52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 4 Memorial Cards

January 28th, 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). 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 four 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 this week:

Anne Memorial Cards

Sharon Memorial Cards

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations)

Week 4 Memorial Cards

There is only one memorial card in my family history records but I have seen lots of memorial cards in other family collections. So why include memorial  cards in this blog challenge? The one in my family was loaned to me by my mother’s aunt back in the late 1970s so I am not sure now if the original still exists as Aunty Ivy died some years ago. But I have my copy and it started me on a search for what happened to an 11 year old boy who fell off his horse in Charters Towers in North Queensland in 1900.

The photo of Sydney Herbert White on the memorial card is the only one in existence, to my knowledge.  It is not a great photo or copy, as the original was not in good condition but the words Deeply Mourned and the verse that accompanies it reveal the family’s grief following the accident.

I wondered it there might have been an inquest into his death and I found a handwritten account with numerous witness statements at the Queensland State Archives. My great grandparents Herbert William White and Dorcas White nee Trevaskis both gave statements which told me more about Sydney, their eldest child.  He had been riding to see his grandmother Elizabeth Guy (formerly Trevaskis nee Rosewarne) when the horse was spooked and he was thrown off. Witnesses gave two accounts – one there was a dog and two there was a pile of rags but whichever it was, Sydney fell heavily and was taken to Mrs Guy’s, his grandmother’s house and a doctor and his father were sent for. His mother was already at her mother’s place. Sadly Sydney died shortly after his father arrived from what the doctor diagnosed as a broken neck.

If Aunty Ivy had not kept a copy of the memorial card, I might never have fully looked into Sydney’s death as he was my grandmother’s sibling and I tended back then to only spend money on certificates if it was a direct line or I needed more information on the family to go back further.  Of course these days we would head straight to Trove to see if we could find something on an 11 year old boy’s death.

And sure enough, Trove did not disappoint. By putting “Sydney Herbert White” as a search term there are two direct hits which now tell me even more than I previously learnt from the inquest. There is a paragraph published after the funeral. Like the inquest, it is sad reading – ‘A large number of the little boy’s fellow scholars at the Sandy Creek Sunday School testified their regard by following the funeral’.  The account was published in the North Queensland Register on 3 December 1900. The following week the same newspaper reported at length on the inquest, basically giving shortened versions of the various witness statements.

Back in the 1970s I did find a newspaper account of the accident in the New Eagle on 1 December 1900 but that microfilm has not yet been digitised. So remember not everything is in Trove yet. Perhaps we all need to rediscover our microform skills?

Sydney was buried in the Charters Towers cemetery and his grieving parents erected a tombstone in his memory. The verse again shows their grief – ‘as the ivy clings to the oak, so our memory shall cling to thee’.  I have visited the grave and taken a photo for the family history.  Sydney has not been forgotten and although his life was short, he left many records behind.

This blog challenge is all about revisiting my older research to see if there are any new records and information. Yet again I am amazed at how much more I have learnt about one event. Even if you do not have any memorial cards (although you should definitely ask older family members), there are probably children in your families who died young. Maybe you can find out more about their short lives by paying Trove (or Papers Past if you have New Zealand ancestors) a quick visit.


52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations)

January 21st, 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). 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 two 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 Webster, Sharn White, Cassmob and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Sharon – Probates (wills and administrations)

Links to Week 1 Military Medals, Week 2 Internal Migration

Week 3 Probates (wills and administration)

Not too many of my ancestors left wills and even if they did, it was usually a  basic will leaving everything to their spouse. However you should always look for a will or an intestacy (administration) just in case there is something interesting to find.

My great great grandmother Elizabeth Rosewarne married twice and had children to both James Henry Trevaskis and George Guy. When she died in 1904, her will caused some ill feeling in the family as it only named her two sons James Henry Guy and George Guy. Her daughter Dorcas Trevaskis and son John Trevaskis were not mentioned and they individually visited a solicitor with their suspicions about the will. The executors were their two half brothers and the beneficiaries under the will. The executors eventually gave consent for Dorcas and John to examine the will and no further action was noted on file.

Now before you all start thinking that perhaps Elizabeth was a very wealthy woman, she was not but just over £535 was a sizeable estate for that time. Elizabeth had some mining homestead leases with improvements, furniture, horses, buggy and carts, money in two Australian Joint Stock Bank fixed deposit accounts and 40 mixed fowls. This inventory gave me the exact location of their mining leases and I would never have known about the fowls if the estate had not been so detailed.

Administration of an intestate estate can also lead to the discovery of detailed lists of property and personal effects. I have previously written about the estate of my great grandfather Thomas Price but it is worth referring back to it because it is one of the most detailed lists I have ever seen. Coincidentally it was an Australia Day blog challenge in 2012 so perhaps it is appropriate to remember him again on the approach to Australia Day 2014. Wealth for Toil was about his last job before his accidental death at the Wee MacGregor mine in far north Queensland. He died intestate and the Public Curator administered his estate, hence the incredibly detailed list of effects in his tent at the time of his death. I still get a bit teary every time I read this blog thinking about his lonely life.

Sometimes we look for probate records in the hope that they will solve some family mystery. Late last year I discovered that my great great grandmother Helen Carnegie and her second husband Charles Wademore Chick both left wills in New South Wales where Charles had died in 1929. He left everything (a sizable estate of £4018 including real estate and an insurance policy) to Helen and she returned to Queensland where she died in 1946. Helen updated her will in 1933 leaving everything to her sister Clara Bishop or if she predeceased Helen, everything was to go to her nephew Clara’s son, John Carnegie Davis. My mystery remains – why did she not mention her son James Carnegie who was my great grandfather?

So probate records can fill in missing information on a family, or provide details that would not be found anywhere else or they may just raise more questions. Either way, it is definitely worth checking (usually the records are at the State Archives) to see if there was a will or an intestacy. Remember to widen your search time period as not all estates were wrapped up shortly after death. It may only occur after the death of both partners. There may not be any probate records to find but you will never know unless you look.


Australia Day Challenge 2014: C’mon Aussie

January 20th, 2014

One of my favourite bloggers, Cassmob, has issued an Australia Day Challenge C’mon Aussie geneameme and as usual I can’t resist. Anyone can join in and all the details are at the C’mon Aussie link.

CLIMBING YOUR FAMILY’S GUM TREE

My first ancestor to arrive in Australia was: Adam Johnston in 1861 (the only way I managed to get convicts in the family was to marry someone with convicts)

I have Australian Royalty (tell us who, how many and which Fleet they arrived with): My partner’s ancestor Samuel Pyers arrived on the Third Fleet.

I’m an Aussie mongrel, my ancestors came to Oz from: England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway

Did any of your ancestors arrive under their own financial steam? Some came free, some assisted.

How many ancestors came as singles? Four

How many came as couples? Five

How many came as family groups? None although one had a brother already out here.

Did one person lead the way and others follow? Not really, all my families were quite disconnected arriving in SA, VIC, NSW and QLD

What’s the longest journey they took to get here? Only about 4 months as the earliest was in the 1860s

Did anyone make a two-step emigration via another place? No

Which state(s)/colony did your ancestors arrive? SA, VIC, NSW and QLD

Did they settle and remain in one state/colony? SA, VIC and NSW went to QLD, and QLD mostly stayed in QLD except one couple went to NSW but came back to QLD

Did they stay in one town or move around? Mostly answered above but they were miners following the gold or copper in most cases.

Do you have any First Australians in your tree? No

Were any self-employed? Yes, mostly miners and farmers and one oyster farmer.

What occupations or industries did your earliest ancestors work in? Mining and farming as above

Does anyone in the family still follow that occupation? No

Did any of your ancestors leave Australia and go “home”? No

NOW IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU

What’s your State of Origin? Queensland

Do you still live there? Just returned home after living in the ACT and Victoria for a decade or so

Where was your favourite Aussie holiday place as a child? We either went to the Sunshine Coast or the Gold Coast for holidays so I always loved the beach

Any special place you like to holiday now? I still love travelling around in a caravan but I’m past the camping in a tent stage!

Share your favourite spot in Oz: So many places, how to pick just one – probably where we retired to, Bribie Island and it hasn’t changed that much since I first came here with my parents in the early 60s!

Any great Aussie adventure you’ve had? I’ve done an enormous amount of travel within Australia but I always love going to Alice Springs and Uluru, the night sky is simply magnificent!

What’s on your Australian holiday bucket list? There are two places I haven’t been yet, both in Western Australia – Kalgoorlie and Broome, the remoteness is a challenge but I will get there. My partner has been to both so it will probably have to be a solo trip!

How do you celebrate Australia Day? I don’t remembering celebrating it as a child but over the last few years or so, we have had a BBQ and had friends round or gone to their place. This year we have an old friend from Canberra staying the weekend and our new friends on Bribie have suggested they come round to our BBQ so it might be a bigger event for us than usual. It will make a change as last year, and our first Australia Day in our new home, we had the remnants of Cyclone Oswald hovering over us for days and everything was washed out!


52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 2 Internal Migration

January 14th, 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). 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. Happy researching Shauna Hicks

Week 2 Internal Migration

Technically internal migration is not a category of records but it is such an important part of our family history research as our ancestors moved around a lot more than we think. Many did not just come to Australia and stay in the one place. We can discover their movements from a number of different sources as my own examples will demonstrate.

Having started researching my family history back in the 1970s when certificates were a lot cheaper (although I was not earning that much either back then) I made it a practice to buy the certificates of the siblings of my direct ancestors if I was having trouble tracing the family. This practice paid off for a number of my families.

Adam Johnston and Maria Jeffers married in Brisbane in 1864 and had nine children. My own direct ancestor was their seventh child Elizabeth Johnston who was born at South Pine, north of Brisbane. I had trouble locating the family in that area so I started buying the other children’s birth certificates.  The first four children James, Sarah Jane, William and Selina were all born in Brisbane and my big surprise came when I bought the next certificate. Fifth child, daughter Margaret was born in Stanthorpe down near the New South Wales border. Another daughter Margaret was also born in Stanthorpe and that sent me looking for a death certificate for the first Margaret.  My ancestor Elizabeth was their next child born at South Pine so by then they had left Stanthorpe. The eighth child Maria was also born at South Pine while the ninth and last child Adam John was born at Sherwood on the other side of Brisbane.

What prompted their move and stay in Stanthorpe for at least four years? This is where occupation on a certificate comes in handy. Adam Johnston had become a tin miner and was trying his luck on the tin fields of Stanthorpe in the 1870s. Had I not purchased all of the children’s birth certificates this period in their lives would have remained unknown (to me) as I have found no other evidence of it elsewhere.

It is a similar story with my Price family. Thomas and Elizabeth Price arrived as newlyweds in Sydney in 1878 and obviously they were not sure where they wanted to settle. They had ten children (big families help when tracing ancestors movements) and the children were as follows: Solomon was born at Caleula, William at Orange, Thomas at Parramatta, Elizabeth Ann at Kiama, Clara at Broughton Creek, Henry at Nattai (all more or less south of Sydney), then George was born at Bundanba (now Bundamba) west of Brisbane, a still born child was born in Bundaberg and the last two Herbert Leslie and Annie Lewis were born in Charters Towers in far north Queensland.

In just under twenty years Thomas and Elizabeth Price had moved up and down the east coast of Australia and without those birth certificates I would not have known about all the family moves.

My final example is my Trevaskis family. James Henry Trevaskis arrived in Moonta, South Australia with his wife Ann and three children. After his wife died, he married my direct ancestor Elizabeth Rosewarne and they had my great grandmother Dorcas Trevaskis in Moonta. Their next son John Trevaskis was born in Copperfield, Queensland  and I would love to know how they made that incredible trip from South Australia, presumably through western New South Wales and up through Queensland. Dorcas married in Charters Towers and died in Brisbane but the wording ‘late of Charters Towers’ on her tombstone makes the link back there. So sometimes there are also clues to internal migration in records such as funeral notices, obituaries and monumental inscriptions.

One way I track these internal movements in a family is to use a time chart where I put all known dates and places for an individual (or a family) in a timeline and often this will help me see a discrepancy or that I am missing a key piece of information. Are you really sure that your ancestors did not move around after they arrived in Australia?

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Sharon (Tree of Me blog) Internal Migration

Judy Webster Internal Migration

Cassmob Internal Migration


52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 – Week 1 Military Medals

January 7th, 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). 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. Happy researching everyone in 2014, Shauna Hicks

Week 1 Military Medals
Many of my ancestors have been awarded military medals but I have never really taken the time to research what the medals were awarded for, apart from the general knowledge that they received them for their participation in a particular war. This week I’m looking at the Boer War medals awarded to my mother’s uncles and the medals awarded to both my grandfathers, one in World War One and the other in World War Two.

My Mother’s uncles were Solomon Price born 1878 in Caleula, New South Wales and William Price born 1880 in Orange, New South Wales. When the South African (Boer) War broke out in 1899 they were aged 21 and 19 respectively. It must have seemed like a great adventure and they quickly enlisted in December 1899 in Charters Towers, Queensland where the family were then living.

Solomon served in the 2nd Queensland Mounted Infantry Contingent and William was in the 3rd Contingent. They both returned home in 1901 but just under a year later both Solomon and William re-enlisted and joined the 7th Australian Commonwealth Horse. However by the time they arrived in South Africa the war was over and they returned to Australia.

For his service Solomon was awarded the Queen’s South African Medal. According to the medal and clasps roll, Solomon was entitled to receive the following clasps – Dreifontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill and Cape Colony. For his service William was also awarded the Queens South African Medal with the following clasps – Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal and Rhodesia. Both Solomon and William also received the South Africa 1901 date clasp.

The information from the medals and clasps helped me to learn more about what they experienced while serving with their Contingents and I can also follow up newspaper reports on those battles. A quick Google search will also provide background information on individual battles. This type of information supplements what I have from the military dossiers now digitised and free online courtesy of the National Archives of Australia.

I wrote about my two grandfathers, Henry Price (brother of Solomon and William Price above) and John Martin (Jack) Gunderson in a Remembrance Day blog in 2011 – read it here. Henry Price was a recipient of the British War Medal for his brief service in Papua New Guinea during World War One and Jack Gunderson received the War Medal 1939-1945 and the Australian Service Medal 1939-1945 for his service within Australia during World War Two.

The interesting thing about both of my grandfathers is that neither went overseas but we still have military dossiers and medals for them. So it pays to check the indexes even if you know your ancestor did not go overseas as not everyone who served did. If there are military medals in your family history, try and find out the stories behind the medals.

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Judy Webster Military Medals

Sharon (Tree of Me blog) Military Medals

Sharn White Military Medals


Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2013

January 1st, 2014

Well known geneablogger Geniaus has again invited the genealogy blogging community to her annual Accentuate the Positive Geneameme. As usual I can’t resist the challenge so below are my responses to her twenty questions. Anyone can join in this activity in their own blog post but don’t forget to let Geniaus know too so that she can link all responses into her original blog post. Write as much or as little as you want.

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

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was – I didn’t discover anyone new but I did find out a lot more about my very elusive great grandmother Helen Carnegie! I’ve been asked to give a talk about the family at the Bribie Island Historical Society which I’m looking forward too.

2.  A precious family photo I found was – When unpacking all my study stuff in our new house, I rediscovered an old family photo album that was only found after my grandmother died in 1994. Mum, thinks it is the Carnegie family but she is not sure and of course there is no one left now to ask.

3.  An ancestor’s grave I found was – Strangely enough I don’t think I visited one cemetery this year but I have to visit the Carnegie grave in the Toorbul cemetery as I haven’t been back there since the late 1970s. The headstone is now shattered but I have a photograph of it still upright.

4.  An important vital record I found was – I discovered that Helen Carnegie and her second husband Charles Wademore Chick both left wills in New South Wales so I happily sent away for them. While the documents answered some questions, they raised yet more questions which is often the way in genealogy.

5.  A newly found family member who shared - A number of distant cousins on various family lines contacted me throughout the year, mainly finding me via Google and my blog posts on the families. It does pay to advertise!

6.  A geneasurprise I received was - After moving to Bribie Island we discovered that Max also had family connections to the area through his Burstow and Eldridge families (his mother’s side).

7.   My 2013 blog post that I was particularly proud of was – As voluntary national coordinator for National Family History Month I did quite a bit of blogging to help promote NFHM. Perhaps the post I am most proud of is the National Family History Month Launch 2013 blog as I outlined some of the changes I have introduced to this annual event each August.

8.   My 2013 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was – For NFHM I drew up a list of 31 genealogy activities for researchers and 31 activities for genealogy and family history societies and these blogs attracted a lot of attention (to see all four blogs scroll through the August 2013 archive). Also Diary of an Australian Genealogist was selected by the National Library of Australia to be archived in their Pandora web archive reflecting the interest in that blog.

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was – I have bought a new piece of technology that allows me to plug into my laptop and then hear directly into my hearing aids, which avoids echoes and other background noises I was picking up when just using speakers or headphones.

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was – I still like Twitter for instant news but I find I am also picking up useful information from Facebook posts by my genealogy friends.

11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was - I really learnt a lot from Paul Milner’s presentations on the 3rd genealogy cruise with Unlock the Past. He gave some brilliant talks.

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave at/to - I went out to Chinchilla in western Queensland with Sue Reid from the Queensland Family History Society to give a one day seminar. We both gave two talks each (mine was on Trove and Google for Genealogy and Sue’s two talks were on online newspapers). Small groups in rural and regional areas don’t often have the opportunity to get experienced speakers so it was really good that the Chinchilla Family History Group received financial support from their local council to make the trip possible.

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was - I have had a series of articles published in Irish Lives Remembered and I have also had some pieces published in Inside History Magazine. I really enjoy writing!

14. I taught a friend how to – use an IPad. I’m self taught and when my local library ran a free ‘how to use your IPad’ I went along and learnt a few more things but I’m sure there is even more that I can use my IPad for!

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was – In the raffle at the NSW/ACT Association of Family History Societies genealogy conference in Canberra I won a copy of Geoff Rasmussen’s new book on Digital Imaging Essentials: Techniques and Tips for Genealogists and Family Historians. This has been useful in my project to scan all my photos and documents (an ongoing project)!

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was – The National Film and Sound Archive. While in Canberra for the Australian Society of Archivists conference I had the opportunity to visit the NFSA for the first time since I left Canberra in 2003. It has some amazing records and memorabilia.

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was – Since moving to Bribie Island I have been reading some of the local history books on the area. When researching families, you also have to look at what else was happening in the local community at the same time.

18. It was exciting to finally meet - I would have to say the overseas speakers on the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise mentioned above in 11 above. They were all easy to talk too and of course the cruise brought a lot of good Australian and New Zealand speakers together too, although most of them I’ve known for many years.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was – I don’t really think you can go past a genealogy cruise – all you have to do is shower, dress and toddle off to the lectures with no cooking, housework etc to distract you!

20. Another positive I would like to share is – technology and the internet just keeps on getting better and better and more and more archives and libraries are making new indexes and digitised records available. It really is essential to revisit your research and check out what’s new. Roll on 2014, I’m looking forward to more exciting genealogy discoveries.


Genealogy Aspirations 2014

December 23rd, 2013

This year has gone incredibly fast! It has been busy with settling into our new home on Bribie Island and doing some travel as usual. Regular readers will know that I like to review my genealogy goals at the end of a year and to set myself some new genealogy goals for the coming year. So how did I go with my Genealogy Aspirations 2013?

The five aspirations (in brief) were:

1. As I unpack to identify and list tasks to help keep my goal of scanning and rehousing photographs and family heirlooms progressing. I’m happy to say that I did manage to do some scanning and rehousing but it always takes longer to do than you think.

2. The Burstow one name study – to get organised so that I can answer any queries from others interested in the name and to set up my profile on the Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS) website. I managed to set up some spreadsheets for the UK census and some other miscellaneous records in Australia and I received one query on the name via the GOONS website.

3. My Norwegian ancestors (the Gunderson line goes back to 1688) – researching more about their culture and where they came from. Sadly, this was the aspiration that got away!

4. As we now live on Bribie Island across from where my Scottish ancestors (Carnegie) were oyster farmers in Pumicestone Passage, to re-look at their files. I have been re-looking at this family and discovered new information. I’ve been asked to speak about the family’s history at the March 2014 meeting of the Bribie Island Historical Society so that will definitely focus my thoughts as I prepare for the talk.


5. Finally 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 in 2012. Again I was not as active here as I would have liked but I really did achieve this goal during National Family History Month (NFHM). I was the new voluntary national co-ordinator and I suspect that is where a lot of my spare time went this year. One big plus here was that Diary of an Australian Genealogist was selected by the National Library of Australia to be archived into Pandora, accessed via the archived web sites section of Trove which was a thrill and an honour.


As usual there were other genealogy related things that arose during the year to capture my attention. Perhaps the most time consuming (outside of NFHM) were two new research guides for Unlock the Past which are due out in January 2014, just in time for the fourth UTP genealogy cruise. I also attended a number of meetings in Canberra of the National Archives of Australia’s advisory committee for the centenary of World War One and it has been really interesting being part of that committee and I am looking forward to the 2014 meetings.


Now to my Genealogy Aspirations for 2014


1. I have to keep the scanning of photographs and documents at the top of the list (I am very much an out of sight out of mind person). Now that we live in Paradise and all its distractions, I do not want to be tied down to any fixed timetable but perhaps three hours  a week, which would be 156 hours for the year. That might even finish the job!


2. My Burstow one name study will continue (one name studies are actually never ending) but one thing I do want to try this coming year is to do some family reconstructions if I can. It is not an essential part of a one name study but one that intrigues me, especially for the name here in Australia.


3. Each year I try and focus on at least one of my families so in 2014 it will be my Irish families (Finn and Fegan from Wicklow; Jeffers from Armagh and Johnston from Cavan). There are lots of new resources for Ireland so maybe I can finally push these lines further back or at least learn more about the families they left behind when they came to Australia.


4. As well as new resources, there are new ways of doing genealogy and catching up with long lost relatives. My friend Geniaus has started having Google+ hangouts but so far I’ve been hesitant to join in as I’m not that techy but like all new things it is just a matter of learning how to do them! Often easier said than done. So 2014 will be my year to try (and probably like) some of these new social media events.


5. I am not sure if organising National Family History Month on a voluntary basis is a personal aspiration but it will take up my time and I do want to make it even more successful than 2013, so I have included it here. Although it is only during the month of August, there is lots of planning and organising through out the year. Plus it is a great chance to work with my genealogy friends and colleagues to help spread the word about the joys of chasing your ancestors!


My 2014 genealogy aspirations are listed – wish me luck!





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.





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