Thursday, 28 July 2011

Genealogy notes 27-29 July 2011

We're still travelling and after Canberra we went to our friend's farm in Yarrawonga in northern Victoria where we have been lucky to see the births of some of their new lambs. Also amazing just how many white cockatoos are now in the area along with a few pink galahs.

The head cold I developed in Mount Gambier went to my chest so the last couple of days I haven't even felt like reading my emails or tweeting so I have quite a bit of catching up to do. But our friends have also been taking us round the tourist places and how could I say no to a visit to Rutherglen and some of the old, famous wineries in this area, not to mention the cheese tasting place at All Saints Winery. Today we are off to the Corowa chocolate factory and maybe another winery or two. It's a great gourmet area and I have bought olives, cheeses, spices, sauces etc.

My friend is an avid genealogist too so we have been having some great conversations and I had the chance to see the book she put together after a recent family reunion. I really must finish all my family history 'drafts' - there can always be a second edition!

We have even done a draft strategic plan for discussion at the VAFHO committee meeting next week. I will miss it unfortunately as by then I will be in Brisbane.

But for now I am getting reading for the Irish seminar tomorrow organised by the Wodonga Family History Society. My talk is The Colonial Irish Loved a Beer or Two and the other speaker Professor Geoff Brownrigg is giving two talks on Australian Irish Lives. It should be a great day and Wodonga is always a great audience.

Tomorrow will be a big genealogy day and I am hoping to learn lots to assist researching my own Irish ancestors - I have four great great grandparents who came out to Queensland in the 1860s and 1870s. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Genealogy notes 24-26 July 2011 Not Just Ned & Tobruk 1941

We've done a lot of driving over the last few days - after the Unlock the Past history and genealogy expo in Mount Gambier we drove back to Melbourne on the Sunday for a quick change of clothes etc. I managed to finish my review of the expo and then on the Monday we drove up to Canberra. Why a visit to Canberra?

Well this is the last week of the Not Just Ned: A True History of the Irish in Australia exhibition and I have been wanting to see it but we just haven't been able to get to Canberra. Also on at the moment is the Rats of Tobruk 1941 exhibition at the Australian War Memorial, another Canberra exhibition we wanted to see.

We are both nursing head colds from Mount Gambier, so after an early night we were keen to get to the exhibitions but the day started badly. I discovered that somehow I had chipped my front tooth and despite my partner telling me no one would notice, we both knew they would. Fixing it will have to wait until we return to Melbourne.

Our second bit of bad news was a phone call telling us our beloved pet had died unexpectedly in the night and despite wanting to rush home, we knew that would not change anything. So after much tears, we went to the Irish exhibition late morning although I didn't phone my friends at the Museum as I felt I just couldn't talk to anyone at present. We will make another longer visit to Canberra and catch up with friends then.

Anyway the Not Just Ned exhibition at the National Museum of Australia is really spectacular and it is amazing to see what they have brought together for the exhibition which takes at least two hours to walk around. At the end there is a room where you can look at books and computers to trace your own Irish ancestry. Members of the Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra volunteer there on Friday afternoons. I bought the catalogue so I could read more at leisure. Finally there are very useful Irish family history tips on the NMA website.

After that we drove over to the Australian War Memorial and visited the Rats of Tobruk 1941 exhibition, another very worth while exhibition. My uncle was at Tobruk and my partner's father was too so there was a personal interest for both of us. After that we toured the WW2 area of the AWM and managed to also see the light and sound show Striking in the Dark, based around the bombing of Berlin. There are excellent family history resources on the AWM's website and I couldn't resist temptation in the AWM Shop buying Peter Fitzsimon's book Tobruk.

Having seen both exhibitions I now have a list of things I want to follow up on my own Irish and military ancestors - genealogy really is a never ending story!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Genealogy notes 23 July 2011 genealogy expos continued

Today was Day 2 of the Unlock the Past history and genealogy expo in Mount Gambier and it was a very cold and wet day. However, there were still enthusiastic attendees arriving as the doors opened and most stayed until the end lecture. I heard lots of positive comments and perhaps the most  negative comment over the length of the expo was the cold!

I attended a number of talks and also gave two presentations - my tribute to TROVE and It's Not All Online, the title of one of my books. I was really pleased with the feedback and one lady said that she was amazed at all the things I had suggested for broadening out family history research and thinking laterally. Which is of course, the whole point of all my talks.

As I mentioned yesterday, I am doing a review of the Expo on my own website so will go into more detail in that. With luck and some hard work, it should be finished either later today or tomorrow. I have returned home with a rather severe head cold which makes thinking harder than usual!!

At the end of the day, my cold was really starting to take hold so we declined offers of dinner with other UTP speakers, settled back with a pizza and were in bed by 8pm. So much for the high life on tour with a genealogy expo. Watch out for the Expo blog due soon.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Genealogy notes 22 July 2011 - genealogy expos

Yesterday was Day One of the Unlock the Past South Australian and Victorian Border history and genealogy Mount Gambier expo so it was a very big genealogy day. I will be writing up a review of the Expo at the end of Day 2 so I won't go into too much detail now. It will appear on my SHHE Genie Rambles blog.

The venue is a very large school basketball centre which is ideal as all the exhibitors have lots of room and there are even breakout tables on the side. So my first duty was to wander around all the exhibitors  and it is a great mix of history, heritage and genealogy with lots of old photos, memorabilia and records and publications to search. The show bag has brochures from most of the exhibitors.

I had two talks during the day - first was my Asylums talk and second was my Google talk - both were well attended and I had lots of questions afterwards. I have another two talks on Day Two.

While I was doing a bit of Tweeting, I was given a handwriting query to solve. It was an entry in the NSW Coroner's Records available on Ancestry.com.au. I couldn't make it out from the photocopy the researcher had but as I have a personal subscription to Ancestry I logged on to see the original entry. It was a long entry of death and the words were all run together - I made out a few more of the words but one word was still elusive.

I asked a few of the other Unlock the Past team but we were all stumped. I then saved the image as a photo and increased the magnification beyond the 200% in Ancestry and that allowed me to easily see what the last word was. It is so easy once you know - the last phrase was 'severe temporary mental aberration' and it was 'temporary' which was the hardest part to decipher. It's always a buzz when you can help someone out.

I attended a few other talks and also did an interview with the local television but I don't think we made the 6pm news. At the end of the day there was a group dinner and an evening musical show with Brenton Manser and the Vanguard. As we didn't get back to the motel until late I didn't have time to write my usual daily blog of an expo. For Mount Gambier it will be a single blog completed after Day Two.

It is now Day Two and I am a little cold here trying to type this blog as the stadium has not yet warmed up. I'm sure today is going to be as good as yesterday. Stay tuned.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Genealogy notes 19-21 July 2011

Time flies and some days genealogy doesn't get a look in. We have spent the last couple of days on the road between Adelaide and Mount Gambier in South Australia. After leaving the family in Adelaide we went back to Hahndorf to have a better look around as it was so wet and foggy when we first went there. There is a real sense of history and tradition there and while having lunch we were able to read about all the first families in the area.

Then it was off to Mount Gambier via Monarto and Naracoorte - both excellent places to spend a few hours or more. Monarto is the South Australian open range zoo committed to extinct or facing extinction animals. We were privileged to see a baby bison which gives a new meaning to cute on a large scale. It is a huge place and a bus takes you to the various areas for a closer look. I couldn't help comparing it to the Werribee Zoo which is the Victorian equivalent and although Werribee is much smaller, I think it has more animals and more of them freely wandering around together.

After Monarto it was a visit to the Naracoorte Caves which is now on the World Heritage List and as it was school holidays, quite a few families and kids as well on some of the cave tours we did. I first went there in 1982 before a lot of the infrastructure which is now in place to protect the caves so I noticed some differences but still a fascinating place. If you want to visit all the caves open to the public you probably need more than a day. I think it was that early visit that encouraged me to to archaeology as a mature age student at University of Queensland a few years later.

We finally made it to Mount Gambier just in time to pick up fellow Unlock the Past expo speakers Carole and Kerry from the airport and we all paid a visit to the venue to get ready for the opening tomorrow morning. All the exhibit tables already set up looked interesting and there is a wide range of talks and speakers so it looks set for another great SA & VIC Border expo. As usual I will try and tweet and do a daily expo blog. Stay tuned.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Genealogy notes 18 July 2011 Brick wall research

Thank goodness young ones like afternoon naps - so hard to do anything on a laptop when you are playing games, chasing rabbits round the yard or out shopping! Still it is an experience you wouldn't trade for anything.

In my down time I continued having a look at our friend's brick wall that I wrote about the other day. I wasn't sure what the New Zealand connection was but decided to try Papers Past as both the married name and the maiden name are relatively uncommon. Interestingly I picked up some references to her athletic achievements that were reprinted from Sydney papers. The surprise was one of the articles talking about her fiancĂ©e and how they were going to be married the following year. The article was from 1919 but she obviously didn't end up marrying him. I wonder why not? Instead she married a man 13 years older than her in 1923, the same year she had their only child.

I then tried TROVE for Australian newspapers but the only additional information came from a funeral notice for her brother who died in 1949 - she is listed as one of the mourners in the family notice. This is long after she is thought to have died - did her brothers and sisters just list her because they weren't sure where she was or did they know she was still alive but not with her husband and child?

I also had some success in both Ancestry and FindMyPast in that I found the young family leaving Australia in 1924 for London (her husband was born in Devon) and then I found them coming back in 1927 - without these indexes and digitised images online it wouldn't be possible to do searches like this. So now I know that they were still together in 1927 and in Australia.

I tried to find out a bit more about the husband and noted that he had enlisted for war service in 1939 although he was 53 and from the immigration records I knew he had been in the British Navy possibly during WWI but that needs more looking into. The National Archives of Australia has digitised the series Service Cards for Petty Officers and Men 1911-1970 and I was able to look at the record myself. He listed as his next of kin his wife and an address for her as well as another woman (a friend) and address for her. Did he know where his wife was or was that just a last known address for her? Was there no divorce? Lots of questions which I will have to talk over with our friends when we get back to Melbourne.

With brick walls it really is a matter of just trying to fill in the missing bits and pieces of information. I find that doing timelines for people can be useful as it readily shows all the available facts not only about the person you are looking for but also those around them. Sometimes if you investigate other family members you will find that elusive bit of information on the one you really seek.

Tomorrow is a kindy day so hoping for a bit more genealogy time but then it would also be good to get out and see some of Adelaide as well. It's hard being a tourist too, so many things I want to do and see!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Genealogy notes 17 July 2011

Sunday was a family day and we don't get many of them as we live away from all our families. However, as we are visiting Adelaide we managed to have brunch with one son and then the rest of the day with another son and his family. Grandchildren seem to grow up very quickly even though we were only here last May!

However eventually they go to bed and I managed to check emails, tweets and Google+ before heading to bed myself. Some of my favourite e-newsletters arrived including UK Lost Cousins, Queensland Family History Society's Snippets and National Archives of Australia's Your Memento.

It was good to see a comment on my Summer blog post for 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History but I also saw that there were two posts on it in Google+ because I also posted notice of the blog there. I'm not sure that, from a recordkeeping perspective, that it is good to have comments on a blog separated - my archival instincts say that all comments should be together so that in the future you can see what the response was. But now that I am thinking about it, people often comment via Twitter and Facebook so perhaps it is a bit muddled anyway. Need to think about that a bit more.

Not sure how much genealogy I'll get to do over the next few days while staying with family - probably more taking photos and videos to capture living family members I suspect, but then that all becomes part of the family history too!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Genealogy notes 15-16 July 2011

Fridays are my blog writing days and as a participant in the Geneabloggers blog series 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History I found myself doing Week 28 Summer - and my contribution is here. The more you think about these weekly questions the more you remember so it can be quite hard limiting your recollections to a few paragraphs.

There were some updates on websites that I regularly monitor which was exciting. The first was One Place Studies which had an update for Hampshire and while none of my places were listed, I did notice that there was a one place study for West Grimstead in Wiltshire which is very close to East Grimstead where my ancestors were from. Some people put a lot of time and effort into these one place studies and if your ancestors happen to come from the same place, it can be very worthwhile.

The second site I am now really watching is Deceased Online as they are adding in Northamptonshire burial and cremation records and I have a long standing brick wall in that county so any new records online excites me.

Finally Ancestry.com.au have added more Australian immigration records to their site, especially for Western Australia and Tasmania. I only have one ancestor now that I don't have the immigration record for which is not too bad. However, it would be nice to finally learn the name of the ship she came out on.

Saturday was a day of travel (and the reason why this blog is a little late). We drove from Melbourne up to historic Ballarat in the heart of the Victorian gold fields and on to Ararat for lunch. I always like to stop here as an ancestor died in the Ararat asylum in 1873 and the historic asylum, later gaol still stands imposingly on the hill above the city.

Afternoon tea was at Dimboola not to far from the turn off to Jeparit, the childhood home of Sir Robert Menzies. I only know this obscure fact because when I lived in Canberra and worked for the National Archives of Australia I was part of the team who worked on the Australia's Prime Ministers website.

We stopped for the night in historic Hahndorf and Sunday morning will be spent having a look around. It is years since I was last here. The nice thing about travelling is that you get to see historic places and we always visit museums and historical societies and learn more about the history of the area and the people who lived there. When it is an area associated with our own families it is even more interesting.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Genealogy notes 14 July 2011

Yesterday was a strange sort of day, did a bit of searching on our friend's brick wall that I mentioned last time - mostly rechecking sources that they have already covered. But sometimes a second pair of eyes helps or you use a different search strategy or different spelling variations. Some of the sources I covered included:
Ancestry.com.au trying to pick up a date of death, or mention on an electoral roll
FindMyPast.com.au again looking for electoral rolls
Victorian BDM's - I always check the individual State indexes as well as the Ancestry version - with the online indexes you have to pay unless you have access to the indexes on CD
TROVE - Australian newspaper searching on both married and maiden names, of course if she entered into a de facto relationship or simply changed her name we will never find her!
PapersPast - another newspaper search but this time in New Zealand in case the earthquake story is correct
Rootsweb mailing list archives - I always like to see if anyone else has posted a 'missing person' notice and this did turn up emails from the family but with no success in finding her.

While I was finding references to the family, there was nothing pointing me to where she had gone or when she had died. I decided to park the problem and let ideas come to me. It was about then that the postman arrived bearing the 5th issue of Inside History, a relatively new Australian genealogy magazine. So I decided to break for a cup of tea but that stretched into lunch as I settled down for a good read.

After lunch it was a nice walk down to the library in the 'rare' sunshine and then packing up my talks and bits and pieces for the Unlock the Past South Australian and Victorian Border Expo 22-23 July. We are having a few days in Adelaide before heading back to Mount Gambier for the expo - it's a chance to see the family while we are relatively close or closer!

I'm finding that I'm spending even more time on emails and social media with the advent of Google+ as I get notifications on new connections, when I start looking at the genealogy stream (or other streams) I get sidetracked, much like Twitter sidetracks me with interesting new links and genealogy news. I'm starting to think it is all like television, it it's on, I watch it and don't do anything I should be doing. Might start up a time log but then I will worry about what I might be missing!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Genealogy notes 13 July 2011 National Family History Week 2011

As I've mentioned over the last few days I am busy updating existing talks and doing new talks - in fact I am giving 11 talks over the next six weeks! See my schedule for more details.

Why so much happening around this particular time? Well it is winter in Australia and if we didn't have genealogy events to go to, we probably wouldn't venture out of our homes - not that winter here is anything like it is overseas. But more importantly, winter is the time when we have our National Family History Week - to be more exact it's 29 July to 8 August.

This is an initiative of the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) and their other big initiative every three years is a genealogy congress and the next one is 28-31 March 2012 in Adelaide with a theme of  Your Ancestors in Their Social Context. There is a great line up of speakers and talks so it is definitely not one to miss.

But back to National Family History Week - anyone can add an event but unfortunately not everyone lists their events here. Still, depending on what State or Territory you live in, you can easily find events of interest. Here in Victoria one event I have attended every year is Family History Feast at the State Library of Victoria. Scrolling through the list of events in Victoria shows that there is a great variety of talks and not just in Melbourne which is great.

So check out your State and see what you can attend for National Family History Week and if your organisation is having an event and it's not listed, encourage them to add it. All too often I hear people say they would have attended something if only they had known about it. So let's all publicise National Family History Week in 2011.

Yesterday my other half came home after visiting friends with a rather detailed family history chart in his hands. His friends have a genealogy brickwall and he assured them that I might be able to help solve it. He has great faith in my abilities and I must admit I do like a challenge - however this one is where the wife leaves the family, never to be seen again. Already my mind is thinking of all the possibilities and to complicate it further it has both Australia and New Zealand links. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Genealogy notes 12 July 2011 DNA genealogy

Another day working on talks for my Brisbane/Toowoomba trip in August. I'm happy to say that all talks are drafted and I'm now in the review stage to make sure they run to time, make sense and give attendees information to further their own research. Without knowing an audience, you have to try and cater for everyone from basic beginners to those who may have considerable experience.

Amongst my emails yesterday was an updated report from 23andMe which is a DNA company which specialises in genetic testing for health and provides an insight into various health risks through maternal DNA.  I have also had people contact me to see if we are related because of DNA strands matching up, although this is more 4th or 5th cousin relationships. So far there have been no definite connections. This is an area that I have been exploring more this year and I will probably do a DNA test with one of the companies that is more into family history rather than health issues.

I also need to read more about the subject as well and recently purchased a book DNA For Genealogists by Kerry Farmer to help me understand more. I have heard Kerry's talk on DNA at an Unlock the Past history and genealogy expo but it is a lot to take in so the book will build on that (I hope). Science was never one of my strong subjects at school.

Another interesting email was from Unlock the Past and a draft brochure for their War Comes To Australia: WWII 70th anniversary tour to commemorate the bombing of Darwin in 1942. I have been asked to give a talk on Tracing Military Ancestors as part of the tour which is 17-22 Feb 2012. There will be two seminars as part of the tour and other speakers are Brad Manera and Dr Tom Lewis OAM. It should be an exciting time to be in Darwin next year.

I still receive mail from the postman and while not as much as via email, it is still exciting to open up the mailbox and see letters and journals. Yesterday I received my latest copy of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria's journal and newsletter. You can also see the latter on their website, even if you aren't a member and it is a good read with lots of information on research in Victoria and what is happening with affiliated historical societies. The Society has a lot of information, indexes and databases online and anyone with Victorian ancestors may find it worthwhile to search for their names and places.

We are leaving for Adelaide on Saturday and I have so many things I want to do before then. To do lists are something that I'm good at but they do have a problem of growing faster than I can tick them off. The next six weeks are incredibly busy and I'm looking forward to some down time in September. Fingers crossed!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Genealogy notes 11 July 2011

Monday was mostly taken up with finalising my talks for Brisbane and Toowoomba in August. Whenever I visit Brisbane to see family, the local genealogy societies often ask me to give talks at their monthly meetings. This is always a good opportunity to catch up with old friends so if I can fit these meetings in, I do.

On Monday 15 August 2011 I will be speaking at the Southern Suburbs branch of the Genealogical Society of Queensland and I have known some of them for over 30 years which is quite amazing. The talk is on mining ancestors and most people in Queensland usually have one or more mining ancestors. As this is such a huge topic, the hardest part of doing this talk is keeping it to 45 minutes!

Since December 2010 I have been writing a monthly article on mining ancestors for Australian Family Tree Connections and the feedback has been really good. As well as helping people with their own research, the mining series has also put me in touch with a few of my own long lost cousins who have recognised photographs I used to illustrate the articles. Also one gentleman in a mining area where my great grandfather died even went to the remote cemetery and took photos for me. So it really does pay to advertise your family research.

The other talk I worked on was a revision of my Victorian ancestors talk which I last gave in May in Sydney for the Society of Australian Genealogists. The weekend I gave the talk was also the weekend that Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) changed its website but I still had to go with my existing slides as I had no idea what the new site looked like until the following Monday.

As well as updating the PROV slides, I also had to update the home pages of a few other sites to make them current again. It is amazing how often home pages change with new content or new looks or whatever. The Victorian talk is being given to the Queensland Family History Society at their Wednesday meeting on 17 August 2011. I am a founding member of that society (1979) so again I know quite a few of them although more recent members only know me from my periodic visits.

Preparing talks takes longer than people suspect (I think) so I didn't do too much more than check for any urgent or exciting emails and to check Twitter and Facebook similarly. I did look at all my Google+ invitations and realised that there was more than one person per invitation email so I ended up adding dozens of people to my circles, mostly other genealogists. I really need to get my head around using this for genealogy at least.

Tomorrow I hope to finalise my last Toowoomba talk and then it will be a review of all talks, print paper copies just in case something goes totally wrong with the technology and to back them up on two USB sticks.  I try to be prepared for everything but there is always Murphy's Law!

I'm starting to get excited about all the talks and events in the remainder of July and August so check the list of events on my website and see if I will be visiting a place near you soon.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Genealogy notes 9-10 July 2011 Royal Australian Armoured Corps Tank Museum

It was as I expected - a weekend with no genealogy as we were visiting a friend's farm and staying overnight.  In some ways a technology free weekend is quite nice and it is good to know I can go 48 hours without turning the laptop on. However, I am now wading my way through various emails, tweets, Facebook and Google+ invitations.

But there is one thing that I do want to report on. We finally managed a visit to the  Royal Australian Armoured Corps Tank Museum at Puckapunyal on the way home. We had gone there previously on the spur of the moment when passing, but it is not open every weekend and we hadn't picked an open weekend. This time, as it was school holidays, it was open.

Museums don't always reflect what the name suggests and this is no exception. Of course there are many, many tanks (over 70 of them) to wander around and look at. In fact, I hadn't realised just how many different kinds there were or the differences between British, German, Japanese and American tanks until you see them all lined up. Each tank had it's history and statistics on a display board which was good for people like me who know nothing about tanks. There was an icy wind blowing and rain threatening so we didn't spend all that long wandering around the huge, open sheds which give some cover to the tanks.

I found it more interesting in the interior museum which paid tribute to every war since the Boer War. There were lots of photos, medals, uniforms, weapons, with various stories and tributes in display cases. I took some photos but the museum's website has a very good 3D map which allows you to do almost a virtual tour.

Visiting these kinds of museums can help us to understand our own military research better. For example, my ancestors fought it the Boer War in Light Horse Regiments and while I knew that meant they rode horses, I had not consciously thought how they transported the horses. There is a Light Horse memorial at the Museum which is a railway carriage and when you go up to have a look inside there is a fake horse inside a horse stall. It's obvious when you think about it, but it wasn't till I explored that Light Horse memorial that I realised exactly what it meant for soldiers to not only have to transport themselves and their gear but they also had to look after their horses.

It's a great place to visit and if you don't live in Victoria, do the website tour and look for other military museums - who knows what you will learn and perhaps even better, it will be of interest to your own family history.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Genealogy notes 8 July 2011

Amazing how fast Fridays seem to come around. On Fridays I like to write my contribution to the Geneabloggers blogging theme 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History and this weeks topic was Vacations. Questions to spur memories included where did you go, favourite places, are they still there and if not, how have things changed. My reminiscences were all around the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast as we lived in Brisbane when I was growing up.

There are always great conferences going on but sometimes the fees are on the high side (now that I'm semi-retired), especially if there are only a few sessions that you are interested in. This is particularly true in sister professions. For example, I have been looking at the Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexers (ANZSI) conference program - it will be held in Brighton, Victoria 12-14 September 2011. I'm not an indexer but have an interest in indexing and in the past I have given papers at their conferences. It's over three days and of course, all the sessions I want to see or participate in are over all three days otherwise a one day registration would be the way to go. The other problem is that two of the sessions that most interest me are on at the same time. Decisions!

I always enjoy reading Heritage Tasmania e-news, and the June issue has a range of interesting stories. Also caught up with the June issue of the qsa-bulletin from the Queensland State Archives. I like to sign up for the free e-newsletters as they keep me up to date with new indexes, new records, seminars and so on. Back issues are also online. I have subscriptions for quite a few of the archives where I have family interests.

My weekend diary may be a combined effort as we will be travelling. My partner says I can't do genealogy 24/7 but I think he might be wrong! I suspect I could or at least give it a real good try.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Genealogy notes 7 July 2011

Freezing cold day in Melbourne today and unfortunately I had to be out and about so limited genealogy time. Received an email a few days ago from the Toowoomba Regional Council Libraries about a seminar they are hosting on 13 August. I am giving three talks and John Graham will be giving two talks on Country Newspapers and The Ryerson Index to contemporary death notices and obituaries in Australian newspapers. John is a fellow Unlock the Past team presenter and I always enjoy his talks.

The Library has done a great poster and information flyer to promote the seminar and it was a timely reminder to me to revisit the talks they had requested. When I looked at my talk Brief Introduction to Family History I found it was last given in 2009 so I had a lot of updating to do today. It is always hard when doing these introductory talks to know what level to pitch the talk at - there will obviously be some really new people but also likely to have some experienced people too.

The other two talks I am giving are Family History on the Cheap and this is a talk I keep up to date all the time as it is so popular (and it is the title of one of my books available from Gould Genealogy & History) and Warning Warning: Tips & Tricks to Avoid Common Family History Mistakes which is based on some of my own learnings over the years.

As always I check my various emails, Facebook and Twitter accounts and answer any personal queries and try to add my own views where applicable. On the days when I don't get a lot of time to check Tweets or Facebook I often feel that I have missed heaps of you beaut things but you can't be on it 24/7. Do others feel like that if they don't check Twitter or Facebook on a reasonably regular basis?

More people have added me to their Google+ circles but I really haven't had time to do much more than skim some of the comments people have made. It's on the to do list.

A new website (for me) that I came across today was The Workhouse: The Story of an Institution and it is a very detailed look at every aspect associated with workhouses. I am sure that at least one of my ancestors were in a workhouse at some point in time although I have never found any there during a census. I loved the recipe for the workhouse Christmas pudding for 300 - it used 144 eggs along with other usual ingredients but I'm not too sure about the 13 lbs of carrots (seems an odd ingredient in a pudding). There are some really great photographs and the detailed text means that you should give yourself some time to fully explore this interesting site.

The rest of the family have gone to bed and if I don't follow soon, I will freeze (we turn the heating off at night) - went down to 4 degrees here last night and more of the same is expected tonight. Can't wait to go home to Queensland in August, if only for 3 weeks!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Genealogy notes 6 July 2011

Well today didn't go to plan. Melbourne was freezing and got worse as the day went on. I can't function in the cold - must be my Queensland blood!

My goal today was to finalise my Colonial Irish talk for the Wodonga Family History Society and the Genealogical Society of Queensland seminars I am speaking at in the next few weeks. The talks feature various anecdotes from my own Irish ancestors - I am 25% Irish (Counties Cavan, Armagh and Wicklow).

Most of my Irish research was done back in the late 1970s and early 1980s and then I put it into the too hard basket. So it has been quite a while since I dragged my Irish families out of the filing cabinet. To illustrate my talks I had planned to show various documents highlighting my ancestors' exploits while under the influence of alcohol. The talk is actually called The Colonial Irish Liked A Beer or Two: Checking Out The Evidence.

My first shock was that the photocopies of various government records that I had done in the early 1980s had faded - badly - but then that is nearly 30 years ago. The next shock was that some of the documents had been stapled and the staples had rusted - badly. The final shock was that there was information in the documents that was really relevant to me today but obviously I either had not realised its significance back then or I had not read the documents carefully enough at the time. In my own defence, I suspect I know more now than I did back then.

However, what this all means is that instead of just finalising my talk, I ended up spending the day removing rusty staples, scanning what are now poor photocopies and rereading and rethinking my Irish family research. The day just went past in a blur.

The sad part is I think I probably should do this with all my paper files - and I have been doing it with some files but more as time permits rather than as any dedicated project. It is probably the type of task we should all do on a regular basis, especially if we have been researching for decades and have multiple filing cabinets of information.

It's now past my bedtime but I plan to read Inherit Issue No 47 June 2011 which is the free e-newsletter from the Heritage Council of Victoria and they have some interesting new stories on the built environment on the Culture Victoria website. Lots of interesting things on that website that may be relevant to family historians researching in Victoria.

The other e-newsletter I plan to read tonight is from the National Trust of Australia (Victoria branch). In their June newsletter there are lots of suggestions for the school holidays, offers for members and one that particularly intrigues me is Spookspotters' Twilight Ghost Tours at Como House.

Tomorrow is supposed to be even colder than today but I do have to go out so most of the day will be out and about. I've also got a lot of genealogy tasks on my to do list - focus will be my mantra tomorrow!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Genealogy notes 5 July 2011 - Irish genealogy

Today in Melbourne was wet and windy with the odd earthquake to make it interesting. I had planned on going out and doing a few errands but changed my mind and spent most of the day looking at Irish records and websites.

Some of the sites I spent time on included the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and it must be a while since I last looked because they have a lot of indexes I hadn't tried before. I had some good family finds in the Will Calendars and some I need to look into further. Another site, and an old favourite now digitised, is Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837 which I used to learn about various places my family were from.

I revisited Griffith's Valuation of Ireland 1848-1864, now also online (I'll soon forget how to even use a microfiche at this rate) which is searchable on the Ask About Ireland website. There are all sorts of interesting links from this website so there went a 'bit of time'.

I also tried to pin down some of my Irish ancestors deaths using the FamilySearch Irish Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958 with some success. The Roots Ireland database was also useful in tying a few loose ends down but it is amazing how those Euros add up (but still cheaper than some of the prices we pay for Australian certificates).

It's great that the 1901 and 1911 Irish census records are free but most of my Irish ancestors were out here early and their parents deceased by 1901. I really need to find out more about collateral lines.

Periodically I used Google Maps to help me locate various places and to see that they were all in the same area. Genuki was also useful in helping me to locate what was available for the various counties I am interested in.

Although I had a good afternoon researching on the various sites, I can't help wishing for a one stop shop! I am also conscious that there are more Irish sites that I didn't visit today. So I am going to have an early night and read Cora Num's Irish Research on the Internet - it's supposed to be raining again tomorrow so I might as well prepare for another Irish research day!!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Genealogy Notes 4 July 2011

Monday has been a very satisfying day as I have ignored my usual procrastination and written two short genealogy pieces. The first was for the Ballarat & District Genealogical Society's journal Ballarat Link based on a talk I gave the Society in May on Online Trends in Family History. Their website is one of my favourites as it has so many interesting links and not just to Victorian sites so it is worth a visit. Another plus is that you can see back issues of the Link online for free although not all recent ones are there.

The second piece of writing was an Ask an Expert report for Inside History, a relatively new family history magazine now available in Australia. I had done the research last month but unfortunately I was unable to break down the enquirer's brick wall. Still I had some fun looking at BDMs for Tasmania and Victoria (available on CD) and I always enjoy searching the Archives Office of Tasmania's website and online indexes. For this enquiry I also tried the Genealogical Society of Victoria's members only database Genealogical Index of Names (GIN) which has over 3 million names mostly from Victorian sources. Just personally, I think it needs another name as whenever I tell people I like GIN, they think I am going to have a drink!!

By this stage it was time for a well earned break so I checked my emails and did some tweeting. I have received more Google+ circle invitations and have reciprocated. Haven't set up any of my own yet.

One thing I do like to do at the beginning of the week is to check Randy Seaver's Best of the Genea Blogs which is a round up of the best genealogy blogs for the week. It does have an American focus but most of the blogs have a global relevance anyway. I find this a quick and easy way to make sure I do see some of the more important/relevant genealogy blogs. I also follow Randy on Twitter @rjseaver.

Another free e-newsletter I like to read is Lost Cousins and the latest issue turned up in my email today. There was news on the latest additions to subscription sites such as Ancestry and FindMyPast as well as information on the Black Sheep Index which I hadn't seen before. So by the time I read the newsletter and check any links of interest to my own research, there's more time gone (but not wasted). That's the reason why I start the day with the things I have to do as I know I will be tempted elsewhere before the day is over.

Finally I had an interesting and exciting invitation to participate in a new exhibition which I readily excepted so closer to the event I will be able to tell you all about it. I wonder what tomorrow will bring - at least genealogy is never dull and boring!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Genealogy notes 3 July 2011

Today's Sunday and it is usually a quiet day spent catching up on bits and pieces. I like to also look at the week ahead and see what I should be doing, and of course what I would like to be doing. I find that if I don't set myself little goals along the way I don't get as much done as I originally set out to do.

Fast approaching is the Unlock the Past History and Genealogy Expo in Mount Gambier on 23-24 July and I have been updating my expo talks. It really is amazing how often some websites change and I don't mean just cosmetic changes, I mean new content including indexes and digitised records.What this means is that instead of finalising my revised talks, I am led astray into searching for my own families. So this week a key goal is to finish the revisions on all four talks.

Just a week later on 30 July I am speaking at the Wodonga Family History Society annual seminar and they have an exciting Irish themed day. My talk is titled The Irish Colonials Loved a Beer or Two: Checking Out the Evidence and it is based (loosely) on my own Irish ancestors and for Wodonga I have some Victorian examples as well. I am giving a repeat of the talk in Brisbane on 6 August at the Genealogical Society of Queensland's annual seminar Ireland: Unlocking the Mystery but will use Queensland examples instead. So another key goal is to finish both versions of this new talk.

Another weekly goal I like to set myself (if I'm not travelling too much) is to participate in the blog challenge 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History. Next week's topic is Vacations and that should be really easy to write about - with this series I have been trying to capture memories from my childhood and teenage years. Last week's topic was Songs and what was the No 1 hit the year you were born. Read my Songs contribution here.

I spent a bit more time today reading up on Google+ and thanks to some tweets on Twitter from @SocialMediaGen I found some interesting links to follow up.

Another catch up job today was to visit Genealogy Wise which is a genealogy social network I have been a member of for quite a while. I'm a member of nine groups in Genealogy Wise and I like to see what's been happening over the past week - it's not something that I get to do on a daily basis and of course, some groups (like my Surname groups) don't have a lot of activity. Perhaps the group I am most involved with is Australian Genealogists with 320 members. Like most social networking sites it is free to join and it is a great way to communicate with like minded people.

Today's visit to Genealogy Wise reminded me that I haven't been keeping up with a blog called GeniMates which profiles various people involved in genealogy both in Australia and overseas. There were quite a few profiles that I had missed (sometimes I pick them up in Twitter too) so I spent the time reading about people I have come to know both in person and online. It quite often leads me to following new people on Twitter or new blogs I want to read. For example, I hadn't come across Amanda Epperson or her Scottish Emigration Blog until I read Amanda's profile on GeniMates - I then spent time reading some of her blog entries. See how easy it is to get sidetracked - now you know why I need to set goals and deadlines!!

They say genealogy is never ending, I'm starting to suspect that is also true for social media and genealogy but I wouldn't change it. I learn so much every day and find other people and their work really inspiring. However, I still live in the real world and the family is expecting dinner and I want to watch Masterchef in peace, so signing off for now to become a domestic goddess!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Genealogy notes 2 July 2011

I'm really pleased with the encouragement I have received so far on this new blog idea - it's nice to have friends.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday was that I accepted an invitation to participate in Google+ (without really knowing much about it). Today I have people putting me into circles and I was really pleased to see Twitter friend @CaroleRiley tweeting an article on the Pros and Cons of Google+ so I am a little wiser. Like all social media it takes a little while to get the hang of it (at least for me), so I'll take it slow and steady.

No time for research today but I have been reading some e-newsletters. It was good to see a tribute to Don Grant in Eastman's Daily Online Genealogy Newsletter and this has to be one of my favourite newsletters for keeping up to date on what is happening with genealogy around the world. There is a free standard edition and for a very modest annual fee you can access his 'plus' articles which are always good value.

Another one of my favourite e-newsletters arrived and that is Snippets from the Queensland Family History Society - it is monthly and while parts of it are only relevant if you live in Brisbane, there is usually a great selection of news and links to follow up. I was a founding member of QFHS so it is a great way for me to keep up with what is happening in my home town. It is sent to members but the last six issues are available online for free so non members can still read it.

Another genealogy society e-newsletter I like reading is from the Society of Australian Genealogists - I did their Diploma of Family Historical Studies back in the early 1990s and I have always maintained contact with them since. You don't need to be a member to receive the newsletter so you can subscribe or simply read past newsletters online.

It's probably a good idea to see if the society in an area you are researching has a free e-newsletter because it is a great way to find out what's new in that area - we can't afford to join all the societies where our ancestors lived. Of course you should also be a member of the society near where you live so that you can take advantage of their library, meet other knowledgeable members, attend talks, seminars and so on. Here in Melbourne I am a member of the Genealogical Society of Victoria and the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies.

Perhaps the most exciting genealogy event for me today was receiving an email from a person who read the latest article in my Looking For Mining Ancestors series which is published in Australian Family Tree Connections. I was writing about my great grandfather Thomas Price who died at a very obscure mine called Wee McGregor at Hightville in far western Queensland. Prior to moving out there, he was a Baptist Sunday school teacher in Charters Towers. This person's mother was one of his students and he is fondly mentioned in some of her personal records from that time which she kept and are now in her family's possession. How amazing!

It just goes to show the more you write and publish information on your ancestors, the more chance you have of making contact with other family members or people who have information on them. I should probably start up a dedicated blog to my ancestors but there are so many of them and only one of me!

I was worried that I might not be able to keep up the content for this blog but so far I think my problem is going to be how to keep it contained to a reasonable length!

Genealogy notes 1 July 2011

It's the first day of the new financial year, and having spent 35 years working in government, I am used to thinking of my year from July to June. Rather than start another paper diary, I am taking the new step of doing it online via this blog. The first challenge was trying to think of a name for my daily notes to myself and I suspect future challenges will be finding the time to enter my notes.

My day usually starts with a check of my emails and this morning there was the sad news of the death of Don Grant, a well known genealogist in Victoria and former staff member at Public Record Office Victoria. I first met Don many years ago and he was always inspirational to other researchers. The Victorian Association of Family History Organisations in 1997 named their annual lecture after Don and sadly he will miss the next one in August during National Family History Week. A list of the Don Grant Family History Lectures and presenters is on their website.

I am participating in the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History blogging challenge and after an absence of a few weeks, I submitted my Week 26 blog today on Songs and what they mean to me.

Next on my to do list was to use the National Library of Australia's E-resources to look at some overseas newspapers. For some reason I didn't have any luck connecting with the Irish newspaper archives via their link but I did get to do some searching in the 19th Century British Library newspapers. However I didn't find what I was looking for but did get sidetracked into reading about what was happening in Belfast, Ireland during 1841.

Of course the day wouldn't be complete without checking out Twitter every so often - I can't believe how many good links and ideas for genealogy that I pick up via Twitter. Not to mention the contacts and conversations with friends all over the world via that social media. It's like emails now - very hard to not check them every so often.

I like to try and read e-newsletters as I receive them but that is not always possible. Just read my Professional Historians Association (Queensland) e-Bulletin - the AGM is coming up in August, along with membership renewals and there is lots of interesting news. It is one of my primary links to friends and colleagues in Queensland since I moved south in 1999.

Today has been a big day for my genealogy - I don't normally have that much time to do research. Plus I have mastered a new skill - setting up this blog!