Tuesday 30 December 2014

Genealogy Notes 26-31 Dec 2014 New Year Thoughts

I hope everyone had a great Christmas with family and friends and now we have a new year on the horizon. Somewhere between Christmas and New Year our local supermarket started selling hot cross buns (traditionally associated with Easter) and other stores will have them on sale from the New Year. No wonder we think our years are speeding up, but obviously the buns are a good seller!

The end of a year always has me thinking about what I have done and what I am looking forward to in the coming year. I like to set some basic goals because as a procrastinator, I like to remind myself from time to time of things I really want to do. So here are my Genealogy Aspirations for 2015. Nothing too ambitious and lots of room to do other things as they come up over the year.

Each year geneafriend GeniAus organises a genealogy blog challenge Accentuate the Positive 2014 Genememe and I like to take part in this as well. The questions always prompt me to think about genealogy finds that I may have forgotten over the course of a year or they give me a chance to tell others, someone else might benefit from my experiences. I am still pondering my answers so look out for that response soon. Anyone is welcome to do it and if you do, let Jill know as she collates all the responses.

I have completed another AFFHO Congress 2015 speaker interview, this time with David Berry from the State Library of New South Wales. And fast forwarding, in three months time Congress will be winding up for another three years. So if you don't want to wait that long, make sure you get to Canberra at the end of March!

With so much happening in the second half of 2014, I totally missed my 5th anniversary of blogging. SHHE Genie Rambles started in Sep 2009 and records a lot of my genealogy adventures as well as blogs telling my family stories and other bits and pieces. Through it I have made contact with long lost cousins, tracked missing branches of families and made some great friends. I really can't imagine family history now without blogging.

Back in September, the Lovely Blog award was doing the rounds and I was fortunate to receive two awards (one for Diary and one for SHHE Genie Rambles) and my responses are here and here. Just recently I received another one from Chris Wright and rather than do another response, I will simply direct you to her blog post The Ancestor Digger One Lovely Blog Award where she nominated me. In her list of nominated blogs she has some of my favourite bloggers so check them out, especially if you have not come across them before.

One of my projects over the last week has been to continue to catalogue my library into Library Thing and this has been a useful exercise but does seem never ending at the moment. Surprisingly I have turned up duplicates (where I have two of something), outdated editions and I kept the earlier edition, books that are truly out of date but still with some useful knowledge, and some books that are now in a pile on the floor. Some I no longer want but still have relevance so will be offered to a society, some I will offer to others and some will go into the bin.

But what has truly surprised me is what I have forgotten I had and by handling each book, pamphlet, journal or whatever again, I have been struck by how useful some of them are, even in today's Google world. I bought a family history back in the 70s with distant connections to my White family and I probably haven't looked at it since.Surprise surprise, all the work I have done since then now makes this book extremely relevant to my own White family. Going back to basics and looking at research with new eyes can be rewarding, not simply a waste of time.

I now have another pile of books that I want to go back through again - at least with Library Thing I can find them all now, or will be able to, when I finish the last four bookcases!

There have been some fantastic Christmas/New Year specials from all the big companies, Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage, Eneclann and so on. I have seen most of them via Facebook when friends share posts on bargains and Geneabloggers has written a blog Genealogy Bargains which sums up a lot of the deals on offer.

It is super hot here and humidity is way up so time to escape the geneacave for a swim! If you are wondering about any of my genea words then check out the GeneaDictionary. Wishing everyone a fantastic geneayear in 2015 and I hope to meet some of you at the AFFHO Congress in Canberra, the NSW & ACT conference in Port Macquarie or the History Queensland conference in Brisbane. Or the really lucky ones on the Unlock the Past Baltic cruise! Until next year, happy researching.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Genealogy Notes 19-25 December 2014 - Christmas thoughts

Christmas Eve and we are getting everything ready for tomorrow's lunch at my mother's place. All my brother's family will be there and all of mine too - the only one who may not be there is our mother. A week or so ago she had a fall, needed some stitches in her head and after a few days in hospital it was back into rehab to make her strong enough to go home. But she developed pneumonia over the weekend and it is now a wait and see how she goes to whether or not they will let her out for Christmas lunch. The antibiotics have helped and she is looking better but we will get the doctor's decision later today. So we might be all trooping up to the hospital before we tuck into our seafood feast.

Christmas is always the one time of the year when we do try to come together as a family but it has not always been possible with my living interstate for so many years. Plus we have extended families - my son usually alternates Christmas between us and his other grandma but this year he is managing to fit us both in, although they are not planning to eat two Christmas lunches! Max's families are all interstate so there will be lots of phone calls and there are packages under the Christmas tree.

So no matter how you are celebrating Christmas this year, take the time to think about your families and all the memories you are creating. Capture those images and memories on your cameras so that you can remember those moments in the future. Merry Christmas everyone and I hope there are some genealogy goodies in your stockings.

This time of year I also start thinking about 2014 in retrospect and looking ahead to 2015 and what it might be bringing. Regular readers will know that I try and capture this with my Genealogy Aspirations blog posts - here is my 2014 Genealogy Aspirations. I will be reviewing those five aspirations and thinking about what I want to focus on in 2015. Hopefully I will have that done before the end of the year, only a week away now.

There are lots of exciting genealogy events happening in Australia in 2015 and I am lucky to be giving talks at all of them. See where I am speaking in 2015 on the Services & Events page of my website. Additional talks may be added as I accept invitations throughout the year. I have also got some new and exciting writing projects lined up too but more about that in the New Year.

I have done completed two more interviews with speakers from the AFFHO Congress 2015 mega genealogy event next March in Canberra - Cora Num and Jennie Norberry. There are still a few more to come but probably not until the New Year. It is really interesting to see the tips for attending Congress that the speakers are giving. For me, to make the most of it you just need to be a sponge, and soak it all up but it also helps to be prepared and that's why I think these speaker interviews are so useful.

The National Family History Month 2015 website and NFHM Facebook page are updated as much as I can until sponsorship is finalised, hopefully in January. Then my goal is to try and convince every genealogy and family history society in Australia to have an event. I may need some help with that, so if you are a member of any societies, make sure you mention NFHM  August 2015 to them.

Thank you to all my regular readers and to those who dip in from time to time. I enjoy passing on news and details of the genealogy events I am lucky enough to attend. I go into 2015 more convinced that social media is the way of the future and hopefully we will see more genealogy and family history societies joining in and reaching out to their members and others in the online world.

Have a safe and happy Christmas everyone, until next time.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Genealogy notes 11-18 Dec 2014 - more AFFHO Congress interviews

Hard to believe Christmas is now only a week away and the New Year a week after that - but then I say that every year. We have hosted a party for the neighbours and most of the shopping is done, the tree is up and the lights flashing around the yard and house. So definitely looks like Christmas even if I am still wondering where the year went.

I have done two more AFFHO Congress 2015 speaker interviews - Robyn Williams from New Zealand on New Zealand topics and Kate Bagnall who has been researching Chinese Australian families. I still have a couple more interviews to do next week and I have been sending out reminders to others on my list to interview. Pauleen Cass, my fellow official Congress blogger with Jill Ball, has posted her interview with me - see it here.

Time does fly as since the photo I sent to the Congress organisers which must have been back in 2013, I have changed my look. Always odd seeing photos of yourself and that is something I have done a lot of over the past week. I have been going through photo albums selecting photos to digitise and at the same time, generating so many memories.

There has been a sustained attack on all my paper genealogy magazines and  journals, although each one I read has just given me new ideas to follow up. Once I am on a new website hours can go by and of course there are all the leads from Twitter and Facebook posts too. In an attempt to capture some of the #genealogy tweets I started a Shauna Hicks Genealogy Daily Paper-li but for some reason, even though I only selected people I follow for genealogy, I have ended up with some strange additions.

So that needs a bit of tweaking and of course I still follow Jill Ball's The Australian Genealogists Daily. I noticed that some key tweets weren't showing up in that which is why I started my own. We have so many good online social media enthusiasts in Australia we should try and capture more of what they are sharing with us.

MyHeritage issued a press release about their new Instant Discoveries which

"provides information about one's ancestors and relatives while signing up to MyHeritage, giving a free, fun and immediately gratifying introduction to the fascinating world of family history. First-time users to provide very basic information about 7 family members: themselves, their parents and grandparents and then powerful technology automatically searches for information about their family in MyHeritage’s vast databases of billions of records. Within seconds, users are then presented with an Instant Discovery™, showing a person likely to be their ancestor, together with a wealth of related information including the entire family branch, names, facts, photos and documents. Users can then apply it all to their family tree in a click." 

They tested it on people in New York and you can view the video here. I am wondering how it would actually work here in Australia and at the moment it is only available to new MyHeritage users. I have had a MyHeritage account for a few years so I can't check. So if anyone here in Australia has tried it please let me know.

While I can see the appeal of instantly finding someone, especially in this day and age, I am not sure if that is better than some of the research thrills and satisfaction I have had over the years as I have painstakingly tracked people down. For me the path has been the challenge, not just the family knowledge at the end.

Findmypast had a very handy family historian Christmas gift guide for the  which I hope my family noted and of course I am also hoping for Nathan Dylan Goodwin's new novella The Orange Lilies. I have also mentioned a new orchid several times and there is that wonderful red and white toadstool statue at the local nursery which would be perfect in the back garden. Boxes of chocolates or electric toothbrushes will not be accepted! I do hope that Santa is more receptive than the family.

My other big task is getting the website and Facebook account for National Family History Month changed over for 2015. I have made some changes to wording on the home page but got stuck changing over the banner so I have called in the cavalry to assist.  Sponsors are still being finalised so I have left 2014 sponsors for the moment.

Events for 2015 can now be added to the web calendar - see here. The Family History Month Facebook page has been updated to and I will start to post any NFHM 2015 news as it comes too hand (or I generate as the voluntary coordinator).

Finally as part of the Kiva Genealogists for Families team I made another three loans for Christmas - two were from repayments from earlier loans and the other $25 loan was my Christmas gift to others. Join me by clicking here. $25 has the power to change peoples lives and it is so
nice to be part of this team helping families.

Very hot and humid here today and a storm predicted for the afternoon. We have seen some very bad storms the last few weeks so I hope everyone stays safe. There will be one more Diary before Christmas so have fun with all those last minute preparations. Remember to find some time for genealogy, it doesn't take too long to read a blog or two! Until next time.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Genealogy Notes 4-10 Dec 2014 blog posts & 2015 events

The last week has seen three very different blog posts. The first was a So This is Christmas 2014 geneameme challenge from Sharn White (FamilyHistory4U) and it has been interesting reading the various responses from other Geneabloggers. My response was 2014 Christmas Genealogy Geneameme and I found it very hard to remember any of my childhood Christmas dinners. So this Christmas I will have to ask my brother what he remembers and to see if Mum has any old Christmas photos to jog my memory!

My next blog post was a book review of Nathan Dylan Goodwin's first two genealogical crime mysteries with Morton Farrier, a forensic genealogist - Hiding The Past and The Lost Ancestor. Read my review of both books here. Since I finished the review, I have discovered there is a new Morton Farrier adventure, a novella ebook The Orange Lilies and I have been dropping hints to the family. Certainly a more interesting present than the electric toothbrush I received last year!

The final blog for the week was another interview in my AFFHO Congress 2015 series of interviews with speakers. Read my interview with Michelle Nichols here. I have some more interviews to put up but there have been severe storms here every day and it is just not worth being online with so many lightning strikes around. Pauleen Cass one of the Congress official blogging team is doing a similar interview with me although I am still considering my own answers to the questions!

I have received some sponsor confirmations for National Family History Month 2015 which is fantastic. Hopefully I will hear from the others in the next week or so and then I can change the website over for 2015. Make sure you have August marked in your diaries as NFHM.

All my known speaking engagements for 2015 are now on the Services & Events page of my website.  I have three major conferences, two genealogy cruises, some society seminars and library talks so far and as I commit to any other presentations I will add them to the list. But it looks like being a big year for genealogy in 2015 especially if you live in Canberra, Port Macquarie, Adelaide or Brisbane or can travel to those events!

I went to the Bribie Island family history group meeting and Christmas lunch today and everyone spoke about what they had been doing. Sometimes that is a great way to learn about new sites or to get other peoples ideas on your family history problems. No more meetings now until next year.

Another storm is rolling its way in and it is now so dark I almost need the lights on and it is still afternoon. We are fairly lucky here on Bribie Island as the main storm cells seem to go around us and as a sand island, the water usually just goes straight through. The winds can be pretty full on depending on the direction they are coming from.  Thunder, lightning, rain and wind now here so time to log off and stand by with the mop and a torch! Happy researching until next time.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Genealogy notes 24 Nov - 3 Dec 2014 Congress 2015 speaker interviews

The last week or so has totally got away from me. But yesterday I did make the Bribie Island Family History Group meeting where the speaker talked about his own convict families and how wonderful the Australian Joint Copying Project was. This reminded me of the talk I gave on AJCP earlier this year for the Genealogical Society of Queensland - the presentation is still on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations and it was in May 2014.

There are now two interviews in my AFFHO Congress 2015 speaker interviews - Richard Reid interview and Sue Reid interview (no relation to Richard). Over the next week or so I will be doing another two interviews and all up I have 12 speakers in my list. The other two official Congress bloggers Jill Ball and Pauleen Cass are also doing a similar number of interviews. Some fantastic speakers are lined up for Congress so watch out for all the latest news.

There is an AFFHO committee meeting tomorrow night. I am a member with my role as voluntary coordinator for National Family History Month. Meetings always prompt me to do things so I wrote a small piece on NFHM 2015 for the December News Flash and I have contacted all of last year's NFHM sponsors and invited them to sponsor us again. Of course we always welcome new sponsors too!

Another new experience is looming for me too. I have been asked to participate in Maria Northcote's Genies Down Under podcasts - January and February episodes to be exact. In the past I have done podcasts with the State Library of Victoria and the Genealogical Society of Victoria for members only (more just recording my talks at those institutions). This is a bit different so I have said yes so look out for them in the New Year.

I have been busy writing some Q&A pieces for Inside History Magazine and Family Tree Magazine UK and as usual, always amazed by some of the tricky ancestors out there doing their best to stay hidden!

Findmypast have been adding lots of Scottish records over the last month so I did a quick search and was pleasantly surprised to find three references to my Scottish GGG grandfather. The references prove that he was a merchant seaman (an occupation on one of the certificates I have for him) and one of the references had his birth date so I know it is definitely him. I just wish I could work out what all the abbreviations and squiggles on the entries mean. One of the entries looks like US which might explain the American colours tattoo he had, I always believed he must have travelled to the US prior to marrying and coming to Queensland.

Unlock the Past Cruises sent out a media release for the seven cruises they have in 2015-2016 - something for everyone. You can see their 16 page catalogue here. It would be great to do them all but not really an option time or money wise for most of us. So I am definitely doing the Baltic cruise in July 2015 as it is a while since I last went to Europe.

I have never been to America so I am also doing the Trans Atlantic cruise in November 2015 plus I have always wanted to celebrate my birthday at sea. The Melbourne Cup is just going to have to miss me next year. It is a while since I was in New Zealand too so I am going to do the New Zealand to Australia (including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth) cruise in February 2016.

I am missing out on Western Australia, Queensland and the Barrier Reef cruises and I am still undecided on the European river cruise which goes from Amsterdam to Basel in Switzerland through France and Germany. My issue is timing - it is late July early August 2016 which is of course National Family History Month but perhaps I will no longer be voluntary coordinator by then??

Now that I have my next research guide with Unlock the Past's editor, I am going to have another big tidy up in the study, get back to cataloging more of my books into Library Thing and do some of my own research during the 'quiet' holiday season. The other half has a significant birthday coming up and I have something planned which I need to start working on or it won't be finished in time.

So lots to keep me going next week.Happy researching.