Monday 30 December 2013

Genealogy notes 22-31 Dec 2013 final thoughts for 2013!

Christmas at Mum's place was voted the best in years - we managed to have all the family present, the kids (now all adults) plus the adults all got on, our small gifts to each other all hit the mark and showed a lot of thought in the selection and we didn't overeat or drink. Mum was even convinced to turn the air con on! This is really similar to other years so I'm not sure why we all felt that it was the best but I do have some nice photos of everyone around the table having a good time.

Since then we have been busy catching up with friends on Bribie Island and taking delivery of our new boat and taking it for a spin or two. I'm very pleased and proud to say that I was the first to catch a fish in it too! It's going to get a lot of use once some of the tourists and holidaymakers return home. Pumicestone Passage is always busy this time of year.

We've also started to re-landscape the back garden and putting in some new plants. It's all hard work but once we have the gardens looking the way we want we can sit back and relax (or do our hobbies without feeling too guilty).

I haven't done too much genealogy but I did realise that I had forgotten to mention that National Archives of Australia has a new research guide - Commonwealth Government Records about Tasmania which will be launched and available in late January 2014. It is compiled by old friend and colleague Michael Piggott. I've been sent an advance review copy but so far I haven't had time to do more than flick through the pages but it looks good.

Module 3 of my Connecting with Families course with the National Institute of Genealogical Studies was easier than I thought it would be as I already use timelines as part of my normal genealogical research but I wasn't aware of some of the website tools so I will spend a bit more time looking into them. The other major focus of the written assignments was gravestones, another area that I have done a lot of work in. But again I was surprised by websites that I hadn't come across before, although some are just American focused - I should look at them for my Norwegian ancestors who went to Minnesota in 1851. Module 4 is next and then the exam - all to be finished by 19 January!

I also found time to do My Genealogy Aspirations 2014 which included a review of my 2013 aspirations and as yet I haven't participated in Geniaus' Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2013 blog challenge. I did her 2012 challenge and I always find it surprising how much genealogy I have done when I think about the questions Jill poses in the Geneameme. So that will be an early 2014 blog challenge!

As I indicated in my Aspirations I want to get back to writing blogs about my families and other genealogy topics so I have been working on my own blog challenge that reflects my archival background. It's not easy coming up with 52 topics that involve genealogy, archives and records but I have a list of sorts and I'm hoping to kick that off during the first week of 2014 and then every week thereafter. The other hard part is coming up with a catchy name for it! Wish me luck.

Tonight is New Year's Eve and we have booked into the local bowls club for their dinner/dance so that should be good. We decided to skip the fireworks this year and as it seems to be threatening to rain, perhaps that was a good idea. I hope everyone has a terrific 2014 genealogy year ahead of them and that we all progress our research or at least learn a little more about our ancestors. Until next time.

Friday 20 December 2013

Genealogy notes 15-21 Dec 2013 exciting news

You would think that in the lead up to Christmas (only 4 days away now) things would slow down but I've had two bits of really exciting news in the last few days as well as the usual genealogy news! I was thrilled to receive a request from the National Library of Australia to archive this blog in their web archive Pandora. I talk about Pandora (accessible through Archived Websites in Trove) in my talk Genealogy Treasures of the National Library of Australia and I've been a big fan of it for years. It also saves me from having to archive it myself which is really good!

Then I received an invitation from Unlock the Past to be part of their 6th genealogy cruise which is three nights out of Sydney (virtually a genealogy conference at sea) and there is an optional five day Norfolk Island extension post cruise. We went to Norfolk Island a few years ago to be part of the 200th anniversary celebrations of the closing of the first settlement and the removal of everyone to Tasmania. We have often said it would be nice to go back again so 2014 looks like the year this will happen.

I've now put the dates and places I am speaking at between January to June 2014 on the Services and Events page of my website. There are seven talks with the Moreton Bay Region libraries as well as seminars with the Genealogy Society of Queensland and the Queensland Family History Society plus the 4th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise. I've been busy working on my five talks for that as it is now only six weeks away! How exciting. The Bribie Island Historical Society have also asked me to talk about my Carnegie family who settled on Pumicestone Passage in the 1870s - I find myself thinking about them a lot, especially when I'm walking along Banksia Beach and look across the passage to where they lived back then.

The National Archives of Australia celebrated International Migrants Day on Twitter and Facebook (18 December) and they are looking for stories from migrants who came here post World War Two for their new exhibition A Ticket to Paradise. NAA are asking people to relate their personal experiences of migrating to Australia after WW2 - the journey, the arrival, staying in hostels, their first jobs, how they fared, how they established communities and so on. If this interests you, send some details to by 31 January 2014.

I received the 3rd edition of the Family History Journal from the Queensland Registrar of BDMs and it seems that during 2013 they added 95,000 images to their website. A list of what is now available is on the family history page of their website - see here. The quarterly newsletter is free and a great way to keep up with all the new releases if you have Queensland research interests.

With family visiting this week (son, daughter in law, granddaughter and not quite 2 year old grandson) I haven't been able to get into Module 3 of my Connecting with Families course with the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. But fortunately in the spirit of the season they have given us an extension of time and I will be able to get back into it tomorrow after the family fly home. It is amazing how fast time flies, it seems like they only arrived yesterday and now they are getting ready to go home. At least they missed all those really hot temperatures in Adelaide this week! Queensland has been really beautiful with low temps and humidity and the kids really loved the pool and all the birds that visit us.

In December 2012 I wrote about my Genealogy Aspirations for 2013 and it is interesting to look back on what I thought I would focus on during the year. I am happy to say that progress was made on all of them plus there were other successes that came up as a result of new record releases and new digitised material online. What ever did we do before Trove? I am now pondering what my 2014 aspirations will be so stay tuned.

We are spending Christmas with my family in Brisbane so that will be good to catch up with everyone - so much easier when everyone is in the same place! Then we will be farewelling 2013 a huge year for us and welcoming 2014 which should be much easier, at least we have no plans to move house again! I hope all my readers have a safe and happy Christmas with their families. There will be one more Diary blog for 2013 so until next time, happy researching everyone.

Friday 13 December 2013

Genealogy notes 4-14 December 2013 - Genealogy learning online & other news

So much for getting back to normal, I should have remembered that December is the month for lots of distractions. Christmas parties at the local historical society and the family history group made me realise that just about everyone on Bribie Island is either doing their family history or interested in doing it. I even made contact with someone who may be able to give me some photos of a family for whom I have no photos whatsoever. Fingers crossed!

I also realised that I had signed up for my free online genealogy course with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS) on Connecting Family: Online and Virtually. I picked December as I knew that I would be home for most of the month but the first two modules were already underway before I opened up my online briefcase. Fortunately they were both fairly easy and things I have already done or am currently doing so I could catch up very quickly. Module 3 is where it starts to get more new and interesting for me so I'm looking forward to that next week.

Also next week, on 18 December, is International Migrants Day and the National Archives of Australia are asking people to contribute their migrant stories for an exhibition. They are looking for contributions from now until 31 January 2014. I'll have more info next week and will be sending some tweets and links etc.

More good news and this time from the Queensland Registrar of BDMs. They have released AIF deaths abroad for World War One with 9169 records and Registrations of Death on the War Service Act 1942 (World War Two) with 4905 records. It's really sad when you look at those numbers and realise that is only for Queensland. So many families were impacted by the wars. have brought back Family Tree Week - every day between 26 December and 1 January they will be sharing hints and tips on starting your family tree and making the most of their records. As I have been doing my family history for the past 36 years you may be wondering why I would even participate in beginner level activities. So much has changed over the last four decades (scary thought) plus it is always good to go back and revisit your research or look at different aspects of it. Christmas is often the time when we catch up with family members so remember to ask see all those old photo albums and whatever else they have hidden away at the back of cupboards.

As always I was pleased to see the December issue of Irish Lives Remembered as it is a great free online Irish genealogy magazine but this month the focus is on Armagh records. My great great grandmother Maria Jeffers was from Portadown County Armagh and I've never really been able to trace her family back, but I always live in hope. So I will be having a close look at that article over the holidays.

I've also been busy writing a piece for Inside History Magazine, another one of my favourite genealogy magazines and Moreton Bay Region Libraries have asked me to do eight talks early next year on Google Tools and Online Newspapers. Once the dates and places are confirmed I will put the details up on my website under the Events tab so watch out for that in the next week or so.

The other thing that I must start working on is finalising my talks for the 4th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise which is now only about seven weeks away. I'm doing five talks and some of them are totally new talks and the others updated versions of my popular talks. I'm getting excited as it will be great listening to Chris Paton again and I'm a fan of Thomas MacEntee so hearing him in person will be fantastic. One of Thomas' many interests is Hack Genealogy and there are all kinds of free and interesting resources on that website. As it is an Australian cruise I should be able to do Diary blogs on board (when in port) assuming there is a little spare time to write. It looks a full program!

We are off visiting friends this weekend and next week we have Max's son and his family staying with us for eight days. It will be strange for us to have children in the house for that long a period, especially a two year old so we have been trying to make the house a  little more child proof and of course, lots of Christmas decorations and lights.

Most of our Christmas preparations are done although I do have to finalise some Christmas cards for those relatives not online. I'm still not sure where 2013 went but it's been a big year and 2014 is looking like another great year (minus the big house move). I hope everyone else is preparing to enjoy the festive season and catch up with their families and loved ones. Until next time.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Genealogy Notes 19 Nov - 3 Dec 2013 - travelling in ancestral footsteps again

Regular readers will be wondering where I have been the last fortnight but we decided to take a holiday, and like all my holidays there is a genealogy motive behind it. As well as being a genealogy addict, I may have to confess to being a cruise addict (even beyond the genealogy cruises run by Unlock the Past).

We went on an 11 day cruise of the Queensland coast starting in Sydney with stops at Newcastle, Cairns, a cruise by Willis Island in the Coral Sea destroyed by Cyclone Yasi but being rebuilt, Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays, Brisbane and back to Sydney. Now why would a Queenslander want to do a Queensland trip and visit their home city, Brisbane?

While I do have ancestors who arrived in other colonies, quite a few of my families came direct to Queensland and they sailed down the Queensland coast and I have often wondered what they thought as they got closer to their new homes. This was a chance to follow that same route.

Visiting Sydney and Circular Quay always makes us think of our convict ancestors and Newcastle also has a genealogy interest for me. My convict ancestor Richard Walker's daughter Maria Walker married Alfred Hill Austin who in 1844 was Harbour Master and Pilot at Newcastle. Alfred left that position in 1846 and I haven't found where they went too. Their story was part of my thesis for the Diploma of Family Historical Studies with the Society of Australian Genealogists in 1992 and that was over twenty years ago! As we traveled in Newcastle's historic tram to the old lighthouse and harbour area I resolved to revisit this as perhaps now I will be able to establish what happened to the Austin family.

From Newcastle it was a two day cruise to Cairns - I knew it was a long way as I have flown and driven to Cairns many times (a father in law used to live there in the 80s). This gave us a chance to enjoy the comforts and entertainment on board Rhapsody of the Seas which is smaller than Voyager of the Seas which we travelled on for the 3rd Unlock the Past genealogy cruise. I enjoyed the smaller ship, less chance of getting lost, and while I thought I would miss genealogy lectures I still found plenty to do on the days at sea.

The two days in Cairns we spent in the city itself, an easy walk from the cruise terminal. However others took advantage of the tours to the Great Barrier Reef and the Atherton Tablelands, the Kuranda Railway and even Port Douglas. We did however tour a trip around Cairns Harbour, the Inlet and Wetlands on That's Awesome to see the mangroves and perhaps a crocodile or two (no luck that day but do you really want to see them so close to Cairns)? My family connection to Cairns (apart from the father in law) is John Finn, my great grandmother's brother who went to WW1, came home and moved north to work as a cane cutter before finally dying in Cairns. He never married and I've always wondered if his war experiences led him to move so far from his family in Brisbane. Read his story here.

The next stop was Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays, another area that I have been to numerous times over the years. This time the family connection was more personal, in fact my own history. My first ever travel trip was in 1971 and it was a school group tour to North Queensland including Cairns, the Tablelands, Townsville, Rockhampton and the Whitsundays. Back then we spent a couple of days out on Daydream Island and I have always been fascinated by islands (we've even been to places like King Island in Bass Strait, Norfolk Island and of course we now live on Bribie Island). So the cruise also reawakened a lot of my early personal travel memories.

From Airlie Beach it was another two day trip back to Brisbane and it seemed a long way to us, so it must have been even further for my various ancestors who travelled down the Queensland coast in a sailing ship way back then. Herbert White disembarked in Townsville, Anders and Aose Gunderson disembarked in Maryborough sadly without their two sons who died on the voyage, my Irish ancestors Adam Johnston, Maria Jeffers and John and Sarah Finn all went to Brisbane at various times. See Letters Home - My Irish Families.

But it was my Scottish ancestors who I was thinking about most as we approached Brisbane. John and Helen Carnegie eventually settled at Toorbul near the Glass House Mountains (and Bribie Island) and I was interested to see that area from sea as the only way into the port of Brisbane is to sail between Bribie Island and Moreton Island. As luck would have it, we woke about 3.30 am and a look out the porthole showed what looked like the lights from the Sunshine Coast. If that was the case we were arriving much sooner than the 6.00 am we had set the alarm for.

Hastily dressing we raced up to the top deck in time to see the Glass House Mountains (named by Captain James Cook when he sailed past in 1770) opposite and we could easily see Woorim, the ocean side suburb of Bribie (thank goodness for no daylight saving in Queensland, it was already light at 4 am). We then zig zagged down the shipping corridor and it was fascinating to see the wrecks on Moreton, Tangalooma, and Redcliffe on the mainland side. Due to the ship's size it had to dock at the Fisherman Island cruise terminal and not the usual cruise terminal further up river at Hamilton.  We took the opportunity to visit old friends from Darwin who have recently bought a river side apartment in the Brisbane CBD and after a great lunch, they took us back to the ship. On the way out of port we sat up on the top deck and watched the ship sail past Bribie Island while our friends on the Island flashed their car lights so we could see them fare-welling us!

From there it was another full day at sea before arriving back in Sydney and the plane trip back to Brisbane. As I said earlier I wanted to think about what it was like for my ancestors sailing down the Queensland coast (although they didn't have onboard shops, casino, swimming pools etc). Shipboard diaries and newspapers can help us build up an image of what the trip was like and this desire to know was the reason behind my first ever guide with Unlock the Past - What Was the Voyage Really Like? I think I have a much greater understanding now and I'm really glad I did the cruise.

I also took the time to have my yearly break from all e devices (no mobile phone, laptop, tablet, email etc) and yes it is possible to survive. But you do come back to a mountain of emails, enewsletters, blogs to read, Facebook and Twitter posts to catch up on. However one new piece of information I will pass on now is the extension to the Public Record Office Victoria online index to wills and probates - it's now 1841-2007 which is great news for anyone with Victorian ancestors. AFFHO have accepted and approved in principle my report and recommendations so I can start to promote National Family History Month 2014 so watch out for that.

As I get back into the swing of things I'll have more genealogy news and Diary will start to be more regular (and less lengthy) again. If you don't know what to tell people when they ask 'what do you want for Christmas' then read Geniaus' really useful blog Gifts for the Girl who has Everything. Until next time!