Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Online Genealogy Everywhere - Genealogy Notes 1-21 April 2020

My Hibiscus - a gorgeous colour
Now completed five weeks mostly at home except for my medical appointments and a bit of grocery shopping. Luckily I have always had a pile of books I want to read, our place has a swimming pool with solar heating, there is a quarter acre of gardens to tend and I like cooking my own meals.

So I can escape into the backyard and watch the birds, butterflies and the very occasional plane fly overhead. In fact I was in the pool when I spotted it and started shouting 'there's a plane, there's a plane'. Then it dawned on me how much our lives have changed in 2020.

Thankfully Australia locked down early and we are not seeing the same spread of the virus and loss of life overseas. So sad and no end in sight just yet.

The other bright spot in my weeks now is the wonderful online access we are seeing from archives, libraries, commercial companies and others. Family history research and learning has never been easier (but remember not everything is online). Some of these new access points are mentioned below.


I have spent a lot of time building trees on all descendants for an immigrant couple to help me further identify where some of my larger matches fit into my family. This is especially true for Dad's unknown paternal side as I have previously tried to trace all Mum's relations in Australia.

It is amazing how you can use the information online to build these trees and then trace where the families moved to. The big question is - why did they always have to have 10 or more children? It is no wonder I have so many matches that fall within the Ancestry NSW cluster in my ethnicity. Given that previously I did not think I had any ancestors in New South Wales, this has to be Dad's family.

I've also been using DNA Painter to match up chromosomes to complement the trees. Lots of pieces are falling into place but it does take time. The stay at home message has been really good for my DNA research.

The view from my office window

The latest Spring edition of Irish Lives Remembered is now available. Remember too that you can see/download back issues for free.

I was missing my free Lost Cousins newsletters and discovered them in my Spam folder. Not sure why this has suddenly started happening but I hope that my 'not spam' correction works.


If you are a member of a family history society or genealogical society, then you may have access to some of the major commercial databases at home. For example, through Queensland Family History Society members can access Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage and The Genealogist from home. I have always said people should join a local society and there is no better time than when we are bunkered down at home.

I have also seen similar offers from my local library, State Library and National Library so check out what is available in your area.

Trove has added lots of newspapers, and I was excited by all the new Western Australian titles, and left wishing that the State Library of Queensland would do similar for Queensland newspapers.

Just this morning I spent hours on The National Archives UK Discovery website as they have made access free to all online documents. I now have 6 wills to read/transcribe so why not have a look for your ancestors. Not everything is digitised or at item level, but you may find some treasures like I did.

So many webinars, zoom meetings and online events are on offer. I find Facebook is where I see most of these notices but I also receive enewsletters from various archives and libraries. Some conferences are now being held in the virtual world, no need to travel anywhere. Although for me one of the best things about a conference, is meeting up with all your friends and colleagues.
Another frequent visitor

What's Coming Up?

My talk to Caloundra Family History Research on 21 May has not been cancelled. Instead the group now hold their meetings via Zoom. So I will give the talk using technology but I will miss the friendliness of the group and of course the chats over afternoon tea.

That is also my son's birthday so it will take my mind off him (he lives in Sweden and I am trying not to be concerned by the Swedish government's approach to coronavirus).

I also want to get back to blogging but my motivation seems to be quite lacking. I found a really nice article in Trove a couple of weeks ago which was going to be my Trove Tuesday contribution. But it is still pending as is the next update in downsizing my family history research.

As someone who usually enjoys writing, I am struggling to focus. Self imposed deadlines are not working but I guess this is just a sign of the times we live in. Every day is the same unless I am 'lucky' enough to be going to a medical appointment.

Stay safe everyone and enjoy the luxury of searching these new online resources while we have the opportunity. Until next time

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Genealogy projects for 2020 - Genealogy Notes 1-31 Mar 2020

Well March did not go as planned and the world has changed a lot since my February blog post. Most of us are now at home with limited exceptions to going out and about. My medical treatments continue but other appointments were cancelled until a later date. All the genealogy events we were looking forward to have been cancelled but there are new online options with greater access to various collections and webinars. Plus we have all that time to spend on our family history research. I have already made some wonderful discoveries tracing Mum's cousins in England.


Pacific Aria off Kangaroo Island, South Australia
During March I managed three blog posts. Two report on the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise which was meant to go to Tasmania. However before we got there, the cruise was cancelled and we turned around and went back to Adelaide. Disappointing but we did visit Kangaroo Island (which was a bucket list item) and we still had the two full conference days at sea.

Not too many talks were missed and you can read more about the trip and the speakers. Part One and Part Two are a summary of the talks I attended. There were two streams and we had to make the painful choice of which one to go to. As usual I came home with lots of notes and things to follow up.

My other blog post was a report on Month 4 of my personal genealogy blog challenge on Preserving Your Family History for Hand Over. As I was away for a couple of weeks there wasn't a lot of progress but now that I am home all the time, there should be a lot more tidying up achieved.


I was honoured to have been chosen as one of the Ambassadors for the Family History Down Under event on the Sunshine Coast in March 2021. Where else can you see Cyndi Ingle, Maurice Gleeson, Judy Russell, Chris Paton, Blaine Bettinger, David Rencher and Paul Milner all at the same time? It will be mega and after all the cancellations this year, it will be an event not to be missed.


What can I say here? There are so many online opportunities now to help all those at home. For example, British History Online has made its entire collection free for individual users. Previously you could search and see some things for free but others were behind a pay wall.

Similarly I know some people have been able to access Ancestry from their local library if you have a library card. Remember too that you can also access British newspapers through EResources at the National Library of Australia (apply for a library card if you have not already got one). You may also be able to access them via your State Library. Click on the link to see a blog post about using the new portal if you haven't looked since September 2019.

There are lots of free webinars and you may be able to catch up with some of the RootsTech presentations and Legacy Family Tree webinars are worth checking out. Your local Society may also be providing online access to records or webinars although you will have to join.

Facebook and Twitter are great social media avenues for discovering what's new - simply search for genealogy or family history or use a hashtag. Sometimes I think there are just too many things out there and it is easy to get distracted. Why not list some research projects and prioritise them?

What will you have achieved six months down the track when we hopefully return to a more normal lifestyle?

What's Coming Up

All my talks have been cancelled and events I was hoping to go to also cancelled. But I have a long list of webinars that I want to watch, books to read, DNA results to organise, writing up various family histories and still downsizing my family history.

I definitely need a plan or a list of things to tick off each day.

For example, today was write this blog post, and finish up tracing a line of Mum's family that I did not know had come to Australia. This should help me to identify some of those close DNA matches of Mum's. I will try not to be distracted by something on Twitter or Facebook and just note it down to be followed up another day.

Tomorrow I want to set aside as a day to simply write up one of my family histories. Probably too big a task for one day but at least I will have started and if I do a bit each week, it may be completed by the end of the year.

There are some draft family histories in the cupboard which date back to about 2009 - so just a matter of updating and completing! How hard can that be?

The day after will be concentrating on downsizing all my paper files. That's been a slow process but now down to just one 4 drawer filing cabinet. And the list goes on.

Of course I will get distracted (I'm human) but each week I will see progress and all this extra time will have been worthwhile.

Remember that there are lots of opportunities to communicate with each other online via email, messenger, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. This blog will be fortnightly during the next six months. My Hand Over challenge reports are every month. Stay safe everyone and let's make the most of our genealogy time over the next few months.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Back ups, Women's History & Other News - Genealogy Notes 1 - 29 Feb 2020

Summer has finished and it was just a total blur for me. Autumn is starting well with the Unlock the Past Tasmanian cruise which will leave me totally motivated to get back into a more disciplined approach to everything I do. In some ways I have let my life be dictated by all the medical appointments and the heat and humidity certainly got me this summer. All those afternoon naps did not help either but as treatment does not finish till October, I will still have to factor the appointments in.

Back Ups

One of my promises for the year was to do regular back ups and it is already common practice within the genealogy world to back up on the first day of the month. It is easy to remember that date,  although I find a note in my diary also helps me not to forget. When was the last time you backed up your family history database and other digital records?


In February I managed two blog posts. First I was asked to be a guest blogger for the Genealogical Society of Queensland for their March post. As it is Women's History Month, there was no better topic to write about.

At the time of writing this Diary post, GSQ has a problem with its website which they were trying to fix. Here is the link to their blog and my post was about celebrating women who were wives and mothers. You do not have to be famous to have a history and be remembered.

There was also Month 3 of my personal genealogy blog challenge Preparing Your Family History Records for Hand Over. I'm still making progress but some of the decisions are harder than first thought. Everything is taking longer but I am concentrating on tidying up physical records as they take up space whereas digital records are just on the laptop (and various back up drives which probably need tidying up too).

Just keep chipping away at it. My Month 4 report will be more towards the end of March as I'm away geneacruising.


My Cornish
great grandmother
Dorcas Trevaskis
Wow so many exciting new records online. Findmypast excited me with new Hampshire and Welsh records and the Cornish Online Parish Clerk had new additions for some of my Cornish parishes.

My Heritage had everyone rushing off to colorise their old photos - read more about it here. So far I have resisted the temptation as it appears to be a very bright shiny object that would take me away from my tidying up.

There has been lots of news from RootsTech 2020, and you can read about Ancestry's update here. Amazing to think they now have 24 billion global records. These megadatabases certainly make researching our ancestors much easier.


During February I added more speaking engagements to my calendar for 2020. It is good to be getting back to what I love doing - for details see the Events page of my website.

What's Coming Up?

Super excited to be heading off to Adelaide for some research before we leave on the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to Kangaroo Island and around Tasmania. Look at the line up of  speakers and lots of friends from previous cruises. There will be a blog post or two when I'm back at the end of March.

Shame it will be the last Unlock the Past genealogy cruise. Maybe there will be a comeback tour - everyone else seems to do it!

Also thrilled to be an Ambassador for the Family History Down Under mega geneaconference in March 2021 on the Sunshine Coast. With over 30 speakers, many from overseas, that will be a conference not to be missed. More about that soon.

Until next time, happy searching.