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!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Genealogy Notes 11-16 Feb 2014 - last genea cruising days

The genealogy cruise is over and we traveled home safely only for me to have a fall in the dining room. I have spectacular bruises and a few sore spots but nothing broken. However it has meant I am a bit tardy finishing up my cruising reports.

I missed reporting on Maria Northcote's (from Genies Downunder) talk on Using Free Podcasts on Day 4. This was an interesting session but due to a massive failure on Royal Caribbean's staff no one came down to open up the theatre and turn the equipment on. Maria had to give her talk in the dark with the help of a torch and we had to try and view her laptop screen instead of the theatre screen. I would have liked this presentation repeated at another time as it was really dependent on the equipment.

Our bus trip to Port Arthur penal establishment was good and there has been a lot of restoration and interpretation work done since I was last there in the late 1970s. We did not really have enough time to see everything although we raced around the various buildings as quickly as we could. There was a Rootstech presentation after dinner but I was really too tired to attend.

Day 8 was the last day at sea and it was another full program of talks. I went to Jan Gow's talk on how she uses Treepad to organise all her research. Next was Thomas MacEntee explaining Wolfram/Alpha for genealogy which was interesting although US centric at the moment. I need to have a play and see what Australian data is in there.

I skipped out then to attend the Captain's Corner which is where you get to meet the Captain and senior officers and find out interesting things about the ship. For example, it is 42,000 tons larger than the US Navy's largest aircraft carrier and it's ice skating rink doubles as a television studio. The ship weighs more than 70,000 cars or 30,000 elephants and if it were standing upright on it's bow, it would be slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower. For foodies, 105,000 meals are prepared each week (that's a lot of dishes) and 28,000 eggs are used, 8,000 gallons of ice cream, 18,000 slices of pizza, 1400 lbs of lobster, 20,000 lbs of beef, 600 lbs of berries, 1500 gallons of milk and so on are consumed each voyage. All a bit hard to comprehend because when you are on board you actually forget you are on a ship (unless you look outside)!

This session was followed by a history of the Royal Caribbean line and it was an interesting look at the development of cruise ships and trends on cruise ships over the years. We had to miss the end as the group photo was being taken. Due to the size of our group, we ended up having it taken on the Promenade Deck (or the main street) with the photographer looking down at us.

After lunch I listened to Kerry Farmer's talk on DNA and then it was my last talk for the cruise - Lost in Asylums: Missing Ancestors which is the subject of my new research guide My Ancestor was in an Asylum: Brief Guide to Asylum Records in Australia and New Zealand. Available from Gould Genealogy & History along with all my other research guides.

As a cheer up for being sick, Max booked me into a wine tasting and it was a nice way to finish up the day and the cruise. After dinner everyone went to Cleopatra's Needle for the prize draws and Chris Paton's final talk on British Civilian POW's in the First World War. Then there were speaker photographs and final farewells with everyone. The nine days went so fast.

There were other Geneabloggers on the cruise and here is a list that will give you lots of good reading.
Jill Ball –
Pauleen Cass –
Maggie Clarke –
Kerry Farmer –
Kirsty Gray –
Victoria Green –
Lee-Ann Hamilton –
Shauna Hicks –
Tiggy Johnson –
Noeline Kyle –
Thomas MacEntee –
Maria Northcote –
Chris Paton –
Helen Smith –
Alona Tester –
Maureen Trotter –
Sharn White –
Jackie van Bergen –

My suitcase handle was broken somehow so that made walking to the train station after disembarking a little more tricky but getting to Sydney airport by train is so easy. Then it was a bit of a wait for our flight back to Brisbane and then we take the Bribie airport service to get home.

I will be doing an overall review of the cruise which will appear on my SHHE Genie Rambles blog (soonish) and I will also be doing a report on the future of genealogy panel session. There are lots of things to catch up on (both genealogy and around the house and gardens) but my immediate priority are my talks for Moreton Bay Region throughout February. Full details on the Events page of my website. So until next time, happy researching.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Genealogy Notes 7-10 Feb 2014 - Days 4-7 still geneacruising!

Well it seems that Diary has recommenced and apologies to all those waiting for an update in Adelaide. I do a lot of travel and there are two things you can not guarantee - one the weather and two, illness. I have become acquainted with a shipboard virus and we are not good friends but I am feeling better than a few days ago.

First up I thought the panel session on the future of genealogy on Day 3 and chaired by Thomas MacEntee was really good (if I can say so myself). There was a change of panelists and as well as myself and Chris Paton there was Mike Murray from WA and Kirsty Gray who seems to be everywhere! So many themes came out of this session and even though I was a panelist, I took copious notes so I plan to write a separate blog on this once I get back home. Stay tuned!

After the panel session we went to the talk and guided tour of the night time sky with Melissa Hulbert so by the time we got back to the cabin it was very late and as a result we slept in the next morning.

Our fourth day was all at sea which meant sessions from early morning to after dinner. Due to the sleep in I missed the first session but made it to Helen Smith's talk on Timelines and how to use them for genealogy. My talk (which was the third for the day) was at 9.40 am was on Mapping Ancestors in Australia. As usual I have put a copy of the slides up on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

Before lunch I attended Melissa Hulbert's talk on restoring family photos using Photoshop Elements. It was an interesting practical talk and the presenter made it look really easy. I suspect that there is a fair degree of practice in there too.

In between sessions I have been having one on one sessions with various people and it is really interesting to see what kind of problems they have with their research. In most cases I can usually suggest a few new approaches or to try even more way out spelling variations. Most people have been extremely thorough with their research and have even brought along copies of their documents to show what they have done so far.

Tracing Mining Ancestors: A Brief Guide to Resources in Australia and New ZealandAfter lunch I attended Thomas MacEntee's session on Cloud Computing which I am basically familiar with but it was good to see how he presented it to the audience who I suspect was mostly not in the cloud. Thomas has a handout for all his talks but it is only for the exclusive use of the cruise attendees. Next was Chris Paton with Irish records online and his handout is on the Society of Genealogists site, under the Learn tab links to WDYTYA 2013. I have to say that Chris has a unique way of finishing up his talks. The slide says "Now if only there was a handy book" and under that images of his book/s on the topic. I think I will have to start doing this too as I completely forgot the other day when giving my mining talk, to mention that I have a new research guide out - Tracing Mining Ancestors: A Brief Guide to Australia and New Zealand - (see handy image)!

I was the after dinner speaker with my presentation on Newspapers Online and it was probably not one of my better presentations as I got sick while still fielding questions down the front. But people were very understanding and I have been grateful for the various tablets that have found there way to my cabin.

The fifth day was Adelaide and I never saw it as I slept most of the day and night. At least Max got to see his son and grandkids while I rested.

The sixth day was again at sea while we made our way to Hobart. Having past the quarantine period, I attended Mike Murray's Ten Top Tips for Tracing Your Hard to Find Ancestors. Mike showed how he drills down into the major databases to make more effective searches. From the panel session the other night I had been surprised to find that Mike does not believe in social media, so it was not surprising to find that he did not mention it here either. However I would have to add it as another top tip! I then gave my Family History on the Cheap talk and did another one on one before lunch.

After lunch we attended the Ice Show (hard to believe there is an ice skating rink on board) which is really colourful and beautiful to watch. But then it was back to the conference room for Thomas MacEntee's sessions on Google Alerts and Google Books. I use both of these but it was amazing to see how many alerts Thomas has and why he sets them up. My final session for the day was Jill Ball talking about Evernote for Genealogy. I have Evernote but I don't seem to use it effectively and I don't sync as often as I should but I can definitely see the potential.

One last one on one session, dinner and then bed, totally exhausted. I missed Jill's Geneareader's circle which was a pity as I usually like attending them. My book to share was Jim Faull's The Cornish in Australia as I am looking into Cornish culture and what made them different from other parts of England.

Day 7 has been a bit of a write off again as I had a bad night and missed all the morning sessions and one on one's I had booked. By the time we docked in Hobart this afternoon I was feeling a bit better so we strolled over to Salamanca Place and around the dock area in the fresh air. Today is a public holiday in Hobart for Regatta Day and the fireworks are due to start in about 45 minutes.

Tomorrow we are still in Hobart and we are booked on a bus trip down to Port Arthur a former convict settlement. It has been years since I was last there so I am hoping for a quiet night and lots of sleep. Then one more day at sea with the last of the conference talks and then Sydney and home. Time flies when geneacruising! The next Diary will not be until after I get home so until then, happy researching.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Genealogy Notes 5-6 Feb 2014 Days 2-3 of geneacruising

It is only Day 3 of the Unlock the Past cruise and I am in need of a nanna nap! In the last Diary I briefly mentioned that I was going to the meet and greet that night so I will start there with this geneacruise account. It was really amazing to see Cleopatra's Needle ( a rather large lounge area on Voyager of the Seas) packed with family historians. It must be the biggest geneacruise so far and I spotted friends from all over Australia. After Alan introduced the overseas speakers and other key people it was photo time. I ended up in the Geneabloggers, Kiva Genealogists for Families, the GOONS (Guild of One Name Studies) and Queensland photos.

I should also mention the first night dinner. Seating is allocated before hand so you don't know  who your dinner companions are until you are escorted to the table. Two old friends from the Gold Coast Family History Society were already at our table, always nice to see smiling faces, then we were joined by a couple from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, one of our favourite places and then a lady I knew from Wodonga in Victoria joined us. The 8th place was vacant so we are not sure if someone is there or it is vacant. Might allow us to ask a person to join us for dinner which would be good.

Day 2 - I was up early to get ready for my talk, have breakfast and be in the room on time for Chris Paton's talk on British and Irish Newspapers which attracted a full house and sadly some missed out. It is the only session where there was just one talk on offer, most of the other sessions have 2 or 3 speakers. As usual Chris gave an entertaining talk as well as some interesting sites to look at. He has a handout online but after something Thomas MacEntee said about his handouts and copyright I'm not going to give out their private links to handouts. I will follow it up with both of them as I have not come across private links before. Mine are always on my website which is public.

I followed Chris with my talk on Follow the Gold: Mining Ancestors which is the subject of one of my new research guides out this month Tracing Mining Ancestors: A Brief Guide to Sources in Australia and New Zealand. For some reason the screen started flickering during my talk (but not for Chris) which was a bit off putting but verbal feedback indicated that people enjoyed the talk and got some useful tips for their own research. As usual I have done a PDF of the presentation and it is on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

After a short break I went to Thomas MacEntee's Building a Genealogy Research Toolbox and this was not quite what I was expecting. I realised that I already have a number of toolboxes in Word, Excel, Chrome Bookmarks and Evernote and so on. It is more about how we organise and find all those useful websites that we use on a regular basis. So not the collection of gadgets like scanners, cameras, and other techno bits that I thought would be in a toolbox. There is a handout but as I mentioned earlier, I need to check that with Thomas.

After lunch it was Helen Smith talking on Document Analysis and aside from the flickering screen it was a good session. Helen made lots of interesting points about really reading a document, transcribing it exactly, citation and so on. A lot of it is usual research practice but sometimes in our excitement or haste we forget the basics and years later we will not remember what we did or why. Helen also mentioned two websites I have not come across before - Clooz3 and Evidentia. Both of these help with document analysis so now on my to do list to have a look. I missed the very beginning of the talk so not sure about handouts - something else to follow up.

Next was Neil Smith talking on That Elusive Digger and this was an overview of Australasian military ancestors. It was an interesting talk with snapshots of individual soldiers interspersed throughout the session. Neil also gave the usual suspects for research including the National Archives of Australia, the Australian War Memorial and the DVA Nominal Rolls for various wars. Neil has written quite a few military books which can be found in his online catalogue at Mostly Unsung.

After a short break where I raced up to the 12th floor for a cup of tea and a bit of sunshine, it was back to the 2nd floor for another session with Thomas, this time on Pinning Your Family History. (A trip like that in half an hour makes you realise just how big this ship really is). I got a Pinterest account when it first came out but then realised it was just something else I would have to do and maintain. However, I can see the benefits from Thomas' presentation and it could certainly be used as 'cousin bait' as these sites are searchable by Google.  Other sites mentioned included Google Maps (I have tried this but I could make it much more interesting having seen Thomas' examples), What Was There, HistoryPin and Some of these sites were totally new to me which is why it is great having visiting overseas speakers. Thomas also covered copyright and his advice is to use your own images but if the people concerned are still alive then you should also get permission as not everyone wants their image online or it may not be a flattering photo, or it is embarrassing in some other way.

I missed all the other great talks in streams 2 and 3 but hopefully other geneabloggers attended different sessions to me and I will get to read about them in their blogs. The after dinner session was Kerry Farmer talking about immigration and as I have heard Kerry before, we took the opportunity to go to the comedy show in the ship's theatre. On the long trek back to our end of the ship we were a little peckish (believe it or not) so we stopped for some pizza and hot chocolate at one of the little free cafes on the 5th floor or the promenade as it is known.There is always something going on somewhere on the ship.

Day 3 was in port at Melbourne and as we lived here for 9 years we decided to simply stay on board. We tried out the spas and the swimming pool, fell asleep reading on the deck chairs, toddled into lunch and this afternoon I have caught up with emails, Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Tonight after dinner is a panel session on the future of genealogy with myself, Chris Paton and Thomas Macentee so that will give a good cross section of views from Australia, the UK and the USA. I will report more on that next Diary.

Tomorrow is another full day at sea with a fantastic line up of speakers and talks. Stay tuned for an update unless of course, you are one of my lucky fellow travellers on this cruise!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Genealogy notes 30 Jan - 4 Feb 2014 Geneacrusing!

Well the lead up to getting away for the cruise did not go to plan. It is amazing how many unexpected things crop up when you have a tight time frame. There were some things I simply had to do and others had to drop down the priority list.

Top priority was turning up for my talk at the Moreton Bay Region Library at Albany Creek on Monday. Traffic had been heavy and we were a bit later than I had planned. I like to get there early and make sure everything is working but when we arrived there was already a crowd of eager people. The library computer did not seem to like either of my two USBs and with ten minutes to spare the library staff went through a check and reboot of the computer and I was connected with a few minutes to spare! It was a good audience but I was surprised that no one seems to read or write blogs and were not into social media.

My talk was on online newspapers including Trove (as usual the slides are on my website - go to the Resources page and scroll down to Presentations) and again I was surprised that most of the audience are not members of Trove and do not do tags, lists, text corrections etc. However I think a few were going home to try it out. There were a few more signed up for the National Library of Australia's E-resources but not many and some were members of the State Library of Queensland. Again I think a few will be applying for membership. The verbal feedback after the talk was good and a few even told me they will be going to my Google Tools talk too. Always good to turn up somewhere and already know someone.

The other thing I really wanted to get done was my Week 5 Family Stories blog from my 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 blog challenge. I really wanted to get Week 6 done too but that just didn't happen but I have brought along some notes to write it while on the cruise (she hopes)! I had planned to write this Diary yesterday but we remembered belatedly it was also our 13th anniversary so an impromptu lunch after the talk had us talking about the good times. Then it was the mad dash home to pack.

It's nice living on Bribie Island but to get to the airport for an early flight we have to leave about sun up, so that means an early start. Again traffic was heavy but we arrived in time for the flight to Sydney. From Sydney airport we then caught their excellent train service to Circular Quay and our first sight of Voyager of the Seas was looking up at it from what appeared to be a very small train station. I am writing this from our cabin which has a view of the Sydney Opera House but it is below us! It is hard to visualise how big this ship is until you see it berthed next to our national icons including the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

So far we have said hello to Chris Paton and the Phillips family in the dining room and we met a New Zealand lady on the train in. She is 81 years old and has flown all the way by herself to be part of the geneacruise so we discussed family history over lunch with her. My mum is about to turn 80 years old and we have not been able to convince her to travel to Bribie yet. Age really is a mind set.

In all the cruise excitement, I almost forgot my Canberra trip. The new National Archives of Australia Discovering ANZACS website is looking really good and on track for an April launch. It was great seeing old colleagues from NAA. I also met up with the President of AFFHO to discuss National Family History Month 2014 and that is moving along nicely. It will be all systems go when I get home. I also had dinner with the President of HAGSOC and again it was good to catch up on all the Canberra news. I really enjoyed living in Canberra but it was the cold in winter and the heat in summer that used to get to me. Autumn and spring were my favourite times and of course now living in the tropics means that I will not experience the seasons like that again (unless I travel south).

After I post this Diary entry it is off to the cruise registration desk to let them know I am here, then a look around the ship before lifeboat drill at 5pm. Dinner is booked for everyone at 5.45pm so we will get to meet the people at our table and after dinner we have a Meet and Greet. Tomorrow the sessions start as we are at sea all day. The next Diary will probably be from Melbourne and as we have also lived there, we are not in tourist mode although I do want to see the Victoria Markets again and ride on the free tram. There are lots of Geneabloggers on this cruise and I will try and mention their posts too. Although so much is happening I probably will not get time to read them until after I get home.

So happy researching while I bliss out on genealogy lectures for the next week or so. Until next time.