Thursday, 10 April 2014

Genealogy notes 5-11 April 2014 talks and travels

My time at the moment is taken up with doing some new talks. Later this month I am giving two talks at the Inverell Family History Group seminar day. One is on researching women ancestors and the other is on blogging, both topics where you can probably talk for hours! Then in May I have four talks - one on Bribie with the local society, one in Adelaide (part of Carol Baxter's research and writing history seminar with Unlock the Past) and two in Brisbane at the Genealogical Society of Queensland's seminar. Details on the Events page of my website.

I often wonder if people realise how much work actually goes into a 45 minute presentation. It is almost like writing an article or a book except you have to do it with less words and still get the message across. I also try to do the presentations so that attendees can go home and try out their own searches. Still it will be good to have some new topics available in the future. Recycling talks makes sense!

I have done another installment of 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014. Week 12 is on Gazetteers and their use in family history. One thing about doing a personal blog challenge is that you soon realise how quickly a week goes and where did those last 12 weeks go? But on the positive side I have done 12 pieces looking at various examples from my own family research and revisited research I last did decades ago.

Time has also been spent doing more articles for Inside History Magazine - I really love working on their 'archives series' as there are so many great places to research beyond the usual suspects. Some of the 'ask an expert' questions they send my way are truly challenging and sometimes I believe our ancestors do not want to be found! I am still thinking about my talk last month to the local historical society on my Carnegie family - why did the security alarm go off twice during my talk? This month's speaker was not interrupted once!

I have made my travel arrangements for the 6th Unlock the Past cruise and we are also going to the Norfolk Island conference so airfares and accommodation booked for that too. Both events are going to be good and next week I am going to do my early bird registration for the AFFHO Congress 2015 in Canberra next March. That is a fantastic program with so many good speakers and presentations.

Does anyone feel that we are starting to live on our phones, tablets, laptops? One of my emails this week was from the British Newspapers Archive inviting me to download their free app so that I can view daily fascinating historical articles, images and adverts on my phone for free. Or you can read these daily stories on their Facebook page! How tempting is that? I simply love reading and searching the historic newspapers  but if I also had access on my phone I would never get any work done but then it could come in handy when sitting around waiting for the doctor. If I don't log on to Trove everyday for a quick search I feel like I am missing something.

We had a very bad storm here last Sunday and we lost power due to trees falling down all over the island. No power meant no charging phones, tablets or laptops so one lesson learnt was keep everything fully charged! Luckily we were only without power for a few hours but dinner on the gas BBQ by candlelight was interesting and we must buy a better torch. As I write this there is a category 5 cyclone bearing down on the Queensland coast near Cooktown and I sincerely hope that everyone stays safe although the property damage will probably be massive. Mother Nature can be very destructive and it is a sobering reminder to us all to make sure that we have our precious heirlooms and research backed up and stored somewhere safe.

Finally I have started promoting National Family History Month and sending out invitations to participate to genealogy and family history societies, archives, libraries and so on. Don't forget to like the Facebook page if you have not done so yet. Happy researching until next time.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Genealogy notes 27 Mar - 4 Apr 2014 National Family History Month Aug 2014

This week I am travelling and it is hard to keep up with things on the road, especially in the caravan. Before we left I was madly trying to finalise sponsorship details for National Family History Month in August as there are only four months to go. As the voluntary national coordinator I have to do all the sponsorship arrangements, look after the website and put the events up in the calendar and then all the publicity and promotion via social media and our sponsors networks. Almost a full time job especially in the last few months before August but it is one way that I can give back to the genealogy community for the fantastic career and life it has given me over the last four decades (almost)!

I have put a blog on my website about progress on NFHM to date - read about it here and note all the fantastic sponsors and prizes. August is starting to look really good and I would appreciate all the help I can get in spreading the word about NFHM in Australia and New Zealand.

It is funny but whenever I travel I seem to receive requests from clients for research yet when I am home it goes quiet. Anyway from this trip I have a couple of research inquiries to look forward to when I get home. Although brick walls, which these two inquiries are, are not always easy to solve, I will at least be able to provide a fresh set of eyes and perhaps ask different questions and perhaps suggest new avenues to look. Always love a genealogy challenge!

My 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 personal blog challenge is on hold this week. I had also hoped to get some work done on my new talks for the Inverell Family History Group Seminar at the end of April but not to be. I was tempted by the Noosa Everglades tour (check out that photo the kangaroo hopping across the water) with The Discovery Group which was a fantastic six hour trip up the Noosa River. The next day the Eumundi markets beckoned and they have to be one of the best markets in south east Queensland. The Noosa Ferry tempted the following day and we toured down to Noosa Heads and Hastings Street and the famous Noosa beach. Not sure what today will bring but it is another glorious day so perhaps a spot of swimming and maybe even some fishing!

Before I finish just an insight into why we should publish our family stories. I wrote an article on film and radio archives in the Jul-Aug 2012 issue of Inside History Magazine with no response. The magazine then reused the article as a guest blog in Jan 2014 which then meant it was searchable by Google. Before we left I received a letter from the UK and it contained information that I had never heard before. A bit of a bombshell for the family I was writing about and I have not mentioned it to them yet as I am still exchanging details with the family in the UK. But without Google and publishing the story online I would not know this information about our family. Stay tuned!
 It will be back to normal next week but in the meantime don't forget to check out what's new with National Family History Month 2014! Until next time, happy researching.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Genealogy notes 19-26 Mar 2014 what's new

Another busy week writing articles for Irish Lives Remembered and Inside History Magazine. We have had a few rainy days recently so I caught up with recent issues of both magazines. As usual there was lots of news and great stories to read and my to do list got bigger. Irish Lives is moving to a new bi-monthly format starting in May/June with no April issue but it is still free online.

My personal blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 continues to progress and Week 11 was Newspapers and the previous 10 weeks were on a variety of topics, all still on my website. I was pleased to learn that Campaspe Regional Library have taken up the challenge.

I have also caught up with media releases from and I was really excited to see that they have just added another 8,000 South Australian records including naturalisations, land owner records, cemetery inscriptions and destitute women. advised in their March update that 900 million records for 27 (or 67 - both numbers are in the media release) countries were added thanks to their collaboration with FamilySearch. Most of the countries are not of interest to me but the numbers are still staggering.

MyHeritage advised they have gone into partnership with Billion Graves (where people can upload images of gravestones) and MyHeritage record matching technology will be able to tell their users is any images match someone in their family trees. The records will be free on both sites and individual and societies are encouraged to contribute. Read more about the project here.

All of the major subscription sites have a wealth of information on them that we could never imagined pre internet days. Not to mention all the free sites such as FamilySearch and the UK Online Parish Clerks. Collaborative projects between all the players is great to see as it makes it easier and better for all family historians and genealogists. The hard part is keeping up with all the new information which is why it is a good idea to subscribe to their e-newsletters or blogs.

Queensland BDMs advised that a full range of historical birth register images is now available between 1906 and 1914. Images for the period 1891 to 1905 to follow. Death historical images are complete except for the period 1953 to 1964. The RBDM historical website features a table detailing the availability of historical images here.

I have accepted an opportunity to speak at the June meeting of  Caloundra Family History Research Inc and it will be good to catch up with friends there as we nearly settled in that area. If I had not decided to spend my birthday on Bribie we probably would have ended up on the Sunshine Coast. I have also done my bookings for the 6th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise and the UTP genealogy conference on Norfolk Island which is in October. Both events should be really good.

When you organise something you should always plan for the unexpected but sometimes it can take you by surprise. Our weekend visit by some members of the Professional Historians Association (Queensland) went very well with some great feedback. We had everything organised by the time they arrived, we had done a dummy run of the tour, pre-cooked the BBQ and had everything set up. We had allowed an hour and a half for the tour around the historic spots of Bribie Island, what we did not anticipate were the number of questions everyone had. Each stop took longer and longer and we fell seriously behind our timetable so much that we had to skip the stop at Bongaree.

Even with that we had lost most of our lunch time and after a hasty BBQ lunch at our place we arrived a little late at the Bribie Island Seaside Museum for a talk by the President of the historical society. Again I was amazed by the number of questions (and I think the President was too). In the conversation afterwards it was mentioned that people are not always tourists in their own home towns and that they may not think that other people's history is of interest  or of benefit to themselves. I think we can learn from these types of get togethers and of course they are also great opportunities to meet new people and network. I am going to make a more determined effort to try and attend similar events in Brisbane (which is after all my own old home town)!

Next week we are having a mini holiday in the caravan. It was going to be work free but I still have quite a few new talks to work on for April and May. I am still waiting to finalise sponsors for National Family History Month 2014 and I had hoped to have all that done before I left.  More news on NFHM in April.

Just as well Max likes to sleep in as I can get lots done as I am an early riser but it gets a bit tricky in the caravan. It is hard to use the keys on the laptop without making a sound and in the dark! Still if we have a quiet weekend I might get more done before we leave. Until next time, happy researching!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Genealogy Notes 12-18 Mar 2014 topographical dictionaries

Last Diary I was nervous about giving a presentation on my Carnegie family to the Bribie Island Historical Society meeting. Well the talk went well and a number of people told me it was interesting but the security alarm went off twice during the meeting. First time was about half way through the talk (was this the family trying to stop me telling their secrets?) and the second time was just as I started taking questions and being told information from those present. A few people said that they could tell me more but it was hard to hear over the security alarm so they promised to email me - I hope they do. First time only security turned up and the second time both security and the police, so it was definitely the end of the meeting.

The next day I went to a presentation at the Bribie Island Family History Special Interest Group meeting where a member was giving a talk on 'Build a Family Picture of the Period That One is Researching'. This was all about placing the family into the context of their time and community and looking at timelines so that you know what was happening in the family and in the wider context. The speaker mentioned using Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionaries published from 1837-1849 which I remember using at the State Library of Queensland back in the 1980s. Fantastic information on the places I was researching and it struck me that these publications should be online now.

So during the coffee break, out came my phone and a quick Google search later I had located free online copies of both Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionaries. The one for Ireland published in 1837 is on Ask About Ireland and the one for the England published in 1848, Scotland published in 1846 and Wales published in 1849 is on British History Online plus there are lots of other good resources on both websites. I have also added new places to my family history since the 80s so yet another thing added to my to do list. We should always be able to learn at least one new thing from every talk or meeting we attend which is a great incentive to make the effort to attend local genealogy and family history society meetings.

I am still keeping up with my 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 and Week 10 is on Occupation Records and I used John Carnegie my oysterman is the main example but there are other useful hints in the post as well. The previous weeks are all on my website if you want to catch up with the challenge.

New Zealand friend Seonaid (Kintalk) has issued her annual ANZAC Day blog challenge and this is something that I have done each year, honouring different military ancestors. As this year is the anniversary of the start of WW1 it would be good to have more people participating.

Another friend and colleague Mark from the City of Sydney Archives made an exciting announcement about the Sands Sydney Suburban and Country Commercial Directories being free online from 1858 to 1933. There are other great resources online as well for anyone with Sydney interests. Quite a few States now have these directories or almanacs online and a quick Google search will find them or try the relevant State Library website.

My final talk for the Moreton Bay Region Libraries it tomorrow at North Lakes and I am happy to say that they have asked me to do some more talks in the second half of this year which is great. I am finding out so much about where we live now! I am also very pleased to announce that they have asked me to be their National Family History Month speaker this year. Details still to be finalised.

Speaking of NFHM I have been delayed a bit trying to finalise sponsors and prize donors but I hope to have the 2014 NFHM flyer out in early April. Then it will be full on trying to promote NFHM and getting as many societies, libraries, archives and so on organising events for August. NFHM is an initiative of AFFHO (Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations) and it is a not for profit organisation and it really does need sponsorship to continue to fund the basic costs associated with organising and promoting this annual event. I am the voluntary coordinator and do this in my 'spare time'. One day I will find out what that is! But getting back to sponsors, if there are any potential sponsors out there please contact me for details.

This weekend we are hosting a meeting of the Professional Historians Association (Queensland). We are giving them a drive around some of the interesting historic features of the Island and I have drawn up a tour guide so hopefully no one will get too lost. My main worry is all the roundabouts on the Island - we only have one set of traffic lights and all the other intersections are roundabouts. After the tour it is back to our place for a BBQ lunch and after weeks with no rain, it is forecast for Saturday! This could make things a little cosy inside as we were planning an outdoor setting under our palm trees. After lunch it is a tour of the Bribie Island Seaside Museum and a talk by the President of the Bribie Island Historical Society. A big day but I am sure I will learn lots more about Bribie and reconnect with all my old PHAQ friends.

A couple of my articles have been published in recent editions of Irish Lives Remembered (free online) and Inside History Magazine (a great sponsor of NFHM and a fantastic magazine which only gets better and better). I have more to write plus some new talks I need for April and a few other priority work items so next week looks like being busy too.

I celebrated St Patrick's Day and my Irish ancestors with a Guinness and lamb casserole and mash. No time to do an Irish blog but I did buy myself the cutest little leprechaun (about 15 inches high, with a green jacket, green boots and red cap and a pint in his hand) and he now resides in the palm tree outside my study window near the bird feeder. Talk about distractions, every time I look up now I find myself starting to think about other things! Until next time, happy researching.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Genealogy Notes 4 -11 Mar 2014 presenting a life story

Well another week over in the blink of an eye! A good part of my days were spent scanning, editing, naming and searching for photos. The end product so far is a Powerpoint presentation of 49 slides (multiple photos on most slides) to show the family at my mother's 80th birthday party in a month's time. It seems so little for so much time spent and it is still not quite finished as there are some gaps I would like to fill. It might have been quicker just to write her life story but then it probably would not be as interesting.

Photos are always more involving than words and they seem to invoke more memories than words. Having smuggled some of Mum's early photo albums and more recent photos out of her house for the project, I am finding that it is also a trip down memory lane for my brother and I. Sorting through all the photos took hours as there was no real order (most were just stuffed into plastic shopping bags) and then there were the frequent stops to remember the times the photos depicted. Both good times and bad times.

Mum's life has been fairly typical and nothing out of the ordinary - she went to school, married, had a family, worked, retired, became a widow, enjoys seeing her grandchildren grow up and has spent the last few years battling ill health. She looks older than her 80 years and I look younger than my years but in some of the photos I found for the early to mid 1970s we could have been sisters, we looked so close in age.

In the presentation I have early photos of Mum and her siblings, there is the engagement and wedding and early photos of my brother and I, then our school years, teenage years, our marriages (multiple) and our children from babies to adults. I also tried to get photos of Christmas for most years but there are gaps for various reasons. I have tried to have photos of everyone at different stages of their lives and I really do think that the family will enjoy seeing it at the 80th birthday surprise party.

Mum never wants a fuss and for those who might think I have just spilled the beans, Mum would never touch a computer and I do not think she even knows anyone with a computer. Which is a shame as I think she would be able to communicate a lot more with her family if she had an IPad, email, Facebook and so on. Anyway I have another few weeks to tie up some loose ends make sure it all flows smoothly on the day.

I am still keeping up with my personal blog challenge, 52 weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014, and Week 9 is on inquest records.  I have been fortunate (in a black humour kind of way) in that many of my direct ancestors and their siblings or other descendants have died in accidents, died in asylums or died suddenly resulting in a magisterial enquiry into their deaths. Witness statements in inquest files can provide some fantastic information so it is always worth following up if you suspect an inquest was held.

There is a fantastic seminar coming up on 11-12 October. The Gold Coast Family History Society is holding Angling for Ancestors and guest speakers are Jan Gow QSM and Graham Jaunay in a full day of talks. I have heard both speakers before so it should be a great day. On the following day there are tours to the Mudgeeraba Light Horse Museum and the Gold Coast Hinterland Heritage Museum, both places I would like to visit. So we have booked ourselves in a for a Gold Coast weekend.

My talk at the Redcliffe Library as part of the Moreton Bay Region Libraries genealogy program went well and a lady came up to me afterwards and said that she had first heard me speak at North Brisbane in 1981! That is 33 years ago and the only time I ever start to think I might be getting old is when people say things like that to me. Or I look at my adult son. One of the nice things about talking in South East Queensland again is that people still remember me so there is usually at least one friendly face in the audience. The final talk is next week at the North Lakes Library.

Just a reminder that the National Library of Australia's Community Heritage Grants 2014 applications are now open and close on 2 May 2014. The grants are provided to assist with the preservation of locally owned, but nationally significant collections of materials that are publicly accessible including artefacts, letters, diaries, maps, photographs, and audio visual material.

I'm way behind with my reading, both in print and digital but on a positive note I have had new family contacts as a result of putting my family stories on my website and using them as examples in my blog series. It is proof positive that advertising your family through blogging works yet at the Redcliffe talk yesterday only the librarians put up their hands to reading or writing blogs. It would be really nice to know how many people went home to check out my blogs and other links I mentioned.

Tonight is my presentation on the Carnegie family to the Bribie Island Historical Society. In some ways it is similar to what I have done for Mum's 80th. It tells the story of the family but I have also included slides on neighbouring families to make it more interesting to a wider audience. Doing this has highlighted some gaps in my research, uncovered new information and made me question some of my earlier assumptions. I had previously written up in draft form the whole Carnegie story but trying to condense it down into dot points and images really does make you focus on critical points. Perhaps this is something I should do with my other families as I revisit my research? Till next time, happy researching.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Genealogy Notes 24 Feb - 3 Mar 2014 - More talks, more blogs

Last week I was on a high because my Diary blog was listed in Randy Seaver's (Geneamusings) best of geneablogs and I am really happy to say that my SHHE Genie Rambles blog on The Future of Genealogy on my website also made his weekly list - details of Randy's weekly list here. I am also pleased because that blog article has attracted more readers than my blogs usually attract so that means it is a topic of great interest to many people. I think it is a great time to be researching family history with online resources and the ability to use social media making it easier than ever. But we should still use standard research methodology and remember that not everything is online.

I have also accepted two more talks. Due to illness of another speaker, I have been asked to do a second talk at the Inverell Family History Group seminar in April. They have asked me to do something on blogging and why you should do it or not. This is a great topic and I am looking forward to convincing them why I think it is a good thing! Unlock the Past have asked me to do a talk on newspapers and their use for family and local history research at a Research & Writing History Seminar in Adelaide in May. This is a seminar being conducted by Carol Baxter over two days with a couple of other speakers as well. Normally I would not go to Adelaide for one talk but we were planning a visit to the grand kids so it ties in nicely with that. Details of talk dates etc are on the Events page of my website.

My personal blogging challenge, 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014, is progressing and in Week 7 Local Histories I showed why it is important to check all information, even if it is published in a local history. and Week 8 was on diaries and how they can give you an image of daily life for our ancestors. I do not have any family diaries in my records, I use other peoples diaries so if you have not considered the idea before, have a look at Week 8 Diaries.

My newspapers talk at Bribie Island Library went well and tomorrow it is Narangba Library on Google Tools for Genealogy. Moreton Bay Region Libraries run a fantastic program of talks for genealogists and family historians in the shire. We went to the exhibition launch for Blood Brothers: an ANZAC Genesis at the Pine Rivers Heritage Museum and we will have to visit again as it is quite a substantial place (part of Old Petrie Town) with lots of buildings to see.

The Queensland BDMs have been adding new products over the last few months including the Australian Imperial Force and WW2 images. If you have not had a look for a while, it might be worthwhile to see what the site looks like now. See here for their family history information. They are also conducting a survey to see how they can further improve their services. It is refreshing to see that they actively seek feedback and perhaps more importantly, actually then make changes based on that feedback. If you would like to do the survey, click here.

We have agreed to host a meeting of the Professional Historian's Association (Queensland) (PHAQ) at our place in just over two weeks time. As well as providing lunch we are also giving them a tour around the historic places on Bribie Island before taking them to the Bribie Island Seaside Museum for a talk and tour of the museum. It is a good way for us to become familiar with the Island's history and I am putting together a leaflet in case anyone asks us to do the same again. The Bribie Island Historical Society (BIHS) do have a leaflet but we do not have time to do all of those things plus there are some sites that I want to take PHAQ to that are not on the BIHS leaflet.

My talk at the BIHS is now only a week away so I have visited their room at the local library and checked the database for what they have on my Carnegie and Davis families. I have lots more information so I think that the members will be interested in my talk on the Carnegie family plus I mention the oyster industry and other families in the Toorbul area. It is the first time that I have done a talk based solely on my own family history so I am a bit nervous and hope I don't put too many people to sleep on the night!

This week copies of my two new publications arrived - Tracing Mining Ancestors: a brief guide to resources in Australia and New Zealand and My Ancestor was in an Asylum: brief guide to asylum records in Australia and New Zealand. Both are published by Unlock the Past and are available from Gould Genealogy & History or I have them for sale at my various talks.

With all the talks I have not had too much time for my own research but I do try to do examples from my own research in the talks so I guess that is one way to extend my knowledge of the family a little more. Happy researching until next time.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Genealogy Notes 17-23 Feb 2014 blogging catch up

Another week at the speed of light but then I have written a number of blog posts and continued my talks at Moreton Bay Region Libraries. First up I would like to thank Randy Seaver (Geneamusings) for listing one of my cruising reports in Diary of an Australian Genealogist in his weekly round up of the best of the blogs. It appeared in his best of for the week 9-15 Feb 2014 and I was really pleased to see Cassmob's cruising blog also listed. When I am pushed for time I often use Randy's best of summary to see what I should read and although it is somewhat US centric he does include some Aussie blogs in his readings.

My first catch up blog was Week 6 in my personal blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 (it was a week late but with illness and travel one has to be flexible). The topic was Land Records and this is a great area to learn all sorts of things about a family. In my Week 6 Land Records I mention how lucky I was to find personal correspondence from my great great grandfather in his land file giving me details on the family's life that I would never ever have found elsewhere. Week 7 is due tomorrow so if you want to speed up your week, start a weekly blogging challenge!

Then it was my promised overall review of the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise - read about it here. I am already looking forward to my next genealogy cruise which is in October this year! Details here.

One of the sessions that really interested me on the cruise was The Future of Genealogy panel session chaired by Thomas MacEntee. It was thought provoking looking at what has happened in recent years and where we might be in another five years. My review of this session is here.

I gave my Google Tools for Genealogy talk at the Arana Hills Library and it was lovely being met by long time genealogy friend and librarian Alex Daw. The cup of tea was most welcome and the crowd welcoming and interested. This coming week I have talks at the Strathpine Library and the Bribie Island Library - details on the Events page of my website. At least I am getting reacquainted with the Moreton Bay Region again and I have to say it has grown a lot in the 14 years I lived down south!

I seem to have managed to get on the invitation list of the Pine Rivers Heritage Museum and they have a series of monthly heritage talks and I hope to get to some of these. Their next exhibition is Blood Brothers: An ANZAC Genesis and we have an invitation to the launch which should be good. I have lots of families in this area so I am looking forward to seeing the Museum (I don't think I have been there before or not in a very long time).
Inside History Magazine have asked me to write some more articles on specialist articles and I have agreed to write an online course for the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. I am also hoping to finish my research guide on gaol and prison records over the next few months. So together with my blogs that is a lot of writing.

A few events are starting to be posted in the National Family History Month web calendar so that is keeping me busy too plus I am currently seeking out sponsors for NFHM 2014. Once I have that organised then the flyer can go out and we can really start to promote it.

Part of me is starting to suspect that I have a few too many things coming up in the next few months but I have my to do list and deadlines clearly noted so all should be well. The big distraction is revisiting my research and finding out new and exciting things about my families. I had a big breakthrough yesterday thanks to a Google search but I will save that for another day as I am hoping to hear from someone with even more new information. Happy researching!