Thursday 25 July 2013

Genealogy notes 20-26 July 2013 National Family History Month talks & travels

It is hard to believe that National Family History Month (NFHM) is now only a week away but obviously I'm not the only one who leaves things to the last minute. I have been kept super busy all week adding new events to every state except unfortunately the Northern Territory. I haven't found anyone up there doing anything yet. Check out the web calendar on the NFHM website for events near you.

As well as that, I have finalised my 31 activities for researchers and 31 activities for genealogy/family history societies for NFHM and the details and lists are on my the Resources page of my website. The lists are a prompt for people to undertake a range of family history related activities throughout August to further their own research and knowledge. I will also be blogging about each activity (when I get the time) to give you further ideas as well, not to mention progress my own family research. You can do as few or as many activities as you want. I would love to see others blogging about any or all of the activities over the month. Don't forget to let me know how you go.

Last night I was Inside History Magazine's guest on their regular Thursday night Q&A on their Facebook page and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to promote National Family History Month. I was kept busy over the hour answering various questions about the month and the type of events that are being held. Inside History Magazine is one of NFHM's key sponsors and their sponsorship is appreciated.

As it is now just over a week till I head south, I've also been busy working on my talk for HAGSOC in Canberra.I'm totally reworking my Google Tools talk - I started out just changing a few slides and then went on to the major revamp. There are just so many things I could focus on and keeping to within the time frame is always a challenge. I'm also doing the same for my talk It's Not All Online which is at the Bribie Island Library on 30 August.

I've been doing a massive tidy up and toss out/give away in the study again. A lot of the material is out of date or superseded by changes in technology and online access but I do find it hard to part with old genealogy magazines. The temptation is to start rereading the old UK genealogy magazines but at least now there are all organised again by title and date instead of still inside the removal boxes. Of course it also means that I end up with more things on my to do list as I follow up hints in the magazines.

On the domestic front I've managed another couple of swims as the water temperature is hovering around 22 degrees and it has been warm and sunny and it really is hard to believe it is the middle of winter. The choko vine from next door continues to fruit almost overnight and we simply can't eat or give away that many chokoes. So I came up with the brilliant idea of doing choko pickles which is another first for me. Not something high on my bucket list but the desire to make my own pickles has always been there. Surprisingly they are absolutely delicious and the neighbours liked them so much, they have put in an order for my mango chutney when the mangoes come back into season! I wonder if any of my female ancestors were into doing pickles and chutneys? It must come from somewhere.

Today is a bit wet and drizzly so we are off to the pictures to see the Lone Ranger. I used to love the Lone Ranger and Tonto as a kid so it will be interesting to see what they've done with the story line. Next time I write NFHM will be upon us. Happy days!

Friday 19 July 2013

Genealogy notes 12-19 July 2013 seminars, cruises & #NFHM13

This past week has been a bit more like my life of old - where I did genealogy seven days a week! The trip out to Chinchilla was good and we tend to travel off the main highways to see more of the real countryside. So we usually stop at Yowie Park in Kilcoy for lunch and to watch the amazing bird life around the lake. For those not familiar with a yowie, check out Wikipedia entry for yowie.

The Coff & Co bakery opposite Yowie Park has some of the best pies we've ever eaten. In the last year we have probably stopped there at least four times and have never been disappointed. Next stop was Chinchilla where we were booked into the very convenient Downtown Motor Inn which was across the road from the RSL which was the venue for the seminar.

Sue Reid, former President of Queensland Family History Society presented two talks on using online newspapers and I had heard both of these earlier in the year at a QFHS seminar. But it's amazing how much more you take in on hearing something a second time. Sue concentrated on the big four, Trove, Papers Past, the London Gazette (with links to the Edinburgh Gazette and Belfast Gazette too) and the London Times via the National Library of Australia's e-resources.She had a handout which saved some mad scribbling down of URLs and I was again reminded that I really should look for my American and Canadian families in the many newspapers Sue included in her talk.

My two talks were on Trove and other NLA treasures and Google for Genealogy and as usual I put the slides up on my website Resources page, scroll down to Presentations. By the end of the day there was information overload but I think they will all be spending more time on their computers in the coming weeks. One brave person is also following me on Twitter. Both Sue and I had a range of Unlock the Past books for attendees to check out and I spent a few frantic moments signing my books!

The next day we left Chinchilla and went out to Miles which is where Max's mother and father met during WW2. She was the daughter of the Windsor Hotel licensee and he was the handsome soldier working in the area. If he hadn't gone in for a beer they might never have met and Max would not be here. It always makes me think to consider how random it was for some of our ancestors to actually meet up. As luck would have it the Windsor Hotel has recently changed hands and it was not open. However, an enquiry at the bottle shop soon saw us permitted inside to have a look at the downstairs rooms and the old photos on the wall. We also have some old photos of the family's time in Miles but it was good to walk around the streets and get a feel of what life was like back then. We also spent quite a few hours at the Miles Historical Village which has some amazing buildings and collections. We even found Max's Uncle Len's police uniforms and record of his career there!

We hadn't been able to contact Max's cousin in Kingaroy so we ended up spending the night in Esk and had a great dinner at Sticky Fingers (fantastic name for a restaurant). The next morning we explored the various antique shops in the main street and I managed to pick up some quirky things for the house. From there we went to Wivenhoe Dam and then on to Somerset Dam before arriving back at Yowie Park in Kilcoy for afternoon tea. The local tourist info centre was having a plant sale and I managed to pick up a few more bromeliads for our rainforest out the back.

Then it was home to Bribie Island as the next day we were having a luncheon cruise on the Lady Brisbane which is recreating the trips of the Koopa to Bribie in the pre bridge days. As Max's family used to come over on the Koopa we again felt like we were walking in our ancestors footsteps. It was fascinating to see the bottom end of Bribie from out in Moreton Bay - as a sand island it is very flat but it almost disappears off the horizon the further out you go. It was also good to see Brisbane's skyscrapers in the distance too. It's a small world on Bribie and we knew a few people on board so we all went for coffee after the cruise.

Most of my time at home has been spent on National Family History Month adding events to the website, liaising with sponsors and making sure the launch is progressing. It seemed ages away a little while ago but is now only 12 days away. There are some great events across Australia so I hope everyone can get to at least one event. I'm also going to be putting up my 31 activities for researchers and 31 activities for societies next week so everyone will have something to do in August.

This morning I went to my local newsagent just to see what genealogy magazines they have in store and I was pleased to see that they had Australian Family Tree Connections and Inside History Magazine - both active sponsors of NFHM. There were also some UK magazines as well and I couldn't help myself, I bought the May issue of Family Tree Magazine. After I got home I made a cup of coffee and settled down to have a good read and who is looking up at me from the page? None other than my friend Jill Ball and Thomas Macentee in a photo taken at Rootstech 2013. How's that for serendipity! I'm looking forward to meeting Thomas on the 4th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise next February and of course Jill is another one of the speakers on the cruise. In fact there are going to be quite a few Geneabloggers on that cruise. Can't wait for that.

I've received some more book royalties from the sale of my books published by Unlock the Past and I've received an exciting publishing offer which I'm still considering. The last part of my series on Irish Loved Ones Downunder was published in the July issue of Irish Lives Remembered - that 12 months went very quick. I suspect I won't get too much personal genealogy done in the next few weeks as NFHM will take up most of my time. Plus I have genealogy trips to Melbourne and Canberra coming up too but more about that next time. Happy searching.

Thursday 11 July 2013

Genealogy notes 4-11 July 2013 State libraries for genealogy

Well we have farewelled yet another house guest, this time someone we used to know in Canberra but who is now living on the Gold Coast. It always surprises me that people living in Queensland have never been to Bribie Island but then I think I like it as a secret little hideaway!

As usual having people in the house takes me away from the laptop and genealogy pursuits and this time it made me completely forget that it is Diary's anniversary! Two years ago on 1 July 2011 I started up Diary of an Australian Genealogist to prove to someone that it was very easy to set up a blog and keep it going. Time has gone quickly but then lots of things seem to happen in my life. Two years ago I was still working full time and had more time for genealogy and social media  whereas now I'm part time and living in a beach paradise with lots of other distractions.

Still I do manage to get to some great genealogy events and yesterday I attended the local Bribie Island family history group meeting where old friend and colleague Stephanie Ryan was talking about the genealogy resources at the State Library of Queensland where she is the Genealogy Librarian. It was a bit of a walk down memory lane for me as I first went to work at SLQ in 1981 and I went back to work there in 1990. Both times I left to go and work at Queensland State Archives. It was also good to see that SLQ still supports researchers who live outside the capital city, all too often regional and rural people miss out on personal visits although I can understand that there are time and travel costs involved. We just need that 'beam me up' technology!

Anyway enough of memory lane, it was great to hear Stephanie mention the AJCP (Australian Joint Copying Project) which has to be one of the most under-utilised resources for genealogy and she definitely invoked memories when she mentioned the A2 series of microfilm which was a joint copying project between SLQ and State Records NSW back in the 1970s. It is really good to know that they are currently working on a better index to all the wonderful material that relates to pre separation Queensland (1824-1859).

Stephanie mentioned all the useful family history information guides which are all online and nice to see that they have been recently updated. All too often you see guides which are out of date! There are more online indexes at SLQ than I realised so I have a bit of exploring to do just in case any of my families are mentioned. I have been using the Library's One Search to find information so I was interested to hear that you can also still search the former online catalogue as well. Like most things it can be useful to search both as sometimes the results vary.

I recently applied for my SLQ library card which gives me access to the Library's e-resources at home and I really must make the trek down to Brisbane and check out the new building. It has changed a lot since I last worked there in 1994. The trouble is I expect I'd want to spend more than a day there as there is just so much available for both Australian and UK genealogy.

National Family History Month has been keeping me busy with lots of events being added over the last week. It's only three weeks to launch so I'm expecting the next weeks to be busier than ever. I'm looking forward to the announcement of the Nick Vine Hall awards at the launch and I hope that genealogy and family history societies have nominated their journals this year. It is good to recognise the enormous effort all the editors do to bring new information and stories to society members.

Finally I would like to say that it was wonderful to see that Diary was listed in Jill Ball's 50 Blogs You Need to Read in the current issue of Inside History Magazine. It was a great anniversary present although I expect Jill doesn't remember it has been two years this month. We obviously have similar interests as many of the genealogy blogs she listed are ones that I try to look at on a regular basis. It's divided up into Institutions, Organisations, Niche Topics and Societies, Personal Genealogists and Professional Genealogists. However there are some that I haven't seen before so there's another thing down on my list to do - check them out! If you are looking to find some good blogs to read check out Jill's list and they are not all Australian, some overseas ones as well.

I'm off to Chinchilla for the weekend for the genealogy seminar with the Chinchilla Family History Group and I have a number of historical villages on my list of things to do while I'm out that way. At least that gives me something to write about next Diary! Until next time, try and find some time to do your own genealogy.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Genealogy notes 28 Jun - 3 Jul 2013 genealogy seminars & reviews

It's been a big week for genealogy. On Sunday I went to the annual Genealogical Society of Queensland seminar which had a program of Irish heritage in the morning and immigration in the afternoon. As usual I've written a review of the day and you can read the review here. A copy of the talk I gave on 19thC immigration is on my Resources page, scroll down to Presentations. The great thing about genealogy seminars is that you can meet up with old friends and meet new ones, or help solve someone's brick wall, or at least try to.

It was with real pleasure that I saw Helen Smith's smiling face in the audience and at lunch I had the chance to chat. Her first words to me - haven't seen anything about the Burstows in the Diary for a while? Immediate guilt on my part as Burstow is my one name study and Helen is the Queensland rep for the Guild of One Name Studies, she's researching the name Quested. I shouldn't really feel guilt as National Family History Month is taking up a lot of my spare time at present and there is now less than four weeks to August. Still I would like to get back to working on the one name study!

I also caught up with one of Max's cousins - it turns out that we are related by marriage! My gg grandfather's  (Anders Gundersen) second wife (Ann Pollard) was the younger sister of their ancestor (William Pollard). So it was nice to get that information to add into both of our family databases. Max's family seems to be the flavour of the month as I also received an email from Scotland from another one of his more distant cousins on the Jarvis side, so I've been swapping information with them too.

We have had a spell of wet and cold weather here (for a change) so I've spent the time writing up all the reviews that I had previously promised people. There are five new reviews on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Reviews to see the following:
  • Hazel Edwards OAM, Authorpreneurship: the business of creativity
  • Carol Baxter, Captain Thunderbolt & His Lady: the true story of bushrangers Frederick Ward & Mary Ann Bugg
  • Cathy Dunn, Norfolk Island Deaths 1st Settlement 1788-1814
  • Merle D Grinly, Queensland Ship Deserters 1861-1911 
  • Merle D Grinly, Queensland Transmissions of Real Estate by Death 1878-1940
  • Merle D Grinly, Wallangarra Quarantine Registers 1918-1919
Some great new genealogy resources here so check them out if you have Norfolk Island or Queensland research interests and Hazel's book is a must read if you are a writer or thinking about becoming an author. Carol's book is simply a good read.

Last Diary I mentioned that I would be doing a Q&A on National Family History Month on Inside History's Facebook page on 18 July - that has now been changed to 25 July so amend your calendars! I will be talking about my 31 genealogy activities for researchers during NFHM and I am also going to have 31 activities for genealogy and family history societies to do during August. None of it is compulsory but it will give people some ideas on what to try during the month and don't forget to check the NFHM web calendar to see what events are on near you. I'm adding events most days lately.

In the coming week I'll be finalising my two talks for Chinchilla and continuing with NFHM activities including launch arrangements and adding events to the NFHM website. It's a gorgeous day here on Bribie Island, sunny blue skies and the temp going up to 24 today so I'm heading out to do a bit of gardening and enjoy that winter sunshine. Until next time.