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.

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