Monday 31 December 2018

January 1 new archives resources & other news - Genealogy Notes 16-31 Dec 2018

2018 has ended and its been a year of lots of small family discoveries. No major breakthrough but lots of facts about individuals discovered through newspapers, wills and buying the odd certificate to confirm a lead. In the coming year I want to spend more time writing the stories rather than continuing to gather new information. That's the plan.

It wasn't a big year for blog posts but I managed at least one post a month and occasionally two if there was a lot happening, like the Alaska genealogy cruise with Unlock the Past. The last fortnight of 2018 saw two blog posts - a Trove Tuesday John Finn Charged With Incendiarism (now there's a candidate for a good story as poor John had so many things go wrong in his life) and I finally did a DNA post on Finding Truth in Family History which explains why after 42 years of family history research, I am now looking for a biological grandfather.

I'm currently reading Kate Grenville's The Secret River. It's an historical novel but inspired by her convict ancestor Soloman Wiseman who settled in the area now known as Wiseman's Ferry.

None of my ancestors did anything famous or have anything named after them but I can't help thinking about what kind of historical novel could I write about their lives. Or should I just try for a straight family history although one has to make that an interesting read too.

We have formed a genealogy writing group at the local U3A so these will be the kind of questions we can discuss and motivate each other  with.


One of the last things I did in 2018 was to have a professional photo shoot with a local photographer Deb Neill. She does some really lovely photos of Bribie which I see through various Bribie Facebook sites. I have been wanting to update my profile picture for a while but I hate getting my photo taken and I can never really find one that I like. That's why I am still using the 2014 photo taken of me while in Inverell for a talk. Deb has done a series of photos that I can use on social media, website, blogs, books or seminar flyers. The hard part is trying to decide which one to use as there are a couple that I really like or maybe I should use different ones on different sites. Anyway there will be a new me coming soon!

Conferences & Talks

The events page of my website has been updated with talks and conference sessions I'm doing in 2019. As the year progresses new dates will be added. For me the most exciting event will be the Waves in Time conference at Caloundra under the auspices of History Queensland and Caloundra Family History Research. It is only an hour or so up the highway but I will be staying up there to maximise the time at the family history fair and the conference.

New Resources - 1 January record releases

Remember that a new year means new archives & BDM resources as another year comes into the open access period. It was good to see the ABC News story on Public Record Office Victoria's newly opened mental hospital files. Some states like New South Wales update their BDM indexes throughout the year while others simply update at the end of the year. It is always worth checking for any new births, deaths or marriages and it is a great way to keep your research current.

What's Coming Up?

My U3A classes in advanced family history (weekly) and writing family history (fortnightly) will keep me busy and motivated. Plus I have even enrolled in how to use a smart phone as I'm sure there are lots of tips and tricks to learn. That's only a 5 week course.

The first genealogy seminar for the year is with the Queensland Family History Society with the theme Taking Your Australian Research Further. I am looking at what you can discover in Australian archives and other resources people might not be using for their family history research. Janice Cooper is the other speaker on the day advising us how to place our families in their communities and in the times they lived.

Until next time, I hope you find time for some genealogy research with lots of exciting discoveries.

Sunday 16 December 2018

WA Perth cemetery, writing family history & other news - Genealogy Notes 1-15 Dec 2018

The second last Diary notes for 2018 and I am looking forward to the Christmas/New Year break as it will give me a chance to process all the new information I have found this year. Preparing the weekly U3A classes has really helped me to locate family information that I might never have looked for.
Make sure this event is in your calendar. Not to be missed.


A few weeks back, I enrolled in the University of Tasmania Writing Family History unit (part of the Diploma in Family History). As well as picking up some tips on writing, I am also discovering quite a few books that I want to read - Santa has also been informed so bring on Christmas Day.

 I have two of the books they refer to frequently - Hazel Edwards How to Write a Non Boring Family History and Noelene Kyle's Writing Family History Made Very Easy. They are long time favourites, but I am rereading them for further inspiration and tips.


In October and November I only managed two blog posts (apart from Diary and my monthly blog for The In-Depth Genealogist) - one a book review and the other a Trove Tuesday post. Half way through December and I haven't met my goal to do better - time for the skates. Over the weekend I worked on a Trove Tuesday which will be ready to go on Tuesday and I want to finish a blog post on DNA so that I can start fresh in 2019.

Family History Writing

My desire to be part of a local family history writing group became a reality last week. A quiet word to the local U3A course programmer and I found myself a room, day and time for the first term in 2019. At this stage we will meet fortnightly to discuss our projects and to inspire/motivate each other.

New Resources

Friends of Battye Library and National Trust of Western Australia have launched an upgraded website for the East Perth Cemeteries. There is new burial data, searching is faster with more sophisticated search abilities and a fantastic mapping component. I don't have anyone in the Perth cemetery (mine are in Karrakatta cemetery) but the site is still worth a look.

Fields in the database include the usual name, date of death and burial, age, location of grave and number plus the really exciting cause of death and monumental inscription if there is one.  Lots of information from just one search. There are also sections on Stories and People, Shapes and Symbols and Events and the interactive map. Under about there is a history and other interesting menu options - explore the whole site, especially if you have anyone in the East Perth Cemeteries.

What's Coming Up

My favourite photo of my son - the first Christmas when he
was old enough to really get excited about presents!
Christmas and New Year (as the next Diary will be due on 31 December). So much of the next week will be last minute shopping and festivities although all the formal Christmas parties are over.

Might be time to get in some exercise and the garden will certainly need a good weed after the drizzly rain and humidity we have had over the last few days.

Between Christmas and New Year I am hoping for some quiet family history time and lots of family stories written (without getting sidetracked into more research).

My website needs a good review and tidy up so that's another priority.

Finally I would like to thank all my readers throughout 2018 - all feedback, comments and emails are appreciated. I hope that everyone has found something new for their own family history through my Diary posts.

2018 has been fabulous and I know 2019 is going to be even better.

Have a safe and happy Christmas with your families. Until next time.

Sunday 2 December 2018

Tasmanian BDMs, WW1 resources & other news - Genealogy Notes 16-30 Nov 2018

Another busy fortnight ends and lots of things to keep me busy. With the heat I have been keeping the bird baths topped up as the lorikeets pay a visit every afternoon and enjoy a little splash. It has been so hot a few native noisy miners even had a splash in the pool the other afternoon which was a first. They were too quick for me to get out there with the camera.


I have always loved Tasmania BDMs because they made all the records to 1900 free, first on microfilm and then online. Plus lots of other convict records and wills and probates all online and free through Libraries Tasmania. Until now I have never had to buy a post 1930 certificate and all that ease of access and cheapness disappears. I was stunned to find that an online request for a death certificate in the open period required 3 pieces of ID all certified by a JP (according to the online form and the print form if you choose to mail the request).

An email to query this was quickly answered with don't worry about certifying but I still needed to provide 3 pieces of ID. When I queried further, I was told that this proved that I was the same person as on the credit card. Yet if I order BDMs from QLD, NSW or VIC online I don't have to provide any ID. It seems a bit excessive or perhaps I'm just worried now that Tasmania BDMs have a copy of my passport, driver's license and a utility bill! Has anyone else ever had to provide ID when ordering a genealogy record online in the open period?

After all that the certificate is still posted out so you are at the mercy of Australia Post - who kindly told me that I had registered post to collect, the day after I had already collected it!! Perhaps we are just spoilt with instant access to lots of other things.


On Friday I went to the launch of They Answered the Call, the latest publication from the Bribie Island Historical Society. There will be a few print copies for those that want one, but this publication has been published online through the Society's blog. The post They Answered the Call gives the list of all those in the local area who went to WW1 and WW2 - not just those that died but also those who came home.

My ancestors were at Toorbul, and there is an entry for my GG grandmother's nephew Alexander Thomas Davis who was severely wounded by schrapnel in the head. He made it home to Toorbul but died there from his wounds. The entry is largely based on my own ANZAC Day 2015 tribute to Alexander Thomas Davis.

After the launch I caught up with Moreton Region library staff and was introduced to the new Bribie Island librarian who got my vote when he said he was looking to do something about the local history collection. I could think of a 1000 things but will wait to see his improvements first. They also demonstrated Moreton Bay Region Libraries local history database. Those who have heard my talks know that I often use it as an example of why you need to look locally and in libraries.

It has been a while since I last looked at the World War 1 section and there is a lot of new material. Probably not surprising given all the centennial projects - so check out your own local collections or collections where your ancestors lived. All of those who served in the Moreton region are listed and you simply click on the name and a biography of the person pops up. The entry for Alexander has his mother's name as Clare not Clara but I'm hoping that typo will be fixed as I pointed it out on the day. Must be my old editing skills spotting a typo at 20 paces!

It also says that his father died in 1894 but I know that's not true. Correcting that will be a little more involved - I have given talks on the Davis family and what happened to Charles, but so far I have not written the story down. It is always tricky when family secrets stumble out of the cupboard.

It is always a treat going to Brisbane and meeting up with the other committee members for the Waves of Time conference on the Sunshine Coast in May 2019. The program is now up on the website and registration has opened. There are two streams of talks and as always there are times when I want to go to both!

I'm privileged to be giving one of the talks on the Friday which is a free Local & Family History Fair which includes free and paid talks. The conference itself is over the Saturday and Sunday and is only open to registered attendees. Check out the website and I hope to see you there.

What's Coming Up?

My last U3A advanced family history session is on Wednesday and then a break until next year. All of the group have re-enrolled so it will be another great year of interaction. It is amazing how much I have discovered about my own ancestors in the preparation of these sessions. Although I need to write up all my new discoveries - there is usually no time during class weeks.

There are a few talks already lined up for 2019 and over the coming weeks I will be making changes to my website, including updating the calendar and list of talks available.

At the U3A tutors Christmas drinks & nibbles the other day, someone said once you get involved in weekly classes then the year just flies. That's certainly true for 2018 and given that I started these sessions in 2017, I'm fast losing track of the years. On the plus side, lots of family history discoveries by helping others to research.

Until next time, try and fit a little research in amongst all the Christmas frenzy.