn’t look like anyone had been there since our last visit a few years ago.

4. An important vital record I found was - I decided to buy some English death certificates on my partner’s Spencer family as we were wondering about family health issues and to our surprise his great great grandmother died of diabetes – so that answered the question was there anyone in the family with diabetes?

5. A newly found family member who shared – since our move to Bribie Island we have discovered that Max’s maternal relatives also have a history with this area and so far the information has been over the phone. But we are planning trips to Bundaberg and Brisbane to talk to his two remaining aunts (one’s 102 and the other 87, the oldest and the youngest) to see what more they can tell us.

6. A geneasurprise I received was – after joining the Guild of One Name Studies I was very pleased to be welcomed into the Guild by Queensland contact Helen Smith who also gave me a copy of Seven Pillars of Wisdon: The Art of One Name Studies. This was unexpected and Helen’s advice on setting up my one name study  has been invaluable.

7. My 2012 blog post that I was particularly proud of was – it’s not so much one post but all the posts that I do on genealogy events that I attend. Not everyone can get to some of these so I try and give a detailed account so that others can follow up on the links and learn from the speakers just like I do. These types of posts are always widely read and are mostly found in Diary of an Australian Genealogist although sometimes I do an overview and post it in this blog.

8. My 2012 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was – just looking at some of the statistics I would have to say the Deniliquin Genealogy Muster over three days in October. This was an inaugural event (and I’m pleased to say it will happen again in 2014). While it attracted a lot of people from nearby areas Deniliquin is not the easiest of places to get to so I think a lot of readers used my daily blogs to attend virtually!

9. A new piece of software I mastered was – I really got into using the iPad I finally purchased and it was fantastic for our house hunting but I’ve also downloaded a lot of genealogy books for reading without having to carry the weight around! That’s probably more hardware than software but still a challenge for me.

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was – I always like Twitter as genealogy news spreads around the world so quickly but sometimes it’s hard to keep up with everything!

11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was - I usually manage to learn something new from every event I attend but I think my vote would have to go to the Deniliquin genealogy muster as they had speakers from both NSW and Victorian State Libraries and State Archives which was a fantastic grouping of knowledge in one weekend.

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave at/to – I’m usually pleased with most of my presentations but this time I will nominate the three talks I gave to the Ulladulla Milton Family History Society.  This is only a very small group and they don’t get the opportunity to have many visiting speakers so I’m happy to say that most of them left that day with their minds in overdrive.

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was - this is a toss up as I’ve done some articles for Inside History Magazine during the year but perhaps more demanding is the monthly series I’m doing in Irish Lives Remembered on Missing Loved Ones Downunder. Meeting deadlines has been a bit tight given all our travel in the last few months.

14. I taught a friend how to – I showed Max how to use my iPad and now we fight over it! Probably not so much an issue now that we have bought a new house but when we were looking it was a race to see who would get into bed first with the iPad! Laptops just don’t have that portability and ease of use in bed. Still I do prefer my books!

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was – another tough one but I will go with Chris Paton’s Irish Family History Resources Online. I love anything that gives me more insight into Irish records and one day I’m going to find my families.

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was – this was more a case of revisiting although I hadn’t been in the Society of Australian Genealogists new premises before. They have such a great collection of printed material which is often overlooked for what’s online.

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was – so many but I have to say that the ever expanding range of books from Unlock the Past are definitely worth looking at. There’s almost something for everyone and more titles in production.

18. It was exciting to finally meet - attending so many genealogy events I’m lucky to meet lots of interesting speakers but I think the impromptu dinner I had with some New Zealand friends and David Holman in Adelaide during the AFFHO Congress was the most exciting. What he had on his iPad really amazed me (and was key in my purchase of one, see 9 above) but David is also Chairman of the UK Federation of Family History Societies and he’s from Cornwall another one of my primary interests.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was – I love them all but the Adelaide AFFHO Congress was perhaps the best as it brought together many friends and colleagues from all over Australia and New Zealand plus so many good speakers and talks. Can’t wait now for the 2015 Congress in Canberra

20. Another positive I would like to share is – I know that 2013 is going to be another exciting year for genealogy with lots of great events organised by societies, archives and libraries so make sure you plan to attend at least one thing!  This is where I will put in a plug for National Family History Week in August 2013 and as the new national co-ordinator I’ve put forward some suggestions for putting even more oomph into the event. Here’s my article in the AFFHO December newsletter and all feedback is most welcome. Don’t forget to Like the NFHW Facebook page too!

Well that brings me to the end of this geneameme and as usual I’ve thought of even more things as I’ve made my way through the questions. Can’t wait to see what Geniaus comes up with next!


Genealogy Aspirations 2013

December 30th, 2012

Regular readers of this blog will know that each year I like to review the genealogy goals I set myself at the beginning of a year and then set new goals for the coming year. There has been varying success over the last three years but 2012 was definitely more challenging. Our sudden, although expected decision to relocate from Victoria, threw the second half of the year into chaos as most of my genealogy material was in storage and we were living in a caravan.

At the time of writing this blog we expect to move into our new home in mid January and I’m expecting it will take us a while to reestablish ourselves. Plus we have the genealogy cruise to Noumea and Fiji in February, a personal family holiday to Bali in March and we are going to the Ulysses 2013 AGM in Maryborough in April. So realistically I should only be planning on six months of ‘real’ time for my genealogy research.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! How did I go with 2012 goals? These were set out in my Genealogy Aspirations Reviewed and Renewed 2012 actually written on 13 January 2012 so I started the year a bit behind!

My 2012 aspirations and a brief result were:

1. Write up my mother’s Price family history, including photographs and other illustrations in time for her 78th birthday – not quite achieved, progress made on scanning images but now looking more likely for Mum’s 80th in 2014.

2. Do another DNA test, this time from a genealogy perspective and investigate my own DNA – just never got to this one and to be honest, not really sure that I’m into DNA that much at this stage.

3. Learn more about my Norwegian ancestors – I already know the basics from parish registers and census records but not the history and culture of Norway – another never quite got to it but still of interest.

4. Continue to scan photographs and documents so that I have digital copies as well as original copies and maintain a backup regime for both – this went into overdrive once we sold the house but there was still a lot still to do when I boxed everything up to go into storage. Will resume once I have unpacked everything and re-organised my new study which has purpose built shelving and bookcases (lucky me).

5. Conserve and preserve family heirlooms I have collected ensuring they are boxed and stored appropriately – during the packing up of the house, I realised just how much more ‘family’ material I have scattered around the house. So another goal to continue once we unpack again.

Of course there were other genealogy related things I achieved in 2012 which weren’t on the above list. A long time desire was to start a one name study but I just hadn’t decided which name. In Deniliquin, New South Wales at the genealogy muster I finally took the plunge and signed up for a Burstow one name study which I’m pleased to say I have been working on. I now have a spreadsheet with Burstow information for Australia and England and a very preliminary finding is that most of the Burstows in  Australia are descended from the one family.

Now for 2013 Aspirations.

1. Aspirations 4 and 5 above are very similar so I’m rolling them into one and as I unpack in the new house I’ll try and identify and list tasks to help keep this goal of scanning and rehousing progressing.

2. The Burstow one name study is also a priority and I need to get organised so that I can answer any queries from others interested in the name. I also need to set up my profile on the Guild of One-Name Studies website.

3. My Norwegian ancestors (Gunderson) – researching more about their culture and where they came from. The line goes back to 1688 so that’s lots of Norwegian history.

4. Now that we are living on Bribie Island, my Scottish ancestors (Carnegie) who were oyster farmers in Pumicestone Passage have again captured my attention and I’m looking forward to rediscovering my files on them during the unpack. It’s been over 30 years since I did that research so there must be new material to discover!

5. Finally I want to get back to blogging on a more regular basis – both my SHHE Genie Rambles blog and my Diary of an Australian Genealogist were a bit haphazard with all our travels and the big move. Blogging and participating in various blogging challenges forces me to write up some of those family stories and share them with others. Reading other peoples’ blogs not only helps me to learn about new things but also inspires me to do the same for my ancestors.

Well that’s my five key genealogy goals for 2013 – wish me luck!


RSS Feed

Search