Tuesday 29 April 2014

Genealogy notes 25-29 Apr 2014 - Inverell military seminar

The last few days have been spent travelling down to Inverell, NSW and back to attend the Inverell District Family History Group's military seminar day. It is not a quick trip - 7 hours drive and on the way down we went via Ipswich, Warwick, Stanthorpe, Tenterfield, Glen Innes and finally Inverell. On the way back it was a similar trip except after Warwick we went Allora, Grantham, Gatton, Kilcoy and Woodford just to vary the trip a bit.

The great thing about the drive especially once we got to New England was all the autumn colours. The poplars, maples, oaks etc put on a truly beautiful display and by the time we arrived in Inverell we were homesick for our time in Canberra which always had the most magic autumns. The smell of wood smoke also brought back many memories. Of course here in Queensland there are no seasons (not really) so it was very good to see it all again.

It was the Inverell District Family History Group's 30th birthday and to celebrate they had a one day military seminar and a 30th anniversary dinner which we also attended. The registration satchel included various giveaways including pen, pencil, rubber, post it notes, notebook, flyers from NSW transcriptions agents, and various tourism leaflets.There was also a lovely set of black and white postcards On the MacIntyre: Homesteads and Gardens of Western New England and a CD Index to Misc Newspaper Items: People, Places & Events in the Inverell District.

There were five talks and four speakers (I gave two talks). As some people were travelling quite a way, morning tea was first and the talks started at 10am. I thought this was an excellent idea as to make a 9am start some people would have had to leave home before a somewhat chilly dawn. That was the other thing that travelling south reminded us of - it is colder down there!

First up was my talk on the Australian Women's Register and how it can be used when researching female ancestors and women's organisations. As usual I have place the Powerpoint slides on my website - go to the Resources page and scroll down to Presentations. The second speaker was Warren Skewes (Transcribing the Fischer Diaries) talking about war diaries he has transcribed. Warren also brought along a display of war memorabilia from his own private collection which was really interesting to look at. When ever someone holds up original diaries and other items I always hope they have them stored somewhere safe and that there is a back up copy.

After an excellent lunch, Jennifer Milward from the Australian War Memorial gave a talk on helping you to research Australian military service in WW1. Every time I hear a talk about the AWM, I am amazed at how much is on their website apart from the People databases. You really need to explore all the tabs on the home page! For example, check out what is under the War History tab.

The next speaker was Christine Bramble (Great War Nurses from the Hunter Valley) whose talk was 'Almost falling through the cracks - the wartime story of Matron Ida Greaves RRC'. The acronym is the Royal Red Cross and Christine's talk was fascinating and highlighted someone whose war history was almost forgotten until her research using an amazing personal family archive. I think Matron Greaves would be a worthy addition to the Australian Women's Register which my first talk was on.

I gave the last talk of the day and it was titled - To Blog or Not to Blog, That is the Question! This talk was all about blogging, what it is, why do it and how to go about it plus a few of my favourite blogs. It is also on my website, go to the Resources page and scroll down to Presentations.

Afternoon tea and the raffles draw ended an excellent day of talks and conversation. We also had a small display of Unlock the Past books for sale which was appreciated by the various local genealogy societies who don't always get the opportunity to see the books before buying. This kept Max busy during the breaks but he also had time to look at the various military displays around the room too.

The 30th dinner was enjoyed by a smaller group and I really enjoyed the roast pork, vegies and apple sauce with pavlova for dessert while others enjoyed roast beef and an apple pudding. After some brief presentations and speeches it was time to cut the 30th birthday cake which was then thoroughly enjoyed by those present. Not that we were still hungry! Then it was time to end a long but fantastic day remembering our military ancestors.

After the extended weekend we are back on Bribie catching up with things, then we have to go down to Brisbane for the funeral of one of Max's cousins. While sad affairs, funerals are also a time to catch up with family members and now that we are back in Queensland we have been catching up with his mother's family. We are also hoping to have Mum out of hospital in the next few days so I'm not too sure how much genealogy will be happening! Still these days it is amazing what you can do with tablet, wifi and just a few spare minutes. Until next time happy researching.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Genealogy Notes 19-25 Apr 2014 - Military Musings

Today is ANZAC Day and everyone's thoughts are centred around our military ancestors and the centenary of the start of World War One. Kintalk (Auckland Libraries) have organised their usual Trans Tasman ANZAC Day blog challenge and I posted my story on Jack Russell aka Thomas Henry Alphonsus (Alfred) Spencer who fought in both World Wars. Read his story here. I am also looking forward to reading the other blogs in the challenge.

Week 14 of my personal genealogy blog challenge, 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 is on Cemetery Records and you can read about it here. Each time I do one of these blogs, I find out a little more about one of my families as I revisit the research or look at things from a different angle. The weekly challenge also means that I do not let it slip down my to do list.

Findmypast.com.au have been releasing 100 records in 100 days and part of this exciting project is the release of thousands of military records for ANZAC Day.  The new collections contain nearly 700,000 detailed records of soldiers who served as part of the Australian Imperial Forces between 1914 and 1918.
The new records available on findmypast.com.au include:

•             Australian Embarkation Roll 1914-1918
Transcripts contain details of approximately 330,000 AIF personnel, recorded as they embarked from Australia for overseas service during the First World War. They include full names, rank, age, trade, marital status, address at date of enrollment, next of kin details, religion, date of joining, unit embarked with, and further remarks. Many of the next of kin addresses recorded are in the UK.

•             Australian Nominal Roll 1914-1918
This list contains details of approximately 324,000 AIF personnel who served overseas during World War 1. It was recorded to assist with their repatriation to Australia from overseas service. The transcripts include the soldier number, full name, final rank, awards, date embarked, and the date returned to Australia, killed in action, or died of wounds. The records also include soldier’s’ unit of service at the time of death or at the end of the war, and non-effective entries – how that person became no longer effective (for example, if they were returned to Australia).

Read more about the records and their ANZAC Memory Bank which contains personal stories here.

I have not had much chance this past week to do much genealogy but I did catch up on my back issues of the Journal of One Name Studies and I am really excited that there will be a meeting of the Queensland branch of the Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS) on Bribie Island on 31 May. At least I won't have far to travel! The other big reading catch up was with Quarterly, the journal of the Association of Professional Genealogists and it is always good to read about what others are doing.

I am a member of Kiva's Genealogists for Families team and took up another three $25 loans to help families in other countries. It is a great project and you can join me on the team here.

I am heading to Inverell, New South Wales today so that I can give my two talks at the Inverell District Family History Group seminar tomorrow. There is a military theme to the day and I am looking forward to hearing the other three speakers. I will be writing about that when I get back home. A busy weekend ahead and I hope everyone finds some time to think about their military ancestors and maybe even do some research and writing. Until next time.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Genealogy Notes 12-18 Apr 2014 Easter genealogy readings

I am currently in Brisbane all alone at Easter - not the plan but then things do not always go to plan. Two weeks before my mother's 80th birthday she went into hospital and it did not look like they would let her out. Then the day before her birthday she was allowed to come home provided I could stay with her. We had already cancelled the party and moved it to Easter Monday so we settled her at home. Then I tried to do things like pay her bills, pick up her medicines etc. I often get frustrated with the online world and the need for passwords and security but the real world is no different, especially if you are trying to act for an aged parent. Anyway just after I sorted it all out and jumped through all the hoops and did the required paperwork, Mum had to go back into hospital, the party was again cancelled and apart from hospital visits I am alone and catching up on all my genealogy readings (at least those stored on my laptop or online).

On the positive side I did manage to show Mum the Powerpoint presentation on her life that I had prepared for the party. A few tears, a lot of memories and she is looking forward to sharing it with the grandkids when she is well enough. We are now looking at Mother's Day in May.

So what am I reading? The last few issues of Lost Cousins, Irish Lives Remembered, plus issues from Dick Eastman, blogs from Ancestry.com.au and Findmypast.com.au, Queensland FHS Snippets, Society of Australian Genealogists Descent journal (I get the e-version), e-news from the National Archives UK, to mention just a few so far.

I am also taking the opportunity to clean up my email accounts, I have added more events to the National Family History Month web calendar, the list of sponsors and prizes looks fantastic, finished off an article for Inside History Magazine, and with a bit of luck after this I will finalise my two new talks for the seminar at the Inverell Family History Group on 26 April. Then the following fortnight I am giving a talk to the Bribie Island Family History Special Interest Group then the day after I fly to Adelaide to give a talk at the Unlock the Past Researching and Writing History seminar. The last two are revised versions of earlier talks which are a bit easier than doing a talk totally from scratch.

The latest installment in my personal blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 was Week 13 on Personal Names and Surnames and it was a bit late due to everything else happening this week. Diary is actually a day early but I wanted a break from cleaning out Mum's garage. While we have a cleaner for her in the unit, it does not extend to the garage so that is a job for each visit. Amazing how much dust and leaves can get into a place that is closed a lot of the time.

Tomorrow after my hospital visit I plan to get started on the National Institute of Genealogical Studies course that I have agreed to do. Had I a crystal ball I would have said no back then, but on the other hand it will seriously occupy my time and attention now. I also still have to do my military blog for Kintalk's ANZAC Day Challenge which is now only a week away.

The other nice thing about being at Mum's is that I get to go for long walks along the walking trails that follow Enoggera Creek and play spot the tortoise, spook the ducks, watch the scrub turkeys and frill lizards, not to mention keep an eye out for snakes. Last night the mosquitoes got me so I plan to go walkies in a few minutes.

It is perfect Easter weather here in sunny Brisbane. I hope all my geneafriends are enjoying Easter with their families and friends. Until next time, happy researching.

Thursday 10 April 2014

Genealogy notes 5-11 April 2014 talks and travels

My time at the moment is taken up with doing some new talks. Later this month I am giving two talks at the Inverell Family History Group seminar day. One is on researching women ancestors and the other is on blogging, both topics where you can probably talk for hours! Then in May I have four talks - one on Bribie with the local society, one in Adelaide (part of Carol Baxter's research and writing history seminar with Unlock the Past) and two in Brisbane at the Genealogical Society of Queensland's seminar. Details on the Events page of my website.

I often wonder if people realise how much work actually goes into a 45 minute presentation. It is almost like writing an article or a book except you have to do it with less words and still get the message across. I also try to do the presentations so that attendees can go home and try out their own searches. Still it will be good to have some new topics available in the future. Recycling talks makes sense!

I have done another installment of 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014. Week 12 is on Gazetteers and their use in family history. One thing about doing a personal blog challenge is that you soon realise how quickly a week goes and where did those last 12 weeks go? But on the positive side I have done 12 pieces looking at various examples from my own family research and revisited research I last did decades ago.

Time has also been spent doing more articles for Inside History Magazine - I really love working on their 'archives series' as there are so many great places to research beyond the usual suspects. Some of the 'ask an expert' questions they send my way are truly challenging and sometimes I believe our ancestors do not want to be found! I am still thinking about my talk last month to the local historical society on my Carnegie family - why did the security alarm go off twice during my talk? This month's speaker was not interrupted once!

I have made my travel arrangements for the 6th Unlock the Past cruise and we are also going to the Norfolk Island conference so airfares and accommodation booked for that too. Both events are going to be good and next week I am going to do my early bird registration for the AFFHO Congress 2015 in Canberra next March. That is a fantastic program with so many good speakers and presentations.

Does anyone feel that we are starting to live on our phones, tablets, laptops? One of my emails this week was from the British Newspapers Archive inviting me to download their free app so that I can view daily fascinating historical articles, images and adverts on my phone for free. Or you can read these daily stories on their Facebook page! How tempting is that? I simply love reading and searching the historic newspapers  but if I also had access on my phone I would never get any work done but then it could come in handy when sitting around waiting for the doctor. If I don't log on to Trove everyday for a quick search I feel like I am missing something.

We had a very bad storm here last Sunday and we lost power due to trees falling down all over the island. No power meant no charging phones, tablets or laptops so one lesson learnt was keep everything fully charged! Luckily we were only without power for a few hours but dinner on the gas BBQ by candlelight was interesting and we must buy a better torch. As I write this there is a category 5 cyclone bearing down on the Queensland coast near Cooktown and I sincerely hope that everyone stays safe although the property damage will probably be massive. Mother Nature can be very destructive and it is a sobering reminder to us all to make sure that we have our precious heirlooms and research backed up and stored somewhere safe.

Finally I have started promoting National Family History Month and sending out invitations to participate to genealogy and family history societies, archives, libraries and so on. Don't forget to like the Facebook page if you have not done so yet. Happy researching until next time.

Thursday 3 April 2014

Genealogy notes 27 Mar - 4 Apr 2014 National Family History Month Aug 2014

This week I am travelling and it is hard to keep up with things on the road, especially in the caravan. Before we left I was madly trying to finalise sponsorship details for National Family History Month in August as there are only four months to go. As the voluntary national coordinator I have to do all the sponsorship arrangements, look after the website and put the events up in the calendar and then all the publicity and promotion via social media and our sponsors networks. Almost a full time job especially in the last few months before August but it is one way that I can give back to the genealogy community for the fantastic career and life it has given me over the last four decades (almost)!

I have put a blog on my website about progress on NFHM to date - read about it here and note all the fantastic sponsors and prizes. August is starting to look really good and I would appreciate all the help I can get in spreading the word about NFHM in Australia and New Zealand.

It is funny but whenever I travel I seem to receive requests from clients for research yet when I am home it goes quiet. Anyway from this trip I have a couple of research inquiries to look forward to when I get home. Although brick walls, which these two inquiries are, are not always easy to solve, I will at least be able to provide a fresh set of eyes and perhaps ask different questions and perhaps suggest new avenues to look. Always love a genealogy challenge!

My 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 personal blog challenge is on hold this week. I had also hoped to get some work done on my new talks for the Inverell Family History Group Seminar at the end of April but not to be. I was tempted by the Noosa Everglades tour (check out that photo the kangaroo hopping across the water) with The Discovery Group which was a fantastic six hour trip up the Noosa River. The next day the Eumundi markets beckoned and they have to be one of the best markets in south east Queensland. The Noosa Ferry tempted the following day and we toured down to Noosa Heads and Hastings Street and the famous Noosa beach. Not sure what today will bring but it is another glorious day so perhaps a spot of swimming and maybe even some fishing!

Before I finish just an insight into why we should publish our family stories. I wrote an article on film and radio archives in the Jul-Aug 2012 issue of Inside History Magazine with no response. The magazine then reused the article as a guest blog in Jan 2014 which then meant it was searchable by Google. Before we left I received a letter from the UK and it contained information that I had never heard before. A bit of a bombshell for the family I was writing about and I have not mentioned it to them yet as I am still exchanging details with the family in the UK. But without Google and publishing the story online I would not know this information about our family. Stay tuned!
 It will be back to normal next week but in the meantime don't forget to check out what's new with National Family History Month 2014! Until next time, happy researching.