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 archives@archives.unimelb.edu.au 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!  


  1. The Red Cross resource sounds really interesting. What a job to digitize those cards. Looking forward to seeing you this weekend at the conference.

  2. Thanks Alex. Yes an amazing job but so far I know two people who have found relatives. Looking forward to the catch up at the weekend. Should be exciting.

  3. I hava that Edward Ball DNA book too - had to buy it because of the author's surname. It was an interesting read.

    1. Thanks Jill. I found the story of his ancestors and the locks of hair more interesting than the scientific analysis which lost me in places.