Sunday 28 August 2011

Genealogy notes 27-29 August 2011 Victorian Seminars & Fairs

It's been a hectic few days. As I indicated last time, on Saturday I attended the VAFHO AGM and Seminar at PROV and it was a great afternoon, but it was a shame that not more people attended as the talks were really good. The AGM was no surprise with the existing committee being voted back in for another year.

Charlie Farrugia's talk on Victorian Wards was really interesting and it is surprising just how much is available on these children who were 'convicted and neglected' to use Charlie's words. There is even an index (1864-1893) on microfiche published by the Australian Institute for Genealogical Studies which makes access easier, if you have access to the microfiche (amazing how we start to want to see everything online). There is also PROVguide 60 Adoption, Wardship and Related Records which gives a lot of information on the topic.

Ada Ackerly's talk highlighted all the fantastic information that might be held on individuals in departmental correspondence files, equity files, non probate files and so on. However most of these types of records have no overall index and you need to look at individual year indexes which is why the records are not used as much as they should be. Ada has done quite a lot of indexing on various series and these are available at PROV in the reading room.

Sunday we left home early to get to the Maryborough Family History Group Fair and we took the heritage route through old mining towns such as Creswick, Clunes and Talbot and all the wattle along the roadside looked fantastic. Although it might explain why I feel like I have a touch of hay fever today.

The Fair was good and there were numerous historical societies and other groups with their records all on hand to assist people with their family history queries. Three speakers, John Tully on Researching the Goldfields, myself on Archives You Probably Don't Know but Should and Anne Howlett from Creative Memories on Heritage Scrapbooking also provided attendees with lots of information and answered lots of questions. It was good to catch up with my many friends and colleagues in central Victoria.

Today has been spent catching up on emails, tweets and blogs and some of the enewsletters I have read today include Eneclann with the latest Irish history and genealogy news; several days worth of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter; and I have been catching up on profiles on GeniMates, a blog series on 'genealogists from all over the place'.

The other major task for today was to finally finish my two Congress papers for the 13th Australasian genealogy and heraldry congress next March. I have made more changes again today and I am starting to seriously think I am procrastinating! Tomorrow is the deadline so it will definitely all be over then. The issue, I think, is that the paper is due now, six months before the Congress and as we all know, things change quite rapidly in the genealogy environment. There is scope to have a handout with any changes but the handout won't appear in the Congress proceedings. I'll have a final read tonight then hit the Send button!

Checking my diary reminds me that the Unlock the Past Victorian history and genealogy expo at Geelong is this coming Friday and Saturday so there goes another weekend devoted to genealogy, not that I mind! As usual I will try and tweet from the venue and do an overall blog of the event.

Now domestic duties call - I have to go and cook dinner!

Thursday 25 August 2011

Genealogy notes 24-26 August 2011 Non Stop Genealogy

Well I finally got to cross off a few things off my 'to do' list. I wrote my blog on Writing Family History and although it is a bit longer than I originally intended, it covers most of the points I made in my presentation on writing resource guides.

I also made substantial progress on catching up with my emails but there are still a lot of blogs in my Google Reader that I need to at least take a peek at. So many good genealogy bloggers out there! If your new to this take a look at the Unlock the Past list of genealogy blogs for Australia and New Zealand and if you want overseas try Geneabloggers for a mind blowing list of blogs from just about everywhere.

While on the subject of blogs, My Heritage have asked me to do a guest blog on Australian news so that took a bit of time yesterday and should appear on Friday 26 August. I should point out that there is no payment involved, just the opportunity to reach a different audience and to share my knowledge with others.

I have found family relatives through My Heritage as well as Genes Reunited and Ancestry. Advertising family lines online can be a good way to pick up near relatives as well as more distant lines so I have a few generations of my families on each of the three sites. It does cost to be on so many sites but I would have missed linking up with some families if I hadn't. I have opted for the free or least expensive options which still let me link up with others.

I have also been catching up with some of the enewsletters I receive. I always like the Professional Historians Association (PHA) (Qld Branch) enews as I catch up with news of my Queensland friends. When I arrived home earlier this week, in my snail mail there was a copy of Circa, which is the professional journal published by the PHA's (Vic Branch). There are some great articles in that so I am looking forward to curling up and reading it once I have some of the other things out of the way. For information on Professional Historians Associations in other States see the Australian Council of Professional Historians Associations.

qsa-bulletin is enews from the Queensland State Archives and it is great for finding out what new records are available, what has been digitised or indexed, what seminars are on and so on. State Records NSW and Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) also have enewsletters which I receive as my families tended to move around quite a bit.

Today I will be spending time preparing for the Victorian Association of Family History Organisations (VAFHO) AGM and seminar tomorrow at PROV - I am a committee member and have been asked to stand again for the coming year. The two speakers following the AGM are Charlie Farrugia from PROV and Ada Ackerley who is well known for her many indexes of PROV records so both talks should be really good.

I also have to get ready for the Maryborough Family History Group Fair on Sunday as I am giving a talk on Archives You Should Know But Don't and I will also have a display table for the various Unlock the Past publications. It's only a couple of hours drive from our place and is a really historic part of Victoria's mining past so I am looking forward to the trip.

Well my coming weekend is almost non stop genealogy so I hope your weekend is equally blessed with genealogy time and if you are at either PROV or Maryborough Fair do come up and say hello!

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Genealogy notes 21-23 August 2011 Rubbish As Memories

Sunday saw our little family catchup where we shared memories of days gone by and discussed what we might do this coming Christmas, our next family catchup. Afterwards I took the rubbish down to the bins (Mum lives in a complex and the bins had already been taken down to the front for collection the next morning). By random chance I opened the first bin that had been placed on the kerb and it was full of videos. While rummaging through other peoples' bins is not something that I normally do, in this case I couldn't help myself.

One of the titles had caught my eye - 'Joan's 80th birthday'. Joan was my mother's neighbour and she was a very interesting person in her 90s who we had got to know over Christmas/New Year 2009 when I spent quite a few hours with Joan looking into her family history. It was an interesting and well known family so I was able to show Joan various websites and she was so enthusiastic. So why were her videos and other personal items in the rubbish bin?

For various reasons, Joan's family had recently decided that she could no longer live alone, taking care of herself and so she had to leave her townhouse. Unfortunately we never got to say goodbye and by the time we arrived the unit was being cleaned out, ready for lease to someone else. I'm not sure who cleaned the unit out, whether it was the family or someone they paid to come in and do it. Whoever it was simply put a lot of her possessions in the rubbish bin. As we gazed into the bin we could see various aspects of Joan's life and interests just waiting to be taken away. Perhaps the family already had copies of the more important videos and had taken the more significant family items away already. I certainly hope so.

It depressed me, and still does, to think that when we are gone, or no longer able to care for ourselves, that all we hold significant, might simply be thrown into a rubbish bin. It is one of the reasons I wrote Your Family History Archives: A Brief Introduction and why I give a talk based around the book at various genealogy events. It is to remind my fellow genealogists and family historians to think about the future and what will happen to their own research and records at the end of the day.

Monday saw us fly back home to Melbourne and I'm happy to say that the weather here has been really lovely with sunny, blue skies although a little colder than Brisbane. There was a small mountain of mail which we are slowly working our way through, after dealing with all the bills first!

Tuesday was also a catch up day on various domestic chores, including a visit to the dentist and the builders were in. I have finally got around to putting doors on my study so that everyone will no longer see how much 'stuff' I have in there. Having been away for quite a bit since last April, the study needs a big clean up!

The one thing that I did achieve today was to finalise an update to my talk on Archives You May Not Know But Should which I am giving at the Maryborough (Victoria) Family History Fair on Sunday 28 August 2011.

Tomorrow I am going to write my 'writing family history' blog and start to catch up on emails, blogs and tweets I have put on hold over the last few months. I wonder if my life will ever really be 'normal'?

Saturday 20 August 2011

Genealogy notes 18-20 August 2011

Well the Ekka certainly brought back memories on Thursday - going with my parents as a child and also taking my son when he was little. There are a few changes (Sideshow Alley rides certainly look more scary) but mostly it was the Show as I remembered it. We ended up spending about 8 hours there and saw just about everything. A great day and after a little rain/cloud in the morning it turned into a wonderful winter's day.

Friday I went and collected my grandfathers' replica military medals from National Medals and I am so pleased that I have finally done this. Now I want to write up their stories - Henry Price in WW1 and John Martin Gunderson in WW2. Perhaps that should be a Remembrance Day target as it is closer to November than next April for ANZAC Day.

On Saturday I was pleased to hear from Hazel Edwards who I had heard speak at the Family History Feast at State Library of Victoria in early August. Firstly she advised me that emails were bouncing from my website (Shauna Hicks History Enterprises)which was good to know and is now fixed - but I do wonder what I missed out on for the almost four weeks that I was unaware of the problem. At least in the old days of snail mail, the letterbox managed to hold all your mail even if it did get damp when it rained.

Secondly Hazel informed me of the increased traffic to her website (Hazel Edwards An Australian Author) following my review of Family History Feast and I also mentioned her book How to Write a Non Boring Family History during my Toowoomba talks recently. It is always good to get feedback and to know that people read my blogs and follow up on links from both my blogs and talks. It makes all the hard work of writing blogs and preparing talks all the more worthwhile.

Thirdly it reminded me that I had said in my Researching & Writing History blog that I would blog my 'how to write' talk following the Unlock the Past Researching & Writing History two day seminar in Adelaide back in May. It's now back on my 'to do' list and hopefully in the coming week I will be able to cross it off the list.

As we are heading back to Melbourne on Monday we have been doing some sightseeing around Brisbane and to be honest, the weather has been so great it is a shame to be indoors. Plus the internet connection at Mum's is not the best and it takes so long to do anything!

Today we are having another family gathering as it will probably be Christmas before we are up this way again. Having said that, where did this year go?

I have some exciting talks/events coming up in September and it will be much easier to maintain this Diary once I am back home and no longer in tourist mode. Most events I am speaking at are day trips or only one night away so it will be good to have all my usual research resources around me. It's definitely not all online!

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Genealogy notes 14-17 August 2011 Brisbane talks

Still in Brisbane and catching up with friends and relatives - it's amazing how much time that can take up. Sunday we had a leisurely lunch with my partner's cousin at Redcliffe and it was a beautiful day. Great to see all the boats out sailing and fishing and I can't believe all the development that is happening out that way.

Monday I did something I have always wanted to do - order replica medals of my grandfathers' military service. Mum's father (Henry Price) was in WW1 and Dad's father (John Martin Gunderson) was in WW2 which highlights a generation discrepancy that most people don't have. Mum was the last of ten children where as Dad was an only child. Anyway every ANZAC Day I say I wish I had some family medals to wear and talk about to family and friends as an ongoing reminder of their military service. I collect the replica medals on Friday from National Medals.

Monday night was my talk on Researching Mining Ancestors at Southern Suburbs Branch of the Genealogical Society of Queensland. It was their AGM and a cold night (for Brisbane) so it was a relatively small audience but still keen to research their mining ancestors. It was also good to catch up with old friends.

Tuesday I should have written this blog but I was determined to write my two papers for the 2012 Australasian genealogy congress in Adelaide. That was my focus and I knew that if I started looking at emails and blogs I would be distracted. I'm happy to say that I have reasonable drafts for both papers which I will fine tune before submission next week. It looks like a great congress with some interesting speakers and papers so I can't wait!

Wednesday I indulged myself with some research on my partner's family. His mother (Elma Eldridge) was a Queenslander and there are others researching the family and while I have been given the basics of the family tree, some of the detail is missing. So I worked on his mother's direct family as the others are from sibling lines.

Wednesday night I gave my talk to the Queensland Family History Society and an almost full house listened to my suggestions for researching Victorian ancestors. As I am a Foundation member of QFHS it is always good to see other Foundation members at meetings and remember how we all met back in 1979 to establish the Society. I only start to feel old (older) when I see other people and how they have changed over the years and I know that I have also changed but internally I don't think I have.

Tomorrow I am going to the Ekka (Brisbane Exhibition/Royal Queensland Show) and that will definitely bring back memories as I haven't been in decades. I hope the weather holds and the crowds/queues aren't too big - I'm not as young as I used to be!!

Saturday 13 August 2011

Genealogy notes 10-13 August 2011 Toowoomba seminar

When I started this blog back in July, I should have probably called it a travel and genealogy diary as I seem to have done nothing but travel since then. It's been hectic over the last few days with 10-11 August spent up at Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast catching up with friends. The weather has been absolutely wonderful, blue skies and very warm for winter and it is easy to see why Queensland is the Sunshine State.

Perhaps the highlight was the sunset cruise on the Noosa River on board the Noosa Queen where they take you up river to the mouth of Lake Cooroibah and you arrive just as the sun sets in a fiery red ball on the other side of the lake. A must see event and our photos don't do it justice, although the one on their website is pretty close to what we saw. The bird life is also amazing and it is all so quiet with just a few fishermen here and there and a houseboat or two. You arrive back at Noosa Marina just in time to see thousands and thousands of flying foxes (bats) fly out of the trees and head inland for a night of feasting. Another amazing sight and there was almost a full moon which added a touch of spookiness.

After our relaxing two days at Coolum we had to head over to Toowoomba and rather than take the highways, we went via Kilcoy, Esk and Crow's Nest, all haunts of mine during the 70s. It was nice to see that not a lot of change has occurred and driving past Ravensbourne National Park brought back many memories of a time before family history.

Toowoomba was still largely as I remember it, Picnic Point is still there and the main streets in the CBD are all the same but some of the roundabouts and one way streets tricked us up a bit. Roadworks and detours were another hazard. On the Friday night we did something I haven't done in over 30 years - we went to the incredible seafood buffet at Weis Restaurant at the Top of the Range.

Walking inside was a real trip back in time and it is better than ever I think. Our table was just near the fire in one of the main dining rooms and it was only a short walk to the next room where the buffet was set up. Nothing frozen there and everything we tried was delicious and the dessert table has to be seen to be believed. It is also as popular as ever as we were at the early sitting and most tables were occupied. I want to go back again!!

Saturday was the reason we were in Toowoomba in the first place. I was giving three talks and John Graham from the Ryerson Index was giving two talks in an all day family history seminar organised by the Toowoomba City Council Library. It attracted 76 people which is about the limit of the room but people didn't seem to mind the closeness. It was good to see the folks from the Toowoomba & Darling Downs Family History Society there and I hope they picked up a few new members.

My talks were all well received ( a beginner's talk, genealogy on the cheap and a brick walls talk) and I have put copies of the slides on the Resources page of my website as attendees were writing notes down furiously and finding it hard to keep up with all the new ideas and suggestions. I had heard John's basic talks before (one on the Ryerson index and the other on the value of country newspapers) but I am not sure if he has added new information or I just didn't take it in the first time. You can now link from the Ryerson website to digitised newspapers by going to the Request a Lookup link. Fantastic.

Copies of my books all sold well and we soon sold out as we could only carry so many up from Melbourne. They are available online from Gould Genealogy, look under the link for Unlock the Past publications. It's odd but they don't have an author search facility. I think the Library organisers were all pleased with the day and I suspect there will be many attendees online today trying out the new sites.

Three museums also worth a visit in Toowoomba are the Cobb & Co Museum, the Highfields Pioneer Village and the Southern Cross Museum which is part of your ticket to the Village. Just leave plenty of time to see everything.

On the way back to Brisbane we stopped at the Big Orange (another one of my favourite places from the past) and brought some really fresh and cheap fruit and vegetables). We are at Mum's for another week so have lots of time to eat everything we bought, although we may have been a bit over enthusiastic.

After a very big day I was in bed by 8.30pm on a Saturday night! There's a big genealogy week coming up so stay tuned.

Monday 8 August 2011

Genealogy notes 8-9 August Australian Census Night

Last diary entry included reference to a family get together where we would be showing old videos of ourselves and our kids which we had recently converted to DVD so that we could share them with other family members. It's amazing how much we can all change even in just a few short years. There was lots of laughter as we looked back on how much we had changed and Christmas lunches we remembered but not the details of what we wore, what we ate and the gifts we received. It was a great afternoon and we will now make copies for everyone.

Today is the 2011 Australian census night and as we are currently staying at Mum's we will have to complete it here. I have been nominated the census 'person' so I will have the job of filling in the answers to the 60 questions, three times over.While I suspect I know most of the answers, I will still have to ask the others for some information. And yes, we will be saying Yes to Question 60 which is about keeping a cover of our return for future generations.

The other major genealogy task for today is to complete my talk on mining ancestors for the monthly meeting of the Southern Suburbs branch of the Genealogical Society of Queensland which is next Monday. On the following Wednesday I am giving another talk, this time on Victorian Resources for Family History to the Queensland Family History Society at their monthly meeting. I have already finalised that talk as it is based on an earlier talk I gave to the Society of Australian Genealogists in Sydney in May.

I am all organised for my three talks at the Toowoomba City Library on Saturday so that is good. I hate last minute panics and like to have all talks completed in advance so that I can just tweak them if necessary. It has been so warm here in Brisbane that I am almost looking forward to Toowoomba's cooler climate.

I'm starting to get requests for genealogy talks next year and can't believe how quickly this year has gone. I suspect this year I accepted too many requests as I seem to have hardly ever been home which is one reason why it has gone quickly. Next year should be a slower so that I can actually work on my own family history, but then I seem to say that every year!

Saturday 6 August 2011

Genealogy notes 5-7 August 2011 Everything Irish

The weather in Brisbane is absolutely perfect, you wouldn't even know it was winter. We haven't even put a cardigan on since we arrived and on our morning and afternoon walks along Enoggera Creek we even manage to work up a sweat! Going back to Melbourne is going to be hard.

Friday was a e-reading day (in between family interruptions) and I caught up with Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter (mostly US), QFHS Snippets (Queensland Family History Society), Lost Cousins: Putting Relatives in Touch (mostly UK), Professional Historians Association Queensland, Proformat News (Adelaide Proformat, South Australia), newsletters from, and Genes Reunited and I still have more catching up to do. Now that I have started to put all e-newsletters into a single folder for reading it is easier for me to see just how many I actually receive - it's a bit of an eye opener.

Saturday was the Genealogical Society of Queensland annual seminar Ireland: Unlocking the Mystery so it was an early start to get to the Queen Alexandra Home at Coorparoo. Amazingly I still remember the way from Mum's place. First speaker was an old friend from Canberra Cora Num talking on Irish Research on the Internet which is a talk she gave on the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise but I missed it as numbers were limited and I wasn't quick enough. As usual she has a handout on her website (click on the gopher) which is just as well as she mentioned lots of sites I was familiar with but also some I wasn't aware of. So lots of follow up research on my Irish families is now on the To Do List.

I was second speaker with my talk The Colonial Irish Loved a Beer or Two and Pauline Williams was next talking about Irish Resources at the GSQ. Lunch followed and I must say the catering was fantastic at both morning tea and lunch - I don't think anyone went hungry.

After lunch Richard Reid's talk was From the First Fleet to the Rose of Tralee - The National Museum of Australia's Irish in Australian exhibition. His talk provided some of the background to the Just Not Ned: A True History of the Irish in Australia exhibition which recently closed at the National Museum of Australia (lots of Irish family history tips on this site too). Richard's anecdotes about some of the Irish objects in the exhibition and some of the issues associated with curating an exhibition of that size made for a very interesting talk. Having seen the exhibition myself in Canberra it brought back memories or added a new dimension to what I had been lucky enough to see.

Final speaker of the day was Jennifer Harrison on Releasing Irish Convicts which was an overall view of a life of an Irish convict and at each stage (crime, arrest, gaol, transportation, etc) Jennifer gave examples of the types of records which might be available to provide more details. By constructing a timeline like this it is easy to see where the gaps are and then focus your research to close those gaps.

It was good to see Queensland State Archives represented there, although they were the only exhibitor apart from the GSQ.

The seminar was a good way for me to catch up with friends and even some relatives and the GSQ's book sales table seemed to do a roaring trade. I didn't win the raffle or the lucky door prizes but then I never do. Still you have to be in it to win it.

This morning I am catching up with my emails, tweets, and blog reading (see Unlock the Past's list of blogs in Australia and New Zealand for some interesting reading). This afternoon we are having a family gathering at my brother's place which will be good as I haven't seen his kids for a while and my son and his girlfriend will also be there. Almost like Christmas in August and there will be seafood too! Must remember to take the camera and unknown to everyone we have DVD copies of our old videos when everyone was so much younger. There will be a few laughs and it's good to be home.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Genealogy notes 2-4 August 2011 - Too Much To Read

My last entry was all about catching up with my genealogy reading but things didn't go quite to plan. I am now in Brisbane but at least with e-newsletters and e-books they can travel with me easily! So still planning to catch up with all that e-reading.

I'm speaking at four events while up in Queensland which is exciting as I will also get to see many old friends as well. The first event is on Saturday with the annual Genealogical Society of Queensland's seminar. The theme this year is Ireland: Unlocking the Mystery and it is fully booked. Lots of people have Irish ancestors so I'm not that surprised.

It should be a great day with speakers Cora Num with Irish Research on the Internet; myself with The Colonial Irish Loved a Beer or Two; Pauline Williams on Irish Resources at GSQ; Richard Reid curator of the Not Just Ned: A True History of the Irish in Australia exhibition at the National Museum of Australia (topic not defined) and Jennifer Harrison on Irish Convicts.

I will write more about the other events in future diary entries but you can see the list of events on my website.

Last night some of my Twitter friends and I were tweeting about 'the reading pile' beside the bed, or is that more than one pile which then seemed to turn into a bookcase, again with a 'to read' tag. I must say I identified with the issue as I often buy magazines or books at genealogy events and then don't get the chance to read them before I buy even more. And that's not counting the e-newsletters and e-books I have waiting to read on the laptop! Does every genealogist have this problem of too much to read or is it just us??

Monday 1 August 2011

Genealogy notes 30 July - 1 August

It's amazing how fast time goes when you are busy and travelling around. Saturday was the Irish seminar organised by the Wodonga Family History Society. My talk on the Colonial Irish Liked a Beer or Two was well received and I managed to sell a few of my books too. Jeff Brownrigg's two talks on Australian Irish Lives was also good and he accompanied his presentation with music and songs and even had the audience singing along. Both Jeff and I were presented with a local produce goodies bag which was nice.

Sunday was spent travelling back to Melbourne and catching up with domestic chores - friends came over to dinner that night (impromptu) but it meant no time for logging on and catching up with emails and tweets.

Monday I left home early so that I could go to the State Library of Victoria for Family History Feast 2011- an annual event during National Family History Week. It was a great day of genealogy talks and catching up with friends - my review gives details of the various presentations.

I'm hoping the next few days will let me catch up with all my genealogy reading - I now have quite a few e-newsletters waiting as well as blogs I like to follow. The other thing I must do tomorrow is my next instalment on mining ancestors for Australian Family Tree Connections. Another busy genealogy day ahead!