Wednesday 22 October 2014

Genealogy Notes 15-22 October 2014 Geneacruising again

Most of the last week I have been reviewing my talks for the 6th Unlock the Past cruise which is a three night cruise out of Sydney which is basically a genealogy conference at sea. So no sightseeing or foreign ports but lots of genealogy talks and research help sessions. I will be giving 5 talks over 3 days and I am not the only speaker so definitely full on for all attendees. A blog report will follow in early November.

Why so long to wait? Well straight after the cruise I am heading over to Norfolk Island for the Unlock the Past history and genealogy conference. We will be on the Island for 5 nights and the conference itself is only 3 days so plenty of time for sightseeing although I have been to Norfolk before. Again I will be doing 5 talks in 3 days so no rest for the wicked although I suspect that is really no rest for the geneaddicted. Again a blog report will follow in early November as I am not sure what internet access I will have or how much spare time there will be.

This is my last geneafling for 2014 so I am going the whole geneahog. I do hope Geniaus is reading this as I would love to see myself credited with a new genea word in her geneadictionary.

The other thing I have been doing is trying to avoid seeing comments by geneamates on Nathan Goodwin's forensic genealogy novels which I have been given to review. I hate spoilers so I will need to think about how to review a novel without giving it all away. So far everyone has said they can't put it down so I am thinking of reading them when I get back after all my geneadistractions.

Week 25 Immigration records in my 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 was completed but there won't be another post in that series until early November. That week is also my birthday and Melbourne Cup so perhaps I should not be promising too much as it usually is a party week for me.

I can go for weeks with no one asking me to do anything and then all of a sudden everything happens. This week I have seen requests to speak next year, a request for research from someone, to do some more articles for magazines (Inside History Magazine) and I still have two more to go for Irish Lives Remembered and I have agreed to write another course in the Australian certificate for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. I learnt a lot from writing the last one I did and this time around I will be more familiar with their requirements and style etc. So lots of interesting things to finish the year with.

I have one more talk for the Genealogical Society of Queensland on 22 November in Brisbane and I have two papers to write for the AFFHO Congress 2015 due before 30 November so my birthday month is shaping up to be very busy. The Congress early bird closes on 31 October and it really is the genealogy conference not to miss (only every 3 years) and Canberra in March is simply stunning with all those autumn colours we don't see here in the north. 

Well time to go and pack and get myself totally organised for an early morning flight to Sydney and 8 days of genealogy fun and some fantastic sightseeing on Norfolk Island. Stay tuned for my return and reports on all the geneaction. Sorry couldn't help myself! Happy researching until next time.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Genealogy notes 8-14 October 2014 - More Great Seminars & Backing Up

Since last Diary I have had a great time on the Gold Coast at the Angling for Ancestors genealogy seminar. It was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and to hear some great talks. My report on the seminar is here and fellow geneablogger Helen Smith also did a report and you can read it here.

I was all set up to tweet and Facebook this seminar as usually I am a speaker and don't get the chance to just sit back and do comments while in progress. However I was a tad over eager - I put my fully charged mobile wifi and Ipad in my handbag the night before so that I would not forget them. It was a bit of a rush in the morning so I did not check that all was ok. Sadly somehow the on button on my wifi was activated in my handbag and when I pulled it out to start tweeting I realised it was about to go flat! Of course, the charger was back home. Just as well I still had by trusty pen and notebook.

Over the years I have been watching the developments in the big subscription databases such as GenesReunited,, MyHeritage and and the amount of indexed and digitised records continues to grow. But what is also fascinating is how they have become more interactive and allow people to store their family information online and put them in touch with others researching the same families.

Early on I put my family data into Genes Reunited and have had many many contacts over the years. I had limited information in Ancestry for years but earlier this year I put all of my information there although I still maintain a separate genealogy program which has all the up to date information and sources etc. As with Genes Reunited, I have found relatives this way and shared information.

I have limited information in MyHeritage but it put me in touch with relatives in Ireland that I suspect I would never have found any other way or certainly not as easily. This is a program that I want to look at more but at the moment I have been looking at Findmypast's family trees which I first put data into back in 2012. I have just uploaded a gedcom of Max's families and it only took one minute and 44 seconds to load nearly 2000 people. I certainly could not re-enter that data anywhere near as quick. Plus you can attach records, photos and it will even calculate kinship for you. Read about the new and improved Findmypast family tree here.

Now that we are living in Queensland Max is interested in knowing more about his mother's Queensland family although he does already know some of his cousins. Surprisingly we have also found that his paternal grandfather has family here too. We have chosen the public option as we want people to find us but have also chosen to suppress the living.

So why have your data in so many places (and there are more choices than those listed here)? Because I have found relatives in all four of these subscription sites it shows that people are choosing different systems but if you only use one of them, you miss the others. Full membership of all four of them is expensive although you can choose free or limited options and of course, some of them are also available to use in libraries.

If anything happens to my laptop, or my backup disk, or my remote hard drive, at least some of my data is available on all of these sites. However I also use BackupMyTree which is a free MyHeritage application which allows me to store my data online (outside of MyHeritage) and there is no public access to it. Another plus is that each time I update my genealogy software program it automatically syncs to BackupMyTree.

So my data is retrievable (although the scanning of my photos and documents continues) and we are waiting for other family members to contact us, hopefully. Whenever I start playing with my own families, you know that I am procrastinating and this time it is finalising my new research guide for Unlock the Past. I always agonise in the final stages of a guide, am I too boring, have I missed something, got it wrong or whatever else. Fortunately their wonderful editor usually soothes all those silly nerves.

There will be one more Diary before we are off on the next Unlock the Past cruise and the Norfolk Island history and genealogy conference. Happy researching until then.

Monday 6 October 2014

Genealogy Notes 1-7 Oct 2014 Online but Not Online

Another super big week but a highlight was the Queensland Family History Society seminar on asylums, prisons and hospitals at the weekend. I gave two talks Family Skeletons or Just Old and Sick: Looking at Asylum Records and Missing an Ancestor? Try Looking Behind Bars. As usual both my presentations are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. The other speaker was Pauleen Cass on hospital records and her presentation can be found on her blog Family History Across the Seas under the Presentation page.

Alex (Family Tree Frog) has done an in-depth review of the day (read it here) so I won't repeat any of that here. What I do want to say is that I took the opportunity to do a quick survey of the audience and their online habits. When asked the general question is everybody online most hands went up, although surprisingly a few people still don't use computers. My next questions were about who used Twitter, read or wrote blogs, Google+ and Facebook and Facebook was the only one where more than a few hands went up. It seems that most only used their computers for email, web searching and not for social media although both Pauleen and I did try to encourage them during the day.

I also took the opportunity to mention that Pauleen, Jill Ball (aka Geniaus) and myself are the official bloggers for Congress 2015 in Canberra in March 2015. This is the must attend genealogy event in Australia/New Zealand every three years. We will be using social media to promote Congress and its wonderful sponsors over the coming months. But if people don't use social media it is hard for us to get all the exciting messages out in a timely way.

After every talk I usually pick up a few followers or my blogs are viewed by more people so obviously some people do go home and at least have a look. I have been using social media for just over five years now and can't imagine how I could possibly learn about all the great new resources without finding out through social media. In Australia the genealogy community does not seem to have embraced social media. Do people know what they are missing out on?

I noticed this lack of engagement with social media during National Family History Month too. Or have I got it wrong? Is it there and I just haven't picked up on who to follow?

Pauleen also took the opportunity to mention that we are both members of the Kiva Genealogists for Families project and it was good to see a few other hands go up for that. If you would like to join us follow this link. $25 can make a big difference to other families and I have relent my $25 over and over.

A great day. QFHS have really embraced the online world - they even sent Pauleen and I virtual thank you cards by email using Jacquie Lawson notecards.

This coming weekend I have the Angling for Ancestors genealogy weekend with the Gold Coast Family History Society with key speakers Jan Gow QSM and Graham Jaunay. I am not speaking so will be quietly sitting back and absorbing the knowledge. There will be a review of the day coming up next week.

Week 24 of my personal genealogy blog challenge is on post office directories - read about it here.

My LibraryThing cataloging is going slowly and having to do three trips to Brisbane took away a lot of time. It is not that far but an hour there and back plus time waiting around for appointments means that virtually a whole day is gone by the time we get back.  Now that the weather is so gorgeous I have been swimming every day and doing some more gardening. No rain also means time spent hosing all our gardens, thank goodness we have bore water.

It is just over a week until my next Unlock the Past cruise so the focus will be finalising my five talks for that plus I have another five talks for the Norfolk Island conference to finalise too. My two papers for Congress 2015 are due at the end of November and while I have been thinking about them  I have yet to put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard to be more specific.

Amazing how fast this year has gone. Until next week, enjoy your genealogy research and why not try and encourage more of our Aussie geneamates to try social media. If we all recruited just one person that would make a difference. Until next time.