Wednesday 28 August 2013

Genealogy notes 27-29 August 2013 - 31 activities for NFHM & more

On the news last night I was shocked when the weather person announced only 3 more days of winter (what winter here in the ever sunny blue skies north) but that means only 3 more days of National Family History Month! So I put my skates on and finished my blogs based on my 31 activities for researchers and 31 activities for genealogy/family history societies challenge during August. The final 16 challenges for researchers will give everyone something to do way past August as will the final 16 challenges for genealogy/family history societies.

I would have liked more time myself to actually do some of the challenges I posed for others but keeping up the social media promotion of NFHM during August has kept me busy as well as the odd publicity opportunity. My talk at the Bribie Island library tomorrow made the Bribie Island and Mainland News including a photo of me and a blurb about NFHM and that it is all going to happen again in August 2014!

Well known geneablogger Geniaus has drawn up another geneameme to finish up National Family History Month - see The Blogger's Geneameme. I'm planning to do it on Saturday when I have my talk and the NFHM sponsors prize draw all finished and I can relax a little more.

Back in July I completed the Unlock the Past genealogy cruises survey and that entitled me to a 50% discount of an ebook purchase from their Gen-ebooks before 31 August.  As that date is fast approaching, I looked at their ebooks this morning and made my choice and even ordered their current free ebook offer. Within minutes of placing the order I had all my new ebooks (now safely placed on my virtual to read shelf)!

Now off to practice my talk for tomorrow and make sure I have everything I need for tomorrow. We are going to an exhibition opening at the Bribie Island Seaside Museum tomorrow morning so I need to be organised today. Enjoy the last few days of NFHM 2013.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Genealogy Notes 21-26 Aug 2013 Last week of National Family History Month

It's unbelievable how fast August has gone - we are now into the last week of National Family History Month. I hope everyone has been attending events, doing blogs, following people on Twitter or Facebook, finding time for some of their own research and anything else remotely genealogy related! Check out the National Family History Month web calendar and home page for ideas this last week. The Momento photo book competition closes today so it's not too late to put in an entry - details on the NFHM home page. I'm getting some great suggestions for NFHM 2014 so if you want to suggest something, enter the competition!

My last talk for NFHM is on this coming Friday at the Bribie Island library, this will be my first talk on Bribie so it will be interesting to see what the turn out will be. That's where I will also be doing the NFHM sponsors prizes draw and then contact all the winning societies and of course, promote the prize draw winners in the hope that we get even more genealogy and family history societies hosting events next year. Sponsors are also on my list to follow up and I'm even hoping to attract some new sponsors for my new ideas in 2014!

After that I have to write up a report for AFFHO on NFHM 2013 and include recommendations for 2014. I would like to see a whole 12 month awareness campaign so that everyone finds out about it in plenty of time to either host or attend an event. Many libraries and archives plan their event calendars twelve months in advances so we need to make it easier for them to participate.

History is in the air here on Bribie Island at the moment. At the Bribie historical society meeting the other night I bought the new book on the Bribie Bridge which turns 50 in October and at the weekend I bought another book on the Bribie Surf Life Saving Club which has just turned 90. We found lots of entries for Max's Burstow and Eldridge families as they were involved with the club back in the 1930s. The Club had a lot of its photos and other memorabilia on display at the clubhouse and a steady stream of visitors over the weekend.

I've received two UK certificates this week which confirmed what I knew but gave me details to go back another generation but still finding it a bit tough to find them in the census - common surnames should be banned! Still I keep chipping away at it. Every time I look at Trove I find new stories on the family and with new digitised newspapers coming online all the time, it's really worthwhile.

As part of my ongoing rearrangement of my new study, I'm going through all my old paper files and its amazing what I have forgotten I have on file (but it is 36 years this month since I bought my first filing cabinet so maybe it's just old age rather than too much stuff). Not everything has been entered into my genealogy software (mostly the basics) and I'm starting to realise I need to capture all the other bits and pieces of information as well. I've rearranged all the old photos and albums into a scanning priority order, another job I need to get back to now that we have resettled.

So that is my dilemma - I want to do more research on my families using all the modern resources (I can easily spend all day on Trove alone) but I really need to get e-control of all my paper based 'stuff ' before it's too late. Being surrounded by filing cabinets and book cases is a little intimidating not to mention overwhelming. It's not too hard, I just need to do it file by file, album by album (but the tricky part is that each one triggers new ideas to search and I get side tracked). The only good part is that I know I'm not alone and that others share this burden. I'm going to try for an hour a day (or at least 7 hours a week) - wish me luck!

Enjoy the rest of National Family History Month 2013!

Monday 19 August 2013

Genealogy notes 13 - 20 Aug National Family History Month good news update

This Diary update was meant to go out last Friday but I lost my connection to the internet and it has taken five long days to get it back. It's been really frustrating with an upgrade of infrastructure here on BribieIsland. The Telstra tower is moving from 3G to 4G. We even put in a few, time consuming calls to their overseas call centre and it was only when we went to the local shop that we heard about the upgrade.This morning I checked with the shop again to be told it would be finished by tonight but as luck would have it, the call centre people gave us a follow up call and we found that coverage was back in our area and they helped us to tweak our wi fi to the new system and I'm back online. We don't realise how much we rely on the internet until we don't have it eg we needed a phone book at the weekend but we don't have paper copies as I simply look it up online!

Normally the downtime wouldn't stress me so much but as we are in the middle of National Family History Month and I've been trying to keep momentum going via various social media forums as well as answering enquiries and other emails which is a bit tricky without the internet. I probably should upgrade my phone too.

My two blogs on 31 activities for NFHM (researchers) - the first fifteen and 31 activities for (genealogy/family history) societies - the first 15 are now on my website and I should get the remaining 16 activities for both done before the end of August. I wonder how many other people have decided to do some of my suggested activities as part of NFHM? Full details on both lists here.

The weather here on Bribie Island has been simply amazing and I'm swimming most days with a pool temperature that has increased to 24 degrees and rising. Hard to believe this is winter! But I've discovered there is an advantage to swimming and getting wet - I'm not allowed back in the house until I'm completely dry as my little wet puddles through the house make the floor slippery and dangerous. So I have to take reading material up to the pool so that I can read and dry off at the same time - this is really a clever way for me to catch up on my genealogy journals and magazines!

I've read the last two issues of the Guild of One NameStudies journal and getting back to my own one name study of Burstow is high on my list of want to do things once National Family History Month is over. I've got a lot of data entry to do which is a bit boring but worthwhile if I want to start doing something with all the data I've collected over the years. I've also been reading Inside History Magazine which I usually flick through from cover to cover when I get it and then set aside for a more leisurely read. Excellent pool side reading! My copies of the free Irish Lives Remembered magazine are on my tablet and that is also very easy reading up by the pool.

My last talk for National Family History Month is at the Bribie Island Library on 30 August and it will be a presentation based on my research guide It's Not All Online: Where Else Can I Look? We will also be drawing the NFHM sponsors prize draw and the Momento photobook competition that day as well. One of the reasons I suggested making NFHM a month rather than just a week as it was previously was so that we could do more events but I'm finding that even the month has gone very quickly!

Which brings me to my good news - AFFHO has decided to make the month trial a permanent thing so it will be National Family History Month August 2014 next year and each year thereafter.  This should help everyone with their planning in future years as it will always be the month of August. AFFHO have also asked me if I would like to be the voluntary coordinator again and even though it has been a steep learning curve over the last few months, I've learnt a lot and have even more ideas to make 2014 even better.

I've got lots to catch up on now that I've got my email and internet access back again so until next time, enjoy these last weeks of National Family History Month 2013.

Sunday 11 August 2013

Genealogy Notes 10-12 August 2013 - NFHM update and a new sponsor competition!

I have to confess to a laptop/social media free day on Saturday - it was all building my new vegie gardens and swimming in the pool to celebrate this absolutely incredible August weather we are currently having. You would never know it is winter here on Bribie Island although my memories of Brisbane in August are cold westerly winds especially at Ekka time! So having had a day of relaxation I'm now back in the excitement of National Family History Month.

First I need to share some more news from one of our sponsors, the National Archives of Australia. Regular readers will know that I have just returned from a meeting of the centenary of WW1 advisory committee. I've always been interested in the Boer War as Mum had two uncles who served in both the Queensland colonial contingents and also in the Commonwealth contingents. What I didn't know was that NAA has put the contingent lists for their Boer Ward records into ArcHive their exciting new website that allows researchers at home to help transcribe the documents and make them more accessible to everyone.

Well there are 187 Boer War records waiting to be transcribed! You can search for whatever kind of records that you might like to work on. It's a bit like an Aladdin's cave - too much choice but all good! NAA even gives a rating for difficulty eg easy or hard but looking at some of the 'hard' ones as a long time researcher I can easily read the handwriting (but then I did work in archives for a long time too). Most of these appear to be nominal rolls which make for fascinating reading while you transcribe. Why not register and give it a go!

Now for the National Family History Month update. I've added a few more entries but I think most events are now on the web calendar. I've seen references to events on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, blogs and list servs so it looks like there is a lot of genealogy going on this month! I was going to try and capture all the references but there is just too much but Geniaus aka Jill has added a widget to her blog to show all the tweets for #NFHM13 throughout August. Read her blog post about it here.

There is a late sponsor - Momento which is a online photo book company and they have offered a $150 voucher for a NFHM competition. So I have placed the competition details on the NFHM home page and I've decided to get everyone to help me think of great ideas for NFHM 2014. As national coordinator for the first time this year, it has been a steep learning curve and I've built on existing practices as well as introducing some of my own ideas. But I'm sure that there are lots of other great ideas out there so put your thinking caps on and submit an entry.

I know I have international readers so I'm sorry to say that the NFHM competition is only open to individuals in Australia. If anyone wants to submit an idea/comment please do so but you won't be eligible for the prize this year. Also entries must be within the competition time frame and must include your name and postcode. It will be drawn on 30 August when the NFHM sponsors' prizes for genealogy/family history societies are also drawn.

I rather like the idea of a competition for individuals but at this stage I'm not sure how much work I've just let myself in for. Still it's a learning experience and someone will be an excited winner. I'm looking forward to 30 August and the prize draw and notifying all the lucky winners. But that will also mean NFHM will be over and that's a bit sad but we can all start planning and looking forward to NFHM 2014. (A little birdie has told me that it will be a month again next year so that's fantastic news!)

We have more Melbourne friends arriving for a two day stay so I'm going to be a bit busy entertaining them here on beautiful Bribie Island but I hope everyone continues to have a great genealogy month with all those events across Australia and if you are stuck for something to do, don't forget my 31 Activities for Researchers & Societies for NFHM! Until next time.

Thursday 8 August 2013

Genealogy notes 4-9 Aug 2013 NFHM seminars & talks

Last Sunday I headed to Brisbane airport for what proved to be a hectic few days in Melbourne and Canberra. I'm glad I made the effort to attend the 10th anniversary of Family History Feast at the State Library of Victoria and it was a great opportunity to catch up with my Victorian genealogy friends and colleagues. I have written a  review of the day and it's significance to me on my website and if you haven't already seen it, you should read my Family History Feast Melbourne Aug 2013 blog. Why should you click on that link? The day had a military theme and all five talks were great and there are lots of links to follow up from the talks.

While in Melbourne I also took the opportunity to catch up with friends and dinner first night was in that iconic British pub The Elephant & the Wheelbarrow in Bourke Street and the second night was at Cookie after happy hour drinks at The Moat. One thing about Melbourne there is no shortage of good places to eat and drink and the weather was reasonably kind and not too cold and wet.

Then it was off to Canberra where I was the NFHM guest speaker at the Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra. Before the meeting I was shown there new (to me) premises at Cook and I was very impressed with all the rooms and meeting areas. Almost made me wish I still lived there but then I remembered how cold it was outside! My talk was on Google Tools and as well as talking about various tools, I highlighted some of the changes to searching recently. I do miss the use of the ~tilde facility and I have trouble finding things that I once found easily and now that I know the various filters are under Search Tools that helps too. But I do wish websites didn't change all the time - I never seem to be able to find things again or perhaps I just need to practice more! As usual I placed a copy of the presentation on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

While in Canberra I managed dinner with friends at Timmy's Kitchen one night and the next night at Taste of Himalaya, both at Manuka and within easy walking distance of my motel which had copies of the National Library of Australia's quarterly magazine The Library in the foyer. Great idea to bring the NLA to the attention of tourists and other travellers. But if you can't get to Canberra, you can still download The Library for free here.

I also managed lunch at Belluci's at Manuak with a long time friend who is convenor of this year's Australian Society of Archivists conference which is in Canberra on 15-17 October. I'm planning to go to the 2013 conference and it was great to chat about the program and speakers plus the social events that are great for networking. I've missed the last couple of ASA conferences so I'm really looking forward to catching up with old friends and colleagues.

My primary reason for being in Canberra was to attend the National Archives of Australia's advisory committee for the centenary of World War One. I arrived early so that I could check out their two current exhibitions Design 29: Creating a Capital (all about the selection of Griffin plans for Canberra) and Banned which is a fascinating look at books that have been banned in Australia. I knew about the more well known ones but I was surprised at how many were detective stories or looked to be detective stories judging by cover and title.

The advisory meeting provided an update on NAA's planned new website Discovering ANZACS (previously titled Australians at War) which is now a joint project between them and Archives New Zealand. That's a very exciting project and I can't wait to see that launched. There were reports from others including an update on Australian War Memorial projects and the convenor mentioned Inside History Magazines' project to have a database of all WW1 centenary projects - it's called World War Onelink. I managed a plug for National Family History Month as well and I think we definitely need to have a military theme next year.

Then of course it was back to the airport for the long trip home made even longer by delays at Brisbane airport which meant we didn't leave Canberra on time. While wandering around the Qantas lounge waiting to board, I found Issue 3 of the National Museum of Australia's magazine The Museum. It's a glossy publication which show cases their various collections and exhibitions and I must find time to visit there again on a future visit to Canberra. Most times I seem to fly in and fly out! Good news - it's online and some of the articles are free too - click here.

Anyway after finally given the go ahead to board and depart Canberra, Brisbane airport was still having delays and we must have been ordered to fly on past Brisbane as we continued heading north and as we passed Redcliffe I got a bit excited. We were going to fly over Bribie Island and I could see the different suburbs, the canals and the bridge but then we turned and flew back down over Moreton Island before heading into Brisbane. I obviously wasn't meant to get home early as someone forgot me and I sat around the arrivals/departures pick up area for quite a while. After a long day I eventually made it back  home to Bribie.

Today is another one of those glorious sunny, warm, blue sky winter days and I'm going to go for a nice walk and if the pool's warm enough I might even have a swim! Although I do need to sort out all the info I bought back and follow up on all those good research ideas - I wonder when the next rainy day is? Continue to enjoy National Family History Month and I hope you are having as much genealogy fun as I am! Until next time.

Friday 2 August 2013

Genealogy notes 27 Jul - 3 Aug 2013 National Family History Month

I live a normally busy if not hectic lifestyle but this last week has completely tuckered me out! It's only the third day of National Family History Month and I'm exhausted but it's a fantastic feeling. I've put up so many new events on the NFHM web calendar although we still don't have anything happening in the Northern Territory yet. Hopefully that might change as the month progresses.

I was also busy finalising everything for the launch which was on Thursday in Brisbane. It was a fantastic day - we travelled to Brisbane early so that we could collect Kerrie Gray, President of the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) from the airport on our way through to the National Archives of Australia, Brisbane Office for the launch. I've done a blog post on the various speakers and also gave an account of the changes to NFHM 2013. The winners of the 2013 Nick Vine Hall awards are also included and don't miss all the news from National Archives of Australia. You can read about the launch and speaker talks here. NFHM is quite different from previous years and I think that we have more events than ever before but I haven't had time to count them.

The last few days have seen me give three radio interviews about NFHM - one with Christy-Lee Macqueen, Mornings Presenter with ABC North West, one with Ed Cowlishaw on Riverland Today with ABC Riverland and Mallee and one with Natasha Mitchell on the program Life Matters on ABC National. That was an interesting one hour session titled Framed: the family portrait. There is something a bit nerve wracking about doing live to air interviews - I always have the fear that the questions will be tricky or that I will have a complete mind freeze. But they all went well and I was amazed at how many people actually heard the shows, especially the Life Matters session. I'm not a big radio person myself but others obviously are.

I'm now about to pack for my trip down south. First stop tomorrow is Melbourne where I will be attending Family History Feast at the State Library of Victoria. This will be a bit of a trip down memory lane as it is the 10th anniversary since Anne Burrows (SLV), Anne Piggott (NAA) and myself (then PROV) started what has become a must attend event in NFHM. This year is another full house which is fantastic and myself and the two Annes will celebrate over dinner that night. Really looking forward to catching up with them.

From Melbourne I'm heading up to Canberra (another one of my old homes) to be the NFHM speaker at the August meeting of the Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra (HAGSOC). I'm having dinner with a few of my old HAGSOC friends before the talk so I will have to stick to one glass of wine with dinner or there won't be a talk! On Wednesday I'm catching up with an old colleague from NAA and on Thursday it's a meeting of the NAA's advisory committee for the centenary of WW1 which should be interesting. I love hearing about all the projects on the go for next year.

Somehow I will try and blog these events while I'm on the road and I know I did say that I would be doing blog posts on my 31 activities for researchers and 31 activities for genealogy/family history societies during NFHM but there may be a bit of a delay. Once I'm back on Bribie Island I'll be able to catch up again.

It's been great to see all my social media friends promoting NFHM and I really think that by the end of August everyone will know what genealogy and family history is all about. Thanks everyone. I'm also learning new skills and managed to put up some photos of the launch on the NFHM Facebook page and the number of Likes has gone up to 434 which is still a long way short of the 1000 Likes I would like before the end of August. The NFHM sponsors have all been fantastic in helping to promote the month too.

Have I done any of my own genealogy in the last week? Not a lot but one thing that was interesting is that I visited the genEbooks website (one of the NFHM sponsors) and noticed that they have a free ebook each month. So I registered which is a simple process, selected the free ebook and proceeded to check out and within a minute or so I had received the ebook via email. I also did a survey for the Unlock the Past genealogy cruises and by leaving my name I received a 50% discount on an ebook before 31 August. So when I come back I will take up that offer but sadly it will probably just go into my virtual pile of ebooks to read. The good thing is that they don't gather dust like the pile of real books I have to read!

Breaking news from AFFHO! Our Australasian Really Useful Information Leaflet is now available. This is a free, 20 page initiative of the UK based Federation of Family History Societies in association with Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations and the Society of  Australian Genealogists.

Well I have to go and finish packing and this afternoon I've been invited to a Tupperware party and I don't think I've been to one of those in over 20 years if not longer.It's a gorgeous day here on Bribie Island and I also have to water all my new herbs, flowers and other plants as they are predicting even warmer, dry days while I'm away. I'm trying not to think of those much cooler temperatures in Melbourne and Canberra!

Enjoy the next week of NFHM and remember to keep checking the web calendar as events might still be added as the month progresses! Happy researching.