Tuesday 17 December 2019

Saving & Writing Family History, BDA Online Update & Other News- Genealogy Notes 22 Nov - 14 Dec 2019

Another three weeks went past in a blur of medical 'stuff'. However now at the 3/4 mark with chemotherapy so the end is in sight. Treatment will go on but it won't be that week after week of not feeling all that good.

Birthdays & Family Histories

Someone close is turning 70 in March and has suggested it would be nice if I wrote up his family history similar to what I usually do for clients. This gives me two months (not allowing for any health delays) but most of the research is done. Nothing like a challenge. Or another one!


On the positive front I made great progress with my personal genealogy blog challenge - here's the first month progress report in my Preparing Your Family History Records for Hand Over in the Future.

If you are thinking about doing this, just note that it takes way longer than you expect as each task generates other tasks.


Being sick is the perfect excuse to curl up in bed or a lounge chair with a stack of things to read. I've got genealogy society journals, family histories and even a few items in e-format and this is where the I Pad comes in handy.


Breaking news is that the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) Congress in 2021 is being held on Norfolk Island (a place I love going to and reconnecting with convict ancestors who lived there before being despatched to Van Diemen's Land). The dates are 30 July to 6 August with the actual Congress on 3-5 August. The usual way to visit Norfolk Island is a weekly accommodation package as the planes don't fly in daily.

Another major event in 2021 is the Unlock the Past Family History Down Under event which is being held on the Sunshine Coast (very handy for me) on 22 - 26 March. There are 7 key speakers with some really big names revealed so far. Check out the website and sign up for the enewsletter for all the latest news.

I'd better start saving for 2021!

In the meantime I am hoping to go to the NSW & ACT annual conference which is in Newcastle in 2020. I have family links to the area so some research combined with the conference sounds perfect. Dates are 11-13 September 2020 and the theme is Riding the Waves of History.

Decluttering my family history records

Two empty file drawers - how good is that?
This is the subject of my blog challenge above and I have to admit that I'm enjoying the whole process. It's not easy but looking back on 42 years of family history research I can see a lot of achievements.

Memories of excited finds, sore arms from winding microfilm machines, frustration at trying to find things on microfiche, waiting months for replies/ certificates from government agencies and all the other hassles of a not online world.

Researching today in a digital environment is fantastic - looking back how did we ever manage to do research?

New Resources

Each month we see wonderful new records online.

One of my favourite 'boutique' online databases is the Biographical Database of Australia (BDA Online). There is a modest subscription but you can search for free. Anyone who has early convicts/settlers it is definitely a place to look. Release 8 is coming up soon and will include the following datasets:

Births, deaths, marriages, church records:
-Baptisms Goulburn NSW C of E 1833-1865
-Baptisms Wollongong NSW C of E 1834-1864
-Deaths at Sydney Hospital 1811-1826

Convict records:
-Applications for convict workers NSW 1826-1828
-List of uncollected convict pardons NSW 1850
-Lists of convicts recommended for pardons NSW 1826-1856
-Lists of convict tickets of leave cancelled NSW 1832-1870

Shipping & passenger records:
-Lists of passengers sailing Sydney to California 1849-1851 in search of gold in the USA
-List of Shipowners NSW 1849

Military & biographical records covering most rank & file in British garrisons in Australia to 1837: 
-4th Regiment 1832-1837
-17th Regiment 1830-1836
-Veteran Companies 1828-1832
-Royal Staff Corps 1826

Miscellaneous lists & databases:
-Colonial Secretary letters to Sheriff NSW 1828-1850
-Norfolk Island victualling records 1802-1809
-List of Norfolk Island residents-1825-1855

What's Coming Up?

Norfolk Island history & spectacular scenery
Christmas and New Year and then someone told me to expect hot cross buns in the supermarkets shortly thereafter. I hope they are wrong but I wouldn't be surprised to start seeing Easter eggs too.

2019 didn't end the way I thought it would but like anything, there are positives and negatives. The real positive for me was that it made me take seriously the issue of handing my research on before it is too late. Better for me to do it myself than risk it all ending up in the bin.

I hope all my readers, friends and colleagues have a safe and happy Christmas with family and friends. I look forward to catching up with many of you in 2020, either online or in person.

Thanks for being part of my 2019 genealogy adventure.

Friday 22 November 2019

Saving & Writing Family History, WDYTYA & Other News - Genealogy Notes 1-21 Nov 2019

Although I said that this  blog would become fortnightly again, it is obvious that may not be possible. An unplanned trip to hospital, more tests and treatment meant that a week disappeared. So it may be more random but I will try for regular posts.


Purpose built shelves & filing cabinets
As I indicated last Diary, I have set myself a 12 month genealogy project (although realistically it will take me longer).

The challenge is Preserving Your Family History Records For Handover in the Future. Read what I have planned and the aim is to reduce down and tidy up my family history. There will be monthly updates on what is being tackled and how I go about it.

Here are a couple of photos of what the study looks like presently.


Findmypast added more Northumberland and Durham records, another 15 parishes in the Greater London Burial Index and almost 100,000 pages of new British and Irish newspapers. Only one new title The Banffshire Reporter and additions to 13 other titles.

Ancestry added records for Bristol, and increased the England and Wales death index from 1989 to 2018. I wish we could search deaths within the last 30 years. Still amazing what we can access online at home.


Really enjoyed the Olivia Colman espisode of WDYTYA Series 15 on SBS this week. I loved watching her in Broadchurch and it was so good to see her reactions as her family's unknown history unfolded. I hope the other episodes are as interesting.

Somehow I missed episode 1 with Michelle Keegan but luckily I can catch up with SBS on Demand for WDYTYA.
Even the wardrobe has family history records

Writing Family History

Throughout 2019 I have tutored a writing family history class at U3A. Basically encouraging people to write their stories either as small/large articles, blogs, or even substantial family histories. As well I provide feedback on such things as citations, sources, editing, grammar and spelling.

It has been really rewarding seeing some of the finished works. Everyone has said that it took longer and was more challenging than they first thought but worthwhile.

I received this feedback this morning from a student who is not continuing in 2020 as she has finished what she wanted to do - the story of her grandmother's life as told through her grandmother's eyes.
I wasn't expecting that my story would get such an emotional response (from family)
So Shauna,  thank you for the opportunity.  
And if you hadn't held your creative writing class, I'd never have thought to tell some of the stories. So it's been invaluable. 

What's Coming Up?

Very little happens in December and January, our hot summer months so that will give me lots of time to work on 'saving my family history records' project. I also want to get back to tracing Dad's family and sorting those DNA matches. The nice thing about genealogy is that there is always something to do and you are never bored. At least I'm not!

Until next post have a wonderful time researching your family history.

Sunday 3 November 2019

New personal blog challenge & Other News - Genealogy Notes 16 Sep - 31 Oct 2019

Six weeks since my last post. Numerous tests, three operations and now into a weekly chemotherapy routine and a new look. Fortunately the future looks positive although the path there is long and tough. I'm still managing to do most things although I do seem to be sleeping more.

Thanks to everyone who have sent virtual cards, hugs and kisses and to all those who have visited and left chocolates, flowers, books, tea towels, procrastinator pencils, a worry doll and crystals. You have all made the last two months much easier.


I haven't written anything but as my treatment will span 12 months, I have given a lot of thought to a new personal challenge. For years I have been gradually reducing my paper research, scanning photos and certificates, writing draft family histories and organising my digital records. But always in fits and starts because I get bored or something else hijacks my priorities.

My illness has made me focus again on what happens to my research in future - no one in the family wants it. Therefore I need to get it all into a more manageable and accessible format. Books, magazines, paper files, photographs, albums, memorabilia, erecords, emails, digital family histories and of course the genealogy database.

To keep me on track over the next 12 months, the plan is to do a monthly blog on my progress with the end goal that all my research will be in a more portable format to pass onto others. How hard can that be? First task - to think up a catchy title for the blog challenge.


It's been a good chance to catch up with my backlog of genealogy print and ejournals and the pile of must read novels and other genealogy or local history books. The big challenge is not to fall asleep reading!


Webinars/videos are also a great way to learn more. Check out the RootsTech 2019 Salt Lake City sessions, do a search of YouTube for 2019 London RootsTech, or the regular FamilySearch monthly webinars and also some free ones on Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Of course, these just encourage me to do more research at a time when I am trying to finalise and tidy up, not create new records.

Herbert William White
from Pitton & Farley, Wiltshire
As part of my cleaning up paper files, I am discovering new resources online. Thanks to Ancestry's Wiltshire parish records I've managed to get digital copies of many of my baptisms, marriages and burials. I've even pushed back a few lines another couple of generations. It is amazing how many ways Forder can be spelt/indexed - but when you look at the handwriting from the 1700s it is not surprising that the indexers couldn't identify the surname.

And why did I start with the letter F? I randomly opened a filing cabinet drawer and pulled a file out without looking. This way there is an element of surprise and it won't be easy to see how much has been done or still to go. Whereas with A to Z it would be a negative until after I passed the half way mark in the alphabet. Although some letters do have more family names than others.


I had to cancel my presentation to the Genealogical Society of Queensland DNA Group but I managed to do a small talk on Ancestry matches to the Bribie Island DNA for Genealogists Group at the Library.

There are also a few talks booked for next year that I am looking forward to.

I am still tutoring my U3A class for Writing Family History every Tuesday fortnight but I have had to give up tutoring the Advanced Family History class as it clashes with the weekly chemo. Still the class will be back next year, something else to look forward to.

What's Coming Up

In some ways getting sick at the end of a year is not too bad as the genealogy world slows down in December and January and by February I should be past all the hard yards. Diary should now go back to a regular fortnightly blog post and I'm hoping for another couple of Trove Tuesday blog posts before the end of 2019.

Until next time, happy searching.

Sunday 15 September 2019

New Victorian resources, DNA reports & other news - Genealogy Notes 15 Aug - 15 Sep

DNA Down Under memorabilia
I had a fantastic time during National Family History Month and had every intention of doing a report at the end of August.

However bad news on the medical front hijacked me to doctors, specialists and surgeons. This Wednesday I'm heading off to hospital for breast cancer surgery and if hugs and kisses (both physical and virtual) could cure cancer, I wouldn't need surgery. Everyone has been fabulous and offered help and support. With luck it has been caught early enough but I will know more after surgery.


The Geelong Heritage Centre Archives catalogue includes over 46,000 records and can now be searched online for the very first time by visiting archives.grlc.vic.gov.au.

The Archives are a unique recorded history of Geelong and surrounding areas (stretching from Portarlington to Lorne, Belmont to Lara, Geelong to Meredith and everywhere in between). There are collections of public and private records, newspapers, maps, plans, photographs, and catalogues and indexes.

When I lived in Melbourne I had the opportunity to research there a few times in the old facilities. Now they have much more luxurious premises and an online catalogue to search before you visit.


I managed to write three blog posts about DNA Down Under. Read about the Brisbane event here, Part 1 of the Sydney 3 day event here and Part 2 here
Another souvenir!

It was absolutely fabulous and I learnt so much. To distract myself, I have been having an intensive look at Dad's biological family and its amazing how time flies when you start chromosome mapping.


The State Library of New South Wales blog post When NED Rode Into Town attracted my attention. Of course we all think of Ned Kelly but not in this instance. Below is a brief abstract of the post and for more details click on the link to the blog post.

The national, state and territory libraries joined forces to launch one giant national digital collection of Australian publications. It’s called National edeposit – or NED for short.

By ‘Australian publications’ we’re talking books, journals, magazines, music, pamphlets, newsletters, novels, children’s stories, self-published poetry anthologies, maps, government reports. You name it, regardless of where it was published in this vast continent, NED will have it.

NED is a website. It’s a system and a service, connecting a network of publishers and libraries.

Publishers go to the NED website to deposit and describe their electronic publications using a simple tool, choosing where and how they want them to be accessed. For the rest of us, these publications show up through the national discovery service, Trove.

The queue to registration at Brisbane DNA Down Under

During August I did eight talks for Moreton Region Libraries on English Genealogy and Irish Genealogy Resources Online. Both presentations are on my the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

I also did a DNA presentation on the search for my father's biological family to the Bribie Island Library DNA Genealogists group.

Victorian Resources

Still in Victoria, one of the main reasons I maintain my membership of the Genealogical Society of Victoria is so that I can access their Cemeteries Database and GIN (Genealogical Index of Names) online at home. I was interested to see this update from last November (sometimes it takes me a while to catch up with news).

GSV has been transcribing cemetery records since the 1950s and although there are now online websites for cemeteries (with many including photographs), some of those early headstone have disappeared or become illegible or even destroyed by vandals.

So make sure you try this database. You can search for free but if you want access to the information you need to be a member or pay a fee. Here are the additions.

Recently added to Cemeteries Database:
Trafalgar cemetery transcriptions 1886 -1996. 2nd ed
Trafalgar cemetery headstones 1882-1979
Voters’ roll for the… District of Epping, for the year ending July 1870
Steiglitz old & new cemetery register & headstone transcriptions 1854-1997
Mornington cemetery headstones 4/1/1861 to 18/2/1985
Orbost cemetery headstones 5.4.1882 to 12.8.1982
Winchelsea cemetery register and headstones 1858-1981
Yalca North cemetery headstones 1/10/1895 to 26/5/1977
Goroke cemetery register and headstones 14/3/1890 – 13/9/1982
Gormandale cemetery headstones 8/11/1895 to 13/7/1982
Guildford cemetery records 1871-1st Nov 1998
Ashens cemetery headstones 1890-1908; includes some Ebenzer Mission cemetery headstones
Flinders (Cerberus Naval Base) Boot Hill Naval cemetery records 7 June 1925 to 11 February 1980
Goroke private cemeteries: ‘Pleasant Banks’ station cemetery 1866-1893 & ‘Mortat’ private cemetery 1850-1877
Crib Point cemetery tombstones
Mulwala cemetery NSW: register and headstones 7/4/1853 – 22/5/1991
Bridgewater cemetery headstones 1863-1984
Coburg Pine Ridge cemetery register 1864-1996

Added to Genealogical Name Index & LINX Australia
Baptisms 1869 to 1900 at Bendigo St Paul’s Church of England (part complete)
Voters’ roll for the… Shire of Gisborne for the year ending October 1884: Borough Riding.

What's Coming Up?

My last talk for the year is another DNA presentation on how I have searched for my father's biological family and this time it is for the Genealogical Society of Queensland DNA Group. I still have some question marks around my research so it will be good to test out my theories with such a knowledgeable group of people. Plus some  of the newer members may benefit from my own experiences on this unexpected DNA journey.

There are my two U3A courses - Advanced Family History and Writing Family History - for 4th term and I am still working on the programs. This will also depend on my physical health as well but I am hoping that it will be business as usual, or almost.

Until next time, have a wonderful time researching your ancestors.

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.