Wednesday 30 March 2016

Online learning, Women's history & Other News - Genealogy Notes 22-29 Mar 2016

If you ever want the weeks to fly past enrol in some online learning. I am doing the University of Strathclyde Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree online course which is free. So far it is focused on methodology and thinking about what you want to find and how to go about it. A great refresher course for someone who has been researching for a while and a good introduction to research principles for those starting out. It is a mix of text, videos, hangouts and further reading sites.

Week 1 was good and I spent the time over two sessions and tried to read some of the comments. I am surprised at the numbers doing the course, which I am guessing from the number of posts/comments from other students. I am finding it hard to read all the comments and skimmed quite a lot but there are some valuable bits of advice in the comments so a difficult decision. Week 2 I totally missed the start notice but thankfully being online you can catch up. Halfway through Week 2 now, with Week 3 waiting for me. The plan is to be totally caught up before Week 4 arrives!

New logo for Australian NFHM
I have been seriously preoccupied with the final tweaking of the new NFHM website which all going well in the move to the live site will be launched in the next few days. It is designed to make my life as voluntary coordinator easier and people will be able to search for events. There is even a blog, yes another one for me to write! After the launch I will be inviting genealogy and family history societies, libraries, archives and others to add their events for August 2016, doing some PR and organising the launch. Next year should be easier!

I did write a blog post for Women's History Month - My Four Great Grandmothers which looks briefly at their lives. I never knew any of them but from my research I have an appreciation of the hard lives they lived. I've always wondered why I have moved around so much, perhaps those travel genes were inherited? A need to see and live in new places.

Last week's post which featured the National Archives of Australia's 16 websites was mentioned on That Moment in Time blog Friday Fossicking 25 March 2016. It is always good to see that someone has liked something I've written and I really do feel that people don't make the most of what NAA has to offer family historians.

My blog and article for The In-Depth Genealogist is still in draft format but I will make that deadline this month. They are moving to being two months ahead so I will have to do another blog and article in the first week of April.

I have the Bribie Historical Society committee meeting coming up and I am determined to get to one of the Bribie family history interest group meetings in April. So far this year I have been off Island and missed out so hopefully this time. The Bribie Orchid show over Easter was wonderful with both orchids and bromeliads on show. Two more orchids for my collection. My orchids also flowered for Easter with their wonderful purple colours.

There seems to be a thunderstorm rolling in which is unusual for late March. But then we have been having some hot days and our pool is still wonderful to swim in. Solar heating has to be one of the best investments. I'm hoping to swim all through winter too. That was the plan last year until I broke my elbow in July. This year will be different!

Have a good genealogy week. Until next time.

Monday 21 March 2016

16 Websites, St Patrick's Day & Other News - Genealogy Notes 15-21 Mar 2016

My great grandmother 
For St Patrick's day, I wrote up my research on the Finn family of County Wicklow, Ireland into a blog post. I've made quite a few discoveries recently so writing everything up helped me to see where the gaps still were and what else I could follow up. Read about the family and my efforts to tie all the pieces together here. It's a tale of spelling variations, missing records and a family that seems to have moved around but mostly within a small area.

Work is continuing on the new National Family History Month (the URL will stay the same but it will look different) website and I am now happy with how events are added. It should save me a lot of time once people start adding their events after we launch the new site, hopefully very soon. I am  pleased to say that the National Archives of Australia is again sponsoring the launch which will be in Perth this year. It is their 11th year of launch sponsorship and it is fantastic to see that ongoing support for family history.

Many people only ever go to the National Archives of Australia main website (the link above) but did you know they actually have lots of websites. From the Home page, select the Engage option and then Connect with us option. This is a quick route to all the other websites including:

  • The arcHive website -  this is where you can help the Archives to list some of their records that are not online yet. As a reward, you earn points towards Archives publications or copies of Archives files for your research. 
  • Australia's Prime Ministers - everything you ever wanted to know (or not)
  • Banned - read about the secret history of Australian censorship
  • Constitution Day - a blog about the Constitution
  • Destination Australia: sharing our post war migrant stories - if you have someone who arrived after WW2 there are over 20,000 photos of migrants here plus lots of stories
  • Discovering Anzacs - joint project with Archives New Zealand covering the Boer War and WW1. You can upload your photos and stories as well as see government records on soldier ancestors.
  • Faces of Australia - this site features 227 images from the Archives' collection - help them to identify people, places and events
  • Forced Adoptions History Project - learn about the history and experiences of forced adoptions in Australia. Includes information on accessing adoption records and support services.
  • Mildenhall's Canberra - early Canberra photographs that you can comment on and pinpoint locations if you have any information 
  • Montevideo Maru - this Japanese ship was sunk in July 1942 by the USS Sturgeon not realising that it carried over 1,000 mostly Australian prisoners captured in Rabaul and who were being transferred to Hainan off southern China. A really tragic story and a great memorial to those soldiers.
  • Paper Research - includes a history of papermaking, research on paper quality and a database of watermarks 
  • PhotoSearch - as the name suggests, browse, discover, map and share 
  • Soda - newly scanned records that you can view, share and get updates 
  • Uncommon Lives - the stories of famous and not so famous Australians as revealed in files held by the Archives
  • Vrroom: Virtual Reading Room - resources for students and teachers on Australian history, civics, citizenship and more.
How many of NAA's 16 websites are you familiar with? There is a lot of family history information in the National Archives of Australia, make sure you are not missing any of it.

During the week I had a Q&A request from Family Tree Magazine UK which is always fun and often challenging to do. At the AFFHO meeting last night (via Skype) I reported on NFHM progress and the AFFHO AGM is on 21 April. Last year the AGM was in Canberra at the Congress, this time it will be virtual. Amazing technology and times that we live in.

My blog post for National Women's History Month (March) is almost finished and it is a tribute to my four grandmothers. Easter is the end of this week and we are staying home so I will be doing my monthly blog and article for The In-Depth Genealogist. Plus continuing to work on my new guide but there will be time for the Easter Bunny to visit. Great that there is a bridge to our island!

My orchids are starting to flower just in time for the Easter orchid show. I find it amazing because Easter changes each year but that doesn't seem to bother orchids. They always seem to know when to bloom. One of the many wonders of nature that continues to delight us.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Easter with family and friends and that you manage a little genealogy research too. Until next time.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Irish Research & Geneaevents Coming Up - Genealogy Notes 8-14 Mar 2016

This week I completed the third of my blog posts Days 13-19 on the 10th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise. I also did the review blog of the whole cruise and what I thought were highlights and negatives. Looking at my notes it will take me a while to follow up on URLs I noted and suggestions to explore for my brick walls.

Celebrity Solstice in Tauranga, New Zealand
Another Trove Tuesday blog post led me to discovering photographs of two of my great uncles and what was really fantastic was that all three brothers' photos from WW1 were in the same newspaper article with a caption that said they were 'the sons of John Finn of Brisbane'. Read it here.

Denis Finn, The Queenslander, 8 Jan 1916 via Trove
As it was a rainy weekend I decided to follow up on the Irish leads I had reported on last Diary post. A more thorough search of the Catholic parish registers in Findmypast confirmed that I had found more siblings of my great great grandfather John Finn (father of the three soldiers mentioned in the paragraph above). I found more references to Finn and Beakey sponsors who are probably related to my GGG grandparents James Finn and Rosanna Beakey. BUT nothing that definitely ties them all together as siblings or other relatives. A work still in progress.

Although finding John's siblings, I still could not find reference to his own baptism in 1856 so in some frustration I simply Googled parish names for where the family lived based on his siblings places of baptism. This led me to the Irish Genealogy Toolkit and the page on the Wicklow Family History Centre. This is where I learnt that there is a gaping hole (their words) in the registers for Kilbride and Barndarrig from 1838 and 1858. As John was born ca 1856 his baptism is probably in that 'hole'.

The family seem to have moved around so why have I now focused on that parish. While browsing Findmypast I also checked out some of the prison and court of petty session entries for my Finns and Beakeys. Surprise surprise, my John liked a drink even before he left Ireland for Queensland. Quite a few references to drunk and disorderly and even better some time in prison. How do I know he is mine? Well his physical description in the Irish prison matches exactly his prison description in the Brisbane prison. In the Irish prison register he gives his birthplace as Barndarrig, hence my looking more closely at this parish.

Although I have not been able to find out more on James Finn and Rosanna Beakey apart from possible siblings or other relatives I feel that I am progressing a little on my Irish family. A quick search of newspapers didn't reveal anything exciting but I probably need to spend more time as Rosanna Beakey's name has quite a few spelling variations as does James Finn.

I have been looking at what is coming up in the genealogy world and whether I can get there or not.

New South Wales has the Kiama Family History Centre family, local and social history expo on 16 April 2016 and that is an easy drive from Sydney. The NSW &ACT annual genealogy conference is in Camden on 9-11 September 2016 and is an easy drive from either Sydney or Canberra. This year the theme is Cowpastures and Beyond. Both are probably too far for me to get to easily and without considerable cost. Perhaps I will save the money for Rootstech 2017 which is 8-11 Feb 2017!

Unlock the Past is having an Adelaide genealogy expo on 7-8 October 2016 and a trip to Adelaide is also a chance to visit family and friends. I had planned to go to their event last August but my broken elbow meant I had to miss out.

August is National Family History Month and I will be having a busy month with the launch in Perth, and commitments already to speak in Nambour and Noosa in Queensland. Plus there are a couple of other speaking engagements not yet confirmed for August.

The new NFHM website is progressing and we are still tweaking the events calendar which should make things easier for me. At least that is the plan. Not long now before I release the 2016 NFHM news.

One Facebook post that really caught my attention this week was Katherine R Willson's Genealogy on Facebook compilation. It is 209 pages with over 7,000 links which must represent a lot of people doing genealogy via Facebook. Makes me wonder how many Australian societies have their own Facebook page and are using it to actively attract new members to their society? Is your society on the list? Have you liked their page? If your society is not on the list, why not suggest they start a Facebook page? I follow quite a few Australian societies via Facebook and you really do learn about new resources and what is happening locally.

This week I am planning on working on a new research guide which is always an opportunity to do some of my own genealogy as I look for examples from my own research to include in the guide. I also want to do a blog post for Women's History Month which is March and I probably should blog my Irish ancestors for St Patrick's Day later this week.

Have a great genealogy and family history week. Until next time.

Sunday 6 March 2016

Genealogy Cruising & Back Home - Genealogy Notes 27 Feb - 7 Mar 2016

I am finally back home after three weeks away on the 10th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise. Read about Days 7-12 here (also has a link back to Days 1-6 if you missed it) and I am still to write Days 13 to 18 plus my overview report. Should both be finished by the end of this week.
Scottish pipe band bravely playing in the rain as we left Dunedin, New Zealand
I came home with seven new Unlock the Past research guides which I am looking forward to reading:
Paul Blake - Discover Protestant Nonconformity in England and Wales
Christine Clement - Migration to New Zealand (2nd edition)
Cathy Dunn - Norfolk Island 1788-1814
Thomas MacEntee - The Genealogy Do-over Workbook
Chris Paton - A Decade of Researching Ireland 1912-1923
Chris Paton - Discover Scottish Church Records
Helen Smith - Google the Genealogist's Friend

It was a fantastic trip but always good to be back home. A pile of mail to sort through, washing and shopping to be done and I won't mention the weeds in the garden. Obviously not much rain while we were gone as some plants have died or are looking a bit dried out yet those pesky weeds thrived. After adding a bit of bird seed to the feeder our Rosella and Lorikeets have welcomed us home.

While still in Perth I sent off my April blog and article to The In-Depth Genealogist and realised I have been writing for Going In-Depth for just over 12 months (with three months off for my accident). Time flies when you are having fun.

And fun is the operative word at the moment. I was super excited to see that Findmypast put up the Irish Roman Catholic parish registers while I was away. I have only had a little time to explore but already I have found some of my missing Finn and Beakey ancestors (and all variations of those two names). The interesting thing is that some of the Finns were indexed as Funn, not a spelling I have previously considered. So I need to do some more searching and then let Findmypast know so they can consider text correction for the entries. The writing is really poor and you wouldn't make the connections without my prior research and knowledge of the families.

Sadly my direct ancestor, great great grandfather John Finn is remaining elusive. But I now have more of his brothers and sisters so perhaps he is not too far away!

My priority this week is definitely the new National Family History Month website which has languished while I was away. Lucky for me the designer is patient. A couple of friends are trialing the new events page which will save me a lot of time adding events in the lead up to August. No more cut and paste and I will be free to do other things. Sponsors have also been fantastic and I can't wait to share that news with everyone. Not long now.

Looking forward to some more normal weeks ahead not to mention some personal genealogy time to follow up things from the cruise. Until next time.