52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 10 Occupation Records

March 17th, 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 five 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 WhiteCassmob, Anne and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Campaspe Library Week 10

Sharon Week 10

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

This week’s topic looks at occupations and sometimes what our ancestors did for a living can lead to all kinds of documentation depending on what their job or profession was. I am going to look at my great great great grandfather John Carnegie who was an oysterman. I originally thought that it would be very hard to find out anything about oyster farming.

I knew from land records that John had selected to land selections on Pumicestone Passage near Toorbul and those files revealed that he had a house, garden and orchard on the land. Other documents told me he was an oyster farmer. For many occupations you need a government license so a good starting place is the government gazettes.

For Queensland these are freely available online at Text Queensland: Queensland’s Past Online for the period 1859 to 1900. A search revealed a number of references to Carnegie. For example, in the  Queensland Government Gazette for 16 March 1901 there is a list of licenses issued under The Oysters Act of 1886. In this instance it is a four column table listing employees, licensees, the names of their boats and the number of their license during the month of February 1901. J Carnegie is listed as the employee (this could be John or even his grandson James – it is always hard to know when only an initial is used), Mrs Davis is the licensee (this is probably his married daughter Clara), the name of their boat is the Clara and the number is 45.

Licenses were usually granted on an annual basis so it is possible to check each year for any variations. It is especially useful to know the start and end dates as these can often pin point when someone moves into an area or starts up in the job and when they retire, die or move elsewhere. Although reading government legislation can be a little dry and boring, it can be useful to learn what type of records were required to be kept under the Act and to then learn if those records have survived or were published in the Gazettes or elsewhere.

Where an occupation was monitored by the Government, there can also be annual reports published in Votes and Proceedings which are normally located at the State Library or possibly the State Archives. A search of these publications for the period 1884-1891 and 1900 revealed a number of references to John Carnegie. For example, in 1884 John held two banks north of Ninghi Creek and the inspector wrote that John ‘has gone to extraordinary labour on his selection digging drains and embankments. He has about 500 bags on it’. In 1885 it was reported that he had approximately 1000 bags.

By 1886 John held three banks north of Ninghi Creek and Mr Carr, the inspector again reported that John had gone to considerable trouble with the cultivation of his oyster banks. When John was informed about whelk tingle in Pumicestone Passage, John with his children Clara aged 14 years and James aged 6 years (really his grandson although the inspector would not have known this), collected several cwt of whelk tingles off his banks. John also had stones and stakes laid down for the catchment of spat.

In 1888 John Carnegie and other oystermen in the area were reported to have a large amount of cultivation but few marketable oysters. This was because of a borer, or whelk tingle, which was very plentiful in Ninghi Creek. The whelk tingle pierces and kills young oysters and this was one of the reasons why John’s oyster business started to fail.

Unfortunately there was no more detailed information in the Votes and Proceedings but I did manage to locate a map at the Queensland State Archives showing the location of the oyster leases. This allowed me to know exactly where John’s three banks were located, just off shore from his land selections (which were probably partly under water at high tide).

Another useful place to pick up information is newspapers and a keyword search for oysters, Pumicestone, Carnegie and other key words returned a number of useful hits in Trove. Although there may not be direct reference to my ancestor in some of the articles, the references are still useful in understanding the wider context of the industry in the area.

Most of us have ancestors who had all kinds of different occupations so pick one and then see how much you can find out about that particular person and the job they did. Once you have done that, do the same with another occupation and you may be amazed at how much you can find. I really like having teachers in the family as education records are usually easy to find in State Archives. It really is a matter of thinking what kind of records would be created and where would those records be if they still survive. Anything associated with government may be recorded in government publications like the Gazettes and Votes and Proceedings or in the State Archives.

It may not be so easy to trace people who worked in private businesses or companies but those employers may still have been registered with the government and you may be able to trace those histories. Post Office Directories and Almanacs can also be used to trace smaller businesses and some of these are online. For example, Sands Sydney, Suburban and Country Commercial Directories are free online (and there are other useful Sydney resources free online at the City of Sydney Archives), South Australia at the State Library of South Australia, Pughs Almanacs for Queensland at Text Queensland and Western Australia at the State Library of Western Australia. A Google search will often locate these types of resources.

If your ancestor was in a union then the Australian Trade Union Archives website may be worth looking at.  Another useful website for business records is the Guide to Australian Business Records.

Occupations is actually a huge topic but I hope that this blog post has given you some idea of what questions to ask and where to look to find out more about your ancestors’ occupations.


Overview of Unlock the Past Queensland Expo Jun 2012

July 5th, 2012

Regular readers will know that I reported on the Unlock the Past Queensland Expo in Brisbane 25-27 Jun 212 on a daily basis through my Diary of an Australian Genealogist blog. If you missed it, here are links to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Expo Exhibitors reports.

In this blog I’m reflecting on the expo overall and up front, I have to say it was another great genealogy experience although my hometown of Brisbane turned on some of the worst winter weather I think I have ever experienced in Brisbane. The cold and wet weather didn’t deter people and I think the coffee van made a small fortune over the three days. The local school ladies did an excellent job of catering morning and afternoon teas and lunches. The exhibition area was usually chilly but it was warmer in the theatres.

Most of the time there were four options – a choice of two speakers where you needed to have bought a ticket or an expo gold pass, a speaker where you didn’t need a ticket and the Research Zone and exhibition area. As usual I found choosing between speakers hard and my Diary blogs outline my choices. I also found I didn’t have enough time to spend in the exhibition area without giving up one of the speaker sessions. Perhaps I’m just ‘greedy’ and want to experience everything?

There was meant to be a ten minute change over period but some speakers went over and then that made it harder to move between theatres or take a quick rest break before the next session. Everything was really close together and level (no stairs) so that was a bonus. There were a few technical hiccups here and there but nothing that caused major issues.

I liked the opportunity to see the Flip Pal mobile scanner in operation and found that I had no trouble scanning some photos at Mums that night and then uploading them to my laptop. What I really like about it is that I can scan photos while watching TV whereas before I had to do it in the study by myself and without any entertainment. Scanning must be the most boring activity on earth!

The other great plus for me is that it was a perfect opportunity to catch up with all my old genealogy friends and colleagues from Brisbane, as well as other regular attendees and speakers at Unlock the Past expos and roadshows. I think we’re almost like one big family now.

I finally got to meet Ciaran from Clean Cruising and spoke to him about the next Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to Fiji in February 2013. I have been to Fiji twice (1975 and 1976) so it’s been a while! I’m really excited about going again not to mention the thought of ten days of genealogy with others equally passionate about their family history.

Audrey Collins from the National Archives UK was the international speaker (not counting Dan Lynch who ‘popped’ in electronically for his two talks on Google Your Family Tree) and after the expo, Audrey and some of the Unlock the Past team also did seminars in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. I rejoined them in Melbourne for the seminar at the State Library of Victoria. My Diary blog on the day is here.

As usual I have come away with a notebook full of information and URLs to follow up and a bag of brochures on all sorts of topics from the exhibitors. One lady loved my talks so much she offered to let us park our caravan at her place in south western Queensland when she found out we would soon be homeless. While it was a nice gesture, I think she really wanted me to travel out there for some one on one chats! As usual I have put up the slides from my six talks on the Resources page of this website. Scroll down to Presentations.

Surprisingly I didn’t buy a book this time but as we are in the process of moving house, another book would not have been well received by my other half! From the verbal feedback I received from other attendees everyone enjoyed themselves and learnt heaps and they would probably like another one soon!

The Unlock the Past team should be congratulated on another great expo and though it all looks deceptively easy, there is a lot of work that goes into the planning and running of these expos. So well done everyone. I’m going to now start getting excited about the Queensland Coast Roadshow in September/October!


Review Unlock the Past History & Genealogy Expo, Geelong 2-3 Sep 2011

September 4th, 2011

Well it was a busy two days at the last for 2011 Unlock the Past (UTP) history and genealogy expo in Geelong on 2-3 September. Over 600 people attended and there were over 70 exhibitors and two streams of talks, some for a $5 fee and others free – so something for everyone. Those who pre-booked also had free entry while those who turned up on the day paid $5 entry. You could have a very cheap genealogy experience especially if you managed to avoid the many temptations at the various exhibitors tables. I didn’t avoid temptation – I succumbed repeatedly!

Starting with the talks as usual I found that the two streams presented me with some challenges as I couldn’t go to both at the same time!! It is a little easier for me as I have heard some of the other UTP speakers at other expos. The full program outlines the two streams so I will only comment on those I attended and those I regretted missing.

I haven’t attended any of Rosemary Kopittke’s talks for a while so sitting in on her talk about FindMyPast UK An Introduction was a bit of an eye opener as there is quite a lot of new records online. I find that I usually only think UK census but there is a lot more that may be of relevance to some of my families and I found myself doing a ‘must check this list’. The other choice was Susie Zada on the Genealogical Society of Victoria of which I am already a member.

At the next session I gave my talk on Asylums: Looking for the Sick, the Poor and the Aged so I had to miss David Rowe talking about Soldier Settlement in Victoria. This was a shame as I have an interest in that area. I hope someone else blogs about that talk.

Peter Mansfield talked about Regional Newspapers: A Wonderful Resource and I couldn’t agree more – he had some wonderful examples which highlights the richness of newspapers for family history research. Especially as more and more are digitised and available for easy searching through TROVE. The other choice was Lauren Bourke talking about Public Record Office Victoria my old workplace.

The session before lunch was Kate Prinsley talking about the Collections of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria (I’m a member and a fan of their website) and Rosemary talking about Scotland’s People which I heard in Mount Gambier. I skipped out early to enjoy my pie and latte out in the glorious sunshine – it was great weather both days.

After lunch I went to hear Mark Beasley from the Geelong Heritage Centre talk about its various resources for family history research (some online). Some Geelong girls married into my Gympie (Queensland) families and I have been promising myself a research trip there for some time. The Centre has BMD newspaper indexes from 1840-2011 for the Geelong Advertiser so I might get lucky.

I was also surprised to learn from both Peter and Mark that the Advertiser is the oldest continuing newspaper in Victoria but it is not on any digitisation list – almost seems a crime. No doubt there is a reason but given that Geelong was a major port for the goldfields I would have thought it rated a higher priority than some of the others that have been done or are on the list. Happy to be enlightened if someone knows. Opposite Mark was Andrew Kilsby talking about Captain Octavius Skinner Burton (this was a military talk and I had heard Andrew before).

During the next session I took the option of going round the exhibitors as I had heard Paul Parton talking about FamilySearch and Heather Garnsey talking about the Society of Australian Genealogists.

Dianne Snowden gave an excellent talk on Tasmanian Family History Research and I have pages of URLs to follow up, some I was already aware of but others were not that familiar so this might end up a blog in its own right. The other choice was Lauren Bourke talking on regional archives in Victoria – Ballarat and Bendigo.

I then had my It’s Not All Online talk so I had to miss good friend Liz Rushen’s talk on Researching Irish Immigrant Women so I consoled myself by buying a few books from Liz and my other good friend Perry McIntyre. Perry is one of the speakers on the next UTP cruise in November which has a Scots/Irish theme.

The last session on Friday was Kerry Farmer talking about DNA For Genealogists and Bruce Smith talking about Family History & Sports Archives – I had heard both before but listened in on Bruce’s again as there really is a lot of sporting history out there in newspapers, archives and historical societies.

Saturday’s program was equally good and first up was Rosemary Kopittke talking about Find My Past Australasia and again I found it interesting to see how much has been added to this since I last heard the talk. You really need to subscribe to e-newsletters to keep on top of changes – I do but sadly I can’t seem to keep on top of all my reading! The other session was on the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies of which I am a member.

Next was Jenny Higgins from the National Library of Australia talking about TROVE and she had a useful handout explaining how to make the most of searching. She also talked about the Library’s E-Resources which are great for searching overseas newspapers. The other choice was Alan Phillips and Jacqui Haralstad from Clean Cruising talking about the UTP event War Comes to Australia to be held in Darwin in February next year.

Next was a change to the program with Helen Smith doing a Brickwalls talk which I had heard previously so I went to Kay Soderlund’s Preservation of Your Records talk. Kay from Preservation Australia gave a very detailed presentation on all the elements of preventive conservation and then gave strategies for lessening or removing the threat.

Before lunch the choice was Anne Burrows on Finding Families at the State Library of Victoria or Brad Argent taking about What’s New at Ancestry.com.au – I opted to listen to Brad and again was surprised to see how much is new and what is coming. I wasn’t aware that they now have wildcard searching and collection filtering – I really do need to read my e-newsletters!! Don’t forget they have free access of their immigration and travel records until 6 September so be quick.

After lunch I listed to Dianne Snowden talk about Heritage Tourism as I had heard Kerry Farmer give her Tracing English Ancestors talk in Mount Gambier. Susie Zada was next with her Look Local talk which I have heard before so I went to Laura Miles from Museums Australia (Victoria) talk on Museum Treasures of Regional Victoria. Laura talked about a new database (I had heard about it but hadn’t realised that it was now operational). It’s simply called Victorian Collections and it is an online cataloguing system that museums and historical societies can use to record their collections and that researchers can use to find items of interest. Only 2900 items so far but I am sure that will quickly grow. NB when I went to do the links for this blog, the database is not yet online but stay tuned.

Next was Carole Riley talking on Social Media for Family Historians which I have heard so I went to Andrew Kilsby’s talk on Researching Pre-Federation Military Ancestors. Whenever I hear Andrew’s talks I am envious of his photos – surely there must be a photo of my ancestors in their military uniforms somewhere. Perhaps when North Queensland newspapers get digitised I might find one!

I was next with my Google Tips & Tricks talk which is always well received so I missed Susie Zadas Sewerage Records: A Magnificent Untapped Resource which I am still to hear – but at least I have read the book.

Finally Paul Parton gave another talk on FamilySearch and Rosemary Kopittke talked about Connecting Families Online – both of which I had heard so I took the time to chat to someone researching the same family as me. Over the two days I saw lots of people chatting and swapping information so I expect lots of genealogy will be done in the coming weeks.

I hope people are still reading this very long blog – I won’t go into all the 70+ exhibitors but it was great for me to chat with friends I get to see at most of the expos. Ben and Cassie Mercer from Inside History have produced a very nice military issue for Issue 6 of their magazine and I am looking forward to having a read later this afternoon. I finally got to buy a copy of Chris Paton’s book Tracing Your Family History on the Internet – I have been trying to get a copy for months and the good folk at the Genealogical Society of Victoria brought a copy to Geelong just for me so that was great.

Seeing Carol Heath from Pixel by Pixel reminded me that I still haven’t got my parents wedding photo to her for a quote (met her a while back and discussed the photo with her then) – the photo is starting to fall apart as it is on a metal backing and little flakes are falling off. Mum has asked me to get it restored but I suspect the best option might be just a digital copy and then restore that. But that’s what experts are for so I must add visit Carol to my ‘to do’ list!

On Saturday evening after a catered buffet dinner on site, there was a performance Hit the Road Digger: The Building of the Great Ocean Road by Colin Mockett and Shirley Power from Drop of a Hat Productions which was an interesting mix of reading, singing and all illustrated by old photographs. It made for a late night after a big day. Unfortunately we had a rowdy crowd of young males also staying at the same motel which also impacted on our sleep and everyone else staying there.

Do have a look at the exhibitors list as it really is too long to go into here and there may be something that will be of interest to you, especially if you had ancestors in the Geelong and Bellarine areas.

Finally I will talk about the venue which I had originally thought might be too big but with all of the exhibitors it was probably just the right size. The main theatre room was upstairs (two flights of stairs or one lift) and I did find the stairs a bit much by the end of the two days. Although this might reflect the fact that I need to exercise more. Waiting for the lift was not an option with so many people wanting to go to the main stream of talks.

The upstairs room was a bit warm most times while the other theatre room which was on ground level was much cooler, even a bit too cool sometimes. The showbag had lots of info and I picked up more brochures as I went around all the displays.

A big plus was that you could get food onsite (sandwiches, pies, other fast food, cakes, muffins etc) and there were tables and chairs so lots of networking over lunch. There was even real coffee and other hot and cold drinks. Parking was plentiful and it was easy to reach by train as well so all up I think the Geelong Arena was a good venue for the expo.

Thanks must go to Alan Phillips and his UTP team for all the organisation that goes with an Expo and also to Susie Zada for all the local input which I think helped to make this the biggest and best of the 2011 history and genealogy expos.

I know this has been a lengthy blog but I hope those who couldn’t attend get something from my various links. Any research successes I have will be part of future blogs so stay tuned!


SA & Victorian Border Genealogy Expo review

July 24th, 2011

Well I have arrived back home after attending the Unlock the Past SA & Victorian Border history and genealogy expo at Mount Gambier. As usual I have a notebook bulging with new ideas and a list of things I want to follow up.

There were over 40 exhibitors and the talks didn’t start till an hour after the doors opened at 9am so that gave people a chance to have a quick look round. As there were so many I won’t list them all here but you can see the list of exhibitors on the Unlock the Past website. I took the opportunity to talk to Paul from FamilySearch, Vicki from Genes Reunited, FindMyPast UK & Australasia & Scotland’s People (and I thought I wear a number of hats!), David from Openbook Howden, Anthea from Gould Genealogy, my friends from the Mount Gambier History Group and Susie and co from the Genealogical Society of Victoria.

There were some great exhibits from local history and community groups with lots of photographs and memorabilia. The Mount Gambier Public Library was also there and good to see they got the opportunity to attend lectures as well.

As usual with Unlock the Past expos, there are two streams of talks on each day and while most incur a small fee, some are also free. I missed the first sessions as the local TV crew came to do some filming and an interview, but sadly didn’t end up making it onto the news. However, it is always exciting to see them at least take the time to come and find out what it is all about.

The Friday sessions I attended included two sessions given by Graham Jaunay on Identifying & Dating Old Photographs and SA’s Major Archives for Family Historians (both the subject of his two latest books); and Andrew Kilsby on Our Early Citizen Soldiers: Volunteers and Militia Prior to the First World War. I gave my talks on Asylums and Google.

The Saturday sessions I attended included Tracing English Ancestors by Kerry Farmer, Australia’s ANZAC Heritage by Neil Smith and South Australian and Victoria in War: the Story of the 9th Light Horse & the Men From the Region Who Served by Andrew Kilsby. I again gave two talks – on TROVE and It’s Not All Online (the title of one of my books).

I missed some sessions as I was answering queries and questions or simply chatting with some of the attendees. The full program is on the Unlock the Past website.

On Friday night there was a special musical presentation Songs of the South Coast by Brenton Manser and The Vanguard which followed a dinner held at the venue. I found some of the slides behind the singers very evocative especially the shipwreck and war scenes.

It was great that the school canteen was open and catering for the expo. This allowed attendees to have morning and afternoon teas and lunch on site in a warm environment with tables and chairs – sheer bliss and there is nothing like country catering! This also allowed for informal networking and getting to know new people.

Overall the venue was quite good although trying to heat the gymnasium was a struggle on such cold days. I had a few issues with the main lecture room – during 3 of my 4 talks the screen turned off and we had to take a few minutes to get back on track (school standby programs came into play) and during the last talk I had an annoying feedback from the microphone. All little technical problems but nothing major.

Two of the speakers I listened to chose not to use the microphone which always annoys me as I struggle to hear. Even turning up my hearing aids meant that I was only hearing part of what they were saying and when they turned to look at the screen and continued talking it was almost impossible to hear them. However, on the plus side both of those speakers did very detailed slides of what they were saying so I could follow more from just reading the slides. Still, I do think speakers should ask the audience if they can hear rather than simply choosing to ignore a microphone.

Now that I have had my little whinge, the speaker of the Expo for me was Kerry Farmer who only had 30 minutes to deliver a lecture on English research. She managed to include more websites than I had thought possible in that time frame so well done Kerry. Due to the two streams, I missed all of the talks by Carole Riley, Susie Zada and Rosemary Kopittke – all regular UTP speakers.

Overall I thought it was a good expo in a good venue with catering onsite and when there were technical difficulties, someone was there to help out. I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t more people from local areas as it is not often that you get so many good speakers in a regional area. Still it was good to see the local support from community and history groups and the backing of the local Library. Thanks to Alan Phillips and staff for all the organising that went on behind the scenes.

The next Unlock the Past history and genealogy expo is a Victorian Expo in Geelong on 2-3 September 2011. I hope to see you there!


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