Wednesday 28 September 2011

Genealogy notes 23-28 Sep Business and trade union records

Last Sunday I gave two talks to the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies here in Melbourne. Both talks highlighted how much is not online (based on my book It's Not All Online: A Guide to Genealogy Sources Offline) and as usual the feedback was along the lines of they 'had never thought to look there'. Two of my favourite websites are the Guide to Australian Business Records and the Australian Trade Union Archives. Although most of these types of records are not online, you can use the online catalogues to identify information that might be relevant to your own family history.

I have a few reviews to do at present (even an e-book and digital scrapbooking software so there's two new experiences) which means I have been doing a fair bit of reading this week. Given Melbourne is having a return to cold, wet and windy weather that hasn't been a bad thing. The hard part comes writing up the reviews, although they are all subjects that I am personally interested in. Stay tuned.

The other thing that has kept me busy is scanning family photos and relooking at some of my older research. By using TROVE and in particular the digitised newspapers I can now add more details to my original research. It is so easy to find stories or family notices doing simple keyword searches especially if you have dates and places. Of course once I find relevant entries, I then have to correct the OCR text and I usually add a tag (person's name or place) so that others can then find it even more easily.

When I took an early photo of my parents out of its frame (originally from my grandmother's place after she died) I found another photo behind it of a woman and child, but of course no names or date. The woman has a slight resemblance to my grandmother but I have no idea who it might be. I will take the photo up to Mum's at Christmas and hope she may know who it is.

We continue to declutter our house and make preparations to sell and move further north where it is warm. Although now there is talk we may just live in a caravan for a while before we decide where to buy. That all sounds nice but I can't see where all my family history files are going to live, not to mention my books and other memorabilia. While I am slowly digitising my research of the last 34 years it won't be finished by the end of the year. I can't see myself leaving it in a storage shed somewhere or even in a shipping container. All I can hope is that we will finally agree on where to settle on our next trip up and down the Queensland/New South Wales coast!! Christmas/New Year is going to be interesting.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Genealogy notes 19-22 Sep 2011 Value of Blogging

There's a lot happening at the moment. After my Judge family breakthrough, see Diary for 15-18 Sep 2011, I have been changing online family trees and entering all my new correct data. I still have to do that with my personal database and of course, go through all my paper files. Still I'm glad I've finally found the real Elizabeth Judge even if she is technically Elizabeth Pollard.

I reviewed my talk Archives You Should Know But Perhaps Don't and updated Powerpoint slides where necessary in preparation for today's talk at the Genealogical Society of Victoria. I received nice feedback and it's good to see genealogists broaden their knowledge outside of the usual national/state archives thinking. Hopefully they will all be on their computers tonight looking at all the various sites. My website Resources page has a number of my talks and handouts with links so that people don't have to write so fast.

We finished up with a discussion about blogs (this was after a show of hands revealed hardly any hands)! I was stressing how good they are to find out what is happening and what other people are doing. Also how blogging your family stories can lead to distant relatives finding you. I gave my Maria Jeffers blog Letters Home My Irish Families example. The comments on that blog include responses from family members descended from the person mentioned in the letters. They had no idea the letters even existed! I hope GSV attendees at least look at some blogs and maybe even try out Blogger themselves. With luck they are reading this now!

I did another guest blog for MyHeritage and that should appear tomorrow and I watched Brad Argent from Ancestry on Mornings with Kerri-Anne on Channel 9 on Wednesday talking about famous Australian celebrities. But I forgot to watch Who Do You Think You Are that night - at 10pm it's a bit late for me. I'll have to get the DVD! It's the second series of the US version and Wikipedia has a nice summary of the WDYTYA US shows, both seasons.

The September e-newsletters I've read since last time include AncestryLost Cousins, National Archives UK, Unlock the Past Crew, FindMyPast UK, and S&N Genealogy News. Sometimes I think I subscribe to too many e-newsletters but they are mostly free (except for my subscription sites) and I usually find something of interest in all of them. I like how you can click on links and follow up items of interest which you can't do if  reading paper magazines (I know you can type in URLs but nothing beats instant link). I will confess I do speed read, skim, only look at the pictures etc unless it is specifically on an area of personal interest.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Genealogy notes 15-18 September 2011 Red Herrings & Brickwalls

I have continued my tidy up of the study and it is so easy to get distracted. I am finding as I look through my family history files and research folders, I want to revisit the research as there is so much more now that is easily accessible online. TROVE is a fantastic resource for finding information on families in Australian newspapers. Of course once you are on TROVE it is not so easy to get off - it's so addictive and because you are turning up little nuggets on the family, why stop?

I've also gone through my Problems folder - questions I couldn't answer, families I couldn't find and so on. I dragged out my Elizabeth Judge question - I had a birth certificate in 1857, a marriage certificate in 1878 but couldn't find her on either the 1861 or 1871 census. I had looked many times, originally on microfilm but more recently in both Ancestry and FindMyPast.

Yesterday was the day I was going to solve it once and for all and I spent the better part of the day just doing that. I also proved my research of 34 years totally wrong and now I have to go back and clean everything up. Not only in my Legacy Family Tree database but also my online databases in Genes Reunited, Ancestry and My Heritage. It is going to take some time but at least now I know the real story. Intrigued - it's all in my Online Research, New Resources, Fresh Eyes.

The other thing I did yesterday was to get back into the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History blogging series and Week 37 was Earliest Memories. I looked back on my first day of school and if you want to see me in my Grade One uniform click here. I find photographs terrific for helping to retrieve long forgotten memories.

As much as I would like to just sit here gazing outside and watching the birds, I have a family tree to clean up and as my other half points out, the house also needs a bit of a tidy up! He's gone off on his motorbike, so I can't ask him what housework needs doing - it all looks fine to me. So perhaps back to TROVE?

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Genealogy notes 8-14 September 2011 Digitised journals & WDYTYA?

How did five days slip past? I'm on a mission to clean up my study which houses all of my family history material accumulated over the last 34 years. A good friend when she moved from Brisbane to Canberra a couple of years ago said be ruthless. I have moved four times in the last 12 years so I have tried to keep the clutter down but we are facing yet another move and the time to be ruthless is upon me.

One easy win is that many things I printed out or photocopied years ago are now freely available online so I have made the decision to not keep the paper copies - amazing how much paper weighs. Mostly this is BDM indexes, IGI printouts, electoral rolls and so on. The family information is of course already captured in my Legacy Family Tree database.

Another easy win has been giving away my genealogy journals from the two Brisbane based societies. Both the Genealogy Society of Queensland and the Queensland Family History Society have digitised back issues of their journals, respectively Generation (1979-2008) and Queensland Family Historian (1979-2010). I came home from my recent trip to Brisbane with a copy of both and it is a much easier way to search through old journal issues. The only other Australian society that I am aware of which has done this with their journal Descent (1933-2008) is the Society of Australian Genealogists based in Sydney.

However I still can't resist flicking through everything and that is what is taking the time. I also made the mistake of looking at all my boxes of family photographs and after many trips down memory lane, I put all the boxes back in the cupboard or I was never going to get anything done. I have been scanning my photos as well but that also takes time. Don't worry, I won't be getting rid of original copies but it will be good to have backup copies.

I have two more talks in September so I spent some time updating Archives You May Not Know But Should for the Genealogical Society of Victoria and I am also giving that talk to the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies together with It's Not All Online: Where Else Can I Look? To see what else I am doing Oct-Dec 2011 see the Events page on my website.

Some of my online reading so far has included September issues for Genes Reunited,, Public Record Office Despatch (Victoria), Lost Cousins and my daily doses of Dick Eastman. It is good to see Channel 9 showing the US series of Who Do You Think You Are? on Wednesdays at 10pm (starting tonight so don't miss it). However I do wish it was on a bit earlier - I'm not a tape and watch later person so a late night for me!

Now back to my clean up!

Thursday 8 September 2011

Genealogy notes 5-7 September 2011 A Bit of Everything

Time flies when you are having fun and it is certainly flying at the moment. I seem to have a small mountain of reading to do - and that's only the paper based reading. This week I have received my quarterly magazines from the Genealogical Society of Victoria and the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies, the September issues of Australian Family Tree Connections (AFTC) and Victorian GUM News (there is a handy index to past newsletters on their website) and Issue 6 of Inside History. All now piled up on top of the 'waiting to read' pile.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier was that I received a complimentary copy of State Records NSW 1788-2011 by Peter J Tyler which was written to celebrate the 50th anniversary of State Records Authority of NSW. This history is also available online free and it is great to see a history of the archives which also  incorporates the time before the Authority was established in 1961. It should be an interesting read.

I also received a copy of Goldie Alexander's Mentoring Your Memoir to review and this is a 'how to write and a personal memoir all in one' so I am looking forward to reading that. I'm still very conscious of the fact that one of my 2011genealogy aspirations for this year is to 'publish' one of my draft family histories. Basically the drafts need tidying up, add a few photos, pick a title (hardest part I think) and then decide on published format (probably a bit more involved than that but you know what I mean).

With all that reading temptation, I still had to write Part 11 of my mining ancestor series for AFTC, my guest blog on News from Australia  for MyHeritage and I accepted a commission to write for a UK magazine (with a short deadline) so the last few days have been busy writing and I even managed a research report for one of my long term clients.

I also accepted a blog challenge from Geniaus to do My 99 Things Genealogy Meme - Aussie Style which was a lot of fun and did make me think about all the things I have/have not done. Other Australian bloggers (11 when I looked) joined in and Geniaus has compiled all the responses into a single blog. I would also like to see Geniaus add her original post to this list too - then we could all be the Aussie Genealogy Dozen!

7 September saw my 11,000 tweet on Twitter which is amazing. I originally thought I wouldn't benefit from Twitter but now find it really good for up to date genealogy news. In fact I don't think I could manage without it as it also links me to many overseas genealogy friends that I would never have known otherwise.

Anyway if I am going to get any reading done today, I better stop writing now!

Saturday 3 September 2011

Genealogy notes 2-4 September 2011 The Geelong History & Genealogy Expo

Well the last two days went very quickly as I was at the Unlock the Past history and genealogy expo in Geelong, Victoria. I gave 3 talks, attended lots of other talks, browsed the 70+ exhibitors, caught up with friends and enjoyed myself a lot. My review of the whole expo is here for those who would like to know more.

Today I have been catching up with emails, tweets and blogs as I didn't take my laptop with me - I didn't want to be too distracted from the attractions of the expo and talking with real people in person.

It still surprises me how few Australian genealogists have embraced Twitter and blogs - I keep telling them how much they are missing out on. It will be interesting to see how many take up my invitation to look at my blogs over the next few days or even follow me on Twitter.

I also have to sort out all my notes from the lectures - lots of new ideas and URLs to follow up which might lead to some new family information. The big question is where to start as I want to do everything at once - and that's just what is online!!

Today is Father's Day and my partner and I have been remembering our fathers and sharing stories. It's funny some of the things you remember when prompted by other people's experiences. I hope everyone else is having a good day with their fathers or remembering them as we are. Until next time, happy researching.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Genealogy notes 30-31 Aug & 1 Sep 2011 expos & conferences

Not sure where time is going lately. Tuesday was a bit of a loss as we spent most of the day going to various medical appointments - nothing like waiting around and finding the same magazines everywhere. Must remember to take some family history journals next time but I always like to think they will be on time!

Wednesday was spent changing some of the slides in my three talks at the Unlock the Past history and genealogy Geelong expo on 2-3 September. Mostly updating website pages but Google has changed its home page quite a bit since I first did my Google tips talk, so I have reworked that. I also made the discovery that my website counter on a couple of my pages (including the Resources page that I refer everyone to) have not been working for some time. It's now all fixed but I have lost the statistics for those pages although I still have the overall stats via Google Analytics.

In the afternoon I had an exploratory look at the Find My Past Ireland website - I keep hoping that I will progress my Irish lines. I found looking at the Forums and the various questions people ask interesting. When I posted my Norwegian interests to a forum a few years ago I received amazing help so I will post my Irish interests next week when I have more time (she says).

Today I have worked on my guest blog for MyHeritage and realised I didn't include last week's in this Diary. Sometimes I do more than I think  I have - probably should make notes as I go! Anyway it comes out every Friday. One of the things I mentioned in it was the annual conference of the ACT & NSW Family History Societies Association in Inverell on 16-18 September. I usually try to go but as we have been away so much this year and it is a long drive, I'm going to miss catching up with all my old friends.

The next two days will be in Geelong and I will be blogging the expo as I usually do but that won't be out until Sunday. The Expo looks like it will be a big event with over 70 exhibitors so I may not mention them all. It will probably depend on how many are relevant to my own areas of research. I also hope to catch a few speakers that I haven't heard before so that will be good, and on topics I'm interested in. People are coming from all over Victoria so I will also catch up with friends as well. It will be genealogy heaven!