Sunday 28 June 2015

New Resources & NFHM 2015 - Genealogy Notes 22-28 Jun 2015

The countdown is now really on for my genealogy cruise to the Baltic with Unlock the Past Cruises. Only 8 days before I fly out and still so much to do. Although being coordinator of National Family History Month is a voluntary position it still requires a lot of 'work' especially at this time of the year. Lots of events have gone up into the web calendar and I have been busy promoting these on the National Family History Month Facebook page.

Many of our sponsors have also included pieces on NFHM in their magazines or newsletters - thanks to Ancestry, Australian Family Tree Connections and Inside History magazine and there may be other pieces that I have not seen yet. My blogging friends have also been spreading the word so August looks like being another great geneafest.

As I only get back a few days before the launch I have tried to organise everything and I am leaving all the instructions and notes with Genealogy SA, the South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society,  who will liaise with the National Archives of Australia while I am away if anything comes up. If I don't make it back to Adelaide in time for the launch, at least everything will still go ahead.

So far with all my travels I have never encountered any real issues apart from the odd missed flight due to road traffic delays, cancelled flights and the only luggage issue was when I went to Darwin and my luggage ended up in Tasmania. If my good luck continues to hold, I will be there for the launch.

Each NFHM I put up my 31 activities for individuals to do during August and I have another 31 activities for genealogy and family history societies to do to help them make the most of NFHM this year and in the future. I have put them up a bit earlier due to my absence overseas but people might want to start planning what they want to do during August. Both sets of activities are on the Resources page of my website, at the very top so you can't miss them.

Just about every week we hear about new resources being released but this week I was especially excited to hear that Findmypast has entered into partnership with Public Record Office Victoria  to index and digitise the coastal passenger lists 1852-1924. When I worked there these were on our wish list but the lists were in a fragile condition, unindexed and not even microfilmed.

The other exciting news is that Findmypast and PROV are also doing Courts of Petty Session records for Victoria - regular readers will know that I simply love CPS records as so many of my ancestors are in them for all kinds of crimes from the petty to sometimes more serious.

Here is a snippet from the Findmypast media release.

Sydney, Australia, 25 June 2015, Never before microfilmed or indexed, the collection of Victoria’s Coastal Passenger Lists 1852-1924 will be brought online to later this year. Comprising both original images and transcripts of an estimated 118,000 records, these passenger lists provide a vivid snapshot of immigrants and travellers alike arriving in Victoria’s coastal ports.
Family historians using these invaluable records will uncover details of their ancestors’ passage to Australia, as well as biographical information. Covering the 1850s onwards, these records capture the mass immigration into Victoria in the historic gold rush era, which fuelled one of the most dramatic population booms in Australian history.
Over one million Victoria Petty Sessions records, dating from 1851 to the 1970s, will also be brought to Findmypast as part of the partnership in an ambitious project expected to span several years. The collection includes approximately 1.7 million original images and transcripts, covering numerous record sets from dozens of central and regional courts throughout Victoria – from Prahran to Port Fairy to Mildura.
Capturing details of each case, those involved, and the trial outcome, the Victoria Petty Sessions will help family historians to investigate their ancestors’ criminal history.
Director of Public Record Office Victoria Justine Heazlewood says the advantages of this new digitising partnership are two-fold “These informative historical records will become available to online researchers much sooner than would have been possible otherwise, both on our digital catalogue within two years as well as via” 

It really is an exciting time to be doing genealogy as we have never had access to records like this in the past. I can't wait for those records to come online.Now it is cheaper to have a subscription than travel to another state to do research. And more instant, no more waiting for snail mail or time off work to travel. Of course we do need to remember that not everything is online.

The hardest part for me when I see these new releases is that I want to go and look straight away but I know that I should be doing an article or blog post for The In-Depth Genealogist or finishing the course I am writing for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies or updating one of my research guides for Unlock the Past. I have a new edition of What Was the Voyage Really Like? coming out next month - it was the first research guide I wrote so very exciting to see a new edition.

With only 8 days left I am still working out what to fit into the suitcase and currency is a bit of an issue. If I want to buy something on shore with so many different countries, euros are not as standard as I thought especially in Denmark and Sweden, plus I am still reading about the history of the countries we are visiting and some of the places I am hoping to see when on shore.

What will probably happen is that I will end up getting everything done on time, throw things together the night before and set out for a great holiday and have a good time. Travel jitters get me every time!

So no more genealogy releases please to distract me although Trove can continue to send those wonderful emails saying that what I was waiting to see is now ready. I'm just not opening them till I get back as I know I will be off on another tangent and lose more hours in Trove. There is only one more Diary until I leave so wish me luck finishing everything and have another great genealogy week.

Saturday 20 June 2015

Tasmania, NFHM & Trove - Genealogy Notes 15-21 Jun 2015

Another big week and some amazing family discoveries in Trove (Australia's free digitised historical newspapers for overseas readers). More and more titles are being added - see the latest update of newspapers here. Now whenever I have a spare 15 minutes I do a quick Trove search on a family name. Of course this is a trap as it is very rare for me not to find at least one new story.

Yesterday I decided that I would have another look for Max's elusive grandfather and this time I looked for the names of each of his three wives. What a bonus! Articles on all of them and most of the stories also included Henry Spencer's name  ONLY the OCR was poor and the articles were not showing up under a search of his name. I didn't have time to correct the text but I did add tags for his name.

I am beginning to think that Henry lived at the District Court as there was another court appearance with his brother as the plaintiff and another one with his first father in law. I will now have to spend a whole day at the Queensland State Archives looking at court records, with these new cases on top of what I already had.

This is where Trove is so fantastic - it gives you the clues, dates, places and topics that you can then use to find original records and learn more about what ever it is. BUT you need to remember the disadvantages of OCR and do searches from all angles and maybe it is only an initial and not a full given name. Anyway my 15 minutes before dinner turned into a late dinner so maybe do your quick 15 minute search at a more convenient time or risk the family's wrath.

Tasmania has also been on my mind this week and not because that is where we first started tracking Henry Spencer. The University of Tasmania is again offering its free online introduction to family history course and you need to enrol before 6 July. I know others who did this last year and they said it was fantastic. So I have signed up for this round and I can start it when I get back from holidays. But I have to catch up quickly on my return. Sadly the list of things I have to do as soon as I get back is growing, I will probably need another holiday later in the year!! Still I think it will be good to do an introductory course as family history has changed a lot in recent years and refresher courses always motivate me with new ideas and resources.

In 2013 I was given a print copy of Michael Piggott's book Commonwealth Government Records About Tasmania to review. At the time the launch was delayed so instead of publishing the review, I saved it till after the launch.Yes out of sight out of mind and as Michael is the keynote speaker of this year's National Family History Month launch I was thinking about the review and wondering why I could not find it on the Resources page of my website. I forgot to publish it but better late than never. Read the review here and the guide really is a good resource if you have Tasmanian families. It is also a good insight into the usefulness of the National Archives of Australia's research guide series.

Last but not least National Family History Month was the big time taker this week with adding events to the website, promoting them on the NFHM Facebook page, liaising with Genealogy SA who are helping me with the launch preparations and chatting to sponsors. I have to say I am a bit disappointed that more genealogy and family history societies, libraries and archives have not put their events in the web calendar yet. I had hoped there would be more before I went overseas as nothing will be added in my absence. Perhaps there will be a mad flurry this week.

We have no events for WA, TAS or the NT yet and QLD has 27, NSW 26, VIC 57, SA 5, ACT 4 and only 1 online event so far. Why not remind your society, library or archive and get them to add their August events to the NFHM web calendar? Remember it has to be before early July or it will get added at the end of July which will still in time for NFHM but some people like to plan so that they can attend as many events as they can.

Well it is a beautiful winter's day here in Paradise and my garden looks much warmer than my coolish study. I am going out to enjoy the sunshine and maybe even a coffee before I tackle the dreaded weeds! Happy researching and please help me spread the word about NFHM 2015.

Saturday 13 June 2015

Brickwalls, Old Dog, New Tricks - Genealogy Notes 8-14 Jun 2015

Two presentations last week - my own at the Deception Bay library which went well with an enthusiastic crowd and lots of questions. If only I had a dollar for everyone who has chatted to me about their brick wall! The presentation is on my website Resources page, scroll down to Presentations.

The other talk was also part of the Moreton Bay Region Libraries family and local history program. They had Helen Smith talking at the Bribie Island Library so I didn't have far to travel to hear one of my favourite Queensland speakers. Helen's talk was on Death Certificates and Archaic Medical Terms and I had heard an earlier version of this talk.

Helen at Bribie Island Library
The second part of her talk was completely new to me and I would have loved to hear a whole hour on it. Basically Helen looked at occupational diseases and how some jobs ended up disfiguring or killing the people who did them. With lots of miners in the family, I was already aware of miner's phthisis but in the days of no health and safety, a lot of working people's health was at risk of accidents and diseases.  Looking forward to hearing more about this from Helen and there may even be a book on the way.

The first part of the talk was on the basics - why get death certificates, where from and what's on them and so on. Essential to know if you are starting out but a bit boring if you have been around a while like me. BUT even if you are an old hand you should never tune out as you just might miss something totally relevant. Helen said not one but two things that made me sit up and start thinking during this part of her talk.

Most of my brick walls have tumbled over the last few years with new indexes, digitised resources and mega databases but I still have one that has eluded me since I first hit it in 1977. For nearly 40 years I have been trying to find the death of James Henry Trevaskis in Copperfield Queensland between Oct 1868 and Nov 1873 when his wife Dorcas remarried. So what did Helen say that might be relevant for my brick wall?

Helen mentioned how many unknown deaths there were - people who die and are not identified or their remains are found until many years later. Is my James Henry an unknown? I suspect even if he was it might be a bit hard to prove but I will be looking into all unknown male deaths in my time frame to see if any fit or should be looked into more.

The second thing was similar in that if there is no body there is no death certificate. So if James disappeared his wife would have had to wait seven years to declare him dead. But she remarried five years after the last known sighting of James Henry which tends to suggest that she knew he was dead. But why no death certificate? Helen's talk has motivated me to look at everything again and it has been a while since I looked in Trove for him. Wish me luck!

The other big time occupier this week was adding events to the National Family History Month web calendar - August is not that far off now. If family history and genealogy societies want to receive a bonus sponsors prize this year their events must be in the calendar before 30 June. For all those excited individuals out there, the individuals prize giveaway does not start until 1 August so no early birds please! See the NFHM website for details of sponsors, prizes and terms and conditions.

The NFHM launch in Adelaide is coming together and thanks to South Australian friends for helping me put together a guest list. Invitations are going out this week and I need to work on my speech notes and background launch slide. I have to get as much done as I can before I leave on holidays as I arrive back just a few days before the launch and will be fighting jet lag and a back log of everything before I jump on a plane and head to Adelaide.

After the launch I am staying on for the weekend in Adelaide so that I can participate in the Unlock the Past Power Up Your Local and Family History Research all day seminar which looks at war, sport, photographs and diaries and letters. I am doing three talks, Graham Jaunay is doing one and so is Susan Marsden, President of the History Council of South Australia. Should be a great day and an excellent way to kick off National Family History Month in Adelaide.

The next week should see me finish writing the Occupations course for the Australian certificate run by the National Institute of Genealogical Studies.  This has been a lot of work mainly because there are so many resources but I have also learnt a lot too. I think future students will find it interesting.

This weekend I am cleaning out the pantry cupboard (although a lot of the time I seem to have been procrastinating or wondering where something came from). It is always a mystery how something neat, tidy and organised always seems to end up so messed up. When I shop I put all the tins in one place, cereals in another, sauces in their spot, spices together, I don't hide anything. But I am not the only one that lives here. The small tins of dog food were a surprise, I thought at first glance they were sardines but no, apparently it is good fishing bait. Why in our food cupboard?? Then there are the chocolates, biscuits, jams, empty jars, plastic containers all tucked away and forgotten about. At least now the other half has some supplies for the next fishing trip and I have a neat and tidy pantry again.

Until next week happy researching.

Sunday 7 June 2015

Geneatripping & NFHM 2015 - Genealogy notes 1-7 Jun 2015

Most weeks I wonder how quickly the week has gone and then some times I ponder where the years have gone. This Diary is celebrating its 4th birthday on 1 July and the original reason it started was to simply demonstrate how quickly you can set up a blog using Google Blogger. From memory it did take a little more than the 5 minutes I told the audience but since then I have seen many people set up their own blogs and write their family stories and have success in reaching long lost cousins. It really is worth the effort.

While this Diary's content has changed a bit now that we have settled and not wandering around the place so much, it has fallen into a weekly blog more by default than any design.So I am pondering some changes as we approach Diary's 5th year!

8th cruise map 800Having just said that I am not moving around that much, for the next four months I am actually on the move. My long awaited holiday in Europe is fast approaching and I will be joining other geneafriends on the 8th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to the Baltic countries.  It is 15 years since I last went to the UK and Europe so I am really looking forward to this holiday. A few days in London and surrounds prior to the cruise will help with the jet lag. Look forward to lots of geneablogging coming from that trip.

On my return, before I even get over my jetlag, I am back on a plane to Adelaide for the launch of NFHM 2015. As voluntary coordinator of National Family History Month I have been moving the launch around Australia so that we can raise the profile of NFHM which is an Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) initiative. I'm hoping to attend a genealogy event or two in Adelaide while I am there.

Just a quick reminder that genealogy and family history societies must have their events up in the NFHM web calendar before 30 June if they want to receive a bonus prize. Full details on the NFHM website.

After the launch weekend it is back home. Moreton Bay Region libraries have asked me to do 10 talks at their various libraries during NFHM. They are fantastic supporters of NFHM and always have a great genealogy program throughout the year. So happy to be living in an area where the local library is interested in local and family history. Details of the August talks are on the Events page of my website.

The end of NFHM is being celebrated at a Genealogical Society of Queensland seminar so that is a relatively quick trip to Brisbane. The NFHM prizes for societies and individuals will be drawn at the event and I thank GSQ for hosting the prize draw this year.

Then I am off to Port Macquarie for the annual NSW & ACT family history conference - I usually try to attend these conferences if the program is interesting and the host city is relatively easy to travel to. When I lived in Canberra I went to quite a few so there are lots of geneafriends that I like to catch up with.

Conference 2015Back in Brisbane by the first weekend in October so that I can go to the In Time and Place conference on local and family history organised by History Queensland, the Genealogical Society of Queensland and the Queensland Family History Society. There will be no shortage of blogging posts from these events and it is good to see geneablogger Alona (Genealogy & History News) spreading the word about these major events coming up. Read her round up of national and state events here.

Attention regional delegates. Thanks to the generous support of the State Library of Queensland, the Conference Organising Committee is delighted to offer free registration to regional delegates from areas beyond south-east Queensland. For details and to apply, see the website or contact by email, by 24 July 2015. Fantastic offer if you want to attend and live outside south-east Queensland. 

Even if you can not personally attend these events there will be lots of geneabloggers tweeting, Facebooking, or using Google + to let people know what is happening at each of these events. It is amazing what you can learn from social media at genealogy events.

The last week was also busy with lots of writing. I have done a second edition of my first ever research guide What Was The Voyage Really Like? which was published in 2010. So much more is online now and you really do need to revisit your research from time to time. The new edition should be published in July so watch out for that.

Week 39 in my 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 is on old age pension records and again I found that there are more records out there than we might think. Doing simple keyword searches in online archive catalogues can turn up some amazing record series. Of course most are not name indexed or digitised but if you can visit and search yourself it might be worth while.

This coming week I am giving a talk at Deception Bay Library on Thursday and on Tuesday I am going to Bribie Island Library to hear a talk by Helen Smith. Something else to blog about.

Research wise I haven't done much except ask Trove to send me emails when family articles from the Telegraph and Daily Standard become available on Trove. It is amazing how many reference there are to my families in these two newspapers - they were obviously not Courier Mail people. Are other Brisbane people finding this too or is it just my families?

Until next week have a great genealogy weekend.