Friday 30 December 2016

Getting Ready for Genealogy in 2017: Genealogy Notes 22-31 Dec 2016

2016 is drawing to a close and this is the last Diary post for the year. As usual I have been doing some reflecting on genealogy related events in 2016 and also reviewing what is coming up in 2017. Read 2016 Genealogy Reflections and 2017 Genealogy Expectations to see some of the highlights and where I will be in 2017.

The start of a new year also means the release of another year of BDMs so make sure you follow up any new clues. Most State Archives also do another year of access openings and Public Record Office Victoria put out a reminder in their blog 1 January section 9 record openings. There will be a full list of all opening on their website after 3 Jan 2017.  
Learning more about Denis Patrick Finn,
my underage AIF volunteer was a
2016 highlight.

Geniaus is also asking us to reflect on how good our 2016 genealogy year was in her annual Accentuate the Positive geneameme 2016. I haven't got to this yet but I usually do participate as the questions really make me think about everything I have discovered.

Through Facebook Thomas MacEntee gave us 10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Genealogy which is a good way to relook at your research and maybe even try something new. I've always found Thomas very motivating and posts like this do inspire. If you are not using Facebook and social media for genealogy then you are missing lots of great blog posts and other online news.

Katherine R Willson has compiled a list of all Facebook groups for genealogy including Australian sites and there are over 10,000 links. See her list here.

Here in Australia Alona is encouraging us to be part of the Genealogy and the 52 Week Challenge which aims to record all kinds of personal memories. Regular readers will recall I did my own 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 which extended into 2015 as I found it hard to keep up the weekly blog posts, illness, family issues and travel often change our priorities. Even so I think participating in a weekly or monthly blog challenge does tend to keep you more focused and inclined to blog regularly.

Max with some of his family history at the Amateur
Fishermen's Association Queensland cottage on
Bribie Island. 
Yesterday we had a nephew visit and he had never seen the family history before. Needless to say he was fascinated with all the Spencer stories, photographs, the previously unknown connection to Bribie Island and the family back in Staffordshire. Four hours went quickly and if he hadn't already booked a flight home, he might have stayed even longer. No doubt he will be emailing me soon as a lot of it is now in digital format. I still think flicking through the huge paper binder is somehow more exciting. Must be something about physically turning over the page!

Personally I'm looking forward to seeing what will be added to all the major databases online, both free and subscription. I've had some wonderful breakthroughs through indexing and digitisation and this can only increase. DNA testing also seems to be getting people excited and long lost cousins found. I will certainly be looking at more of this in 2017.

I'd like to thank all my regular readers and geneapals on various social media platforms. Through you my own genealogy research and knowledge is enriched as everyone shares their knowledge and tips. There has never been a better time to be doing the family history. I hope everyone has a wonderful year of genealogy research in 2017. Until next time

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Aussie blogs, Trove News, 2017 Events & Other News - Genealogy Notes 10-21 Dec 2016

The view from the study window
Last Diary saw me all excited about the approaching holiday season but a nasty bug has meant that I've missed parties, Christmas lights and I'm still to do the shopping. But there is something nice about bed rest especially if you have some good books and a tablet. Catching up on my reading has been good and that includes blogs.

Gould Genealogy & History News blog had an interesting post - 12 Australian Genealogy Blogs You Should be Following which lists some of my favourites too. I am also honoured to receive a mention on the list. It is authored by Alona who has her own blog Lonetester HQ which I would also include on a must read list of Aussie blogs. That kept me quiet for a while when I wasn't napping!

The other great way to spend enforced time in bed is to browse the digitised newspapers in Trove. Last time I wrote about a possible Jewsbury family connection to Bribie Island and I realised it was quite a while since I had done any updating on this family. I found heaps of new references and while I am yet to enter the details into my database and family history, I have had the luxury of simply searching and reading.

The good news for Trove is that in this week's mid year budget the government has managed to find $16.4 million over the next four years to digitise more resources and to maintain and upgrade infrastructure. Wonderful news. Launched in 2010 and with now more than 522 million items and 22 million unique users it is definitely a genealogy and history treasure.

One thing I have managed to do is update the Services & Events page of my website to show what events I will be speaking at in 2017. Additional events will go up as details are finalised but so far there is the Footsteps in Time genealogy conference at Southport in May, a day with the Coffs Harbour & District Family History Society, local talks and more. Check out the Services & Events page for details.

I had plans to do some new blog posts before January to end the year on a high. Now everything is being carried over into 2017 including some writing projects which are not going to make deadline. Since starting to work from home, I had forgotten what it was like to pick up a serious infection from someone else. Of course not having any grandkids local also helps to keep us immune too. Probably why this one took me by surprise.

There will be one more Diary to end 2016 which has been an absolutely brilliant year for me on a genealogy perspective. But more about that next time. Until then, happy researching.

Friday 9 December 2016

Index finds, DNA discoveries & Other News - Genealogy Notes 3-9 Dec 2016

The big catch up post holiday is now over, the new carpet is laid and slowly moving things back into their respective rooms. The study is looking neat and tidy although there are still lots of boxes out in the tiled hall way. It's like moving house and yet another opportunity to declutter and reorganise.

But as always it is easy to get side tracked by exciting genealogy news. As a member of the local Bribie Island Historical Society I have given a few talks on my ancestors who lived in this area from the 1870s. One of the committee members has been working on indexing local land records for the Island and came across an S J Jewsbury. As it is an uncommon surname she checked on Ancestry and found my public tree and contacted me.

Sarah Jane Jewsbury nee Finn, Truth, 26 Mar 1939 via Trove
While we don't know what those initials stand for on the land record (yet), I have a Sarah Jane Jewsbury nee Finn who was my great grandmother Mary Finn's sister. Mary married James Carnegie whose grandparents lived on the other side of Pumicestone Passage to Bribie Island. Either it is a huge coincidence or it is my Sarah Jane but now I have to try and work out what the S J stands for and if it is her, why and how did she come to own land on the island post World War One. You really can find information anywhere, as long as someone has indexed it!

Sadly Sarah Jane lost her son Ronald in 1939 as a result of a tetanus infection and the inquest made the local newspapers. As well as information on the family, there were photographs of Sarah Jane and Ronald.

Another exciting bit of news was that while I was away my blog post on City of Sydney Archives made Genealogy a la Carte, a Canadian blog list compiled by  Gail Dever.  This is part of a series of blogs I have been doing for The In-Depth Genealogist for the last two years. It is always nice to know someone has read a blog post, but to also have it listed for others to note is great. I am know thinking I should be saying that it is Sydney (or wherever) Australia as there must be lots of places called Sydney in the world.

Personally I'm not a fan of organisations changing names and websites but it is the times in which we live. State Records NSW new corporate name is State Archives and Records Authority of New South Wales. Thankfully the URL is the same and it is nice to see Archives back in the corporate name. Read more about the name change here.  

There has been no time to do any research,  but Family Tree DNA did notify me that my results were now available. Although I did the Ancestry DNA test  in 2015, I wanted to do the same test with FamilyTree DNA just in case the last year has just been one horrible nightmare. So it was with some trepidation that I looked at the results and they were even more conclusive than the Ancestry results. So if I hadn't got suspicious then, I would certainly be suspicious now with 0% Scandinavian. Interestingly my Ancestry percentages have also changed, dropping from less than 8% Scandinavian to less than 1%.

I guess in some respects I'm lucky that Mum is still alive and could explain my 'surprising' results. On the other hand, if I hadn't been expecting Norwegian heritage, then I may never have known the truth.Still trying to work out where to go next as my 40th anniversary of family history research comes up in March 2017. Where would my research be now if everyone had told me the truth 40 years ago? By the way, I notice that there are now MyHeritage DNA home testing kits so it definitely looks like being a part of our genealogy research in the future.

In the lead up to Christmas there are lots of Christmas parties and yesterday I went to the Bribie Island Family History Special Interest Group meeting. I took along some books and magazines to have an impromptu raffle and there were some excited members while I had some more space in my study. We all discussed Christmas memories and it was interesting to see how many people used to leave a beer and nuts out for Santa not to mention those who left gifts for the 'dunny' man!

Some of us then went on to lunch in the Bribie RSL which had several Christmas parties in full swing. You simply can't go past beer battered flathead and chips!

This coming week is very quiet apart from the Christmas party for the Bribie Island Historical Society so which family to choose to do some new searches on. Trove never disappoints and often I find new information on Ancestry and Findmypast so it is always worthwhile to relook at direct and collateral lines.

Until next time, happy searching.

Thursday 1 December 2016

Family History Fiction, Bendigo Petitions & Family Search Indexing - Genealogy Notes 7 Nov - 2 Dec 2016

Birthday cake courtesy Tuscan Grill on Celebrity Millenium
Funny how holidays always seem to go faster than every day life but I'm back, safe and sound from my decade changing birthday holiday. Even our cruise ship Celebrity Millenium got into the spirit of it with this personal birthday cake. It was delicious!

Three weeks without a computer, internet, phone or social media - I slept better, got more exercise and still managed to be busy most days! Only managed to read, and enjoyed, two books, both fiction but with a family history focus. Robyn Davidson's Ancestors is an interesting twist on how our ancestors can influence our lives and Victorian Purman's The Three Miss Allens throws light on challenges placed on women by society and how easily our family histories could have been changed by events. Both authors are Australian so there is an Australian flavour to both books.

Of course being totally disconnected means you come home to a small mountain of emails, enewsletters and paper journals and magazines, not to mention Facebook, Twitter and lots of my favourite blogs. There is lots of news including the National Library of Australia's announcement that Dr Marie-Louise Ayres will be taking over as the next Director General of the NLA from 2 Mar 2017. Dr Ayres is taking over from Anne-Marie Swirtlich AM who has been at the helm since 2011 and given us the wonderful Trove during that time.

Another exciting snippet that caught my attention was the news that the Bendigo Regional Archives Centre has digitised over 600 petitions from Bendigo and district residents between 1870 and 1899. Currently 284 petitions with 14,240 signatures and addresses have been indexed and are available online. The whole project is expected to be finished in 2017 with over 35,000 names. My families had left Bendigo by then but this is great for anyone with Bendigo ancestors in that date range.

FamilySearch is celebrating 10 years of web based volunteer indexing with 5.5 billion historical records now online for free. I remember this coming in while I was still at Public Record Office Victoria and we made use of it to index the wills and probates that FamilySearch were digitising in a joint PROV/FamilySearch project. The technology is amazing and such a wonderful tool for family history research. You can read the whole media release here and there is a free downloadable I Love Families images.

Vietnam's orchids rival Singapore's!
So after the technology excitement of Trove, BRAC and FamilySearch I had to order some certificates from Western Australia, something I haven't done for a while. The WA indexes are online but that is as far as it goes. To obtain copies I had to print out order forms for each certificate, hand write my details and then surface mail the forms to Perth. The copies should arrive in a couple of weeks.The only good news was that uncertified digital images are $20. With Queensland and Victoria  you can order certificates online and have the copy within seconds, although sometimes that is just an encouragement to spend more money quicker. Obviously patience is still a required genealogy skill!

On the good news front, I've received a few enquiries to speak at various venues in 2017 so the year is starting to fill out quite nicely and not too busy. This year has been quite frantic with 31 presentations which must be an all time record for me. Next year is definitely going to be more relaxed! I just have to remember to say No and factor in things like travel time.

The rest of this month is dedicated to finishing the Education Records module for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies Australian certificate. This is my fifth module in the last few years and I will be taking a break from this too as they are quite labour intensive. On the plus side I always learn a lot myself but with two cruises already booked for next year, I need to be realistic about work loads.

Singapore's most amazing building - a cruise ship on top of three hotel buildings.
We stayed at a place a little more down market!
No doubt lots of other things happened in my absence but for those interested in where I have been, read on. A few days in Singapore then off on a 14 day cruise to Vietnam (two ports - saw the Chu Chi tunnels and Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang and Hoi An), Hong Kong, The Philippines (two ports - Manilla and Boracay) and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia before heading back to Singapore for a few more days. A great trip with no drama until our flight home was delayed - supposed to fly out at 8.50pm but didn't leave until 2.00pm the next day. We were given overnight accommodation and breakfast but didn't get to the hotel until 2.00am and we didn't arrive home until 11.00pm so for two days we were like zombies!

Snowman in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia - saw them in every country
we visited. Who knew they could live so close to the Equator?
We had prebooked a transfer back to Bribie Island and when they saw the flight was delayed they made the most remarkable assumption that we would no longer need the transfer. So there was no one to meet us at the airport - obviously we had to arrive back sometime, even if it was the evening instead of the morning! Being stranded at Brisbane airport late at night is no fun and perhaps travel insurance would have covered the rather large cost of a taxi to Bribie but I recently put Uber on my phone (thankfully I took it with me in case I needed it on return). Within 7 minutes we had a Uber driver happy to take us home and the cost was quite a bit cheaper than our usual Island airport transfer. I know who we will be using next time!
Entrance to the largest shopping centre in Manilla -
time to get out our Christmas 'decs' but where to find a snowman?
Anyway it is now back to a more quiet lifestyle in the lead up to Christmas. Until next time, have a great genealogy week.