Saturday 30 May 2015

Free ebooks, talks & cruising - Genealogy Notes 24-31 May 2015

Hard to believe today is the last day of autumn and tomorrow will be winter. But then it never really gets that cold up here and only occasionally do I miss those frosty Canberra mornings when it looks like it snowed all night. Still half the year is almost gone and my year long projects keep pottering along - cataloging my library into LibraryThing, scanning my old photos, tidying up my really old genealogy research including scanning old photocopies which have seriously faded over the last 20-30 years. Don't get me started on all the old rusty staples and paper clips I'm finding in my files!

Even if you could finish your family history (and I don't believe you can as new information keeps turning up with new digitised resources eg Trove and I'm seriously staggered at how many times  I keep finding new newspaper articles on my family) you would never finish looking after your family records. Updating software, migrating files, and with all of our wet weather in early May we have had a serious mould outbreak. Something we never saw down south. So housework was the main winner this week!

However I did manage to go to Redcliffe Library and give my Warning Warning Tips & Tricks to Avoid Common Mistakes. It was a great audience and I actually went a little over time for the first time in ages. As usual the presentation is on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. My next talk for Moreton Libraries is not until 11 June and it is at Deception Bay.

Before then on 9 June I have the pleasure of attending Helen Smith's talk on Death Certificates and Medical Terms. Best of all I don't even have to travel far as Helen is giving the talk at the Bribie Island Library! Afterwards we will be lunching on the beautiful Pumicestone Passage.

I hope it is one of our clear blue sky days so that Helen can truly see Paradise. These little guys visit me throughout the day - we have lorikeets and rosellas visit as well as crested pigeons, doves, butcher birds, magpies, peewees and even the humble sparrow. It can be a bit distracting trying to write and watch them at the same time!

Pale crested rosella
With only six weeks until I am off on my Baltic genealogy cruise with Unlock the Past I am doing last minute trip planning and making final payments. I always like to pay for as much as I can before I go to save any last minute issues. Sharing a cabin with a friend from the Gold Coast will be a new experience for me but it is a great way to keep travel costs down and have more money for side trips and souvenirs. Alona (Lonetester) has just posted her five reasons why she is looking forward to the Baltic cruise - read them here.

As this will be my first European holiday since 2000 and the first time I have traveled to the Baltic I am maximising my holiday time and leaving my work and voluntary commitments back on Bribie.

This means I am hoping that everyone will send me their National Family History Month events before the end of June so that I can add them to the web calendar. Any events received while I am away will not go up until after I return. I am also sending out the launch invitations and getting the launch program finalised before I leave too. I return on 27 July and will have just three days to get over jet lag, get back up to speed and fly to Adelaide on 30 July for the launch the next day. Wish me luck!

Five years ago my first research guide What Was The Voyage Really Like? was published by Unlock the Past. It doesn't seem five years but I have spent the last few days doing a second edition and it really is amazing how much has changed in just five years. Records have been digitised and are now available online for ease of access and being able to do your own searches is fantastic. The ongoing development of Trove has made is so much easier for us to find photographs of ships, for example, before we could only do by individually searching each of our state libraries collections. It really is a fantastic time to be doing family history research, I only hope that those doing it online also realise there are still a lot of resources in our libraries and archives that are not online.

Although I am not a great ebook fan I do love a bargain and Thomas MacEntee (Geneabloggers) (USA) quite often advertises free ebooks on Facebook and just this morning I downloaded another title. GenEbooks (Australian) also has discounted specials or a free title which I try to remember to download if the title interests me. I now have quite a collection of free genealogy titles on my Ipad which will probably accompany me to Europe and help pass those long hours in the air or on stopovers, assuming I get sick of shopping in Dubai.

Otherwise I have not done too much genealogy or blogging this week but at least the house is clean and even the gardens were weeded and watered. Since the flood earlier in the month it has not rained at all and everything looks dry. Have another great genealogy week!

Saturday 23 May 2015

Webinars & Blogging magic - Genealogy Notes 17-23 May 2015

Sometimes I wonder if my fear of technology is real and attracts things to go wrong or I am just unlucky. During the week I gave a webinar on Queensland resources online for the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG). Two days before we did a rehearsal to overcome my fears (it was only my second webinar presenting) and there was no problem. Everything went well and was familiar to me from the previous time. Come the night I could hear them but they could not hear me! After a little bit of fuss on both ends we managed to both hear each other and I gave the talk.

I still find it hard to get into a webinar without seeing the audience but I was very pleased the following day to see feedback on Facebook and Twitter with people following up some of the tips for Queensland resources online. SAG also got good feedback on the night and it really is a good way for people to attend talks if they can't personally travel to the venue/speaker. The presentation is on the Resources section of my website, scroll down to Presentations (slides only, no dialogue).

Week 38 Trade Union Records continues my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015. Participating in a blog challenge does help you to focus on what to write about but it also helps to stay committed to writing regularly. My family stories have led to many new discoveries that would not have happened if I was only writing in a paper based journal or magazine.

My GGG Grandmother's handwriting in her bible
In preparation for my meeting with newly discovered cousins, I tidied up some of my Finn family research and worked out what I would take along.  They are my father's generation and descended from my great grandmother's sister. One of the things you hear repeatedly with family history is that you should trace all the siblings too as you just don't know who ends up with what. How true in this case as I was able to see my GGG grandmother's diary in which she had written her name, Mrs Sarrah Fegan of Glasnargit (Ireland).

Sarah gave the bible to her daughter (also called Sarah) and when Sarah (the younger) and her husband John decided to emigrate to Queensland, Sarah brought her mother's bible with her. Their daughter Sarah Jane later became custodian of the bible and it is now with one of Sarah Jane's granddaughters (not called Sarah thankfully as it can be confusing). It was fantastic seeing the bible and reading something that was written in 1861 by my GGG grandmother. Did she ever contemplate that the bible might end up on the other side of the world or that it would still be treasured over 150 years later?

Sue White my cousin on the Finn side of our family tree
But how did we find each other? In 2013 I blogged about the three Finn brothers who went to WW1 (see my blog post here) and my cousin googled their names looking for some military information on them. She discovered my blog post and my website and realised that we shared common ancestors. A quick email to confirm and even though we live in different states, we met in Brisbane and swapped information, scanned some photos and even took some new photos. Great day.

We have some distant cousins on Max's side coming for lunch this week. We met them on our 2007 trip to Norfolk Island for the bicentenary of the closing of the first Norfolk Island convict settlement. We have kept in touch ever since. But as my first example shows, you don't have to travel thousands of miles to meet your relatives, all you need to do is blog and they will find you. Magic!

This coming week I am giving a talk at the Redcliffe Library for Moreton Bay Region Libraries as part of their genealogy program and one further talk to do before the end of the program. I am pleased to say that they have also asked me to do ten talks during National Family History Month in August so that will keep me busy. I wish I was busier adding events to the NFHM web calendar with Victoria currently leading with the number of events. Some states and territories have yet to see any events added.

There is a Skype meeting of AFFHO (Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations) on Monday so I will be doing a report on NFHM 2015 progress so far and hopefully getting some more society support from AFFHO members. But you don't have to be a member of AFFHO to add your August events to the NFHM web calendar and to be in the running for some great prizes.

Until next time, happy researching.

Saturday 16 May 2015

Asylums, Societies & Land Records - Genealogy notes 9-16 May 2015

It has been a strange week as I have spent a bit of time without access to the internet which is extremely frustrating when you need to get certain things finished. Seriously thinking about my internet set up as I do need to depend on it at times and need reliability.

Max at AFAQ Cottage May 2015
On Friday we went with a group of U3A Bribie history lovers to the Amateur Fishing Association of Queensland's headquarters at Bongaree where Max's great uncle Adkins Robert Spencer was a President for over 16 years back in the 1920s and 30s. There were photos up on the wall, an honor roll with his name on it for all those years and copies of the minutes of meetings from when he was President. The cottage is basically the same as it was then except it has been raised up a floor. We find it incredibly moving to walk where our ancestors have been and to be in the same place that they spent time. A great outing.

One consequence of no internet access was that I didn't write any blogs in the last week which feels quite strange, perhaps it is like an exercise person who misses their daily run. All revved up but no place to go. Basically I focused on upcoming talks. I reviewed my talk Family Skeletons or Just Old & Sick: Looking into Asylum Records which I presented yesterday at an education seminar for the Genealogical Society of Queensland. You can see the presentation on my website Resources page, scroll down to Presentations.

It was almost a packed house and there were lots of questions and discussions over morning tea. The Society had copies of my book on asylum records for sale and it was nice to see people purchasing them. Copies of my other research guides sold too and I gave a shout out to Chris Paton's Down and Out in Scotland when someone asked about British asylums.
Presentation area GSQ Library 
It was my first visit to the GSQ's library and as always I was impressed with just how many resources are available to genealogy/family history society members. There are internet resources, microforms, old card indexes (not always in a database), books and magazines and not to mention the wonderful volunteers who give advice to people looking for information on their families.

It always amazes me when people say they don't need to join the local society as they have no Brisbane (or wherever the society is) connections. Australian society libraries have resources for all over the world but especially the UK and other Australian states and you can access Ancestry and Findmypast and perhaps other subscription sites there as part of your membership.

One of the things I keep forgetting is that many societies have resources online in members only sections of their websites. I rejoined GSQ when I came back to Queensland in 2012 and this was my first visit to the library and I have yet to visit their members only resources online. I really need to go back for a research visit as I spotted a few things I want to follow up and in the members only section one of the things I want is online - at least the index is and with the reference I can request a copy (for a fee) without making the trek down to the library.

How many people are not making the most of their Society membership? No time is one of my ongoing issues but it is also not consciously thinking of how best to use my memberships. Of course if you are not a member of a society you are totally missing out in the first place.

Perhaps the most exciting news I picked up during the week was the release of historical land information for South Australia. Historical Torrens titles and name indexes are now online and free to view and download. It is not searchable so you need to open page after page of the name index until you find the right entry. From there you get the CT reference (Certificate of Title) and then it is a simple to preview or download a copy. Have a look at the YouTube demo here or go direct to the SAILIS website to start your search. Thanks to my friends on Facebook for highlighting a great new resource.

Social media such as Twitter, Google +, Facebook and so on can show us some exciting new resources or how to use them as others pass the news along to their friends and followers. Are you missing out?

Trove have sent me a few messages telling me that articles I had flagged on Trove are now ready to see - remember if you see those 'coming soon' messages you can ask them to notify you when the article is available. I find it a handy reminder that I want to see something in particular.

This coming week I have my webinar with Society of Australian Genealogists members on Queensland resources so I am a bit worried about the dodgy internet connection at the moment. I have selected some interesting and not so well known online resources to talk about so it should be good, touch wood! Webinars are one of the members only benefits that SAG offers although you have to be quick to book as they are extremely popular.

Next weekend is a bit of a family gathering, my son's birthday and my niece is turning 21 so a catch up with Mum and my brother's family and dinner out to celebrate. As I am already in Brisbane for that I am taking the opportunity to meet up with a distant cousin who found me via one of my family blogs on the Finn family. She has my GGG grandmother's family bible which my GG grandmother brought out from Ireland with her. How exciting is that! Plus there is other information we can exchange so I am really looking forward to that.

Until next time have a great genealogy week.

Friday 8 May 2015

Immigration & Getting Ready for NFHM 2015 - Genealogy Notes 1-8 May 2015

Last Diary I was getting ready for Southern Suburbs Branch of the Genealogical Society of Queensland's immigration seminar. It was a great day and I learnt a few new things and you can read my report on the seminar here. I've also spent a bit of time exploring (playing) with my new Queensland Customs House Shipping 1852-1885 passengers and crew CD.

Thanks to Rosemary's talk on it, I have been doing different searches plus I wanted to check out what was on it for the 1864 voyage of the Legion of Honour which I had spotted in her talk. Imagine my surprise when I put in the date and name of the ship and nothing came up. Not all databases use soundex and bring up similar spellings and when I put in Legion of Honor there she was. The ship's name is spelt both ways in a variety of sources so it was a simple thing to find. It is a useful reminder that the difference of one letter might be all that is stopping us from finding what we are looking for. So remember to search for name variations!

National Family History Month 2015 was my other priority this week as I want to get as many events in the web calendar before I go on holidays in July. As it is a manual process to put events into the calendar and a voluntary position I do for AFFHO, I am not taking NFHM on holidays with me! So I am encouraging all genealogy and family history societies, archives, libraries and others to put their events up early so that people can plan what they intend to go to during August. Read more about what's in store in my NFHM blog post and please note that NFHM is in August so only August events will be listed.

I seem to be having some allergy issues at the moment, lots of sneezing which makes it hard to concentrate or do anything as it is non stop sneezing. The chemist sold me some tabs which control the sneezing but then your head just feels like it is full of concrete. We had prebooked on a trip to North Stradbroke Island with the Bribie RSL Branch and I did not want to miss out so I popped a tablet and went.

Why North Stradbroke? Last time I was there was back in the late 1970s and not a lot has changed accept the more modern ferries, love the Big Red Cat (a vehicular ferry). But back then I did not know that my great great grandfather John Finn had lived at Dunwich Benevolent Asylum for a time, nor did I know of his time in Brisbane Gaol and Woogaroo Asylum - all of that was waiting for me to discover ten years in the future. Next weekend I am giving a talk on asylum records for the Genealogical Society of Queensland so I have been thinking of John as his story is in my presentation.

The only trouble with travelling with a bus load of other people is that you stop at the scenic places (we went to Dunwich, Amity Point and Point Lookout) and drive straight past the cemetery and any of the other historic places. I would have loved to visit the museum but there was no time. Still it was a good day out although an 11 hour round trip! I will certainly plan to go again and do the historical things we missed out on this time.

Mum and I ca 1975 (where did 40 years go?)
Tomorrow is Mother's Day so I will be visiting Mum and letting her know she still has two cousins older than her. I expect she will be surprised. My son is also going to go to Mum's so a chance to all see each other at the same time. My brother might even be there, a real family day.

As I mentioned above I have my asylums presentation next weekend and then I am doing a webinar for the Society of Australian Genealogists on Queensland resources online. So another technologically challenging session for me but one way to learn about new technology. Personally I think I prefer nodding heads in an audience rather than a laptop screen at home by myself.

Everyone have a great Mother's Day either being with our mothers or remembering them. Until next time, have an exciting genealogical week.