Saturday 31 March 2018

WDYTYA, DNA, & Other News: Genealogy Notes 23-31 Mar 2018

I'm not a fan of acronyms as not everyone knows what they are but they do save you a lot of keystrokes. The two in the title of this post should be familiar to everyone.

This week was the last U3A session for Term 1 and there is a two week break before Term 2 starts. My advanced family history class looks like doubling so I need to do some planning. Many students continue on plus there will be new students which means that I have to balance so that the 'oldies' aren't bored and the 'newbies' are not overwhelmed. Plus I need to keep myself interested otherwise there is no point volunteering to do these sessions. It is actually a great way to keep up to date!

My Ancestry ethnicity profile
How exciting to be contacted by Chris Paton and be told that we are related! He found me through FamilyTree DNA while looking for connections to his Mitchell family in County Fermanagh. This didn't mean anything to me but looking at some of his other surnames I recognised three from my own grandmother's Irish and Scottish families. Now to work out the connection!

While on the topic, Queensland Family History Society is hosting a seminar with Maurice Gleeson (Irish genetic genealogist amongst other things) on 19 May so a trip to Brisbane is coming up. Maurice is also on the Alaska Unlock the Past cruise that I'm going on in September but this is another opportunity to try and understand my matches.

Genealogy/family history societies have an active education program so check out your local society and see what speakers or seminars are coming up. They are great opportunities to learn something new as well as chatting to like minded people about your family history problems, or perhaps you can help someone with their brick walls.

The Congress satchel
The Genealogical Society of Queensland invited me to do a guest post on the recent Sydney Congress 2018 for those who couldn't attend. It will be posted on 2 April on their weekly blog. Some of the other posts might interest you too.

I also managed to get my monthly blog post for The In-Depth Genealogist in on time as well as my monthly article.  The deadline is always the end of the month and despite my good intentions of doing it early in the month, I always seem to be hovering around the very end!

With all my Congress 2018 blog reports finished, I'm hoping to do a Trove Tuesday blog post this week. It's been a while since my last one - January to be precise on the Samuel Plimsoll. So much for doing one a month but the last two months have been busy and I was away from home twice.

Thanks to Carmel (Library Currants) we have a handy website that allows you to customise a tombstone for your blog posts, articles or family histories. Try out Tombstone Builder. I quite often pick up nice little tips from Carmel's blog Library Currants so if you haven't seen it before have a look.

Ancestry have added the New Zealand police gazettes 1878-1945 and I love police gazettes because you can find out all kinds of unknown family snippets. Yes you might find a crime or a desertion but there were also missing friends/family and of course victims. My great uncle managed to have his bicycle stolen not once but twice and I would not have known this without browsing Queensland police gazettes.

If you don't have an Ancestry subscription you may have access to it through your local council library or your nearest genealogy/family history society. One of my families spent time in New Zealand so this Easter I will be checking out the New Zealand police gazettes just in case!

Who has time for television when you are a family historian? There are a few shows I like to watch and one of my favourites is starting a new series on 19 April on SBS - the 9th series of the Australian WDYTYA. Celebrities include Justine Clarke, Ernie Dingo, Noni Hazlehurst, Natalie Imbruglia, John Jarratt, Todd McKenney, Patti Newton and Charlie Teo. The 8th season went to air in 2016 so it has been a long wait but I'm ready and excited.

What's Coming Up
My orchids Easter 2015
It's Easter which means some of my orchids are in flower but they are not as spectacular (must be all that rain we have had this year) as they were when I took this photo. It's in a much larger pot now so I was hoping for more blooms. Perhaps a dash of fertiliser!

Apart from gardening I like to get out and about and my next talk is at Caloundra Family History Research on 19 April with a presenatation on Sporting Ancestors.

Enjoy the Easter long weekend with family and friends, try not to eat too much chocolate and do spend your time on your family history. I hope you have some fabulous finds.

Until next time

Sunday 25 March 2018

Congress 2018 wrap up, talks, DNA contacts & other news - Genealogy Notes 15- 22 Mar 2018

As usual the week flew past with a couple of outings, a few blog posts and another attempt to tame the paper in my office. Going through drawers of 'stuff ' is always illuminating - first, why did I keep it, where did I get it from, what do I do with it now and so on. Mostly there were BSOs as Lisa Louise Cooke put it during one of her sessions at Congress 2018 - bright shiny objects that distract you when you are looking for something else.

I did the right thing to park (print/save depending on your methodology) them but what I failed to do was set a date with myself to review them in a timely fashion. Now most are superseded with the wonders of technology but I am still left with a sizable pile of paper that I must go through because it is not going back into the filing cabinet. Out of sight out of mind (at least my mind).

Handy conference satchel
I have finally finished writing up my daily reports on Congress 2018 plus a look at some of the Exhibitors and a Summary. Read the posts here Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Exhibitors/Summary.

As you can see from the introduction I have started to do some of my learnings but it is easy to be distracted. Focus with a research plan - one person/family at a time. Then you look in Trove and lots of you beaut results leap out at you! Focus is not easy.

My copy of Lisa Louise Cooke's The Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition has arrived so that will be another date with self - sit down, read and practice the suggestions. What's the bet that I find lots of BSOs and that might just be on one family name. Which name to practice the new tricks on? Names in a hat might work. Stay tuned.

Yesterday I downloaded my free copy of the latest issue of Irish Lives Remembered and it has Winter 2017 on it. That's their winter not ours and the editorial welcomes us to the new year so it is running a bit behind time. Still it has articles from some of my favourites including Jayne Shrimpton (photographs) and Maurice Gleeson (DNA). Apparently Maurice's DNA took him on a wild genealogical ride - looking forward to reading that article as mine has done the same! Great magazine and its free.

Quite a few years ago I did a mitochondrial DNA test with 23 and Me. This is your maternal DNA and nothing has ever really come out of it. I have had more contacts from Ancestry and MyHeritage with autosomal DNA. Now I have received an email from someone who said my name was familiar and that we were related via the 23 and Me site. Well her name was familiar too and after a bit of thought I realised she also attends the Bribie U3A local history class that I go to. She lives around the corner from me and now it appears that we are related! Small world indeed. We have a family history catch up during the week to establish the connection.
Cousins - Max and Cliff post talk enjoying a cuppa

It's not often I go off the Island, usually either for medical reasons or to go to a talk somewhere. Happy to say this time was to the Pine Rivers Heritage Museum to see The Final 100 Days exhibition. It is the last days of WW1 and marks the end of the anniversary celebrations for the centenary of WW1. Those last four years have gone quick and lots of great projects have been undertaken during that time. The exhibition closes on 27 May 2018 so there is time to get there if you live in the Brisbane/Moreton regions.

Denis was 17 when he enlisted and spent his 18th
birthday in a German POW camp.
Image courtesy State Library of Queensland.
One of my favourite projects was the State Library of Queensland's digitisation of WW1 soldier portraits from The Queenslander. I found quite a few of my relatives and it is really good to have a quality image and not one from Trove (they are usually too dark for clarity). The Library has some wonderful resources for World War One.

The other reason we went to the exhibition was that Max's cousin Cliff was doing a talk on Queensland military hospitals, repatriation and Spanish flu. So it was a chance to catch up with family plus Cliff does some wonderful talks on various aspects of the war on the home front as well as overseas.

What's Coming Up
How did Easter get here so quickly and as I write this the humidity is 100%. There are light showers too and I can see the weeds growing before my eyes.

This week is the last session of Term 1 at Bribie U3A for my advanced family history classes. In Term 2 we will have double the number as they are taking the tables out of the room to fit more chairs in - this will get rid of the waiting list as most students re-enrol each term. Keen!

Tutoring keeps me on my toes planning and Term 2 has 11 weeks. I survey each class to see what they would like to learn more about and that helps with ideas.

Blog posts and articles still to write and I must try and get another Trove Tuesday post done.

Time for a coffee break. Until next time, have a great genealogical week with many wonderful finds.

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Blogs, Books, Congress 2018 & Other News - Genealogy Notes 1-14 Mar 2018

The first two weeks of March certainly sped past and were super exciting for all those who attended the Bridging the Past genealogy conference in Sydney. Ongoing family and health issues saw multiple trips to Brisbane and were the main reason this is two weeks and not my usual weekly update.

Blog Posts

Congress was fabulous and as usual I will be sharing my experiences with those who could not attend in person. Day One is already written and Days 2-4 with a final post on Exhibitors and other bits and pieces are still to be completed. As I write the posts I am compiling a to do list to follow up on various links and searches. Congress 2018 will be in my life for a few more weeks yet.

Some of the other bloggers have also written or are in the process of writing up blog posts for Congress. Some of the links are being posted in the Facebook page Geniemates for Congress but this is a closed group. Some kind soul may also be compiling a list of bloggers doing reports so stay tuned.

Some of the bloggers at Congress 2018, photo courtesy Lilian Magill
Lilian Magill has been quick to do a number of Congress posts and has also shared her photo of some of the bloggers who attended. Sadly I missed the photo opportunity as well as the one for Queensland attendees, but I did manage to make the photo opportunity for the students of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. So much was going on, it was hard to be everywhere at once!

My blog post on one of my favourite Western Australian websites, Outback History, was featured on the In-Depth Genealogist on 8 March. There are so many great Australian websites I don't think I will ever run out of topics.


Although I say no more books, who can resist buying them when there is so much opportunity at an event like Congress. The after dinner speaker at the Congress dinner (more in the daily post to come) was a very passionate speaker and so now I have an author signed copy of Mark Tedeschi QC's book Murder at Myall Creek: the trial that defined a nation.

Another speaker who motivated me was Lisa Louise Cooke from Genealogy Gems and I purchased the 2nd edition of her The Genealogist's Google Tool Box together with a DVD package on using Google Earth. While I use Google Maps all the time I seem to struggle with Google Earth so time to learn a new resource.

The Congress Handouts are in PDF format and I have now downloaded them - all 309 pages! No wonder they didn't go for a printed version. I've even refrained from hitting the print button. This might be the time to seriously try reading (and enjoying) a publication on my laptop.

Nathan Dylan Goodwin has asked me to do a review of his latest book The Wicked Trade so that is winging its way to me. Always a good read and I'm looking forward to curling up on the lounge for some uninterrupted reading time.


As usual everyone is sad that Congress is over for another three years, but it is even sadder this time as the next Congress has not been announced as no society or group of societies have said they will take on the enormous task of running an event like this.

However we do have some state conferences which might be of interest. This year the NSW & ACT conference is in Bateman's Bay on 14-16 September 2018 with the theme Sailing into History. I usually try to go to these if possible but not this year as I am already booked on the Unlock the Past Alaska cruise.

Another one for early next year is the History Queensland and Caloundra Family History Research  conference on 24-26 May 2019 with the theme Waves in Time. That will be a definite attend as it is only about an hour up the road from me.


Most of the new resources I've come across will be in the daily blog posts from Congress so keep an eye out for those and there will be a round up in the next Diary.


April 2017 talk at Caloundra
My next talk will be on Sporting Ancestors: everyone has them and it will be with Caloundra Family History Research on 19 April. They are a super friendly group and always have a great afternoon tea and chat.

Plus it is a great excuse to get another purple top to fit with the Group's image!

What's Coming Up
There are only another two weeks of First Term at Bribie U3A remaining - all of the present attendees have signed on again and we will have additional students for second term as advanced family history seems to be a popular topic.

No surprises there. But it does keep me busy preparing sessions based on the individual needs of the class.

There are research projects, articles and blog posts to write not to mention all the things I want to follow up on my own family history research. Busy times but fun times.

Until next Diary have fun searching and remember to try out some of those URLs mentioned in my Congress posts. Good luck.

Friday 2 March 2018

Cousin Bait, Blogging, Talks & Other News - Genealogy Notes 19 -28 Feb 2018

Full on the last few weeks with time out for talks and a couple of trips to Brisbane. The whole of summer seems to have flown past although the start of autumn still seems hot and humid. While browsing the local bottle shop for some birthday party wine, I came across this wine label and I simply had to buy the bottle. Luckily I like red wine! Who would have thought we would be using convict photos to sell wine?


Managed to get my monthly article to The In-Depth Genealogist for their Going In-Depth digital journal in on time despite the short month, those 2-3 days make a difference. This time I was looking at the wonderful digital resources on the State Library of Western Australia's website and last month it was State Library of Victoria. We really do have some wonderful libraries offering free access to key genealogical resources. Both articles will appear in future issues of Going In-Depth.

I was also excited to be asked to do a Q&A for Traces magazine which made it's debut at Christmas. It has taken over the now defunct Inside History magazine and many of our favourite pieces are still in the new magazine. The website is worth a visit as some of the old Q&A content from Inside History is on the Traces website and the advice is still good advice.

Cousin Bait (aka blogging)

Maria Jeffers
I first wrote Letters Home - My Irish Families in March 2010, eight years ago which doesn't seem possible, and I am still being contacted by people who are related to the Jeffers family. Just this week there was another email from yet another unknown branch. Blogging and Google make it so easy for distant relatives to make contact. Anyone doing a Google search on Jeffers from Portadown will find my blog post and me. Amazing and I'm surprised that not everyone is telling their stories online.

My U3A class this week discussed the issues with putting your info online and how some simply take and never acknowledge which is disheartening. So I guess that has to be weighed against the benefits of finding people you would never be able to track down easily or cheaply. I never put everything online which encourages people to make contact and that's always a plus.


With many mining families, both in Australia and in England, I was excited to see that Find My Past has added England, Mining Disaster Victims. There are over 9000 transcripts from four counties - Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. I really wanted Staffordshire as one of my direct ancestors was killed in a mine accident, (from the burial register) but so far I haven't been able to find a reference to the accident in the newspapers. 

There are so many new collections going online all the time it is hard to keep up with everything. Repeat searches are a must.

Thanks to Queensland Family History Society March enewsletter Snippets I found out that New Zealand was also sending its convicts to Australia - a fascinating article Soldiers Thieves Maori Warriors: the New Zealand convicts sent to Australia by Kristyn Harman. Back issues of Snippets are online and always some good tips.


My talk on Weaving Your Stories on the Web at Arana Hills Library went well with a very enthusiastic audience all keen to either start a blog or improve what they are already doing. Moreton Libraries have indicated they might get me to do it at some of their other libraries later in the year. As usual my presentation is on my website Resources page - scroll down to Presentations.

What's Coming Up?

I can't believe Congress 2018 is next week in Sydney where I, and 599 other delegates, will experience some fantastic talks, catch up with friends and spend money at the exhibitors stalls. I fly to Sydney on Thursday and hope to collect my Congress satchel at the Society of Australian Genealogists in Kent Street before they close Thursday afternoon. That way I will beat the rush on Friday morning. Plus I always like to go through the goodies before the Congress starts.

I will be too busy over the four days, attending sessions and giving two of my own talks. So there won't be daily blog updates but there will be daily reviews once I'm back. Flying home on Monday night so it will be a late night and probably a sleep in, but then straight on to blogging all the news and excitement.

This coming week I need to prepare two U3A sessions - Fleshing Out the Family and Some Different Websites for Genealogy so that I don't have to panic when I get back. The sessions are popular and there are so many on the waiting list that we have decided to dispense with tables in the room and just have chairs. This should double the numbers next term. I send my session notes via email so we don't use the tables and it will be nice to have new faces and a wider pool of experience.

If you are going to Congress, I will see you there. If not, have a fun week searching for those ancestors.