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!





Australian Society of Archivists conference report Oct 2013

October 22nd, 2013

The ASA‘s conference was held in Canberra on 15-18 October 2013 and it was great to catch up with old friends and colleagues. The networking opportunity is what makes a conference really good for me but of course, the program has to be interesting too. With a theme of Archives The Future it’s not surprising that there were a number of sessions examining where we might all be in 2033. Considering how much has changed in the last 20 years, there will probably be just as much if not more change.

Special interest group meetings were held in the morning on 15 October and the Loris Williams Memorial Lecture was in the afternoon followed by the AGM. The Welcome Reception and the Mander Jones Awards were held in the early evening of that day. The venue was the National Film and Sound Archive and it was good to visit there again. The outdoor reception was a little chilly but the catering was excellent.

Day 2 was at the main conference venue which was the Museum of Australian Democracy which is in the Old Parliament House building. This is a beautiful old building and a great place for a conference. After the Welcome to Country and the ASA President’s Address it was straight down to serious discussions with a round table of the heads of archival institutions. On the panel were David Fricker from National Archives of Australia, Greg Goulding from Archives New Zealand and Michael Loebenstein from the National Film and Sound Archive. An interesting question time followed.

After morning tea there were two streams with Stream A looking at technology and social and business trends in the next 10-20 years and Stream B looking at access and freedom of information, beyond 20 year rules, whistleblowing and wikileaks. I went to the technology session and found Antony Funnell‘s talk stimulating and I will have to get a copy of his book The Future and #Unrelated Nonsense from the library although Booktopia has it with a discount of 49% at the time of writing (cheaper than the ebook).

After an excellent lunch the technology stream continued by examining the impact of technology on archival programs and Stream B looked at privacy and changing social attitudes and new ways of managing privacy requirements. Again I went to the technology stream and really liked the talk given by Leisa Gibbons from Monash University. I’ll never be able to look at You Tube in quite the same way again.

Afternoon tea was plentiful and delicious and the Stream A examined appraisal and shifting the paradigm while the second looked at the possibilities and impacts of mergers in Australia and overseas. This was the session I attended and it was interesting and the most well known example in Australia to date was the merger of the Archives Office of Tasmania with the State Library heritage section to form the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office.

Then it was a short walk to the beautiful Albert Hall for those who were attending the launch of Dr Ted Ling’s new book, Government Records About the Australian Capital Territory: A Research Guide. I purchased a signed copy as it is a comprehensive guide for all records in this geographic region of Australia and should be quite useful.

Day 3 again had two streams until the final plenary of the day. Stream A was on resilient cultures and the archive and I went to Stream B on legislation and archival legal frameworks for the digital future. Another interesting session with lots of questions from the floor.  The other two sessions in Stream A were education and the archivist and requirements in the digital age and managing non-government and private records in a national framework. I didn’t go to either as I went to the two sessions on the archives profession and its voice and visibility within Australia and of course the ASA itself. Having been a member of the ASA for 25 years I had heard a lot of this discussion before at other conferences so it will be interesting to see if the ASA does continue to move forward after this conference which looked so steadily to the future.

These sessions took us through lunch and up to afternoon tea and the final plenary. This session really encapsulated the whole program with its theme of the future of archives and archivists and how they can remain relevant in an era of commercialisation and digitisation. Brad Argent from Ancestry put forward some challenging ideas including that in the future archives will be a commercial product, with a seamless interface that satisfies user demand for quick one stop access in an online digital world and with archivists having limited roles. Another thought provoking idea was that archivists are handing over unique and valuable content from the archives and only receiving (wanting) a digital copy in return while companies like Ancestry gain profile and revenue dollars  and archivists slip further from public view.

To end the conference there was a brief look at next year’s joint conference with ARANZ in Christchurch, New Zealand and Michael Piggott did an interesting exercise moving through the alphabet A-Z with members of the audience suggesting words to form a word cloud.

Well known Adelaide Archivist Jenny Scott took many photos of the conference and these can be seen on Flickr here.

The principal conference sponsor was Ancestry.com.au with other sponsors Charles Sturt University, Monash University, National Archives of Australia, National Library of Australia, Gale Cengage Learning, Inside History Magazine and the National Film and Sound Archive. There wasn’t the usual exhibitors area but Ancestry, Gale and Charles Sturt University had tables and people to talk to on both days of the main conference.

The conference was a sell out success and I don’t think the organisers could have fitted another person into the room. It was extremely well organised with sessions running to time, several areas set aside for morning and afternoon teas and lunch and the catering was superb and plentiful. Together with the interesting program and early evening events I would have to say one of the best conferences I’ve attended in recent years. Well done to the entire conference committee who were visible, helpful and busy throughout the conference.

I also have some of the social and touristy news in my Diary of an Australian Genealogist blog.





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)!





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