Saturday, 17 August 2019

NFHM, DNA DownUnder and other news - Genealogy Notes 1-14 Aug 2019

August is always a fantastic month in Australia - lots of genealogy events to mark the end of winter, not that we have had much up here but our friends down south have certainly seen a bit of snow and cold times.

National Family History Month (NFHM)

It's National Family History Month with lots of genealogy and family history events in Australia this month. I've been giving talks around various Moreton Region Libraries and there have been wonderful attendees with lots of questions. My presentations on some of my favourite English and Irish genealogy resources are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

Check out the NFHM website for any events still to come in your area. Also don't forget that DNA DownUnder is still touring with events in Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. I went to the Brisbane seminar and you can read my report on it here. In just under two weeks I will be in Sydney for the 3 day event.

There are genealogy bargains out there this month. Queensland Family History Society is offering a special membership price that includes access to MyHeritage at home plus other benefits and resources on offer to their members. The Society's open day is on 24 August from 10am to 3pm with displays by the special interest groups and volunteers to answer your questions. Something for everyone. More information on their website.


FindMyPast have added some more Scottish newspapers - two new titles for the Moray area, the Forres News and Advertiser; the Northern Scot and Moray & Nairn Express; the Renfrewshire Independent 1858-1877 and the Devon Valley Tribune (Clackmannanshire) 1890s to 1950s. I'm particularly interested in the Moray area.

FamilySearch added Toowoomba, Queensland prison index which is also available via Queensland State Archives. Having the index in a bigger, more widely searched database might mean more people discovering a criminal ancestor. My GG Grandmother is in that index.


We had another meeting of the Bribie Island Library DNA Genealogists Group and I gave a presentation on how I am tracing my biological grandfather's family.

As I mentioned above, my presentations Irish Genealogy Resources Online and English Genealogy Resources Online are on my website, go to the Resources page and scroll down to Presentations. There is only one more talk for Moreton Libraries and that is the Strathpine Library just before I leave for Sydney.

By the end of August I will need a holiday. At least I will have more time to watch the local bird life from my office window (which sadly does not move around as much as my other geneacolleagues). Still, a bird in the hand.....

What's Coming Up

I have missed a few of my U3A classes due to the talks and travel but next week we are having another look at Sources & Citations. After Sydney I will be reporting on my DNA adventures to both my U3A class and the Bribie Island Library DNA Genealogists Group. Maybe September will be busy too!

Enjoy the rest of National Family History Month and I hope you make some exciting discoveries. Until next time

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Memories of Dad, DNA hunting & other news - Genealogy Notes 1-31 Jul 2019

July saw me totally fixated on my father's family. Confirming DNA matches with traditional genealogy methods. It has been enlightening for all kinds of reasons. Certificates are more expensive than when I first bought them 42 years ago but now they arrive seconds after my visa card payment goes through.

The ease of checking indexes and looking at digitised records is way different from back then. My trouble now is that I just want to keep going with my searches and at times it almost seems like a scattergun approach. Look everywhere and check anything that looks like the name I am chasing.

Time to pull back and look at it from a fresh viewpoint. My next task is a timeline to make certain that it all fits together logically across Ireland, NSW and QLD.

July is also a month of many memories of Dad - he was born in July, married in July and died in July. A late 1950s photo of me and Dad plus koala with Mum, my baby brother and baby koala. I can't remember the outing but the photo certainly tells me it was a day out to Lone Pine in Brisbane.


Full on research meant that I didn't get around to any blog writing this month. I was also sad to learn that The In-Depth Genealogist is not going to publish Going In-Depth anymore. I enjoyed doing regular articles and monthly blog posts for them over the last few years. The plan is that I now put that time into more blog posts on my own website.

National Family History Month

August is NFHM and there are lots of exciting events around the country. Check out the website to see what's on in your area. I'm giving eight talks across August at various Moreton Bay Libraries which will be a lot of fun on English and Irish genealogy. See the Events page of my website for details.

In addition I'm going to the one day Brisbane DNA Downunder event plus the three day conference in Sydney. Lots of geneamates seem to be going to that too so a good chance to catch up with everyone plus learn more about DNA.

The Bribie DNA Genealogists Group has me as their local speaker at the August meeting. Basically it will be explaining my DNA discovery and how I have traced my father's family. We are hoping to have a NFHM dinner after the meeting - it will be a first for Bribie!

New Resources

In the latest South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society journal I read about all the amazing records that FamilySearch are digitising for South Australia. So far I have loved the shipping, school and prison records but there is more planned. It is not the easiest state to research but digitisation is changing that.


I have mostly been catching up on my journal reading and paper copies go to bed with me so that in the morning I can read them before getting up to a chilly but not cold house. The mornings are getting lighter so spring can't be too far off.

Do you get your free copy of the latest digital issue of Irish Lives Remembered? This is definitely one to read on the laptop with a cup of coffee carefully off to the side.

The latest issue of the Australian magazine Traces arrived in my mail box and it features a Q&A that I was asked to do on dating a photograph. For those not familiar with Traces it is similar to what Inside History was and has excellent and varied articles on genealogy and history. A subscription makes a good birthday or Christmas present.

One of my U3A students commented that she told her family not to give her any presents that you could not eat as she had everything else. She ended up with seven boxes of chocolates. I have now suggested she ask for subscriptions to some of the great genealogy magazines out there. Definitely better than chocolate (but then I'm a cheese person).


My DNA talk to the local Bribie Island Family History Group was well received and many people said they were going home to try out my tips.

Dates of my talks at Moreton Libraries in August are on the Events page of my website and you do need to book. They are free but some libraries have limited seating so remember to book and check out the times of each talk as well.

In October I have agreed to give a talk on my Unexpected DNA Journey to the GSQ DNA group which meets in Brisbane.


I loved watching Every Family Has A Secret and hope there are more episodes on the way. If you missed it catch up on SBS. Wondering when we will see the new British episodes of WDYTYA? Trying to avoid any spoilers on Twitter or Facebook but it's a bit tricky.

What's Coming Up

Planning my two U3A courses has given me lots of new opportunities to expand my own knowledge.  Plus I'm still into researching Dad's family and I want to try the Family Tree Magazine (UK) challenge to write my family history in 1000 words. I suggested that to my U3A writing students so really should give it a go myself. Thinking about it more, the challenge would be good to do in NFHM.

As usual busy times - have fun with genealogy until next time.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

DNA, NFHM & Other News - Genealogy Notes 1-30 Jun 2019

June went by in a blur of medical type appointments and that's one of the reasons this post is for the whole of June and not my fortnightly updates. I'm hoping for a quieter and easier July. There is also a two week holiday from U3A so lots of time to sit in the beautiful warm, sunny winter outdoors. This is definitely the time of year I don't wish to be back in Canberra or Melbourne.

The last Waves in Time conference committee meeting was held at the end of June. It was a wrap up and review of the excellent feedback from attendance. In some ways it is sad that our group will no longer meet and have lunch afterwards. But hosting and organising a conference is a lot of work and everyone is looking forward to more spare time.


One thing I did manage to complete in June was my second blog post on the Waves in Time Conference. Part 2 covers the speakers on Saturday and Sunday. Here is the link for Part 1 again in case you missed it. An excellent three days and looking forward to the announcement of the next Queensland conference.


I have been making steady progress with my DNA matches and also helping a friend to work out her Ancestry DNA matches. It is definitely easier if you know all your relatives and there are no surprises.

My airfare and accommodation is booked for the DNA Downunder 3 day conference in Sydney in August and it sounds like it will be huge with lots of friends from across Australia saying they will see me there. I am also going to the one day seminar in Brisbane too. Don't leave booking tickets to the last minute as there is a strong chance some of these Downunder events will book out in different cities.

Our DNA genealogists group meetings at the Bribie Island Library are going well, although the cold weather sees many Islanders flee north during the winter months.  I will be giving a talk at the August meeting on my own personal DNA experiences.

National Family History Month

Remember August in NFHM and events are now being added to the NFHM calendar. Check out what might be happening in your state or city/town.

I have been asked to do a series of talks on English and Irish genealogy for Moreton Libraries during August. Full details on the Events page of my website.

New Resources

FamilySearch continue to make more South Australian records available - the latest were prison records which was interesting.


As usual I enjoyed the new Australian series of Who Do You Think You Are and now I'm enjoying the new series Every Family Has A Secret, also on the SBS on a Tuesday night at 7.30pm. There have been two episodes so far with another two to go. Each episode features two different stories and they are all fascinating. If you have missed them, you can catch up through SBS.

What's Coming Up?

Next week I'm giving a DNA talk to the Bribie Island Family History Group - it's in two parts - a matching exercise using Ancestry to show how you can colour cluster using their new tools and also ThruLines - and the second part is a progress update on the search for my biological grandfather's family - now found. I always enjoy the lunch afterwards as quite a few members stay and it's good to catch up.

Although it is holiday time at U3A I still have to do some third term planning for both the advanced family history class and the writing family history class. Two classes certainly make the term go fast or is that faster?

Until next time, happy searching.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Conferences, books & resources - Genealogy Notes 16-31 May 2019

Another fortnight has slipped away from me and we are now into winter. The cooler weather should keep us indoors more which is perfect for genealogy research. I have been making great progress in decluttering my study (yet again). This time I am being more ruthless with paper and old magazines. Although it can be distracting when you start to flick through the mags instead of putting them in the 'give to someone else' pile!


My blog writing is seriously haphazard this year - probably because I have not committed to any theme or timeline. My only blog for the fortnight was the first of my reports on the Waves in Time conference on the Sunshine Coast.

Part One of a two part report looked at the Public Genealogy and Local History Fair on the Friday. The second part will be done this week so stay tuned.


It wouldn't be a conference if I didn't come home with at least one book. This time I only bought two - a second hand book I talk about in Part One (paragraph above) and the second was one from Gould Genealogy & History which they have just mailed to me (not in stock at the conference).

This was Wayne Shepheard's Surviving Mother Nature's Tests: the effects climate change and other natural phenomena have had on the lives of our ancestors. He did a talk at the Unlock the Past Seattle conference last year and I have since listened to his webinar at Legacy Family Tree on the topic. Now I have the book to read.


The Waves in Time conference was excellent and once I finish my reports, there is a long list of follow up research tasks. Just about every speaker gave suggestions that were relevant to my own research.

The conference committee did a wonderful job and I am looking forward to finding out where the next one will be in 2021.

I am now registered for both the Brisbane one day seminar and the three day Sydney conference as part of DNA Down Under in August.

Accommodation is booked and I am sharing with someone. We will rendezvous at Sydney airport coming in and leaving and share a hire car. This helps to keep costs down especially if you are travelling from interstate for the event.


There are some interesting webinars in the June schedule for FamilySearch. These are free and the handouts are useful too. You can also see past webinars and handouts. Their May newsletter reported that FamilySearch added 47.4 million records in April which is simply amazing. Also included were immigrant shipping lists for South Australia. Subscribing to enewsletters is free and a great way to keep up with all the new resources.


The Bribie Island Family History Group have invited me to speak at their July meeting on sorting out your DNA matches. I will be using my own search for a biological grandfather as a case study. By a process of elimination I now believe I have identified the correct families. Most of my matches tie in to these two families who are probably Dad's great grandparents. Still doing the traditional research to make sure the paper trail matches up with the DNA trail. Exciting times.

What's Coming Up?

Hard to believe but we are into the last weeks of Term 2 at Bribie U3A and topics we are looking at include Irish genealogy, wills and probates and an end of term workshop. The writing class is also going well with people starting to think about new projects for Term 3.

Finishing off my Waves in Time conference report is also a priority and I'd like to get back to blogging family stories again. Maybe the cooler weather will increase my productivity. Although I always have the problem of getting side tracked with new research which always seems to be more exciting than simply writing the story up.

Until next time happy searching.

Friday, 17 May 2019

DNA, Talks, Conferences & Resources - Genealogy Notes 1-15 May 2019

So many interesting things happening at the moment. Simply loving the Bribie U3A classes and everyone is learning something and being motivated. It's like having your own little family history society and meeting weekly. Also had some interesting client research projects which have taken me into new areas.


Currently reading (via inter library loan) Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne. As I'm going to two of the DNA Down Under events (Brisbane and Sydney) I thought it was time to do some background reading. I already have my own copy of Blaine's The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy but the more you read, the more you learn and absorb/remember.


Waves in Time is next week so I have been dusting off the blogger beads, getting some of my books ready for sale (should anyone be interested) and making sure my talk is ready to go. It's a short time period with other free talks closely following each other so no going over time.

I've also been saving my dollar coins and small notes should anything tempt me on the secondhand book stalls.


Found baby Fred in the SA school admission
registers on FamilySearch
During the fortnight FamilySearch added more South Australian school admission register entries and South Australian will and probate records to their database. Two collections that I am following closely. Only indexed records no images.

Findmypast added almost 100,000 pages of updated digitised newspapers and some Scottish occupation records, but none relevant to my Scotsman who was a sailor. I have previously found records for him in Findmypast.

Ancestry have a new message centre for members and there are changes to the member profile with more setting options available. I need to have a look at both of these too.

Keeping up with the changes is often hard but everything online seems to be getting better and better.

Makes me wonder how we ever did genealogy back in the days before computers and the internet. I know because I still have four drawer filing cabinets full of paper correspondence and copies of documents  which I occasionally try to modernise into digital format.


Went to David Barnes talk on DNA at the Bribie Island Family History Group's meeting last week. I've heard David's talks before and he manages to pack a lot of information into his talks but he then shares those presentations with attendees so you can go over them again at your own pace. Everyone is at different levels of understanding and for some of the beginners, it can be overwhelming.

They have asked me to do a DNA talk in July based around my own DNA matches and analysis. So more of a practical approach on what to do with your matches.

David and I also had our first monthly meeting of the DNA Genealogists Group at the Bribie Island Library which was attended by 16 people. This was a good number for an inaugural meeting as there was time for everyone to introduce themselves and say a little about why they were interested in DNA and genealogy. We also watched an introductory DNA webinar from RootsTech and had a Q&A session plus a chat over tea and coffee (no biscuits). Will have to remedy that next time.

What's Coming Up?

A busy week with my writing family history and advanced family history classes at U3A, the Waves in Time conference and of course afterwards, I have to write up a couple of blog posts about the family history fair and the conference sessions. This next fortnight is simply going to fly past but lots of excitement and genealogy. Until next time, good researching and have fun.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Free Books, DNA, Conferences & New Resources - Genealogy Notes 16-30 Apr 2019

Wow so much is happening in the genealogy world at the moment. I'm torn between looking at new and exciting records, sorting my DNA matches or getting all my family history research for the last 40 plus years into really good order.


My last two speaker interviews for the Waves in Time genealogy conference (now only a few weeks away) were completed. Read about Cara Downes from the National Archives of Australia here and Barb Toohey from Canberra here. Barb's talk is on who wants my records and that is partly behind my current determination to tidy up all my paper based records and make sure they are in my genealogy database. To follow will be the tidy up of my digital files which also show a blend of different recordkeeping styles over the last 20 years I have had a computer.


Regular readers will know I am a fan of Nathan Dylan Goodwin's books and recently he has been advertising a free copy of The Asylum which is the prequel to his Morton Farrier Forensic Genealogist series of books. Click the link for a free download from his website. I loved it although I still struggle to read ebooks on my laptop. There is no curling up in bed or a comfy lounge chair - maybe I need to get a smaller device?


Only a few weeks now till Waves in Time and my talk on tips for beginners has gone to the organisers. I am the first talk on the Friday at the free public fair which is really good. This means that I then have the rest of the time to totally enjoy myself with no pretalk nerves.

I booked my Brisbane ticket for the DNA Down Under tour in August and made the decision to go to the Sydney 3 day DNA event at the end of August. Before then the aim will be to work out some really good questions to ask all those experts - I'm looking to find a biological grandfather and it is a bit trickier when you haven't got any surname to look for. There are lots of matches that are not on Mum's side and don't match known relatives on Dad's side. I am pleased to be one of the Ambassadors for this exciting event which is occurring during our National Family History Month.

New Records

Findmypast has added some new Queensland records - the WW1 soldier portraits from the State Library of Queensland. I have already found some of my soldiers on the Library site but the advantage of having them in the bigger pond of Findmypast is for those who don't know about the Library's wonderful resources. Judy Webster's Queensland hospital registers are now included and as a big fan of Judy's over the years, I have used these records before too. But for others they could be a breakthrough for missing ancestors, especially those from the Queensland goldfields.

FamilySearch are continuing to add South Australian school admission records which I have found quite useful on the Spencer side.


My talk on Soldiers in the Family was well received at the Caloundra Family History Research group. Although the traffic on Easter Thursday was a lot heavier than normal, I gave myself plenty of time to get there without stressing. The drive home was marginally easier and I had time to go home for a quick cuppa before going to the Bribie Island Library in case anyone turned up for our new DNA  meetings. There is a lot of interest in DNA on the Island and the first meeting in May should be good.

What's Coming Up?

My U3A advanced family history group and the writing family history group are keeping me busier than I anticipated. On the plus side, it's very motivating for me as I can't just do the talk, I have to do the walk too. Hence tackling the organisation of my family history records for the next few months.

The Waves in Time conference will be a lot of fun and I will be blogging about the three days but after the event. Too much going on and I don't want to miss anything while trying to blog at the same time.

There is a DNA talk next week from David Barnes at the local Bribie Island family history group and I will be attending that. There is a lunch afterwards which is a good time to chat to others about the meeting and swap tips.

So a busy two weeks coming up. Take time out where you can to keep your genealogy research going and if you are at any of the same events, please come up and say hello. Until next time.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

DNA Down Under, Books & Talks - Genealogy Notes 1-15 Apr 2019

It's almost Easter and without fail my orchids bloom each year just in case I forget. The blooms this year are not as good as previous years, possibly that long hot summer with no rain.

This image is from a few years ago when they were simply magnificent.


During the fortnight I continued my blog interviews for the Waves in Time conference speakers - read about Michelle Patient - The Patient Genie who is giving a session on methodology.

There is now a link on the conference website to speaker interviews with the other conference ambassadors. Check it out here and more interviews will be added over the next few weeks. Hard to believe that the conference is now just over four weeks away.


One of my Christmas presents was Nathan Dylan Goodwin's Ghost Swifts, Blue Poppies and the Red Star, a Mrs McDougall investigation. I made the mistake of putting it into my must read pile of books and of course since then more have gone on top and I have been sidelined by others. After seeing a tweet from Nathan on whether people liked the book, I realised my error and it went straight to the bedside table. Another great read and hard to put down. It is set just after World War One when so many were grieving for lost sons, fathers and husbands. I hope there is another Mrs McDougall adventure soon.


I am pleased to announce that I am also an ambassador for the Unlock the Past DNA Down Under event in August. There are one day seminars in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Perth and a three day conference in Sydney. At each event there will be a number of speakers and topics and as DNA seems to be the flavour of the geneamonth, these sessions are likely to be very popular.

I'm tempted by the longer Sydney event but the Brisbane event will be easier to get to. I was fortunate to hear Blaine Bettinger at an Unlock the Past event in Seattle prior to the Alaska genealogy cruise.

Similarly I was on the same program at a Townsville genealogy seminar for National Family History Month in 2017. Both speakers I would like to hear again and both are on the program for Brisbane. So that looks like a must do.

As Sydney is over three days, it is divided into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced streams - at the moment I think I am somewhere between intermediate and advanced. Which stream/talks to go to if I decided to go to the Sydney conference? The full program is not online yet but I can see the choices might be tough.

What's Coming Up?

Uncle Gordon,
a Rat of Tobruk
This week I'm presenting A Soldier in the Family to Caloundra Family History Research. It looks at different military resources using my own family examples. My biggest worry is getting trapped on the highway going to or returning from Caloundra - Easter Thursday holiday traffic which I didn't consider when they first asked me to do this date.

The main issue coming home is that I have to be back at the Bribie Island Library by about 4.45pm as our new group DNA Genealogists might be turning up. We received publicity in the local papers but the fact we were not having the first meeting until May was not published. Therefore some people might turn up even though it is Easter Thursday. My job is to sit there and explain the mixup. So far quite a few people have expressed interest but anyone who hasn't formally contacted the organiser won't know there is no April meeting.

My two classes at U3A Bribie will resume - advanced family history which seems to have a waiting list to join and my writing family history. Both groups have continuing students and it will be another fun term but it speeds up the weeks. Time seems to fly during terms.

Until next fortnight have lots of geneafun.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Speaker interviews, talks & new Oz WDYTYA - Genealogy Notes 16-31 Mar 2019

March is over and Easter is fast approaching. Mum's birthday is often on or close to Easter so a time for family catch-ups. This year it is the big 85 and there is a request for pizza and cheesecake and some bubbly. If it wasn't for the bubbly, I  feel I am organising a kids birthday party, but apparently these are 'delicacies' not often found on the aged care centre menus. Lots happening in April.


My ambassador blogs for Waves in Time genealogy conference have continued - read about Jason Reeve from Ancestry here and Dan Kelly from Boolarong Press here. One of the other ambassadors has pulled out so another two speakers are now on my list - more to follow soon.


As Waves in Time is not that far off now (May), my sights have turned to later in the year. There are two that have caught my eye in August and September. First is the Unlock the Past DNA Genealogy Downunder tour which goes to a number of capital cities including Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth plus a 3 day event in Sydney. I will be going to the one in Brisbane on 14 August and seriously thinking about Sydney at the end of August.

I usually try and get to the NSW/ACT conference each year in September but missed last year as I was in Alaska. The theme this year is Exploring the Past. It is also in Sydney and just two weeks after the UTP DNA event. The program is not up yet which makes planning difficult. Two trips to Sydney in a fortnight or stay there, but then that gets expensive. Decisions decisions!

Closer to home there is the annual Moreton Bay History Seminar on 16 May at North Lakes Library which looks at the history of South Sea Islanders in Queensland, the history of Redcliffe as a penal settlement and then as a seaside resort. One of my favourite speakers, Dr Jennifer Harrison, is on the program. It is part of the Australian Heritage Festival organised by the National Trust. It's free but limited places so make sure you book.


After re-looking at some of my earlier research, I decided to reread the local histories of the area I am researching on a particular family line. My first read was about 40 years ago and a few flick through the books since. As I have discovered a lot more in recent years, this time something leapt out at me that has truly staggered me.

Now I just have to find out what happened to the written/oral stories included in the publication. They only used a snippet and one gets the feeling it was part of a much longer reminiscence. Fingers crossed it is still held by one of the local historical societies. 


In April I am speaking at the Caloundra Family History Research on A Soldier in the Family which looks at military records. I always enjoy speaking there and everyone wears purple and they have yummy afternoon teas.

My talk at the Bribie Island library on convicts and criminals was good and question time revealed that some people have some really interesting convicts. Especially those who covered their tracks once their sentence was up. The presentation is on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

To the right is my great grandmother's brother, Denis Patrick Finn. He enlisted in WW1 as a 17 year old and spent his 18th birthday in a German prisoner of war camp. His life story is quite sad and he often features in my talks.


Not a heading I use often, but this is must watch viewing. The new Australian series of Who Do You Think You Are on SBS starts on 30 April. Make sure that is in your diary dates. Check out the celebrities this year, it looks like it will be a great series.

What's Coming Up

Term 1 of U3A finished first week of April then we have a two week break and resume again after Easter. Most of my 'students' are returning in both the advanced family history and in the family history writing class. Those that aren't are going on their annual winter trek to warmer places. Having lived down south, I don't think Bribie ever gets cold, certainly no frost on the ground and no snow. Maybe they just like travelling.

My list of things to do in this two week break is almost ridiculous especially when there are other temptations like walking along the beach on blue, sunny days or swimming or even gardening to get back on top of the weeds that went berserk during that hot and humid, supposedly autumn March.

Until next time, happy searching.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Conferences, publishing & DNA update - Genealogy Notes 1-15 March 2019

Super effort to catch up this fortnight and stay organised. Another study tidy up and rearrangement of furniture, books and family history folders. So neat and tidy and no place to just pile up anything. Yes neatly labelled draws with my only fear that it will be 'out of sight out of mind'.


Niles when he visited Bribie Seaside Museum 
It was actually good to get back to some blog writing. March is International Women's Month and it is a long standing practice to write about my female ancestors. This time I have written about Finding Female Ancestors which includes some of my favourite resources for locating women in the family.

Also completed the first of my Waves in Time conference interviews with speakers is Niles Elvery from the Queensland State Archives. Next up is Jason Reeves from Ancestry with Dan Kelly from Boolarong Press to follow.


Apart from the Waves in Time conference, there is also a book publishing conference in Brisbane on 27 April 2019 which looks interesting. There is a modest registration, it is only one day although a long day if I add travel time from Bribie.

Most family histories won't attract a commercial publisher, but more and more are opting for the self publishing option as either ebooks or print. We still need to know about editing, and what the various production methods are these days.

My writing family history classes at U3A have a wide range of student projects, so something like this conference might help answer some of their questions. Seriously tempted.

Cousin Visiting

The Eldridge girls on the steps of
their grandparent's house on Bribie
In this online world we should not lose sight of the need to make personal contact with distant cousins. Last week our second cousins on the Burstow line visited Bribie and we caught up for the chat and swapping of information.

Then we went for a drive and they were able to show us where the original Burstow home was at Woorim on the other side of the Island. Where the house was is now a block of four units but at least we know that the family story of just being able to walk down the stairs and across the dunes to reach the beach was totally true.

DNA Update

We are probably all aware of the new DNA tools announced during RootsTech 2019. There are various papers from the conference available for download and not just on DNA - so check out the Conference Syllabi.

As a way of looking at these various new tools, I used my own families to illustrate them to my U3A class in advanced family history. While it is possible to talk about Ancestry's Thrulines it is much more meaningful when you can show people how it relates to real examples. Many of my Cornish lines have extensive paper trees, and this is now being confirmed by DNA matches with distant cousins.

MyHeritage's new cluster groupings were mostly on my mother's side of the family. Of my 27 clusters, only two were on Dad's side. Wondering what this means?

There is also a new DNA interest group established on the Island and we will be meeting on the 3rd Thursday of the month at the Bribie Library starting in May. This should be a great way to ask questions, learn about new tools, and share our own experiences.


Court sketch and only known
image of John Finn
My next talk is at the Bribie Library and will be on convicts and criminals, a topic of interest as most of my families were behind bars at some point. The records are similar and provide a wealth of information not always found in other records. Sometimes they were acquitted but the records were still created while they waited for their day in court. Where and when I am speaking can be found on the Events page of my website.

What's Coming Up?

Only two more weeks and U3A breaks before starting Term 2. Easter is just around the corner and Mum will celebrate her 85th birthday. Apparently she wants fish and chips down by the passage. The aged care centre also provides a cake for Mum and the other residents so it will be a full on weekend.

I have been working on an update to the Price family history for her but there is so much new material I'm not sure it will get finished in time. There are still three weeks, so no more bright shiny objects of distraction!

Until next time, have lots of geneafun.

Monday, 4 March 2019

School records, archive resources & other news - Genealogy Notes 15 -28 Feb 2019

I'm cheating a little bit with this fortnight by including the first weekend in March. Hopefully I will get back to a normal blogging routine during the month.


No blogs this fortnight but I did note Alona's Women's History Month challenge for March. Surely I will be able to get at least one post done and be part of this worthy challenge. Previously I have written about my four great grandmothers so perhaps it's time to look at my GG grandmothers or at least those who came out to Australia. Why not join me and take up Alona's challenge?


My first Waves in Time speaker interviewee has returned their questionnaire. Watch out for Niles Elvery from Queensland State Archives telling us about why he became interested in history and why he is excited to be speaking at the conference in May. Blog post within the next two weeks, I promise!

Also over the last week we have had Facebook and Twitter posts from various Aussie geneamates who attended RootsTech in Salt Lake City or who stayed home and just did the live streaming or catch up videos. Lots of announcements have been made and I'm still trying to catch up with them.
all the news.


Perhaps the most exciting announcements from RootsTech were the new DNA tools released by Ancestry and MyHeritage. So far I have managed to have a play with Ancestry's cluster tools and their new ThruLines look like they are going to sort out some of my more distant Cornish lines. Anyway I have a whole lot of 'to follow up' notes from my brief play. Haven't even looked at MyHeritage yet. Why aren't there more hours in the day?


Fred as a baby on his mother's lap
Another exciting South Australian collection from FamilySearch is the school admission registers 1873-1985. There are now over 185,000 entries. The indexing looks a bit doubtful. I searched for Max's father but could not find him (possibly not indexed yet).

But then I looked for his brother and found him, but with indexing errors. Frederick was Frederich which is an easy mistake but their father was Henry and that is indexed Stenry which doesn't even look right. Frederick's date of birth was correct 10 December 1909 and it showed that he enrolled in school on 16 May 1922 in Adelaide, but didn't give the name of the school. He would have been 13 years old.

While the record says there is a digital image it does not appear to be connected to the indexed entry yet. Another follow up task!


At the weekend I gave two talks as part of the Queensland Family History Society education seminar - both talks were about using archives and libraries for Australian family history research. Both presentations are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. I meant to take some photos for this blog post, but was too busy catching up with friends or answering questions. A cousin I hadn't seen in decades turned up to say hello as well. Good to see others in the family are still chasing their ancestors.

What's Coming Up?

My next talks are in April so my focus in the short term will be on doing some blog posts and tutoring my U3A family history classes. Once term starts, the weeks just seem to fly past. The writing group is doing well and we have just agreed to do another term. Everyone has a different type of project and already we can see progress as they discuss what they are doing and we run through some standard writing and style tips.

Have a great fortnight and until next time, happy searching.

Friday, 22 February 2019

South Australia probates, historical society journals & other news - Genealogy Notes 1-15 Feb 2019

This is late as a dreaded lurgy has been stalking me for the past couple of weeks - not sick enough to stay in bed but enough to slow me down. So all energy has gone into commitments and I am just realising that tutoring two family history related classes at U3A is a bit full on. Still I have enjoyed the interest and motivation coming out of the writing family history class. Everyone has a really great project to work on.


As an ambassador for the Waves in Time Conference in May, I will shortly be bringing you some blog posts about the speakers. We have a range of questions we are asking each person. We will get to know a little more about them and their areas of expertise.

My favourite question is why someone became interested in family history. Sometimes it is quite roundabout. Should be fun and starting soon.


I was excited to see that FamilySearch have added South Australian probate records. There are over 45,000 indexed names but no images according to the FamilySearch newsletter. But when I looked there were images and of course, the documents contain more information than the index. It is a series of probate and administration books which include transcribed wills rather than the ecclesiastical files themselves. Still better than nothing.

Another plus for me was the addition of Hampshire Parish Registers 1538-1980. Hoping to take a few family lines further back. Over 2 million names and again the newsletter indicated no images. I have Hampshire families and when I looked at the collection, there was an image symbol next to the entry. But when you click on it, there was a message saying it was not available at this time. Some of the entries also said it was available at a family history centre or an affiliated centre. If I can find enough references it would be worth the trip.

The Royal Australian Historical Society Journal is now available online via Trove. These journals have interesting articles on people, places, subjects and as the Society is based in New South Wales, anyone with NSW families should have a look.

The Royal Historical Society of Queensland's journal has been available for sometime via Text Queensland although the index is on the RHSQ's website. The Royal Historical Society of Victoria journal is available via State Library Victoria. Some journal articles can be discovered through Trove but I also like to check journal indexes and browse contents.

The Chyebassa (image courtesy State Library Victoria)
What's Coming Up?

There are several talks coming up in March and April starting with the Queensland Family History Society education seminar Taking Your Australian Research Further. I'm giving two talks on making the most of archives and other resources. The Chyebassa  was the ship my great grandfather Herbert William White came out to Queensland on. I have found some fascinating snippets on all my Australian families and these will be illustrating my talks at the seminar. It is amazing what is out there when you look.

Janice Cooper is the other speaker. It will be held at Gaythorne in Brisbane on 2 March. Hope to see you there.

U3A and my writing project will also keep me busy. I just need to shake my lurgy and get some more energy. Until next time, happy searching.

Friday, 1 February 2019

National Archives of Australia news, Waves in Time & Other News - Genealogy Notes 16 -31 Jan 2019

A busy start to 2019. There has been time for some new research - what I find is that in preparing  for my U3A sessions, I am locating new information on my own families to use as examples. A win win as they used to say in my old work environment. A lot of the websites I am looking at are old favourites, but there is so much new information since I last looked. Reviewing your families on a regular basis is essential. 

Archive News 

Reception area, Brisbane Office NAA
Here is the exciting news from the Queensland Office of the National Archives of Australia (NAA). I usually just take a few camera images when I visit but this will be much better. The instructions are straight forward and now I just need to organise another visit.

The Queensland Office of the National Archives is testing the feasibility of allowing self-service digitisation of selected records by the public in a controlled reading room environment. Note that this is a service being trialled in the Queensland Reading Room only, from 8 November 2018 to 30 April 2019. If you wish to participate in this trial and digitise a record for your own use:
1. Ask the Archives Officer on duty if the file you wish to digitise is suitable for this service. The Archives Officer will allow digitisation of files that are robust enough to handle the process with minimal risk of damage.
2. The Archives Officer on duty will ensure the scanner is ready to operate. If in doubt, ask.
3. Do not change any scanner settings. The scanner is set to the Archives digitisation standards.
4. Digitise each page
a. Start at the front file cover.
b. Press the green button on the scanner, or click the ‘Scan’ button on the screen.
c. Scan every page, starting from the top page and continuing to the bottom.
d. Place the page in the centre of the glass – the scanner will align the image automatically
e. Include the back of any page that has information regardless of its significance
f. If you make a mistake, just repeat the scan and inform the attendant.
g. Once you have finished, return all pages to the file pin.
h. It is important that the pages are returned in their original order.

5. If you have any questions, ask the Archives Officer.
6. If you wish to digitise more than one file, inform the Archives Officer. After each file is complete, the Archives Officer will collate the images into a file folder.
7. Once completed, the Archives Officer will download the images to a usb for you to take with you.

Please be aware that the images you create may be processed and loaded to the Archives’
RecordSearch database where they can be viewed by the public. The images will be subject to quality assurance before they are loaded. Some files may be rejected.


No time for blogging. My only writing during the fortnight was my final assignment for the Writing Family History course with the University of Tasmania. The first draft didn't take long, it was all the rewriting and fiddling to make it interesting, not boring. Some of those new skills will be handy when I get back to blogging.

My topic was a brief biographical account of my great great grandfather John Finn. Trying to fit his wide ranging life into the assignment word length was not easy. You have to pick just the events you really want to include and succinctly. Perhaps I should have picked a less colourful ancestor.

I did manage to do my regular monthly article and blog post for The In-Depth Genealogist. Fixed deadlines definitely motivate me.


My parcel of genealogy books from Amazon (Christmas present) arrived and were eagerly unwrapped. Now there is a small mountain waiting to be read and I can't even decide what order to read them in.

A number require me to then put into practice what the book suggests so that will be challenging. All to be reported here when I get myself organised. Not surprisingly that is the subject of one of the books - any guesses what the book is?


Since last time I have had another two invitations to speak - both for National Family History Month in August. One clashed with another event so sadly I had to turn that down. It is always a busy month but an exciting time for genealogy and family history. Where I am speaking can be found on the Events page of my website - still to add all the August talks. Hopefully next week.

What's Coming Up?

Next week is super busy. There is a committee meeting for the Waves in Time conference on the Sunshine Coast in May. I always enjoy these and catching up with other committee members over lunch.

U3A first term is underway so there are my weekly advanced family history sessions plus my new beginners writing family history group. This will require me to put aside dedicated writing time on a family history story to discuss/share at the fortnightly sessions. It will be good to see what others in the group do too.

To end the week there is an exhibition launch at the Bribie Island Seaside Museum. The new exhibition is on Bribie Streets and how/why they were named. A local member of the Bribie Island Historical Society will also give a talk. The morning teas are always good but I need to get away early. I'm enrolled in a 5 week course to learn to use my smart phone more/better.

I am almost exhausted just thinking about next week but it will all be great fun. Take some time to do some genealogy searching or simply review what you have done to date. Until next time enjoy

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Australian Websites, Trove Finds & What's Coming Up - Genealogy Notes 1-15 Jan 2019

2019 might just be going faster than 2018, this is already a few days late. So much has happened but let's hope it is just new year madness. There have been invitations to speak and participate in projects, planning for U3A, endless hosing the gardens and lawns as it refuses to rain (we have bore water), and trying to read all the books I received for Christmas. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday period.


My favourite 25 Australasian websites was the first blog post for 2019. It is amazingly hard to narrow down to your favourites and of course it can vary depending on what you are currently researching. It was good to see this listed in Gail Dever's Creme de la Creme list for 19 January. I love lists that are compilations of weekly blog posts - it is easy to scroll down and see what others are writing.

Sunday Mail 23 Nov 1952 via Trove
My Trove Tuesday post was Karisma Estate, Toorbul & the Carnegie Family. This was a bit of local history and family history and we really should explore our families in the context of the communities in which they lived.

I also was included in Gail Dever's This Week's Creme de la Creme blog round up (12 Jan 2019) with The Prosecution Project for The In-Depth Genealogist.


Finally managed to sit down and read Kate Grenville's The Secret River which is based on one of her convict ancestors. It is a fictional account and a gripping read. If you want to know what life was like for early convicts in Sydney find yourself a copy. My local library had it as she is a popular Australian writer.

Rereading Hazel Edwards classic How to Write a Non Boring Family History. So many good tips but of course the main thing is to simply set aside time to write, and then rewrite and rewrite.


National Archives of Australia Brisbane office
My talks for 2019 start with a QFHS seminar Taking Your Australian Research Further.

My first session is what's in the archives for Australian family history that you don't know about and the second is what other resources are you not using for your Australian family history research.

The other speaker is Janice Cooper and how to place your families in their local communities and historic times. Should be a good day.

Moreton Region Libraries have asked me to do a series of talks for them in National Family History Month (August). Seems ages away but probably here before we know it.

My first talk for them this year is in April on Convicts and Criminals at the Bribie Island Library.

What's Coming Up?
Amazingly I am almost at the end of the Writing Your Family History course with the University of Tasmania's Diploma in Family History. The weeks have just flown past and I have read so many interesting family stories from other students in the course. Some weeks you just don't have time to keep up with all of them. I haven't decided yet if I will do any other subjects.

Many years ago I did the Society of Australian Genealogists Diploma in Family Historical Studies and that was a good way to make progress on my own research. Just need more hours in the day!

Until next time happy searching.