Friday, 14 November 2014

Genealogy notes 10 -16 Nov 2014 family visits & keeping up to date

Well this has been another week on the road travelling by caravan with friends and taking the opportunity to visit family on the way. This is currently being written in beautiful Bargara on Queensland's Coral Coast. Max has a 93 year old aunt in nearby Bundaberg as well as some cousins living nearby. So lots of morning teas and passing around of old photos.

By coincidence a friend and former colleague from Canberra saw that I was visiting Bargara and as she now lives here, we took the opportunity to catch up over coffee. We last saw each other in 2003 but have kept in touch over the years via email while she lived in Cairns and I was in Melbourne.

Now for an even greater coincidence at the Bargara bowls club last night Max recognised his former next door neighbour from when he lived in Adelaide after leaving Darwin in the early 70s. So  another opportunity to catch up on news of what each has done over the last four decades.

Bargara is such a small place and yet within a few days we have both caught up with people from our pasts. Now planning another visit early next year as we are heading back tomorrow and no more time for catch ups.

While here we walked through the National Park to the Mon Repos turtle rookery and just inside the park we came across a pod of some pretty big kangaroos. We walked quietly passed while they just stood and watched and on the way back they were still there. Lucky they were just happy to keep eating while keeping an eye on us. In the dry creek bed we spotted some huge emu prints but didn't see them, just their tracks. The bird life was fantastic with lots of green parrots.

The next day we drove round to the Mon Repos Turtle Centre to see the displays and there were some young European tourists there. They did not believe that the big loggerhead turtle on display was a real one (sadly dead but preserved as part of the display). They could not believe loggerheads get that big despite us saying so and other photos also showing rather large turtles.

Back in the 80s we had friends in Bundaberg so I have been to Mon Repos many times and seen the females laying eggs and also the babies hatching and making their way down to the sea. Both are fantastic experiences and truly amazing that the females might take 30 years to come back to the same beach and start reproducing. No wonder so many of our species are endangered.

Also visited Bert Hinkler's house in Bundaberg (shipped out here from England) and the huge Hinkler's Hall of Aviation which is a must visit. Of course we also visited the Bundy Rum Distillery and also the Big Barrel where they make all that great ginger beer. They now have a pineapple and coconut flavour and while doing the test taste I couldn't help thinking that they should go into partnership with the Distillery and put some rum in for the perfect cocktail! But then they probably would not be a kid's venue although plenty of adults there too.

So mostly tourist things this week but I have been reminded by AFFHO Congress 2015 that my two papers are due at the end of November. They appear to have set up Dropbox accounts for all Congress speakers to put their papers into. A new idea and also a good one as you can then also put your presentation in as well but that is not due until next year.

One of the official Congress geneabloggers, Pauleen, has written about the Congress 2015: Be a Winner in the Ballot which closes on 30 November so have a look and don't miss out.

This coming week I am still on the road but should have more time to focus on genealogy. At the least I always try to read Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Daily Newsletter, Chris Paton's British GENES blog and Jill Ball's Australian Genealogists Daily so that I am at least aware of what is happening around the  genealogy world. Until next time happy researching.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Genealogy Notes 3 -9 Nov 2014 lots of blogging & celebrations

The first week of November is always a big week for me. I am a year older and this year my brother joined me in celebrating the big day. The last time he did that was my 21st nearly 40 years ago so we spent a lot of time talking about our childhood. Amazing what memories come back when you start chatting about the past.

My big day is either on or next to Australia's big racing event, the Melbourne Cup so I have always embraced that as my one day of betting on the horses. I managed to back first place so that was a bonus but this year's race was overshadowed by the deaths of two horses after the race. I have always thought it was a dangerous occupation but then most sports are dangerous and people/animals can get hurt or killed.

I guess it is all about choice and my choice is genealogy. It is not dangerous but it is addictive. Most of this week I have spent writing blogs. For those who missed my Twitter, Facebook or Google+ notices here are the links to my reports on the Eastern Australian Unlock the Past cruise, the Norfolk Island genealogy and history conference. It was a fantastic 10 days away.

This week we have Remembrance Day and I usually have an Anzac Day/Remembrance Day blog focusing on one of my military ancestors. Most of my direct ancestors have been written about so this November I wrote about my great grandmother's (Dorcas White nee Trevaskis) nephew Frederick Trevaskis. He died at the Western Front in 1917 never having married. If someone dies without descendants, we as family historians, need to tell their stories as perhaps no one else will or can.

As part of the official bloggers team for AFFHO Congress 2015 next March in Canberra, I will be doing a series of interviews/blogs with some of the Congress speakers. My team bloggers Jill Ball and Pauleen Cass have already started some of their interviews. We hope to have everyone done by Christmas and it will be a great way to know more about the speakers before you get to meet/listen to them next year.

As well as blogging myself I also like to read other people's blogs too and one blog I follow on a semi regular basis is The Legal Genealogist. The last two posts It's Not Sharing and It Bears Repeating: Just Say No should be read by everyone, including the comments. As someone who has found her own work on other websites word for word with no acknowledgement, I totally identify with the first post and with the second post, we do need to read, accept and abide by terms and conditions of websites, applications or whatever we use.

However I am not going to stop blogging my family stories as only this morning I opened up my email to find yet another distant cousin had found me via a blog post. She is thrilled and it is reciprocal as I believe the family bible in her possession, was given to my GG grandmother (new cousin's G grandmother) by her mother in 1861 in Ireland. Therefore, once we can arrange a visit, I will get to see my GGG grandmother's handwriting! Plus there are photographs.  

I have so many commitments at the moment I am feeling a bit overwhelmed but then I am off on a caravan trek with friends for the next two weeks and hoping that I can do things along the way! I find it hard to say no to requests from geneafriends especially when something is of interest to me. I am having a read of Carol Baxter's new book out in time for AFFHO Congress 2015 so stay tuned for more details. Carol is one of the speakers with me on the Unlock the Past Baltic cruise in July next year. Lots of other great speakers too so should be another fantastic genealogy cruise.

Watching the most amazing sunset as I type this. At last the rosellas and other birds have fallen silent and it has been another perfect day in Paradise. Time to wander out and see what is in the fridge for dinner although Sunday night is usually home made pizza night if we are not having our Sunday roast. Happy genearesearching until next time. Next post will be from Bargara, another one of those perfect little spots on Queensland's Coral Coast.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Genealogy Notes 23 Oct - 2 Nov 2014 - back online

Well I am back home after a genealogy cruise followed by a history and genealogy conference on Norfolk Island. All up we were away for ten days and I presented ten talks during the five days and one night which were genealogy days. So I am a bit talked out! However as usual I have put the talks up on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

The whole purpose of my talks is to show attendees a broader picture and to get them thinking of how they can apply what I am saying to their own research when they get home. Feedback from both the cruise and the Norfolk Island conference attendees was exactly what I hoped for with people telling me they could not wait to get home and try out some new resources or search strategies. Makes all that preparation worthwhile.

I still have to do a report on both the genealogy cruise and the Norfolk Island conference but hope to get them done over the next few days. As usual internet connections are either expensive or you need to buy a package although the venue for the conference did generously allow wi fi access to attendees during the day.

But regular readers will know that I like to turn off my online access at least for a few days each year and it is usually easiest to do this when I am removed from temptation. So over the last ten days I only had one day of access in between the cruise and the conference. Does it make a difference? I find that I slow down as I am fitting less into my day and perhaps doing more things outdoors (touring and seeing the sights).

Although I do miss what all my geneamates are doing but that is part of the fun of coming home and catching up. There are lots of emails to catch up on, genealogy enewsletters to read and lots of blogs to skim from some of my favourite bloggers. One of my talks on Norfolk Island was about social media so it will be interesting to see if any attendees follow up on my suggestions.

I still have to finish unpacking and sorting out my notes and handouts from the trip so I will finish this Diary with a brief para on Norfolk Island which is a convict world heritage site. There were two convict settlements and the resettlement of the Pitcairn Islanders (descendants of the Bounty mutineers) so the Island is rich in history and heritage. We went on a progressive dinner to the homes of some of the descendants of the Pitcairners and it was fascinating to hear the stories of their ancestors and to see some of the memorabilia that some of them have from Tahiti and Pitcairn.

As some Islanders are of American descent they celebrate Thanksgiving and Halloween on the Island so it was interesting to be part of a Halloween celebration the night before we left. Although I am not sure about all that fake spider web and plastic spiders hanging everywhere to scare unsuspecting tourists.

The other major attraction for us is Norfolk Island's sheer beauty and incredible bird life. The weather was fantastic although they do need to see some rain soon. Of course there is all of that duty free shopping and some fantastic dining experiences with authentic Island food. We have now been twice and it would not surprise me if we do another trip in the future. Back next time with more of a genealogy update. Happy researching until then.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Genealogy Notes 15-22 October 2014 Geneacruising again

Most of the last week I have been reviewing my talks for the 6th Unlock the Past cruise which is a three night cruise out of Sydney which is basically a genealogy conference at sea. So no sightseeing or foreign ports but lots of genealogy talks and research help sessions. I will be giving 5 talks over 3 days and I am not the only speaker so definitely full on for all attendees. A blog report will follow in early November.

Why so long to wait? Well straight after the cruise I am heading over to Norfolk Island for the Unlock the Past history and genealogy conference. We will be on the Island for 5 nights and the conference itself is only 3 days so plenty of time for sightseeing although I have been to Norfolk before. Again I will be doing 5 talks in 3 days so no rest for the wicked although I suspect that is really no rest for the geneaddicted. Again a blog report will follow in early November as I am not sure what internet access I will have or how much spare time there will be.

This is my last geneafling for 2014 so I am going the whole geneahog. I do hope Geniaus is reading this as I would love to see myself credited with a new genea word in her geneadictionary.

The other thing I have been doing is trying to avoid seeing comments by geneamates on Nathan Goodwin's forensic genealogy novels which I have been given to review. I hate spoilers so I will need to think about how to review a novel without giving it all away. So far everyone has said they can't put it down so I am thinking of reading them when I get back after all my geneadistractions.

Week 25 Immigration records in my 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 was completed but there won't be another post in that series until early November. That week is also my birthday and Melbourne Cup so perhaps I should not be promising too much as it usually is a party week for me.

I can go for weeks with no one asking me to do anything and then all of a sudden everything happens. This week I have seen requests to speak next year, a request for research from someone, to do some more articles for magazines (Inside History Magazine) and I still have two more to go for Irish Lives Remembered and I have agreed to write another course in the Australian certificate for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. I learnt a lot from writing the last one I did and this time around I will be more familiar with their requirements and style etc. So lots of interesting things to finish the year with.

I have one more talk for the Genealogical Society of Queensland on 22 November in Brisbane and I have two papers to write for the AFFHO Congress 2015 due before 30 November so my birthday month is shaping up to be very busy. The Congress early bird closes on 31 October and it really is the genealogy conference not to miss (only every 3 years) and Canberra in March is simply stunning with all those autumn colours we don't see here in the north. 

Well time to go and pack and get myself totally organised for an early morning flight to Sydney and 8 days of genealogy fun and some fantastic sightseeing on Norfolk Island. Stay tuned for my return and reports on all the geneaction. Sorry couldn't help myself! Happy researching until next time.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Genealogy notes 8-14 October 2014 - More Great Seminars & Backing Up

Since last Diary I have had a great time on the Gold Coast at the Angling for Ancestors genealogy seminar. It was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and to hear some great talks. My report on the seminar is here and fellow geneablogger Helen Smith also did a report and you can read it here.

I was all set up to tweet and Facebook this seminar as usually I am a speaker and don't get the chance to just sit back and do comments while in progress. However I was a tad over eager - I put my fully charged mobile wifi and Ipad in my handbag the night before so that I would not forget them. It was a bit of a rush in the morning so I did not check that all was ok. Sadly somehow the on button on my wifi was activated in my handbag and when I pulled it out to start tweeting I realised it was about to go flat! Of course, the charger was back home. Just as well I still had by trusty pen and notebook.

Over the years I have been watching the developments in the big subscription databases such as GenesReunited,, MyHeritage and and the amount of indexed and digitised records continues to grow. But what is also fascinating is how they have become more interactive and allow people to store their family information online and put them in touch with others researching the same families.

Early on I put my family data into Genes Reunited and have had many many contacts over the years. I had limited information in Ancestry for years but earlier this year I put all of my information there although I still maintain a separate genealogy program which has all the up to date information and sources etc. As with Genes Reunited, I have found relatives this way and shared information.

I have limited information in MyHeritage but it put me in touch with relatives in Ireland that I suspect I would never have found any other way or certainly not as easily. This is a program that I want to look at more but at the moment I have been looking at Findmypast's family trees which I first put data into back in 2012. I have just uploaded a gedcom of Max's families and it only took one minute and 44 seconds to load nearly 2000 people. I certainly could not re-enter that data anywhere near as quick. Plus you can attach records, photos and it will even calculate kinship for you. Read about the new and improved Findmypast family tree here.

Now that we are living in Queensland Max is interested in knowing more about his mother's Queensland family although he does already know some of his cousins. Surprisingly we have also found that his paternal grandfather has family here too. We have chosen the public option as we want people to find us but have also chosen to suppress the living.

So why have your data in so many places (and there are more choices than those listed here)? Because I have found relatives in all four of these subscription sites it shows that people are choosing different systems but if you only use one of them, you miss the others. Full membership of all four of them is expensive although you can choose free or limited options and of course, some of them are also available to use in libraries.

If anything happens to my laptop, or my backup disk, or my remote hard drive, at least some of my data is available on all of these sites. However I also use BackupMyTree which is a free MyHeritage application which allows me to store my data online (outside of MyHeritage) and there is no public access to it. Another plus is that each time I update my genealogy software program it automatically syncs to BackupMyTree.

So my data is retrievable (although the scanning of my photos and documents continues) and we are waiting for other family members to contact us, hopefully. Whenever I start playing with my own families, you know that I am procrastinating and this time it is finalising my new research guide for Unlock the Past. I always agonise in the final stages of a guide, am I too boring, have I missed something, got it wrong or whatever else. Fortunately their wonderful editor usually soothes all those silly nerves.

There will be one more Diary before we are off on the next Unlock the Past cruise and the Norfolk Island history and genealogy conference. Happy researching until then.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Genealogy Notes 1-7 Oct 2014 Online but Not Online

Another super big week but a highlight was the Queensland Family History Society seminar on asylums, prisons and hospitals at the weekend. I gave two talks Family Skeletons or Just Old and Sick: Looking at Asylum Records and Missing an Ancestor? Try Looking Behind Bars. As usual both my presentations are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. The other speaker was Pauleen Cass on hospital records and her presentation can be found on her blog Family History Across the Seas under the Presentation page.

Alex (Family Tree Frog) has done an in-depth review of the day (read it here) so I won't repeat any of that here. What I do want to say is that I took the opportunity to do a quick survey of the audience and their online habits. When asked the general question is everybody online most hands went up, although surprisingly a few people still don't use computers. My next questions were about who used Twitter, read or wrote blogs, Google+ and Facebook and Facebook was the only one where more than a few hands went up. It seems that most only used their computers for email, web searching and not for social media although both Pauleen and I did try to encourage them during the day.

I also took the opportunity to mention that Pauleen, Jill Ball (aka Geniaus) and myself are the official bloggers for Congress 2015 in Canberra in March 2015. This is the must attend genealogy event in Australia/New Zealand every three years. We will be using social media to promote Congress and its wonderful sponsors over the coming months. But if people don't use social media it is hard for us to get all the exciting messages out in a timely way.

After every talk I usually pick up a few followers or my blogs are viewed by more people so obviously some people do go home and at least have a look. I have been using social media for just over five years now and can't imagine how I could possibly learn about all the great new resources without finding out through social media. In Australia the genealogy community does not seem to have embraced social media. Do people know what they are missing out on?

I noticed this lack of engagement with social media during National Family History Month too. Or have I got it wrong? Is it there and I just haven't picked up on who to follow?

Pauleen also took the opportunity to mention that we are both members of the Kiva Genealogists for Families project and it was good to see a few other hands go up for that. If you would like to join us follow this link. $25 can make a big difference to other families and I have relent my $25 over and over.

A great day. QFHS have really embraced the online world - they even sent Pauleen and I virtual thank you cards by email using Jacquie Lawson notecards.

This coming weekend I have the Angling for Ancestors genealogy weekend with the Gold Coast Family History Society with key speakers Jan Gow QSM and Graham Jaunay. I am not speaking so will be quietly sitting back and absorbing the knowledge. There will be a review of the day coming up next week.

Week 24 of my personal genealogy blog challenge is on post office directories - read about it here.

My LibraryThing cataloging is going slowly and having to do three trips to Brisbane took away a lot of time. It is not that far but an hour there and back plus time waiting around for appointments means that virtually a whole day is gone by the time we get back.  Now that the weather is so gorgeous I have been swimming every day and doing some more gardening. No rain also means time spent hosing all our gardens, thank goodness we have bore water.

It is just over a week until my next Unlock the Past cruise so the focus will be finalising my five talks for that plus I have another five talks for the Norfolk Island conference to finalise too. My two papers for Congress 2015 are due at the end of November and while I have been thinking about them  I have yet to put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard to be more specific.

Amazing how fast this year has gone. Until next week, enjoy your genealogy research and why not try and encourage more of our Aussie geneamates to try social media. If we all recruited just one person that would make a difference. Until next time.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Genealogy Notes 23-30 Sep 2014 - LibraryThing & Guest Blogging

Extreme satisfaction this week as I am finally tackling something that has been on my To Do list for years if not decades. But more on that later. First up I want to start with some blogging news. Week 23 Electoral Rolls was this week's challenge in my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014. I am a big fan of electoral rolls for solving where people move to.

I also did a guest blog for the Genealogical Society of Queensland and took the opportunity to convince a few more people to start blogging their family stories. Read my post here. It really is a fantastic way to find lost lost relatives and get to know other Geneabloggers.

From time to time I am asked to do a book review and past reviews can be seen on the Resources page of my website (towards the end of the page). My next book review is a bit out of the ordinary as I have been asked to review one of Nathan Goodwin's genealogical crime mysteries which sounds absolutely fascinating. Hiding the Past is Nathan's first book in this series and a review on Amazon said A good reminder that you just never know what you will find once you embark on an ancestral hunt! I know that feeling so looking forward to a good read.

Which brings me to what I have been doing most of the week.

In the last 40 years since I left home, I have carted my genealogy, history and other cannot part with books, including novels and cookery books from home to home, city to city, state to state. Packing up and moving nine times you tend to jettison a lot of stuff along the way, so I hate to think what my house would have been like if I had not had a wanderlust.

So now that we are in the home we are never moving from, I am fulfilling my lifelong ambition to have all my books catalogued and easily findable no matter what bookcase they are in throughout the house. One of the attractions of this house was that two walls of the study have built in book cases, in fact I could not go past this house once I had seen the study which also overlooks the swimming pool area and our palm and fruit orchard. Although the birds are a bit of a distraction!

Over the years people have given me all kinds of suggestions on how to do this but I have gone with LibraryThing which is free and many geneafriends also use. I think there is something nice about being able to see (virtually) what other people have on their bookshelves and already I have two LibraryThing friends.

Setting up the account is easy and to add your books you simply select a group of libraries that you think will have the books and then you enter the ISBN and hopefully one of your libraries has the book and you get all the library cataloguing details which saves a lot of keying in of author names, titles etc. You can add your own tags and there is a private comments field where I enter the Bookcase number and shelf number.

I gave all the bookcases and shelves numbers which allows me to know which shelf a particular book is located on. Many of my research guides and other finding aids are small pamphlett size and hard to spot so this means I will be able to grab something quickly once I look it up on LibraryThing.

So all very positive and exciting and somewhat addictive. I have spent hours doing this and rearranging my books. But like everything, there are two sides to cataloguing your library collection.

I am using the National Library of Australia (NLA) as my main library choice with support from various State Libraries for my Australian books and similar libraries overseas for my New Zealand, UK and USA books. With legal deposit I expected to find most of my books in the NLA or the relevant State Library but I am surprised at how many of my books are not where I expect a copy to be held. With one of my books, in desperation I tried the University of Queensland and they had a copy so universities are now my fall back position.

You can enter books in manually but I prefer to have all the cataloguing details as well and it is quicker if you can find it already in a library somewhere.

But that is not what is taking me the longest time. I am rediscovering each and every one of my genealogy reference books and some of them are quite ancient and precomputer and internet times. It is fascinating to read them and see how we did genealogy in those far off days. At one point I was going to say they were all superseded and simply toss them, but there is some good advice and the records are the same, just the way we look for things has changed. So the weeding and decluttering  is not quite going to plan.

It will probably take me months to do all of my books so I will give updates from time to time on progress. LibraryThing is my new best friend and we won't be parted anytime soon!

For those in Brisbane don't forget the Queensland Family History Society seminar on Saturday with Pauleen Cass (Family History Across the Seas) and myself talking about asylums, hospitals and prisons. Should be a great seminar and if you are in the Gold Coast area, I am also attending the Angling for Ancestors seminar although I am not talking. Graham Jaunay and Jan Gow are the two speakers for that day long genealogy fest so I can just sit back and soak up all their genealogy knowledge! Blog posts to come on both seminars.

Until next week, happy genealogy searching or in my case, LibraryThing.