Thursday 28 February 2013

Genealogy notes 20-28 Feb 2013 Genealogy cruise wrap up

Well it's been fairly hectic since we arrived home from the cruise - it's still raining in SE Queensland and we have spent time bailing out water from the back yard and dealing with insurance issues  from the Australia Day long weekend extreme weather event. Thankfully the house hasn't leaked as much as it did that weekend.

I did find time to do my overall review of the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise and it's on my website here. I really do think it's a perfect way to have a genealogy conference - while at sea you don't have to worry about getting to the venue and you don't need to worry about where to go for dinner!

I was really thrilled to see that my Days1-5 and Days 6-9 made Randy Seavers Best of Geneamusings for the week - that was a real honour and thanks to Jill Ball aka Geniaus for making sure I didn't miss that!

I did forget to mention that one of the geneacruisers was a friend from the Bendigo Branch of the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies and she told me about all of the new resources on their website. They also hold a great family and local history expo each year in Bendigo - this year it's on 17 March 2013 but a bit too far too drive to from Bribie Island. I'll miss going there.

I also missed congratulating Alan Phillips and his family on their great organisation of the cruise and they have just sent out their cruise evaluation form which I hope everyone completes as it does allow them to plan bigger and better cruises for us. I did mine and it didn't take long at all. Future cruises looks exciting so I did tick definitely interested!

Well it's been a mad and sometimes stressful nine months since we put our house on the market and made the move from Victoria to Queensland. There's been a lot of travel and genealogy in between not to mention packing and unpacking and repacking! But we have settled now and to help us relax and enjoy our new home, we are off to Bali for a week of absolutely doing nothing.

When I return it will be back to my genealogy and my part time business which has seriously suffered over the last 9 months on the road and in temporary accommodation. I have partly written books, articles to write, research to do and a whole lot of new talks as well. So for the next week I will be off the air, but watch out for my return. It will be back to genealogy with a renewed vigour and enthusiasm. Stay tuned.

Thursday 21 February 2013

Genealogy notes 15-19 Feb 2013 - Days 6-9 of genealogy cruise

This is a continuation of my earlier report on Days 1-5 of the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise. Due to the electrical problems and two days in Noumea for repairs, we didn't get to Fiji and this meant we had four full days of genealogy sessions for the remainder of the trip. Although pretty much a die hard genealogy addict, I did find this a bit of information overload and I was a little stiff from all the sitting, especially the afternoon sessions from 1-5pm.

I did break it up a bit with one on one sessions with people who had brought along their brick walls for me to solve. Some researchers had detailed notes on what their problem was and copies of documents which made it really easy to provide feedback. Others however tried to remember from memory (which may not be that good) and mis-remembered details don't help when trying to make suggestions. I find it easier to follow other people's research if they have taken the time to list out what they have done - often that helps them to also see any holes in their own research.

Anyway what did I do over the last four days of the cruise?

Day 6 started with a talk from Stephen Dando-Collins on the mistaken identity and trials of Joe Windred which I found fascinating. I only wish my ancestors had led such interesting lives. Next was Paul Milner on finding ancestors in Ireland and even though he covered some of the basic sources I still found bits and pieces that will be useful for my own Irish research. Next was Carol Baxter talking about writing family history and Helen Smith on friendly societies. The third concurrent session was the research help zone and this was where I did some of my one on ones.

After lunch my talk on convicts and criminals was on against Jan Gow on New Zealand BDM's and Bob Velke talking about The Master Genealogist. With only a short break to change rooms or whatever, I then went to Diane Foster's talk on preservation or perish which was all about preserving our family histories as best we can. The other choices were a webinar with Geoff Rasmussen on his new book Digital Imaging Essentials and Geoff Doherty talking about the disappearing Dunnes.

By this time I needed a break and did some more one on ones but the choices were Rosemary Koppittke on FindMyPast the world collection, the second part of Geoff Rasmussen's webinar on digital imaging essentials and Bob Velke on The Master Genealogist charts and forms. The last talk of the day was Paul Milner on the English probate system.

For new readers some of the speakers will be putting their handouts on the Unlock the Past website, Paul Milner has a Handouts button on his website and my talks in PDF format are all on my Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

Day 7 was an early start for me giving my Warning Warning talk on common family history mistakes and Paul Milner followed with English civil registration and problem solving. Then the concurrent sessions started and I went to the information session on the NSW/ACT genealogy conference in Canberra in September. Rosemary Mackenzie also mentioned the AFFHO Congress in Canberra in 2015 and Alan Phillips spoke about Unlock the Past future genealogy cruises. I missed Helen Smith talking about genealogical education and Carol Baxter talking about writing non fiction narrative.

After lunch it was another marathon session of three concurrent talks over four hours so lots of choices to make as to which sessions to attend. I got caught up talking to someone over lunch and missed Louis Kessler on Jewish genealogy, Jan Gow on ten ways to do family history comparing old ways with new and Neil Bradley talking about Second Site for The Master Genealogist.

As I have been considering moving to Family Historian genealogy software I made sure I didn't miss Jill Ball's presentation and I was interested to see that Jill has also just made the change over. After my Bali trip next week I think I'll take the plunge too! The other choices were the Research Help Zone and Helen Smith talking about what caused our ancestors' deaths and I've heard this before and it is a great look at some of the old time diseases.

The 3pm session was Diane Foster talking about preserving photographs, Geoff Doherty with an intriguing presentation Oh What a Tangled Web and Rosemary Kopittke on the The I went to this as I often forget there are other huge subscription databases out there. For the final session of the afternoon I went to Jill Ball's session on Geneablogging where she mentioned some great blogs to follow and even managed to mention the Kiva Genealogists for Families blog which many of us belong too. Therefore I missed Louis Kessler on GenSoftReviews and Jan Gow on genealogy in 2020 - hard to think that far ahead but if the changes over the last decade or so are anything to go by, we should be having a great time tracing our ancestors in 2020!

Paul Milner bravely gave an after dinner talk on Overcoming the Dead End Doldrums and many also went to the La Scala Theatre but it was a bit of a rush and getting good seats at the last minute is not easy. Another big genealogy day!

Day 8 offered 15 talks and we had the group photo on the stairs of the magnificent Carmen Restaurant. First up was Paul Milner on occupation and guild records which I really enjoyed as I love putting ancestors into their day to day context. After the photo I gave my mining talk but missed Stephen Dando-Collins on getting published and writing fiction from your research.

After lunch I got a lot out of Linda Elliott's free English genealogy websites (slides will be on her Mad About Genealogy website) . It really is amazing what is out there now but we should always remember that it isn't all online. This meant I missed Louis Kessler on using life events to solve genealogy problems and Carol Baxter on scandal and skulduggery in early NSW. My next session was Jill Ball on Android (andIPad) genealogy with lots of good tips on making the most of these wonderful tools. Other choices were Helen Smith on the Ryerson Index (excellent for dates of deaths and funerals) and Diane Foster on what's the difference between genealogy and family history.

My brain went into overload at this point and I fled upstairs to Deck 11 for a coffee and a biscuit (or two)  and missed Rosemary Kopittke on Scotland's People, Linda Elliott on English parish registers and two short case studies by Jill Ball and Dawn Springett. Suitably refreshed I went back downstairs to hear Paul Milner on overlooked sources for 19th and 20th C Scottish research which was most interesting. I missed Louis Kessler on GEDCOM transfers and Carol Baxter on military ancestors.

There was no after dinner session but Jill Ball had organised a session where we all got together and talked about a favourite genealogy book or one that we were currently reading. It could be a 'real' book or a 'digital' book. This was interesting and quite a few people turned up to share their books. I had to leave before the end as I'd promised to go to the theatre with some friends. Jill was planning to write up a list of books so that others can see what we are all reading!

Day 9 and it's a bit sad as we really we only have one more day left. Amazing how fast time goes when you are having fun. Paul Milner led the charge again today with a very informative talk on maps and gazetteers for  British research. I have so much home work to do after this cruise it's not funny! My talk on It's Not All Online was next and then there was a choice between Jan Gow on Collaborative Research with an incredible video from FamilySearch (I still don't really believe it but then I did see it with my own eyes) and Stephen Dando-Collins chairing a panel on historical writing.

After lunch I went to Jan Gow's digging deeper into FamilySearch and sadly missed Jill Ball talking about Google+ for genealogy. I really do need to spend the time to explore that one more. Then there was a social media panel chaired by Jill which included Louise Kessler, Ilona Tester, Helen Smith and myself all answering questions on which social media we use and why. It's a shame more cruise attendees didn't go to this as there were no competing sessions. I think people who don't use social media for genealogy are seriously missing out!!

The next round of talks included Helen Smith talking about bringing your ancestors to life and I really enjoyed this as Helen managed to find out so much about her case study from very little information to start with. Other choices were Louis Kessler on why genealogy is everyone's solemn duty and Rosemary Kopittke on connecting with families online.

My last talk for the cruise was on at 4pm and it was my military talk and I missed Stephen Dando-Collins talking about Captain Bligh and Louis Pasteur. After dinner there was a very moving closing talk by Paul Milner which encouraged us all to make sure we write down our stories and pass them on. It was a great way to end what was a stimulating and fun genealogy cruise. The prize draws were next and a few photo opportunities and then it was off to our cabins to pack and make sure our luggage was outside if we wanted it taken off for us in the morning.

I will be doing an overview of the cruise in my SHHE Genie Rambles blog in the next day or so as genealogy cruises are not just about the speakers and the talks. There is the networking and sharing as well as shipboard life and time ashore. So look out for that coming soon. Just a reminder that most of the speakers will be either putting their handouts or talks online and I've mentioned the links above. Plus lots of other cruisers will be blogging or have already done so and those blogs will give you lots of ideas and information about the cruise. Stay tuned!

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Genealogy notes 10-14 Feb 2013 Days 1-5 of the Genealogy Cruise

Well I'm now safely home from the 2013 Unlock the Past genealogy cruise and I've been pondering the best way of writing up all my notes. Early on I decided to leave the laptop at home and I put the IPad and phone in the room safe so I was strictly a pen and notebook person on this cruise. Why? I do like a break from technology every so often and also this cruise was so packed with sessions, I wouldn't have had time to attend everything and then do daily blogs and experience life on board.

I will blog the genealogy part of the cruise in this Diary over two blogs and then do an overall review of the cruise in my SHHE Genie Rambles blog in a few days time. Just before we left for the airport on Day 1, I left a quick paragraph explaining my absence over the next ten days.

It was a good trip to Brisbane airport and no delays so we soon found ourselves in Sydney airport. We had planned to take the train to Circular Quay but due to maintenance over the weekend, the train was not running but there were free buses, first to Central Station and then on to Circular Quay. It took a bit longer but we were still three hours before boarding time. I hate last minute panics!

There didn't seem to be any queue at The Voyager of the Seas so we wandered over and handed in our bags and proceeded to go through customs and before we knew we were on board the ship. In fact lunch was just starting so we went up to Deck 11 (15 decks overall) and enjoyed lunch while overlooking the Sydney Opera House. After lunch it was a stroll around Deck 12 (the jogging track) where we could almost see all of Sydney from that height. I wonder what the people who live in units close to the Quay think when their view is suddenly blocked by this huge ship.

After a delicious dinner we watched the ship leave Sydney Harbour and then went down to the Meet and Greet where Alan introduced the various speakers. Having been up since before dawn, I will confess to nodding off during this session and as soon as it was over, I dashed off to my room for a good night's sleep. Sadly I missed the geneablogger photo opportunity although there was another one taken on the last day as well.

Day 2 was full on with three concurrent streams for most of the day. The first two speakers were Stephen Dando-Collins and Paul Milner who I missed as I slept in and then got delayed at breakfast. However I did make it to my first of nine talks at 11am but this meant I missed Carol Baxter talking about NSW research and Neil Bradley on Western Australian research. Mine was on Victorian research so very much a State based theme!

After an hour for lunch the three streams continued (including the Research Help Zone). I went to Jan Gow's session on Getting to Know Legacy but missed Helen Smith talking about Queensland research and Rosemary Kopittke talking about Australian Government, Police and Education Gazettes. My next choice was Louis Kessler talking about Choosing and Using Genealogy Software as I'm thinking of swapping over from Legacy. This meant that I missed Linda Elliot's talk on What to Do With The Body: A Victorian Solution - a very intriguing title so I hope someone else blogs about that session.

My next session was another Jan Gow session on Creating Your Own Reference Library. I've heard Jan talk about Treepad many times and she always makes it look so simple but then I suspect she has every aspect of her life and research well documented! The thought of cataloguing all my library books is daunting but I know that it would make life much simpler for me. Jill Ball advised that she uses Library Thing so I need to check that out and I know others use Collectorz.  A definite rainy day job.

One overseas speaker I didn't go to was Bob Velke who did a variety of sessions on The Master Genealogist and as I'm not interested in that program I missed hearing all of his talks. Rosemary Kopittke demonstrated the Flip Pal Mobile Scanner and Family Photo Book both of which I was familiar with.

The last afternoon session was me again with my Family History on the Cheap talk but this meant I missed Jill Ball's GeneaGoogling: Effective Google Searches which was disappointing as I think the more we can learn about using Google effectively, the better. Like other speakers, Jill's slides/handouts will be available on the Resources page of the Unlock the Past website in a few days time. Mine are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

The after dinner session was Paul Milner on Finding Your Ancestors in Scotland: The Big Five which I missed as we were going to the ship's evening show in the La Scala Theatre.

Day 3 was another packed day of talks, you didn't have to go to every session but from what I saw most people seemed to attend quite a few sessions each day. I was first up with my talk on Trove and Paul Milner followed with a talk on the English Parish Chest. Then the sessions divided into three and I selected Linda Elliott's talk on Researching NZ Ancestors from a Distance but missed Carol Baxter talking on Writing Family History. I've heard Carol speak on that before and I wanted to attend Linda's talk as her online name is Mad About Genealogy and that's also where you will find her talk handouts. I believe she is going to PDF her talks like me and put them on her website.

The after lunch sessions were almost like a marathon from 1-5pm with four talks unless you skipped one or two. I missed Jill Ball's Google Tools for Genealogy as I was having a one on one session with a cruise attendee and Louise Kessler was talking about Behold and Bob Velke ran two sessions on The Master Genealogist. In the second session I chose Helen Smith's talk on one name studies (the GOONS) and missed Rosemary Kopittke talking about Find My Past Australasia and Jill Ball talking about Social Media for Genealogists. My third session was with Jan Gow talking about using Ancestry in Your Pyjamas (I'll confess that I do too) and missed Rosemary Mackenzie talking about the next NSW/ACT genealogy conference in Canberra in September and the next AFFHO Congress also in Canberra in 2015. Alan Phillips also spoke about what's coming up for Unlock the Past with cruises, webinars and ebooks all sounding very exciting. The last session was Paul Milner on English Parish Registers.

The evening was free to allow attendees to go to the Ship's famed ice shows but as it turned out, these ended up being held in the day time so roster changes were made so that people didn't miss out. We went to the La Scala Theatre again and I think most people appreciated the night off.

Day 4 was in Noumea and there are no sessions while we are in port. We were supposed to leave by 4pm so I did my Ancestors in Church talk up against Jill Ball on A Genealogist's Toybox which was another talk I wanted to go to as Jill always amazes me with all her gadgets and how she uses them for genealogy. It was during this session that we found out that the ship had some technical troubles and would be staying over in Noumea for another day while repairs were made. I suppose it is always better to break down in port rather than miles out to sea but it was disappointing. It meant that we could no longer make it to Fiji and I was so looking forward to going there again. My last visit was in 1976 so it's been a while!

Paul Milner did another evening session with Scottish Kirk Session and Poor Relief Records. All of Paul's handouts are on his website under the aptly named button Handouts!

Day 5 we were still in Noumea so this meant a major roster change so we swapped the program for Day 6 when we were supposed to be in Fiji. The 4pm talks were Jill Ball talking about the Flip Pal Mobile Scanner and Picasa (which I have heard before and I love Picasa's facial recognition software) and Paul Milner talking on Welsh Ancestors. After dinner Paul did Irish Land Records.

Not going to Fiji meant that we ended up with four solid days of talks on Days 6-9 so I'll do those days in a separate blog tomorrow as this is getting quite lengthy. The good thing about most of the speakers is that they will be putting their handouts or slides online and those not fortunate enough to be on the cruise might still be able to follow the talks and take note of the various websites mentioned by everybody. I have the usual list of sites I want to visit! Part Two will be tomorrow so stay tuned.

Saturday 9 February 2013

Genealogy notes 6-10 Feb 2013 Bon Voyage

After a hectic few days finalising my presentations I'm up early this morning to catch our flight to Sydney to join the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise. I'm not sure if I will do daily posts or every few days or even wait till the end. This cruise has two session streams from morning to night so not a lot of spare time for us genealogy tragics. So stay tuned as I will be learning lots over the next 9 days at sea!

Monday 4 February 2013

Genealogy notes 1-5 Feb 2013 online newspapers

Well my genealogy year has started with a great online newspapers seminar organised by Queensland Family History Society with speakers Sue Reid and myself. I missed Sue's two talks on online newspapers and how to search them more strategically when she gave them at last year's Unlock the Past expo in Brisbane so I was really glad to finally here them. Sue also mentioned that the talks are also the basis for an upcoming article in Inside History magazine so watch out for that.

The day started with my talk on Trove and Other National Library of Australia Treasures and the slides can be viewed on my website Resources page (scroll down to Presentations). No matter where or how often I give this talk there are always lots of people who don't have an NLA library card for e-resources or aren't members of Trove so that they can do comments, tags, lists and so on. No doubt quite a few went home to investigate these wonderful free resources further! I don't do handouts (saving a tree or two plus paper weighs a lot and is one extra thing to carry when I travel to talks) but by putting the slides up on my website attendees can go home and relook at the talk and study the slides in greater detail.

Sue did have handouts for her two talks and these were included in the Queensland State Archives goodies bag given to all attendees. Sue's first talk was an overview of the big four which are all free - Trove, Papers Past,  The Times London (via the NLA's e-resources) and the London Gazette. She used a case study to highlight the wealth of information that can be found and the second part of her talk was focused on why you might not be able to find what you are looking for.

Sue's second talk was a round up of other online newspaper sites, some free and some pay to view and I found this part really interesting as some of her portal sites for America will probably useful for my own research as a GGG grandfather went to Minnesota in the USA in 1850. I've never looked for the family in US newspapers so it's now on my to do list when I get time!!

There were about 150 people from all over south east Queensland so that was a great start to QFHS's seminar program for 2013. Most people returned the evaluation forms which were mostly positive with the negatives such as signage something that the organisers can do better for the next seminar. During the morning tea break I sold copies of my books and I certainly missed Max doing this for me. It's really hard trying to answer people's questions, say hello to people welcoming me back to Queensland and sell books and give correct change all at the same time. I had to sneak morning tea during the first part of Sue's second talk I was that busy. The QFHS sales table was also kept busy so the printed book is still in demand!

Their next seminar is on Military Records for Family Historians on 20 April and the third seminar is on Convict Lives: Finding Our Founders on 1 June. Both seminars have great speakers on a range of topics withing those themes so definitely not to be missed.

I've just completed my application form to join the Cornish Association of Queensland and unfortunately their first meeting for the year is on 9 March and I am returning from Bali that day. The date is the closest they could get to St Piran's Day, Cornwall's national day but hopefully I'll be able to get to their next I'meeting. It's not that far to Brisbane and traffic is not too bad at the weekends.

Today there is a meeting of the Bribie Island Family History Group (an informal meeting group) which I will go along to. I missed the last meeting last year as I was in Brisbane but I'm hoping to attend most meetings if I'm on Bribie. The other thing I'm working on today is my next article for Irish Lives Remembered as the deadline falls while I'm away on the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise. I'm continuing with County Waterford examples as I found so many in my last search for interesting examples to write about. The free January issue is now online.

Well must go as I've still got some unpacking and sorting to do before I head off to my meeting. Happy researching till next time.