Monday 25 December 2017

Convict Records, new conferences & blogs - Genealogy Notes 19 Nov - 26 Dec 2017

I had a wonderful break and it is actually harder to sit and do nothing than you think. Sitting and watching mother nature is fascinating and I never realised just how many different types of sand crabs come out to play/feed at low tide and there are more birds than just seagulls at the beach. The determination of female turtles is amazing - they wait 30 years before first heading back to the beach they themselves hatched on to lay their own eggs. Then they swim away and do it all again the following year. The sad part is that over the last 30 years that I have been doing this, erosion has taken away many of the sand dunes and now the Rangers and volunteers try to move the eggs to higher ground so that the eggs are not lost to the next incoming tide. A very worthy project and great to see so many tourists supporting turtle conservation.

Totally refreshed I am now getting ready for 2018 and making sure I don't double book any speaking engagements and that they don't clash too often with my Advanced Family History class at Bribie U3A. Quite a few of last year's students are returning and I'm pleased to say that two of them broke down brick walls after we discussed them in class. It definitely pays to discuss a brick wall with others and get alternative views and suggestions.

An old, but still relevant and interesting article about the destruction of convict records in NSW in 19th century - article was written by Christine Shergold and it is available online at State Archives and Records NSW where Christine worked for many years.  It is a timely reminder that if you are looking at a specific group of records, take the time to read any online guides about the records for background information and context. It might just explain why you can't find a particular record.

This last week of 2017 I'm busy finalising my two papers for the Bridging the Past & Future Congress in Sydney in March 2018. I'm really looking forward to four days of amazing talks and meeting new and old friends. My airfare and accommodation is all booked and paid and it is within easy walking distance of the venue. More time for looking at the exhibitor stalls or catching up with people for coffee and a chat.

There is another new conference on the Australian scene in 2018. There is the inaugural GAGHA conference in Adelaide on 17-19 August - if you are like me, you hate acronyms and are sitting there trying to work out what it is. Pat yourself on the back if you got German - Australian Genealogy & History Association which will be exciting for all those with German ancestors. The call for papers is open until 31 December 2017 so be quick if you want to present a paper but otherwise note the dates and plan a trip to Adelaide. Registration opens in February and I imagine that they will also be promoting it at the Sydney Congress.

I managed to get one more Trove Tuesday blog post done for 2017 and its about The Queenslander Cot Fund which helped the Hospital for Sick Children in Brisbane. Amazingly this one newspaper article mentioned my GGG grandmother, my GG aunt, her two sons and my G grandfather and his fiancee, later my G grandmother. Three generations of a family connected in time and place by one newspaper article. Thanks Trove and if you want to know what titles are coming up in 2018, click here. It's a bit disappointing that there are no Queensland titles but I am excited about the Ballarat ones.

After a break, I have started writing blogs and articles for The In-Depth Genealogist again and my first blog post was Introducing The Ryerson Index. It gives just some of the reasons why and how I use the Index for genealogy and family history. Check out other In-Depth blog posts here. I'm also happy to say that my article on Starting Out in Australian and New Zealand Genealogy made it onto the front cover of the December issue of Going In-Depth.

Unlock the Past have a new range of Handy Guides which are low cost 4 page guides on a range of topics and these are in addition to their guide books where there are now over 80 titles. I'm looking forward to checking these out in Sydney in March. My absolute favourite Unlock the Past activity in 2018 is their Alaska cruise in September. I've not been to America before so I'm also looking at a post cruise trip but so many places to consider.

My son ca 1991 - now he is getting married
and moving to Europe to live. White Christmas coming up!
Christmas lunch was out our place this year and my brother and his family joined my son and Mum for a magnificent seafood feast which literally went on for hours as we tasted oysters, crab and a range of different prawns with avocado and freshly baked rolls. Followed by a yummy creamy fruit pavlova for dessert. For the traditionalists we also cooked a piece of port with our best ever crackling. All I managed for Christmas dinner was a cup of tea and a shortbread biscuit! Given the heat yesterday we were all glad that we had broken with tradition although Mum did keep saying it really didn't seem like Christmas.

There are lots of exciting things on my genealogy agenda for 2018 and I look forward to sharing them with everyone. Enjoy the last week of 2017 and try to squeeze in some family history, especially if you have relatives visiting. Until 2018 have fun.

Friday 17 November 2017

Local History, Remembrance Day & Other News - Genealogy Notes 19 Oct - 18 Nov 2017

Well four weeks slipped past again in a blur and my brother assures me that all family drama will be over by Christmas and I can start 2018 again fresh! I'm still trying to work out where 2017 went and having spent last weekend going through all Mum's photos I'm left wondering where the last 60 something years have gone. I'm left with a small box of photos that I want to keep and some that I will digitise and the rest are in a bag for my brother to go through. He seems to have taken more photos than me over the years but then he had two children so you would expect more.

Memorial to the Kennedy Regiment,
Army Museum North Queensland,
Townsville, Sep 2017
I did manage to write one blog post - Remembrance Day 2017 and the Kennedy Regiment, Queensland which is appropriate as Mum's father Henry Price and his brother Les Price were on the Kanowna when it left Townsville for German New Guinea at the start of World War One.

My tutoring sessions at Bribie U3A on advanced family history are going well and it is hard to believe there are only two more sessions before the end of term four. Both are on brick wall solving and already one attendee has broken down her brick wall which is good. Not sure why but I am always surprised by other people's brick walls, some are absolutely fascinating and I suspect our ancestors never thought that one day their descendants would come looking for them. The tutoring has been fun and it will be a continuing course next year with many of the attendees staying in the class. We have even been given a bigger room.

From 13 December 2017 users of FamilySearch will be prompted to register for a free account or sign in to their existing account to have access to the free expanded benefits of FamilySearch. This is due to the need for FamilySearch to be able to assure all its partners that its content is offered in a safe and secure online environment and signing in to accounts fulfills that need. I set up an account a while back to add in some family names but haven't done anything since. Signing in will probably prompt me to do more than just search for something. The hardest part will be remembering yet another password as I don't like using the same password for everything. Read more about the changes here.

The Royal Historical Society of Victoria have published a useful online guide Writing and Publishing Local History: A Guide for First Time Authors and Historical Societies, written by Rosalie Triolo, Helen Doyle and Katya Johanson. It is free to download or you can buy a paper copy from the RHSV Bookshop for $30.

Ravenswood Hotel, Sep 2017
Catching up with my National Trust of Australia news and the 2018 Australian Heritage Festival theme is My Culture, My Story and they are currently looking for events to go into the calendar for April/May next year. There will probably be lots of interest for family history too so make a note to watch out for the calendar. The Festival starts on 18 April 2018.

With everything that has happened this year I have given considerable thought to what I want to carry over into the New Year. After coordinating the last 5 National Family History Month's in Australia from 2013-2017 I have stepped down as the voluntary coordinator.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the societies, individuals and sponsors who helped me achieve all that I did over the five years. So much of what is done in the family history world is done by volunteers who try to support societies who exist to help individuals both in person and online. The answer is not always on Facebook and it is not always instant and free.

Support your local societies before we lose more of them and the services they offer such as meetings, seminars, libraries and special interest groups.

Best parma in Queensland,
Ravenswood Hotel, Sep 2017
With my haphazard blog posts of late I was also planning to end this blog but as my brother said, things will be better in 2018 and I might regret killing it off. So possibly monthly posts as we go into the Christmas/New Year period and not a lot of family history usually happens then as we all get caught up in the festive spirit. We can then see what the New Year brings.

So on a more positive note I've drawn up a list of three things to focus on in 2018:

  •  a regular schedule of blog posts for my own genealogy development in 2018 which will appear on my website
  • again writing regular blogs and articles for Going In-Depth after my sabbatical (which has taken far too long) 
  • and getting back to my DNA research and the mystery grandfather. 

There will be one more Diary post before Christmas so until then have fun searching and why not think about what you want to focus on in 2018.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Digital tools, Open Data, Rockstar Genealogists & Other News - Genealogy Notes 11-18 Oct 2017

It's been a soggy week in south east Queensland which means lots of time indoors. I've now got my family history database on the new laptop and brought all my photographs across. It would have been easier to just copy everything across but it is amazing how many programs I have that I no longer use or there are newer and better versions. I am also tidying up my file directory and deleting things that I don't need anymore. A true spring clean and of course a nice little list of things to do later. 

The professional development day of the Queensland Professional Historians Association in Brisbane was a great success and I learnt about some digital tools for organising research so that you can find it again later. Of course Evernote was one that was mentioned, Air Table and also Zotero which I had forgotten about and how you can use it with Trove. The Department of Natural Resources and Mines has a new Queensland historical map viewer coming soon which will allow us to use the historical digital maps already in open data easier. It looks fantastic and here's hoping that the testing phase is completed soon.

My talk was on social media for historians and how it can be used for finding and sharing information as well as networking. It was a long day but good catching up with some people I've known for decades - I guess that's when we realise the years are passing. The venue was the Queensland Art Gallery theatre and I really must get down to Brisbane and spend some time in the Gallery, Library and Museum as they have all changed greatly since I worked there in the 1990s.

In the small world category, one of the attendees who I have known for years, had just spent time with a friend who is my distant cousin on the Carnegie side of the family and while she was visiting, they Googled some of the family names and found my blogs.  Naturally I said please have her contact me and we can share more family stories but I was also fascinated by the personal recollections she had of Toorbul. When you start to share your family stories online you really do start to connect up with others.

John and Helen Carnegie's grave
at Toorbul (my GGG grandparents)
Going to U3A twice a week for advanced family history and local Bribie history takes up time but it is also another opportunity to share information and learn from others. My talk on the Carnegies of Pumicestone Passage went well at the Bribie Island Historical Society Meeting and everyone was amazed at how much additional information I had found over the last three years. How I solved the brick wall with so many people using aliases left some just shaking their heads but it was something that took me years to solve and only 45 minutes to explain. It's always easier in hindsight.

I have just accepted my first talk for 2018 with Caloundra Family History Research, apart from my two talks at the Bridging the Past & Future Congress in Sydney in March. Speaking of talks, John D Reid (Canada's Anglo Celtic Connections) is again hosting his annual Rockstar Genealogist survey and voting is now open. I'm honoured to be nominated and there is a great line up of Australasian genealogists as well as some of the overseas genealogists who have visited our shores in the last few years. Check out their websites/blogs and be prepared to learn lots.

Talk of Christmas parties seems to be everywhere at the moment but I also like this time of year as I don't have any talks, so no travel and just time to catch up on projects and do some writing. Of course it helps that it is raining so no garden, pool or walks along the beach to distract me. The bookshelves need a tidy up with all my new books (some still to be read) plus print copies of journals and magazines.

We have been here 5 years in January so that means quite a few boxes have magically appeared in the study cupboards. The only time I find it easy to weed my magazines and journals is when I am moving house and then it's a necessity. Now that I am staying put, I'm hoarding again. It might be time to bundle some of them up and take them along to those Christmas parties!

I'm looking forward to a nice quiet week of research and writing and perhaps weeding those magazines. Have a great genealogy week and until next time, happy searching.

Monday 9 October 2017

Conference report, NSW webinars & Other News: Genealogy Notes 15 Sep -10 Oct 2017

Well an action packed few weeks and I have a new laptop. My old one had been experiencing blue screens of death for some time, the odd one and then more frequently but as the last few months have been so hectic I kept putting off doing anything. I was still using Windows 7 and Microsoft 2007 so just getting used to Windows 10 and Microsoft 2016 has been daunting, not to mention copying everything across and setting up the new laptop with all my other programs. But there comes the time when you simply have to do it. I always back up in a number of ways so no data files have been lost but it has been a time consuming exercise. My fingers are still getting used to the new keyboard which is slightly smaller and I have to check for typos more often.

Exhibitors located throughout Orange Library
Catching up on my emails I realised that I had won a prize at the recent Unlock the Past Researching Abroad roadshow. My prize was one years membership of Victorian GUM (Genealogists Using Microcomputers) which was a blast from the past. When I was living in Victoria I was a member and went to some of their meetings and I particularly liked their journal which mainly focuses on using FamilyTreeMaker and Legacy. They were established in 1984 and we have come a long way since those early computer times. It is going to be good getting their journal again.

It was a long drive down to Orange for the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Organisations (and back home) but I am really glad we made the trek. It was a really good conference and a number of speakers that made you sit up and think. My blog post on the conference is now on my website - read Report on Recording Your Family Story. My great grandparents Thomas and Elizabeth Price were in Orange in the late 1870s and early 1880s so it was good to visit and try to imagine what the town looked like back then. The conference venue was the Civic Theatre which is right next door to the Library which is where the Fair was held on the Friday and the exhibitors were located during the weekend. Next door to that was the Gallery and the Museum so during breaks you could explore the local history which was excellent and I really liked the old photos of Orange in the Museum.

Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Orange (did my ancestors attend here?)

One thing I have picked up on is that State Archives & Records New South Wales webinar program and the next one is on 7 November 10am (obviously NSW time so if you are in a different time zone remember to make the adjustment). It will be on NSW probate records which are a little complicated to work your way around so a webinar to tune into. If you forget or can't make the live webinar, remember you can always view earlier webinars in the library. There is also a quick start tutorial if you are not sure what a webinar is or how to access them.

For the 4th term of Bribie U3A I am again doing an advanced family session class with the first one last week. It is a 9 week term which must mean that Christmas is fast approaching and 2018 just around the corner. I can only hope that there will be less family drama next year although my son has announced (finally) that he is getting married. So I have a date that must be kept clear!

James Carnegie and Mary Finn
(my great grandparents)
Tomorrow night at the Bribie Island Historical Society meeting I am giving an update on my Carnegies @ Pumicestone talk which I gave in March 2014. Thanks to a few blog posts and sharing my brick wall, I have got lots of new information which reveals all the family secrets. Plus I even have some photos to share so blogging definitely pays off.

Not surprisingly I haven't done any family history research or even made a start on all the photos and albums I cleared out of Mum's house. The hardest part is always starting but I also need to digitise as my brother wants some too. Mum and Dad always took photos of our children (their grandchildren) when they babysat so lots of photos that neither my brother or I have copies of.

Touching my wooden desk, life should return to normal for me and I will get back into a nice routine of household chores, family history and gardening. Perhaps even a bit of exercise and social activity. Have a great week searching and Diary will get back to regular reporting. Until next week.

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Townsville seminar, Orange conference, UTP guides & other news: Genealogy Notes 1-14 Sep 2017

At the end of August everyone says to me you must be glad that National Family History Month is now over, all that spare time. I wish! Actually the first two weeks of September are usually super busy as I am notifying sponsors and prize winners, following up any issues and writing up a report for AFFHO on the month. There was an AFFHO meeting (via Skype) last night and I'm almost finished the report. Then starts the planning for NFHM 2018!

Display tables kept everyone busy!
Another NFHM  activity was writing up a report on the closing event held with the Family History Association of North Queensland in Townsville. It was a great weekend with a full day of talks on the Saturday (Louise Coakley from Cairns was the other speaker) and we both attended the DNA special interest group meeting on the Sunday. Read my report on the weekend here. I still have to write up the family history aspect of the trip as Mum's Price family lived in Townsville and Charters Towers. The visit to the Army Museum North Queensland in the Jezzine Barracks precinct was really good but I will save the details for the blog post, coming soon.

There is no rest for the weekend because next week I will be off to Orange, NSW for the annual conference of the ACT & NSW Association of Family History Societies. The theme is Your Family Story: Telling, Recording and Preserving and it is an interesting program on the Saturday and Sunday with workshops (now all fully booked) on the Friday as well as a Family History Fair. One of my mother's uncles was born in Orange, NSW so I am looking forward to visiting a place my family once lived.

Eric's new guide
I love getting parcels of books or magazines (ebooks/emags are never quite as exciting). One small parcel contained four new research guides from Unlock the Past. I read Carol Baxter's To Trace of Not to Trace: a family history overview for the curious on the plane to Townsville, and Rosemary Kopittke's My Heritage ...My Story on the way home. I heard Rosemary's talk on select features of MyHeritage on the Unlock the Past PNG cruise in July so I was keen to learn more. The other two guides are Eric Kopittke's Introduction to German Family History Research for Australians which should be very popular and Chris Paton's 2nd edition of Discover Scottish Land Records. All can be purchased online from Gould Genealogy & History.

Another exciting mail delivery was a copy of the Who Do You Think You Are magazine, August 2017 which had my article on Australian Gold Rush Ancestors. An article always looks more interesting when laid out by editors and my text turned into a five page spread. So far only one Australian friend has congratulated me on the piece, but perhaps it is not widely read here. I have never seen it in my local newsagent but perhaps I will look next time I visit Brisbane.

My grandfather Henry Price was in the Kennedy Regiment
lots on them at Jezzine Barracks Townsville
I've been waiting for an English marriage certificate since 24 August - it is so frustrating that it takes so long to be mailed out when I can order a Queensland or Victorian certificate and see it 60 seconds after I have paid for it. If some BDM registries can do it, why not all of them? Still in the good old days I had to wait months so I guess there is some improvement. Just have to learn patience all over again.

This coming week will see yet another desk clean up - everything seems to go everywhere when I am busy and travelling. Little piles to work through when I have time!

Have a fantastic week searching and until next time, have fun too.

Tuesday 29 August 2017

End of NFHM 2017, book review & other news - Genealogy Notes 23-31 Aug 2017

On the eve of the closing of National Family History Month (NFHM) all I can say is that it has been very hectic. I finished my series of talks for Moreton Bay Region Libraries this week with an enthusiastic audience at Caboolture Library. Two people even came down from Caloundra to catch my Ancestors in Church talk. The presentation can be seen on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. It was also good to see that Findmypast is now available free at the Caboolture, Strathpine and Redcliffe libraries although there is a limit of two hours access per day per customer. Still you can do a lot of searching in two hours.

An early Spencer home in Adelaide (family photo)
My one piece of blog writing was to take part in Alona Tester's alphabetical ancestral placenames geneameme - read my Ancestral Places Geneameme to see where some of my families are from. I managed to find at least one place for every letter of the alphabet except X.

Part of my NFHM activities was to do a review of Lynette McDermott's historical novel Perseverance which is about two First Fleet convict families, the Garths and Belletts,  after they were removed from Norfolk Island to Tasmania. Read the review here. Lynette donated a copy of the book as a prize for NFHM.

Another NFHM activity was a guest blog for MyHeritage, another prize sponsor of NFHM. Read my guest post Family Memories From Down Under. All the boxes of Mum's stuff in the back bedroom still needs to be sorted but there are no visitors on the horizon so it can wait a little while longer. Not a job to be rushed.

Mum, my brother and I - a lifetime ago (family photo)
The NFHM prizes giveaway is being drawn on Saturday 2 September in Townsville so there will be some excited people next week when the winners go up on the NFHM website. Louise Coakley will be giving two talks on DNA and I'm talking about archives and skeletons in the family so it is going to be an interesting day in Townsville. On the Sunday I'm attending the Family History Association of North Queensland DNA special interest group meeting which will be good too. I really do need to sit down and really examine my results and work out which matches to follow up. There will be a blog post to follow.

Once I get home again my focus will be on the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Organisations annual conference Your Family Story: Telling, Recording & Preserving which is on in Orange, New South Wales in three weeks. My conference paper is Weaving Your Family History on the Web. There is a great program plus the Friday Fair where there will be all kinds of temptation.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful family history month and managed to attend an event or visit a library or archive. If you have an entry in the prizes giveaway good luck. Until next time, happy researching.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Family Memories, Nick Vine Hall Awards & Other News - Genealogy Notes 15-22 Aug 2017

We are now into the third week of National Family History Month in Australia. So far I have done talks in Caloundra, Nambour, Maleny, Beerburrum, Noosaville, North Lakes, Albany Creek, Arana Hills and Strathpine. That's quite a few kilometres around south east Queensland and I have one talk left next week at Caboolture. It is fantastic to see the local libraries providing a great range of talks and speakers during NFHM. My presentations are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

Mum Dad me and my baby brother
Lone Pine Sanctuary ca 1960
Also as part of NFHM, I was asked to do a guest blog for MyHeritage one of the major sponsors of NFHM2017. My Family Memories post draws on my recent experiences clearing out my mother's home. No doubt more memories will surface as I now work my way through all the boxes stacked in my own back bedroom. Something to look forward to in September after I finish all of my NFHM activities.

Next week I will be heading off to Townsville for the closing event for NFHM. An all day seminar in conjunction with the Family History Association of North Queensland where I am giving two talks along side Louise Coakley a DNA specialist from Cairns. See her Facebook page Using DNA Testing for Genealogy & Family History Research Australia & New Zealand. It should be a great day and I am also staying on for the Society's DNA special interest group meeting on the Sunday. By the time I get home I will well and truly be motivated to try and work out my own DNA results. There seem to be so many matches it is a bit overwhelming.

So far this month I have managed to read two family history related novels. The first was a review copy from the Moreton Region Libraries Book Club and as a member I get offered from time to time review copies. When I selected this one from the list I was attracted to it because it was set in medieval times and I hadn't realised there was a family history element too. Anyway I found Ian Mortimer's The Outcasts of Time a great read and it starts off in 1348 with England in the grip of the Black Death and the hero is given six days to live. Either in his own time or one day every 100 years ending in 1945. He chooses the latter option and it is fascinating and had me thinking about my own family history over 600 years.

Max and I as part of the 200th anniversary commemoration
on Norfolk Island 2007
The second book is Lynette McDermott's Perseverance which is Book Two of the Garth Trilogy. It is an historical novel based on the lives of two First Fleet convict families who are first exiled to Norfolk Island (Book One) and then exiled again to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in Book Two.

This was of interest to me as Max's convict ancestors Samuel Pyers and Sarah Johnson were also sent to Norfolk Island in the First Settlement and then forced to leave and resettle in Tasmania around the Richmond area. So again it was easy to picture our own families living through the same experiences as the Garth family.

Lynette has kindly donated one of her books as a NFHM prize - see the sponsors page to enter the giveaway and remember it closes on 29 August and is only open to Australian residents.

Announced at the launch of NFHM in Sydney were the winners of the annual Nick Vine Hall Awards. Congratulations to the winners.

  • Category A winner  Botany Bay Family History Society; The Endeavour No 129 December 2016 editor John Levy
  • Second Australian Society of Lacemakers of Calais; Tulle Volume 34 No 4 (November 2016) editor Jim Longmire
  • Category B winner Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies; The Genealogist Vol 15 No 4 December 2016  editor Carolann Thomson 
  • Second Queensland Family History Society; Queensland Family Historian Volume 37 No 4 November 2016 editor Lyndal Cosgrove 

If you have run out of ideas for NFHM have a look at my 31 NFHM Activities for Researchers which explores some of our sponsors websites and other activities. It's an online event and anyone can participate.

The next week will be hectic as I prepare for Townsville and the closing of NFHM but then it will be spring, not that we have had much of a winter. Still swimming in the pool most days, solar heating is wonderful. I always think I will have lots of time post NFHM but other things always crop up to keep me busy! There are talks coming up for the Professional Historians Association of Queensland and also for the Bribie Island Historical Society and I also said I would tutor again on advanced family history for the local U3A. No I won't be bored!

Until next time, enjoy the last week of NFHM and good luck with the prizes giveaway. 

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Genealogy cruising, NFHM talks & other news - Genealogy Notes 1-14 Aug 2017

It is really good to be home and sitting at my desk and watching the birds outside my window while I ponder what to write.

The last two weeks have been very hectic. First I was away on the Unlock the Past military and genealogy cruise to Papua New Guinea which was fantastic. It was really good seeing Rabaul and Milne Bay where we had family members during World War 1 and 2.  There were also port stops at some of the really scenic islands so there was something for everyone. Blog post to follow this week on the genealogy and military talks. I have already booked into the next genealogy cruise to Alaska.
Got home to some domestic issues which needed to be sorted which meant that I had to miss the Researching Abroad Unlock the Past roadshow in Brisbane the day after we got back. Thankfully some genimates were also there and have blogged the event. See Pauleen Cass' blog posts on Day 1 and Day 2

For the next three days I gave six talks in six different towns in South East Queensland, which might be some kind of record. It was really good to give talks for both Sunshine Coast Libraries in Caloundra, Nambour, Maleny and Beerwah and Moreton Region Libraries in Albany Creek and North Lakes. All of the Sunshine Coast sessions were fully booked and attendees were enthusiastic about National Family History Month too.

Today I gave another talk on starting family history research - this time at Noosaville Library so I am really getting to see south east Queensland's most iconic tourist spots. And the winter weather has been almost like summer. I really loved the brochure the Noosa Library service did to promote NFHM 2017 with four speakers and some fantastic talks.

All my presentations are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.
I had to miss this year's launch of National Family History Month but thanks to Jill Ball there is a blog post A Long Drive to Chester Hill about how smoothly the event went. Even in my absence people were keen to enter the prize giveaway so I've been busy processing all the entries so far. I also need to do a blog post thanking all of our wonderful sponsors for helping to promote NFHM. 

My 31 Activities for Researchers during NFHM is an online event and there are other online events so remember to look at that category of events as well as your local state.

Coming up at the end of this week is a tour of the Woodford Museum with the local Woodford Historical Society. I always love visiting these places as often so much of what they hold is not digitised, catalogued or online and therefore you really do need to visit and see what resources are held for research.

I keep getting notifications of DNA matches so I am just going to have to set aside some time and really study them to see where the connections are. This will probably have to wait until after NFHM as organising that does take up quite a bit of time. 

Time to start writing up my cruise blog so enjoy the 3rd week of NFHM in Australia and remember to enter the prize giveaway - click on the Terms & Conditions to see how to enter and it's only open to Australian entries. Until next time, have a fantastic week of research.

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Family memorabilia, DNA results & Other News - Genealogy Notes 12 -31 Jul 2017

The last few weeks have been a blur with the clearing out of Mum's house. Just when I thought I had discovered all Mum's secrets (and regular readers will know that Mum kept some amazing family facts from me) I find yet another family treasure where you would least think to look. What was hidden behind the kitchen drawer with all the cooking bits and pieces?

Mum's 1947 pocket diary
It was a 1947 (used in 1948) pocket diary with a picture of Perry Como pasted on the front cover. I knew instantly it was Mum's as she had a thing for him as a teenage girl. Sure enough inside was her name and address and it starts off with "Saturday 20 December 1947 Mervyn kissed me for the first time". Now I know when my parents first kissed although I already knew that they started going out when they were 13 years old.

I wonder what other secrets will be revealed if I continue past the first page! The handwriting is not the best and a bit small at times but I will save it for when I have more time. Why was it in the kitchen drawer and not with her photo albums or even in a bedroom drawer? Seems an odd place to put it and once I have scanned it, the diary can go with my other family memorabilia.

Mum's DNA results are back and I managed a quick look comparing people who match closely to me and it turns out they are not related to my mother. Which means they must be related through Dad's side and so far no common names so perhaps that means on my unknown grandfather's side. Unfortunately no time to really sort results at the moment so something to do in August during NFHM in between my speaking engagements.

In my spare time I finished my five talks for the Unlock the Past cruise to Papua New Guinea which departs tomorrow. National Family History Month also took up some time as I approved events and made changes for various people. Last minute details for the launch were finalised and it looks like being a fantastic August. Remember the prize giveaway opens on 1 August and no entries before that date will be accepted. I'm giving 13 talks in various places in south east Queensland - to find out where see the Events page of my website.

Thanks to Chris Paton for pointing out the National Archives UK online guide to digital microfilm - these types of guides for any archives or library are a fantastic way to quickly see what is available on particular topics. Remember that Chris is touring Australia during NFHM - see dates and venues here.  I'm looking forward to his talks in Brisbane.

The next five weeks for me are almost non stop genealogy events and as usual I will be doing blog posts about each event that I attend. My presentations will be on the Resources page of my website (after the event) and I hope to progress my DNA results as my NFHM activity. With so much on the time will go quickly.

I've taken this blog post up to the end of July as I won't have regular internet. The next post will be after I return from the genealogy cruise.

Have a great start to National Family History Month and remember there are online events too if you can't get to anything close by. Until next time, happy searching.

Monday 10 July 2017

Masonic archives, NFHM 2017, & other news - Genealogy Notes 2-11 Jul 2017

Another week taken up with family issues but we have finally managed to get Mum into aged care and here on Bribie Island. That will certainly cut  travel time with no more trips down the highway to Brisbane. We have also spent lots of time going through Mum's things and deciding what to keep, donate or toss. So many memories are in a home and furnishings. At least Mum is still with us to explain when and how something came into her possession.

For example, the crystal duchess set was an engagement present to her from her mother, my grandmother. How many of us have captured that kind of background information on our own possessions?

Provincial Grand Masters Regalia
RW Bro Thomas S Burstow
Brisbane Masonic Memorial Centre
Jul 2017
While in Brisbane I took some time out to visit the Masonic Memorial Centre where an old friend has taken on the job of voluntary archivist. It is always good catching up with friends but it is even better being able to have a behind the scenes look at an archive.

Many organisations save their old records but quite often they don't know what to do with them so the records are stock piled around an organisation. It is a huge job and I'm looking forward to her progress reports.

I also came away with some information on two Masons in the family. Seeing something that was once worn by an ancestor is amazing and it gives you a greater insight into their lives and what occupied their time.

Read more about my visit here and find out what I discovered.

There is an AFFHO meeting tonight where I will be giving an update on National Family History Month for 2017. There are 157 events so far in every state and territory with the exception of the Northern Territory.

There are even some online events including a blogging challenge and no doubt more events will be added between now and 1 August when the fun begins. So far 31 genealogy/family history societies have added events along with archives and libraries. It will be another great month.

Lost Cousins newsletter for this week had some interesting pieces, especially around DNA. I felt better when the editor said "I've still got thousands of matches to analyse". I'm not alone!

I feel a bit inundated at the moment with DNA matches, smart matches and record matches and possibly my own fault as I have posted my family information on a number of sites. Some connections are really distant but good if you are wanting to find every descendant of an ancestor in Australia. Others are more recent and might be good to meet up with and some I can't work out what the connection is in the first place. It is really time consuming but perhaps things will be less hectic once I get NFHM over for another year.

This coming week I have to finalise my five talks for the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to Papua New Guinea coming up in two weeks. I also have to work on my talks for National Family History Month as I start giving talks as soon as we get back from Papua New Guinea. Although I am taking time out to go to Brisbane for the Unlock the Past two day seminar on Researching Abroad: Finding British Isles and European Ancestors. August is full on and to see all the places I am speaking go to the Events page of my website.

Have a great genealogy week and start planning what you will be doing for NFHM2017. Until next time, happy searching.

Saturday 1 July 2017

Talks & Conferences Coming Up & Other News - Genealogy Notes 25 Jun -2 Jul 2017

It's been a busy week and all I seem to have done is make travel arrangements to attend genealogy events coming up. I have now booked my accommodation for the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies annual conference in Orange, NSW. It is on 22-24 Sep 2017 and the theme is Your Family Story: Telling, Recording & Preserving which is really relevant and there are some great speakers on the program.

I'm now an ambassador for the Researching Abroad: Finding British Isles and European Ancestors tour around Australia and New Zealand with Chris Paton and Dirk Weissleder. This is between 8 and 26 August so a perfect event for National Family History Month. It's straight after I get back from the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to Papua New Guinea so a very busy couple of weeks of genealogy talks and networking with geneamates.

Just as well P&O sent me a reminder about the need for a travel visa to Papua New Guinea - just print the form, fill it in and hand in at check in. So simple, but lucky I saw the email and didn't delete as advertising.

I've also committed to the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to Alaska next year. Having never traveled to the US or Canada before this is my big opportunity to resist the lure of Asia and Europe. Chris Paton and Dick Eastman are the keynotes on the cruise and they are always good value and entertaining sessions.

Unfortunately I can't go to everything but for those able to get to Cowra, NSW easily you should think about attending this year's Royal Australian Historical Society conference.  It's on 28 - 29 October 2017 and the theme is Finding Lost Places, Lost People.

The Trove Tuesday blog challenge was successfully met this week with my Did the Family Ever Make Contact Back Home post. In the absence of surviving family letters how can we prove or even guess that our ancestors kept in touch with the family members they left behind. Trove can sometimes throw light on this question and in my case, it was through a court appearance.

National Family History Month is now only 4 weeks away and I have been busy approving events on the NFHM web calendar. There is always room for more events and it is really good to see the National Library of Australia hosting two events this year plus other local libraries and genealogy/family history societies across Australia.

Scotland's People announced the release of Presbyterian church records which was exciting but didn't lead to any Scottish breakthrough.

FamilySearch announced the discontinuation of their microfilm services which was no surprise as they continue to digitise their microfilm holdings and either make them available online or through their Family History Centres. I can still remember visiting the LDS Library (as it was then) in Brisbane in the late 1970s early 1980s and using microfilm on really awful microfilm readers and having a sore right arm from hand winding for days afterwards. What we have today with the internet and digitised records is truly amazing.

This coming week I'm off to Brisbane for a visit to the  United Grand Lodge of Queensland, Masonic Memorial Centre to check out their archives. One of my uncles was fairly high up in the Masons and so was Max's great grandfather so it will be interesting to see what I can find out. I have also got to finish my five talks for the PNG cruise and keep monitoring the NFHM website and promoting it to all.

Enjoy the coming week and if you are attending any of the above events, I look forward to catching up with you. Happy searching until next time.

Friday 23 June 2017

Talks, Genie Cards & Other News - Genealogy Notes 8 - 24 June 2017

Another couple of weeks where family and health issues were the priority. Time seems to go even quicker and time away from the computer means that you simply can't keep up with what's new or get that blog post out. Two weeks ago I discovered something super exciting on the Spencer family in Trove and was all set to write a Trove Tuesday blog post when I was sidelined. Now I'm getting ready to reveal it next Tuesday.

My talk on my own DNA experience went well and the Bribie Island Family Interest Group had one of their biggest meetings and even picked up some new members. Obviously a lot of interest in the subject. I was relieved to get an email this week from Family Tree DNA to say that they had received my mother's DNA test. By testing Mum I can rule out any matches on her side and any unknown matches should be then on my father's side. I also need to track down some Carnegie cousins to rule out any connections from Dad's mother's side. Anything other matches will be Dad's father's side of the family assuming of course that someone tests.

I did manage to make it to Ipswich Central Library for my session on Demolishing Brick Walls. It was a smaller audience but I think that was due to the change of venue from Redbank Plains to Ipswich Central - some people only received the notice the day before. As usual the presentation is on my website Resources page, scroll down to Presentations.

There are no more talks now until the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to Papua New Guinea in July where I will be giving five presentations. Then there are the 11 talks for National Family History Month during August at various places in the Moreton, Sunshine Coast and Noosa areas. I'm doing a closing event for NFHM this year in Townsville with another two talks at an all day seminar organised by the Family History Association of North Queensland. It should be really good and a fun way to end NFHM 2017.

While I have been offline, it was good to see more societies and libraries adding their events to the NFHM web calender. My apologies for the slight delay in making those events visible and I hope that we get lots more before the start of August. Remember that the National Institute for Genealogical Studies early bird prize for genealogy and family history societies entering their NFHM events onto the web calendar closes on 30 June. You can still add events after that date, but just won't be eligible for the prize. Full details on the NFHM website.

My thanks to the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office for helping me out with a couple of research problems recently. I was all excited to find a reference to someone but the link was pointing to the wrong page. For the first time I used their online chat and the person confirmed that the link was wrong and gave me the correct one within 60 seconds with the promise that the staff would correct it permanently. The next time online chat was offline so I used the email form to report that only one page of a will had been copied and that I thought there should be another page or two. Within a day I had an email reply with the missing images attached. What fantastic service and it shows that if you do spot something not quite right, report it and after investigating the staff will fix it if it is definitely wrong. They can't fix errors in original records but if it is an indexing or digitising error then they can.

I had to cancel the last Bribie U3A advanced family history class but was still amazed that the nine weeks had gone so quickly. Seems like only yesterday I was wondering if I should do it. The majority of students were all still keen so I will be running it again in Term 4 for another 10 weeks. The interesting thing is that I discovered new material on my own families as I prepared the classes each week. Using my own examples also helps to show students what you can find and how to do it themselves.

Finally I've received my new genie cards courtesy of Gould Digital. I was pleased to accept their offer to try out this new business venture and the hardest part was selecting a design and working out what I wanted to put on the front and back of the card. They actually look nicer than my business cards but then I designed them 8 years ago and my approach has changed since then. At the moment they have free shipping if you sign up to the enewsletter and 100 cards cost for $27. The cards are handy to give out to people when you meet at genealogy events and are not as easy to misplace as scraps of paper.

This coming week there will be more medical dramas and family issues but there are no talks or travels so I'm hoping to write up some of those new discoveries, catch up on emails, promote NFHM and even do some blog posts. The warm sunny winter days are also beautiful for sitting outside and catching up on my journal reading. Have a great genealogy week and until next time, happy searching.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

More Talks, New Resources, DNA & Other News - Genealogy Notes 30 May - 7 Jun 2017

It's been another busy week with two talks. First I gave my Love Sex and Damn Lies talk to the Sunnybank District History Group. Whenever I talk about the scandals in my own family, there are always lots of comments and nearly everyone else has their own family scandals to share. Does nobody have a boring family history?

The second talk was done in the luxury of my own study. Not that the study is luxurious, just the fact that I didn't have to drive anywhere! I participated in the Society of Australian  Genealogists Virtual Lost Weekend looking at Black Sheep via a series of eight webinars. The technology can be a bit daunting especially when things don't go quite right but after a shaky start everything settled down. My section was on Asylum records for Missing Ancestors and I did a round Australia tour of asylums and where to find the records. Feedback has been good and you can see a copy of the slides on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. The talk was the same one I did the previous weekend in Coffs Harbour.

In preparing for this week's U3A session I discovered yet another sibling of Henry Spencer (Max's grandfather) came out to Queensland. His sister Elizabeth came out with her husband and family and I've never looked for them as Henry was supposed to be out here by himself. Now I have found his brother Adkins Robert Spencer (who left no descendants) and I will have to trace his sister's family to see if there are any other cousins. Obviously the two brothers were in contact back home and mentioned what a great place Queensland is to live with its blue skies and warm winters. Had to be better than the Midlands of England!

James Carnegie - father unknown
Coming up this week I am giving a talk on my personal view of DNA for family history research to the Bribie Island family history group.

Preparing the talk has been useful as it has helped me to clarify my thinking about my own results so far and where I should go next. If I really want to try and identify James Carnegie's father then I need to track down my male Carnegie cousins and see if one will consent to a Y DNA test.

Mum has now down a DNA test for me and still waiting for those results. This will mean that if I get any matches that don't also match with Mum then they will be on my father's unknown paternal side.  Actually the Carnegie DNA will help to narrow that down further again so perhaps I need to test more than one Carnegie cousin.

Last week's Diary blog was included in Crissouli's Moments in Time Friday Fossicking for 2 Jun 2017. I like these compilations of what other bloggers have seen as interesting during the week. When I am pushed for time it is good to scroll through the roundups and just quickly look at interesting posts. Crissouli has a particular interest in Irish research and there are always new posts on Ireland and all matters Irish.

New projects and resources seem to be happening daily. The latest FamilySearch research news has Victorian cemeteries - transcriptions 1850-1988 listed which will be a good resource once finished. Volunteer indexing projects certainly make it easy for us to find those elusive ancestors especially if we can't travel to search in person.

Findmypast announced Scottish Post Office Directories were now available, over a hundred different directories. Looking at the full list I found several that I want to look more closely at. Directories don't provide a lot of family information but they can confirm where people were living and what their occupations were. You can also see who else was living nearby.

National Family History Month in August is fast approaching so make sure your organisation's events are added to the web calendar so that others know what is happening. Societies often get new members during the month as others find out how rewarding being a member of a society can be.

Next week is a quiet week of catch up and personal research. There is a small pile of papers relating to some of my discoveries in recent weeks which need to be entered into the database, filed or followed up. And my reading pile, plus the e-reading file. My final talk for the financial year is at Ipswich Central Library on 20 June on Demolishing Brick Walls.

Have a great genealogy week and until next time, happy searching.

Sunday 28 May 2017

Gold Coast Conference review, Coffs Harbour talks & Other News - Genealogy Notes 16-29 May 2017

Apologies for no Diary update last week but health and family issues took priority and it was all I could do to turn up where I was supposed to. It's been an exhausting two weeks and the next few aren't looking any easier.

Still I did manage to go to the excellent Footsteps in Time conference on the Gold Coast and caught up with lots of friends, colleagues and new people. My report on the conference is a blog post on my website - read it here. Well done to the organisers and volunteers who made it such a success. The next History Queensland conference will be in Caloundra in 2019.

I  can now reveal that my talks accepted for #Congress_2018 (note the hash tag and watch out for announcements) are What's In a Middle Name and The Public Curator: Guardian of Family History Treasure.

The keynote speakers were revealed at the Southport conference - check them out on the Congress website. Early bird registration opens soon and I know some people have already booked their accommodation! Not one to miss.

The Welcome Desk
at Coffs Harbour District Family History Society
The 6 hour drive to Coffs Harbour for my presentations at the weekend was a bit of an ordeal with traffic and roadworks and even longer on the way back home. However the day spent with the lovely Coffs Harbour District Family History Society was really good. I do love country cooking and they put on a delicious lunch as well as morning tea. They finish early so that those travelling from outer areas can still get home easily. Some great feedback on my talks, lots of raffles and happy winners. My four presentations are on my website Resources page, scroll down to Presentations.

On the Sunday before driving home I popped into the Society's research rooms which are a wonderful resource for their members. It was great to see such an enthusiastic group. Just a shame I couldn't stay for a couple more days but I'll be back!
The Computer Area

This Wednesday is Week 7 of my advanced family history class for Bribie U3A - time is flying with only another three weeks and it will all be over. It's been nice working with the smaller group. Due to National Family History Month preparation I'm not doing anything in Term 3 but I might consider it for Term 4 depending on how all the current health/family issues settle. We really need more societies, libraries and archives to start adding their events for August NFHM. I'm sure people have events already planned but its important to advertise them too so that potential new members here about them.

 I even managed to forget to renew my subscription to Dick Eastman's Plus Newsletter. I get the free daily updates but I also like to read the plus articles. So that was my first job today and all renewed in time for next week's edition.

There hasn't been much time for anything else but I did like Alona Tester's blog post Yes Folks, Genealogy Does Cost Money! We do have to buy certificates and documents and I do like viewing digitised records at home when I want without having travel time/costs and other expenses. Without commercial providers we wouldn't have many of these resources and do we really want to go back to those days of no easy access? Read Alona's well thought out post.

So far I only have two trips to Brisbane this coming week and a bit more time at home to catch up on everything, especially NFHM 2017. Enjoy any genealogy time you get and good luck with your searches. Until next time.

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Red Cross files, DNA talk & other news - Genealogy Notes 8-15 May 2017

A huge week with lots on and getting ready for the Footsteps in Time genealogy conference on the Gold Coast this coming weekend. Should be a wonderful time catching up with geneamates and learning heaps of new things.

Where to start? Bribie Island hosted a talk by Chris Schuetz from Queensland Family History Society on DNA last Thursday. It was a packed session with lots of questions and obviously people are interested in this aspect of family history. Chris continually reminded people that it is a tool and that it does not replace traditional research and a paper (digital) trail. Chris also recommended Kerry Farmer's DNA for Genealogists, 4th edition and see below for details.

Given my own DNA discoveries, Chris kindly lent me The Genetic Strand: Exploring a family history through DNA by Edward Ball. It is the story of the author's journey after finding locks of hair belonging to his ancestors. I have to return it at the conference so desperately trying to find the time to read it before then.

This week I received an email from the University of Melbourne Archives (sometimes I do miss living in Melbourne) telling me about a new digitised collection. In their words:

In 2016 Red Cross Australia donated their historical collection to the University of Melbourne Archives (UMA) as a ‘Gift to the Nation’. Part of this collection included the Missing, Wounded and Prisoner of War Enquiry Cards dating from World War Two to 1973. Since the transfer, UMA has been working to make all of the cards relating to World War Two available online. There are now over 58,000 cards available through UMA’s online catalogue. To find a card, just type the surname into the search box. For further enquiries, please contact UMA at or 03 9035 4337. For more information about the series, see the wonderful article on our blog, ‘A Humane and Intimate Administration’: The Red Cross’ World War Two Wounded, Missing and Prisoner of War Cards by Senior Archivist Fiona Ross.

I had a look at a few of the cards and wonderful information, some cards more detailed than others. None of my WW2 people were reported missing, wounded or prisoner of war so I randomly looked at names. Most only have initials so best to search on surnames and to see the actual cards click on the PDF symbol.

John Finn, the family patriarch
from County Wicklow
Today is Trove Tuesday and I managed to do a blog post - Frederick John Finn, a sad victim of Murphy's Creek. Some of my Finn families have incredibly sad stories, not a lucky family. I'm not sure if there is anyone still with the Finn name as two sons never married after serving in WW1, one son only had a daughter, one son died without issue and the remaining son had two sons who died and the only surviving male was Daniel Finn, brother of Frederick John Finn. I have not been able to trace him since WW2 but perhaps he married and had sons. One to follow up.

Tomorrow's U3A class is all about using social media and Facebook for genealogy and family history so that should be a stimulating session. The small group works well as people can ask questions as we go.

I've seen on Facebook people posting about the last issue of Inside History Magazine. Mine must still be in the mail as they say! I hope it arrives soon but sad to know it is the last issue. Time to go back and look at all the wonderful stories and items of interest.

Not that I have a lot of reading time as my standing order with Gould Genealogy & History for Unlock the Past research guides means that I now have another three guides to read: Neil Smith has just published Australians in Peril: Tracing Your World War Two Australian Military Ancestors; Rosemary Kopittke has a 3rd edition of Scotlands People: the place to launch your Scottish research and Kerry Farmer has a 4th edition of DNA for Genealogists. All timely publications given all my news above.

Making sure I have everything I need for the Footsteps in Time conference is now the top priority. My presentation has already been sent but I also like to take a back up plus my trusty notebook (paper) and pen. My over the shoulder bag so that I can carry all the bits and pieces I pick up at the Fair on the Friday. It's only three days but there will also be the conference satchel to pack into the suitcase. Luckily I'm driving down so I don't have to watch the weight I carry back. Look out for the blog posts when I return.

Have a wonderful week researching and if you are at the conference, come up and say hello. Until next week, have geneafun!