Friday 27 March 2015

AFFHO Congress news: Genealogy notes 23-27 March 2015

It's not quite a week since the last Diary but I thought there should be at least one Diary post during AFFHO Congress 2015. I'm still adjusting to the new time zone and waking up late as my body is programmed to wake at the same time each day. But I'm putting it to bed later than usual so I could be a bit of a zombie today.

It was a long trip here but we arrived safe to be greeted by a Congress welcoming committee who were our friends when we lived here many years ago. Then we were taken to the Mantra on Northbourne where we are staying and although we were early (before 2 pm), they found us a room that was ready and we were unpacked and having a reviving cup of tea within minutes.

I needed it because then it was the shortish walk to the Canberra National Convention Centre to collect my conference satchel (to be described in a later blog post) and meet up with lots of old geneafriends and a few of my new social media friends also came up and introduced themselves. I am going to have to stop thinking of people in terms of their blog names and remember their real names!

After I collected my blogging beads from Jill there seemed to be a whirlwind of photos with various people. No doubt some of those will surface on blog posts or social media. Then it was the walk back to the Mantra to get ready for the meet and greet at the Australian War Memorial. Fortunately I met long time friend Sue (now a member of the Caloundra Family History Group) and she offered to drive Max and myself there as he is still having a bit of trouble walking following his recent broken leg drama.

At the meet and greet we met up with lots of other people from our Canberra days but also from our genealogy cruises with Unlock the Past Cruises, other genealogy conferences and our days of living in Melbourne and Brisbane. Once you have been to one geneaconference, you know that there will always be someone to talk to at the next one as it is so easy to meet new people and to meet again regular attendees.

The first day of Congress talks was excellent and that will be a separate post too when I have more time. The venue is excellent and the Royal Theatre has three screens so that everyone can see everything. This is lots of room in the exhibition area and so far I have not bought anything. Early days yet. This was another opportunity to catch up with old friends while enjoying the excellent catering. There seemed to be lots of food at multiple stations so no overly long delays in getting lunch and tea and coffee.

At the end of the day I attended the AFFHO AGM where I was given the opportunity to talk about National Family History Month 2015 and to encourage all AFFHO societies to participate. There will be more about NFHM once I have all my Congress posts written. It is the next big thing on the Australasian genealogy horizon.

The day ended with a great Chinese dinner at Kingston (the China Plate) with Dorothy from Wagga Wagga & District Family History Society and Rosemary from HAGSOC (Canberra), both long time geneafriends. It was a wide ranging geneadiscussion.

Well if I don't stop writing this update and get ready I will miss Josh Taylor from Findmypast and the first keynote speaker of the day. My talk on sporting ancestors is one of the last talks of the day so another long day and we have the conference dinner tonight at Parliament House! If you aren't at Congress, have fun watching us on social media with #affho #genealogy or follow the usual suspects. Until next time, happy searching.

Sunday 22 March 2015

Google, photos, sporting ancestors:Genealogy notes 16 - 22 Mar 2015

Last week's Diary brought the news of an exciting discovery of a WW1 ancestor's photograph. I'm happy to say that I have just been sent a photo of my great great grandmother's sister. As we have no photos at all on this line I am super excited as she looks just like my grandmother or is that wishful thinking? Or do all little old ladies look like that?

This exciting discovery came about because someone (my third cousin once removed) Googled our common ancestor John Carnegie of Toorbul and found all my blog posts on how I eventually knocked down the brick walls around this family. I've dashed off a quick email to say hello!

I have to say that Google is perhaps the most exciting genealogical discovery of all time BUT you still need to be blogging your family stories to be discovered and contacted by long lost cousins. I really don't know why everyone doesn't have a geneablog. It is a wet rainy day here and when I logged on to write this Diary post, there was the email and the photos. How easy is that?

Week 35 of my personal genealogy blog challenge is Sporting Records and that is also one of the topics I am talking about next week at the AFFHO Congress in Canberra. I'm also happy to say that my new research guide Discover your sporting ancestors: it was not all work and no play is also now available. There are so many aspects of our ancestors lives that we can explore and I have really enjoyed tracking down some of these sporting stories.

My first blog post for The In-Depth Genealogist was this week and not surprisingly I was writing about the AFFHO Congress and how we will all be using social media to share what is happening in Canberra over five very exciting days and nights. Only four more sleeps for me!

Although Congress is now occupying most of my thoughts I need to keep in mind that the weekend after it I am heading back up to Maryborough for the genealogy seminar cancelled courtesy of Cyclone Marcia. I am giving three talks and the seminar is being organised by the Maryborough Family Heritage Research Institute. I'm really looking forward to catching up with them as I first started giving talks there in the 1980s!

My book review of Jayne Shrimpton's Fashion in the 1940s is here. It gave me some great ideas to follow up on my female relatives during WW2.

During a quick visit to Brisbane I was lucky enough to have a look behind the scenes at the Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages. Plus they are one of our new prize sponsors for National Family History Month (NFHM) in August 2015. The list of sponsors prizes is looking good and thanks to AFFHO and Ancestry for being major sponsors this year (new/additional sponsors may also join between now and August). Keep up to date by visiting the NFHM website or this Diary as I am the voluntary coordinator again!

There must be other news but I really want to get back to my Carnegie research and look at the two pages of information sent along with the photos. Although looking at the time, the family might be expecting me to cook dinner! Perhaps they won't be hungry tonight? Happy researching and blogging, let people find you.

Sunday 15 March 2015

WW1 Soldier Portraits, the first AFFHO Congress and women - Genealogy Notes 9-15 March 2015

I love blogging. I actually relax when I write and this week I managed to do two blogs. Week 34 in my 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 is on Maps another fascinating resources for genealogy and family history research. The second blog was Thoughts on the 1977 AFFHO Congress (the first ever Congress) and its proceedings and speculating on how many people who went to that will be at the 14th Congress in Canberra in a week or so.

I started researching my own family history in March 1977 so I have been lucky to hear many of Australia and New Zealand's top conference speakers since then. Plus I have always bought the proceedings to refer to later. The genealogy world has changed so much since then.

The State Library of Queensland has been digitising soldier's portraits from WW1 as published in The Queenslander as part of their QANZAC 100 Memories for a new generation project. They are doing detailed images and as such the images and soldier's names are much clearer than what is in Trove. For example, I have been unable to find Denis Patrick Finn's photo in Trove but thanks to the SLQ's project, I now have his image and the reference to the page and date of The Queenslander. Denis was wounded and served time in a prisoner of war camp so I am really glad to now have a photo of him in uniform. He looks so young but then he was only 17 years old. I have more WW1 soldiers to find so that is another project I am closely following.

March is Women's History Month and my geneacolleague Hazel Edwards (author of How to Write a Non Boring Family History) sent me some wonderful ideas from her annual Witty Women's lunch and this year guests had to bring a plate of food to share with a quote from an historic female. Hazel has been doing this for 36 years with different themes, that's a lot of celebrating women of the past. Here are some examples and I have tried to keep to a family history type theme:
  • Actress & inventor Hedy Lamarr developed a patent for frequency hopping now used in Wifi & Blue Tooth
  • DNA researcher & biologist Rosalind Franklin, was mentioned three times, with double helix fruit platter, corkscrew cheese sticks and rice rolls in genetic patterns. Her male colleagues Watson, Crick & Wilkins got the Nobel Prize for the double helix model in 1962.
  • Family historian Kath Ensor wrote ‘The Blue Family history with Indigo and Skye’ 
  • Nurse Florence Nightingale was quoted in connection with ‘Notes on Nursing: What It is, and what it is not,’ translated as having a little of what you fancy, has and always will, do you good.’ 

Reading Hazel's list of women, food and quotes started me thinking about my female ancestors and could I associate them with a food or a quote. Something to work on for next year's women's history month. Thanks Hazel for the reminder of all those talented women from the past and present.

Two talks this week and both on Bribie Island which made a pleasant change from all the driving I have been doing lately. It is always nice to speak at my local library (part of Moreton Bay Region Libraries) and it was a good turnout with some new and familiar faces. Plus a blast from my past - the 60s - a lady came up and introduced herself as the daughter of the family who lived across the road from us in Bardon (Brisbane suburb) back then. There is also a family connection as her brother married my cousin and they and their two children lived two doors up from us in the same street.

My other smaller talk was at the monthly meeting of the Bribie Island Historical Society. It was a members night and a number of people got up and talked about various families and events. My focus was on Max's Burstow, Eldridge and Spencer families and their connection to Bribie in the 1920s and 30s. It was amazing how many of the members stories interconnected. Max has now met one of his Eldridge cousins still living on the Island and we have swapped notes over a yummy carrot and walnut cake which I made. I As I have been a bit stressed with all his medical issues, I reawakened my domestic goddess as I do find cooking and creating meals relaxing.

Regular readers will remember that I was going to be involved in a mini genealogy do over based on promptings from Thomas MacEntee. I was really shocked yesterday when I looked at where I was at - Week 3 - and when I visited his website they are up to Week 11. If you ever want time to fly, nurse someone with a broken leg. So I'm a bit behind there and the other thing I missed out on finishing was my free trial of Family Historian. That month is well and truly over and I had only really started looking at it when priorities shifted. But my mind was almost made up to purchase and swap over so that will be a post Congress task.

In my spare five minutes I always try to do a quick search in Trove and without fail, I am turning up new articles on my families. Some of the new titles added recently have just been fantastic. The Brisbane Telegraph is coming soon and that is going to be a geneafest of family info.

Only one more week or so before I head down to Canberra so it will be a catch up/tidy up kind of week so that I am totally prepared to simply sit back and enjoy Congress. If you are there too, come up and say hello! Till next time, happy researching.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Crime, new books & a strange bird - Genealogy notes 1 - 8 Mar 2015

Another week with little time to think but an amazing range of genealogy activities. I guess there is always room to squeeze in what we like doing.

Collecting my mail from the post office is an easy way and I was thrilled to see that Unlock the Past has just published three new titles from some of my favourite speakers - Paul Milner with Buried Treasure: what's in the parish chest?; Chris Paton with Down and Out in Scotland: researching ancestral crisis and Thomas MacEntee with 500 Genealogy & Family History Tips. I can't decide which one I want to read first, I love Chris' "ancestral crisis" as that is what my families seem to do all the time and Thomas' is bound to have me zipping all over the web while Paul's looks like a gentle read but will have me wanting to be on the next plane to England!

There is another new title Til Death us do Part: causes of death 1300 - 1948 by Janet Few who is a UK speaker who I have not heard before. It looks fascinating and I must check out her website The History Interpreter.

I have also been asked to review another book The Convict Theatres of Early Australia 1788-1840 by Robert Jordan and now published by Currency House as an ebook. That sounds really interesting too and I am still working on my reviews for Jayne Shrimpton and Carol Baxter. Sounds like I need a nice quiet place to curl up and have a good read!

My personal blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 continued with Week 33 on Church Records, another underused resource for finding out info on our ancestors, especially some of our female ancestors. Below is my great grandmother Elizabeth Price who was a deaconess at the Baptist church in Charters Towers.

It was a big week for talks with one at Albany Creek Library on Warning Warning: Tips & Tricks to Avoid Common Mistakes and one for the Queensland Family History Society on court of petty session records. Both talks are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. The QFHS talk was part of their seminar on Criminals and Victims and you can read my report on the day here. You can learn so much from attending education seminars like this as the speakers really know their topics.

I haven't done any feedback gathering on my talks for a while so with the Moreton Bay Region Libraries talks I have been asking people to fill in a quick survey form. I am happy to say that most people gave me 5s, said they could have listened to me longer and would attend another talk given by me. Plus some suggestions for future talks. This was great and confirmed verbal feedback on other occasions.

But there was one person who gave me 2s indicating that I was not clear, interesting or relevant. There was nothing else to give me a clue as to why I had been so disappointing for them. I know you can't please everyone but it would have been good to know why and perhaps there is something I can do to change their experience in the future.

The reason I raise this is that geneafriend Jill Ball called me a 'strange bird' in her post Going Out on a Limb. I have always placed the slides from my talks on my website so that attendees can go home and relook at the slides at their leisure and so that they don't have to madly write notes while I am talking. They can experience the talk in total and then go home and think about the detail. It also means that those who can't attend can at least see the slides even if they miss all the dialogue that goes with it.

Jill's point is that not many people do this and some even try to stop people taking photos of their slides rather than writing the points down. I did think about not putting my slides online last year after I heard that someone had reproduced one of my talks after taking out my footer and logo. I know my online practice is appreciated by people who attend my talks, why should they suffer because someone decides to copy my work. As Jill says, if someone is going to reproduce your work they can still do it by taking handwritten or typed notes so are we going to ban note taking too. I for one am happy to continue being a 'strange bird'.

This week I am talking at the Bribie Island library so not a long drive which is a refreshing change plus I am going to be talking about Max's families on Bribie in the 1930s at the Bribie Island Historical Society meeting on Wednesday night. It's been fun putting together  a bit of show and tell on his families and their connections to the Island way back then.

The absolute must do is finalise my talks for the AFFHO Congress 2015 which starts in Canberra on 26 March 2015. So much to say and so little time to do it. All the Congress papers are being published on USB although a paper copy will also be available for those who want to pay. It is going to be a fantastic four days catching up with friends, listening to some great talks and socialising.

Until next week try and get some genealogy searching in  or at least read some  fantastic blog posts, or a genealogy society journal.