Thursday, 29 January 2015

Military, Podcasts and Congress - Genealogy Notes 24-31 Jan 2015

What a week, four days without internet due to a provider issue. Nothing worse when you have a problem, make a complaint and then it does not get acted on. When you contact them again they are surprised that it isn't fixed, on checking it seems that it wasn't actioned so yes not fixed. Now resolved but it did make me realise how dependent we are on the internet. Some times I deliberately turn off and tune out, but this last week I was running to a few deadlines and it was inconvenient.

But where there is a will there is a way and I wrote various pieces without the internet and then once it was back, all I had to do was check and confirm links and do some blog posting.

It is sad to think that in two months time AFFHO Congress 2015 will be over and we will be waiting for 2018 and the next Congress which will be in Sydney. But before then we still get to attend 2015 and my interview with speaker Carole Riley is here. She is doing four sessions including land records, gold miners, social media and technology such as Dropbox and Evernote. I have heard Carole's talk on Evernote and it was very inspiring and to be honest, I was a little amazed at all the things she does with it.

I found time to write Week 29 in my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015. This week's topic was on Military Records and there are just so many aspects to this topic so I focused on dossiers as they have been indexed and digitised and are online free courtesy of the National Archives of Australia for the Boer War and World War one.

I remembered to check the January podcast from Genies Down Under as Maria had asked me to contribute a tip or two to Episode 39: Mistake stuff for genies - what to avoid to increase the quality of your research. Maria also asked me to contribute to Episode 40 on Superstar stuff in family history - messages from Aussie family history gurus which will be available in February. Lots of great advice coming up.

During my down time I also took the opportunity to input more of my own family data into Family Historian from scratch. Some of the certificates I entered I haven't look at in nearly 40 years and it really is amazing what you forget. My own birth certificate has the name of the doctor and nurse who delivered me and I was surprised to see that it was my old family doctor that I remember from childhood. He was assisted by Nurse Snowball which I thought was an odd name, unusual in itself but also odd for Queensland where it snows very infrequently and then mostly in border areas.

My mother, me and baby brother 
However I have to say redoing your data entry from scratch is very time consuming, although I was also getting used to Family Historian my new genealogy program. I am quite impressed with some of the features and I am scanning certificates and photos and linking as I go so that takes a bit more time. I did a Legacy Family Tree GEDCOM of my son's paternal side and simply imported that into Family Historian which was a much easier option but that was without any tidying up for consistency or looking for missing citations from an even earlier genealogy program. At some point I will have to do a clean up but for the moment the focus is still on reentering all my own family, including citations and standardising place names.

My article and blog for the Going In-Depth digital genealogy magazine published by The In-Depth Genealogist is due tomorrow. I have had both pieces written for about a week but keep tinkering with them as it is a bit nerve wracking writing for a new magazine who may not be so familiar with my style. Also their style and procedures are a bit different to what I am used to, but once I get into the swing of it perhaps those nerves will go away. There are a few 2013 issues on free access here if you are not familiar with this online magazine.

The other exciting thing for the week was that I joined the Bribie U3A (University of the Third Age) and enrolled in a Bribie Island history course. While one of my families were part of the Island's history, there is a lot that I don't know or have not thought about for years. So I am really looking forward to this in Term 1. The topic is so popular they have a ongoing group which also meets each term to talk about new discoveries, anniversaries, and anything else connected to the Island and surrounds.

I couldn't go on the 7th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to WA but I have been enjoying Helen Smith's blog posts (plural so don't miss any) on the cruise and associated shore events. It is not quite as good as going yourself, but reading about it and seeing all the photos that Helen has taken is the next best thing.

I was also pleased to see that Helen is giving a talk at Bribie Island Library in June so that is in my diary as Helen's talks are always full of info. The Your History Our History program from Moreton Bay Region Libraries has lots of great genealogy talks from Feb to Jun so if you are in the area, all of their libraries are hosting talks.

Well that is my week in review and if there are no more internet dramas, I have a list of personal research follow ups I want to spend time on next week. I love the research, not so keen on the data entry but I love the option to press a key and generate great reports. Till next week, happy researching.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Tombstones, Trove and Doing Over: Genealogy Notes 16-23 Jan 2015

Well I seem to be in the group of doing big changes and this week I started another one. I have been thinking about changing my genealogy software for some time and have been talking to others and reading up on what is available. Back in the 90s I started out with Brothers Keeper and after many years I swapped over to Legacy Family Tree. My conversion didn't go quite to plan and I had to do a lot of manual changes and I said I would never swap again.

However over the last 20 something years of having my family history in a database I have changed how I record things, what info I capture, style, citations and so on. So to tidy everything up I either had to do a major rehaul of my Legacy databases (38 years of research) or start again in new software.  Another friend lost all her data in a computer crash (not sure where her backups were but then do we ever check that our backups would work in the event of a crash) and she reentered all her data. I'm not sure that I totally believe that it didn't take her that long to reenter, but I can see the advantages of starting fresh and being consistent.

So I downloaded Family Historian V6 which I know many geneafriends use and I listened to Jill Ball's Google +hangout (recorded on Jill's You Tube channel) with Jane Taubman, a speaker on the Unlock the Past Genealogy Cruises, on using FamilyHistorian. While it was on I had Family Historian opened and added myself and my parents while Jane was talking. I was surprised to see that it came up with matches to My Heritage (which are probably mine but I will check).

I am now thinking of perhaps only doing a complete reentry of my own family line and using a gedcom conversion for my son's family line on his father's side. I forgot about the arthritis in my fingers and wrists or perhaps it is just the wet weather we have been having this week! This is part of my participation in Thomas MacEntee's genealogy do over project for 2015.

With my Library Thing project, I am finding it easier to rearrange the books into shelves first and then enter the books into Library Thing so I am surrounded by piles of books waiting to be data entered. I love it when the ISBN is recognised, saves so much time, but it is surprising how many titles I have that have to be entered manually.

Scanning photos and documents is still incredibly slow and I suspect there is no speedy way there!

Tombstones were the topic of this week's blog in my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015. There are so many clues that we can get from tombstones, if we are lucky enough to have them.

I have been working on finalising a new research guide for Unlock the Past and I was looking for a good example using one of my families in North Queensland. Searching Trove for them made me realise that quite a few more northern newspapers have been digitised and added to Trove. I found some nice pieces for my book but temptation took hold, as it always seems to do in Trove, and I started putting in lots of names and finding lots more info. One discovery brought me to tears and will be the subject of a future blog post. And that was just one family.

I have been working on my three talks for the Maryborough Family Heritage Institute seminar in February and I am looking forward to going back there. It should be a really good afternoon and anyone in the area can attend, it is not just Institute members. My Norwegian ancestors settled near there in the 1870s and we will also take the opportunity to pop up to Bundaberg and see Max's aunty and cousins. Details of my talks in Maryborough are on the Events page of my website.

Another rainy day here so I am planning a big data entry session. To avoid distractions I am going to turn off Facebook, Google+ and Twitter so that I don't see all those tempting posts with exciting links telling me to look at this new resource or read this blog for inspiration and so on. Sometimes I wonder how we ever did research our families back in the 70s!
Happy researching until next week.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Education records, AFFHO Congress interviews & More - Genealogy notes 8-15 Jan 2015

It is a scary thought but we are into the third week of 2015 and already I think I am talking too much! I have accepted another two talks, both in May. The first is part of an all day seminar on immigration organised by Southern Suburbs branch of the GSQ and the second is for the Genealogical Society of Queensland, a new date for my asylums talks which had to be postponed last November due to car problems. Dates have been added to the speaking calendar on the Events page of my website. That makes 17 presentations so far not counting the two Unlock the Past genealogy cruises in July and November (not sure how many I will be doing on them yet) and National Family History Month in August.

Yesterday I gave my first presentation for 2015 to Caloundra Family History Research group on School Days: education records for family history. They are a great group, laughed in all the right places and more importantly, hadn't really thought about how much education records can add to family history research. Most of them said they would be going home to see what they could discover on their own families. As usual I have placed the presentation on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

My AFFHO Congress 2015 interviews continue and the latest is with Mathew Trinca from the National Museum of Australia. It is only 10 weeks to Congress so before we know, we will all be meeting up in Canberra for a geneaorgy (I wonder if that will make Jill Ball's geneadictionary)?

The topic of this week's 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015, my personal genealogy blog challenge, was census records and I have made some interesting discoveries using the UK and Irish census records. Read the post here.

It really is hard trying to keep up with all the new digitised newspapers. Both Trove and the British Newspaper Archive made announcements of new titles and of course, they cover areas that I am interested in. Do I keep cataloging my library into Library Thing and reorganising and scanning my paper documents accumulated over nearly 40 years (both long term projects) or do I drop everything and see what exciting things I can find??

You guessed right! The lure of Trove was too strong but I was rewarded with an article on the retirement of my great grandfather James Carnegie. Sadly there was no image but it did talk about his career on Brisbane ferries. Thanks to the article I now know he spent 28 years on the ferries, traveled 200,000 miles, he smoked a pipe and weighed 16 stone! All things you are not likely to find in government documents and as he died before I was born, I never had the chance to know him.

These weren't the only temptations, there are always interesting links posted on Twitter, Facebook, in blog posts and the enewsletters I receive from state archives, libraries and so on. It is a wonder that I ever get anything done!

We are having a heat wave with high humidity at the moment and sweat is pouring off me as I look at the pool and the surrounding palm trees. Yes more temptation in paradise but before I can leap in, I have promised to attack the weeds that enjoyed all last week's rain. Why do weeds grow faster than flowers and herbs although the basil is looking great and it won't be long before the tomatoes start ripening. One of our beautiful hibiscus even flowered this morning. So off to do some gardening before I see some new genealogy temptation. Until next time, happy researching.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Genealogy Notes 1-7 Jan 2015 - Off to an exciting new year

To me a new year is like spring cleaning and I know from reading some geneafriends blogs that they feel the same way as I do. For example, long time friend and library colleague Family Tree Frog summed up a lot of my own thoughts in her Resolutions, Reflections and Requiem post recently. I am not totally into the 'Do Over' but I am continuing my study tidy up which includes all my filing cabinets. My trouble is that one manilla folder of paper can generate a whole host of new questions, hours of searching on the laptop and then more time entering data or revising my draft family histories. It is a bit like Pandora's Box or is that Aladdin's Cave??

I did complete the Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2014 and once again, the questions made me remember family history discoveries during the year that I tend to forget about unless prompted. Of course a lot of my discoveries are also recorded in this Diary which is a good reason to have a family history blog. You can capture your findings while writing up your stories and sharing them with others. The best part is that Google searches blogs and some long lost cousin will find you and have exciting new information. It does happen, just ask any geneablogger!

It was good to get back into some personal genealogy blogging and Week 26 of my 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 (carrying on from 2014) was on School Records, one of my favourite topics. I even included some of my newly scanned school photos! It was also a timely post as my first talk for 2015 is School Days: education records for family history and I will be giving that to the Caloundra Family History Research group next week. They are always a very keen and enthusiastic group with standing room only last time I spoke there. Anyone recognise this little girl on her first day of school?

As part of my study clean up there are bags of mixed genealogy magazines that I usually give away to the smaller groups that I talk to and Caloundra will be the first recipient in 2015. I find that rereading some of the older magazines or reading journals by other societies always gives me new ideas which is why I recycle my mags rather than simply tossing them in the bin. It is also a small test to see if any Caloundra members read this blog and if they find out in advance what I am planning next week. I try to convert at least one person to blogging (reading or writing) every time I talk.

There is another AFFHO Congress 2015 speaker interview with John Blackwood, a man of few words but President of the Genealogical Society of Victoria. Read my interview with John here. I still have three interviews on my lists and my official blogger colleagues Jill Ball and Pauleen Cass have also been doing their interviews. Click on the links to their names and scroll their posts to see the interviews they have been doing.

Hard to believe in three months time it will all be over for another three years, Sydney in 2018. However, I will be making the most of Congress 2015 and if you can't attend, watch out for all the social media posts as I know quite a few Geneabloggers will be there.

I have been working on finalising two more research guides for Unlock the Past and that has taken up a bit of time. I want to finish them as I have some new projects in line for 2015. I have agreed to write another Australian course for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies and that is due before National Family History Month in August. Although there will be a bit of overlap there as NFHM is like a rolling project as I try to get everyone excited about it and events organised.

From March I am excited to say that I will be doing some articles and blog posts for The In-Depth Genealogist so that will be quite different. Some of the 2013 back issues of Going In-Depth are free online if you have not seen this internet genealogy magazine. Have a look here.

Sad to say I am about to send off my last article for Irish Lives Remembered after two years of writing articles for them. Time obviously does fly when you are having fun. This morning I received notice that the Jan-Feb 2015 issue of Irish Lives Remembered is online for free so have a look at that too if you have Irish ancestors.

I have four talks coming up in February so I also have to start thinking about those too, not to mention my two presentations for Congress in March. Just as well I like talking and writing.

There are so many great enewsletters out there to read as well as blogs and I can't list them all but if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook you will see some of the items I am sharing. One that is worth having a look at is GeniAus' Gems or GAGs as she affectionately calls them. It is a round up of the blogs that she has found interesting or useful.

Well my first week in 2015 was full on genealogy and tidying up but there is some housework and gardening looming as we have some more family members coming at the weekend. Although at the moment it is raining (for a nice change). Until next time, happy researching.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Genealogy Notes 26-31 Dec 2014 New Year Thoughts

I hope everyone had a great Christmas with family and friends and now we have a new year on the horizon. Somewhere between Christmas and New Year our local supermarket started selling hot cross buns (traditionally associated with Easter) and other stores will have them on sale from the New Year. No wonder we think our years are speeding up, but obviously the buns are a good seller!

The end of a year always has me thinking about what I have done and what I am looking forward to in the coming year. I like to set some basic goals because as a procrastinator, I like to remind myself from time to time of things I really want to do. So here are my Genealogy Aspirations for 2015. Nothing too ambitious and lots of room to do other things as they come up over the year.

Each year geneafriend GeniAus organises a genealogy blog challenge Accentuate the Positive 2014 Genememe and I like to take part in this as well. The questions always prompt me to think about genealogy finds that I may have forgotten over the course of a year or they give me a chance to tell others, someone else might benefit from my experiences. I am still pondering my answers so look out for that response soon. Anyone is welcome to do it and if you do, let Jill know as she collates all the responses.

I have completed another AFFHO Congress 2015 speaker interview, this time with David Berry from the State Library of New South Wales. And fast forwarding, in three months time Congress will be winding up for another three years. So if you don't want to wait that long, make sure you get to Canberra at the end of March!

With so much happening in the second half of 2014, I totally missed my 5th anniversary of blogging. SHHE Genie Rambles started in Sep 2009 and records a lot of my genealogy adventures as well as blogs telling my family stories and other bits and pieces. Through it I have made contact with long lost cousins, tracked missing branches of families and made some great friends. I really can't imagine family history now without blogging.

Back in September, the Lovely Blog award was doing the rounds and I was fortunate to receive two awards (one for Diary and one for SHHE Genie Rambles) and my responses are here and here. Just recently I received another one from Chris Wright and rather than do another response, I will simply direct you to her blog post The Ancestor Digger One Lovely Blog Award where she nominated me. In her list of nominated blogs she has some of my favourite bloggers so check them out, especially if you have not come across them before.

One of my projects over the last week has been to continue to catalogue my library into Library Thing and this has been a useful exercise but does seem never ending at the moment. Surprisingly I have turned up duplicates (where I have two of something), outdated editions and I kept the earlier edition, books that are truly out of date but still with some useful knowledge, and some books that are now in a pile on the floor. Some I no longer want but still have relevance so will be offered to a society, some I will offer to others and some will go into the bin.

But what has truly surprised me is what I have forgotten I had and by handling each book, pamphlet, journal or whatever again, I have been struck by how useful some of them are, even in today's Google world. I bought a family history back in the 70s with distant connections to my White family and I probably haven't looked at it since.Surprise surprise, all the work I have done since then now makes this book extremely relevant to my own White family. Going back to basics and looking at research with new eyes can be rewarding, not simply a waste of time.

I now have another pile of books that I want to go back through again - at least with Library Thing I can find them all now, or will be able to, when I finish the last four bookcases!

There have been some fantastic Christmas/New Year specials from all the big companies, Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage, Eneclann and so on. I have seen most of them via Facebook when friends share posts on bargains and Geneabloggers has written a blog Genealogy Bargains which sums up a lot of the deals on offer.

It is super hot here and humidity is way up so time to escape the geneacave for a swim! If you are wondering about any of my genea words then check out the GeneaDictionary. Wishing everyone a fantastic geneayear in 2015 and I hope to meet some of you at the AFFHO Congress in Canberra, the NSW & ACT conference in Port Macquarie or the History Queensland conference in Brisbane. Or the really lucky ones on the Unlock the Past Baltic cruise! Until next year, happy researching.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Genealogy Notes 19-25 December 2014 - Christmas thoughts

Christmas Eve and we are getting everything ready for tomorrow's lunch at my mother's place. All my brother's family will be there and all of mine too - the only one who may not be there is our mother. A week or so ago she had a fall, needed some stitches in her head and after a few days in hospital it was back into rehab to make her strong enough to go home. But she developed pneumonia over the weekend and it is now a wait and see how she goes to whether or not they will let her out for Christmas lunch. The antibiotics have helped and she is looking better but we will get the doctor's decision later today. So we might be all trooping up to the hospital before we tuck into our seafood feast.

Christmas is always the one time of the year when we do try to come together as a family but it has not always been possible with my living interstate for so many years. Plus we have extended families - my son usually alternates Christmas between us and his other grandma but this year he is managing to fit us both in, although they are not planning to eat two Christmas lunches! Max's families are all interstate so there will be lots of phone calls and there are packages under the Christmas tree.

So no matter how you are celebrating Christmas this year, take the time to think about your families and all the memories you are creating. Capture those images and memories on your cameras so that you can remember those moments in the future. Merry Christmas everyone and I hope there are some genealogy goodies in your stockings.

This time of year I also start thinking about 2014 in retrospect and looking ahead to 2015 and what it might be bringing. Regular readers will know that I try and capture this with my Genealogy Aspirations blog posts - here is my 2014 Genealogy Aspirations. I will be reviewing those five aspirations and thinking about what I want to focus on in 2015. Hopefully I will have that done before the end of the year, only a week away now.

There are lots of exciting genealogy events happening in Australia in 2015 and I am lucky to be giving talks at all of them. See where I am speaking in 2015 on the Services & Events page of my website. Additional talks may be added as I accept invitations throughout the year. I have also got some new and exciting writing projects lined up too but more about that in the New Year.

I have done completed two more interviews with speakers from the AFFHO Congress 2015 mega genealogy event next March in Canberra - Cora Num and Jennie Norberry. There are still a few more to come but probably not until the New Year. It is really interesting to see the tips for attending Congress that the speakers are giving. For me, to make the most of it you just need to be a sponge, and soak it all up but it also helps to be prepared and that's why I think these speaker interviews are so useful.

The National Family History Month 2015 website and NFHM Facebook page are updated as much as I can until sponsorship is finalised, hopefully in January. Then my goal is to try and convince every genealogy and family history society in Australia to have an event. I may need some help with that, so if you are a member of any societies, make sure you mention NFHM  August 2015 to them.

Thank you to all my regular readers and to those who dip in from time to time. I enjoy passing on news and details of the genealogy events I am lucky enough to attend. I go into 2015 more convinced that social media is the way of the future and hopefully we will see more genealogy and family history societies joining in and reaching out to their members and others in the online world.

Have a safe and happy Christmas everyone, until next time.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Genealogy notes 11-18 Dec 2014 - more AFFHO Congress interviews

Hard to believe Christmas is now only a week away and the New Year a week after that - but then I say that every year. We have hosted a party for the neighbours and most of the shopping is done, the tree is up and the lights flashing around the yard and house. So definitely looks like Christmas even if I am still wondering where the year went.

I have done two more AFFHO Congress 2015 speaker interviews - Robyn Williams from New Zealand on New Zealand topics and Kate Bagnall who has been researching Chinese Australian families. I still have a couple more interviews to do next week and I have been sending out reminders to others on my list to interview. Pauleen Cass, my fellow official Congress blogger with Jill Ball, has posted her interview with me - see it here.

Time does fly as since the photo I sent to the Congress organisers which must have been back in 2013, I have changed my look. Always odd seeing photos of yourself and that is something I have done a lot of over the past week. I have been going through photo albums selecting photos to digitise and at the same time, generating so many memories.

There has been a sustained attack on all my paper genealogy magazines and  journals, although each one I read has just given me new ideas to follow up. Once I am on a new website hours can go by and of course there are all the leads from Twitter and Facebook posts too. In an attempt to capture some of the #genealogy tweets I started a Shauna Hicks Genealogy Daily Paper-li but for some reason, even though I only selected people I follow for genealogy, I have ended up with some strange additions.

So that needs a bit of tweaking and of course I still follow Jill Ball's The Australian Genealogists Daily. I noticed that some key tweets weren't showing up in that which is why I started my own. We have so many good online social media enthusiasts in Australia we should try and capture more of what they are sharing with us.

MyHeritage issued a press release about their new Instant Discoveries which

"provides information about one's ancestors and relatives while signing up to MyHeritage, giving a free, fun and immediately gratifying introduction to the fascinating world of family history. First-time users to provide very basic information about 7 family members: themselves, their parents and grandparents and then powerful technology automatically searches for information about their family in MyHeritage’s vast databases of billions of records. Within seconds, users are then presented with an Instant Discovery™, showing a person likely to be their ancestor, together with a wealth of related information including the entire family branch, names, facts, photos and documents. Users can then apply it all to their family tree in a click." 

They tested it on people in New York and you can view the video here. I am wondering how it would actually work here in Australia and at the moment it is only available to new MyHeritage users. I have had a MyHeritage account for a few years so I can't check. So if anyone here in Australia has tried it please let me know.

While I can see the appeal of instantly finding someone, especially in this day and age, I am not sure if that is better than some of the research thrills and satisfaction I have had over the years as I have painstakingly tracked people down. For me the path has been the challenge, not just the family knowledge at the end.

Findmypast had a very handy family historian Christmas gift guide for the  which I hope my family noted and of course I am also hoping for Nathan Dylan Goodwin's new novella The Orange Lilies. I have also mentioned a new orchid several times and there is that wonderful red and white toadstool statue at the local nursery which would be perfect in the back garden. Boxes of chocolates or electric toothbrushes will not be accepted! I do hope that Santa is more receptive than the family.

My other big task is getting the website and Facebook account for National Family History Month changed over for 2015. I have made some changes to wording on the home page but got stuck changing over the banner so I have called in the cavalry to assist.  Sponsors are still being finalised so I have left 2014 sponsors for the moment.

Events for 2015 can now be added to the web calendar - see here. The Family History Month Facebook page has been updated to and I will start to post any NFHM 2015 news as it comes too hand (or I generate as the voluntary coordinator).

Finally as part of the Kiva Genealogists for Families team I made another three loans for Christmas - two were from repayments from earlier loans and the other $25 loan was my Christmas gift to others. Join me by clicking here. $25 has the power to change peoples lives and it is so
nice to be part of this team helping families.

Very hot and humid here today and a storm predicted for the afternoon. We have seen some very bad storms the last few weeks so I hope everyone stays safe. There will be one more Diary before Christmas so have fun with all those last minute preparations. Remember to find some time for genealogy, it doesn't take too long to read a blog or two! Until next time.