Sunday 21 January 2024

Geneastats from 2023 & Other News: My Genealogy Weeks 1-15 January 2024

The first two weeks of 2024 have seen devastating storms, flooding and incredible heatwaves almost in a rolling pattern. Now another cyclone seems to be looming off our coast. Stay safe everyone, out thoughts are with all those impacted.


Each year I do two guest blog posts for the Genealogical Society of Queensland. I picked January and July for my efforts. This means the January guest blog is lined up and ready to go in early February. I will be interested in all feedback on my 2023 thoughts. A direct link will be in the next edition of this Diary blog.


I have so many books to read now. There are those for sheer pleasure, those for genealogy and family history and those for my Ph D research.

Not sure if I mentioned it last year, but we have started up a Bribie Family History Association Book Club and we have been reading The Ancient Paths by Graham Robb. Not an easy book to read but quite fascinating and the archival references are amazing. We operate via the Moreton Bay Region Libraries which makes it very easy to operate a book club.

Plus I try to keep up with the digital genealogy magazines that I can borrow from the local library.


The AFFHO Congress is coming up in 2025 and they have released the dates for that. It will be held in Brisbane which is good news for all the locals. The last one was on Norfolk Island which was a much smaller affair due to the remoteness of the venue but still an excellent conference. 

The Congress theme is “Connections: Past, Present and Future” will be held in Brisbane on 21 – 24  March 2025. The venue is Brisbane Technology Park, Clunies Ross Court, Eight Mile Plains and is situated next to hotel accommodation. Save the date and I will be staying onsite as battling highway traffic each day to and from would leave me a total nervous wreck. Everyone is always in a rush and there is usually a bingle or two to slow traffic down further. Plus that would give me an extra four hours a day to chat and mingle with friends. Much more pleasant.

Unlock the Past is having its final genealogy cruise in December 2024 and that has some big name speakers and sails out from Sydney. Booked and will probably give a talk or two depending on how the final program develops.

The NSW/ACT Association of Family History Societies usually have an annual conference about September. There is nothing on their website yet about 2024 so hopefully that will be announced soon.

New Resources

It is almost mind blowing to read some of the statistical accounts from the big genealogy databases on how much is added each year and 2023 was no exception.

FamilySearch added over 30,000 newly digitised books to their online collection which now stands at 586,813 digital books online. I just did a search for Islandmagee in County Antrim, Island. It has returned a number of volumes including the Brennen Chronicles (one of my family lines is Brennan for Islandmagee). Another book mentions the Cain/Kain family of Islandmagee, another one of my family lines. In fact there are 33 pages of references to all kinds of books and journals. I would hate to be searching for a big parish. 

There are now over 18.36 billion historical records online for over 70 countries. A big addition was the digitised 1931 census for Canada. One of my Scottish families went to Canada and I would love to find some DNA matches to confirm that this is one of my family lines. 

MyHeritage also had a very big year and I can't sum it up anymore than their own image of achievements. You can read more about these statistics in the January blog post. I'm beginning to think we could do genealogy 24/7 and still not use all the resources out there. 

And all the others Ancestry, Findmypast, The Genealogist, Irish Roots, Geneanet, WikiTree and others added to their collections. There is so much out there now  that it is often hard to decide where to search first. 

Online trees can be a real time saver but you have to remember to check them carefully and go back to original sources. Recently I found a tree that was exactly what I wanted but they had a different surname for the wife (which was different from the marriage certificate) but absolutely no explanation for this discrepancy. It is so frustrating when people don't give sources and don't add a note that explains such a major difference between the marriage certificate and their tree. 

Nick Vine Hall (NVH) Awards

It is going to be exciting to be part of the NVH Awards for 2023. We have three new judges, revised criteria and all member societies of AFFHO are encouraged to enter one of their 2023 journals/newsletters.

My main job over the next couple of months will be promoting the awards and encouraging editors to submit. Of course members of individual societies have to write up their own stories for publication so make sure you write at least one article this year for your society editor. Don't be shy and who knows it might lead to further information on the family.


My first talk for 2024 will be for Monash Library in Melbourne in the first week of February. They are a great group and have hybrid meetings. The session is Researching Australian Ancestors and anyone can join but you need to register and what out for daylight saving time if you live this side of the border.

Then it will be up to Caloundra for my annual appearance there. Another great group and not just because they all wear purple shirts. So friendly over afternoon tea. The talk will be Researching Family in Ireland Online. 

What's Coming Up

Bribie Family History Association is having its first meeting for 2024 and our guest speaker is Sue Reid an excellent presenter on researching newspapers. Afterwards some of our members meet for lunch. No doubt we will be busy sharing our success stories over the summer break. 

Our AGM is coming up in February and here is a happy snap of the current committee hard at work.

My monthly meeting with my Ph D tutors is also challenging especially when they ask to see what I am working on. 

Last month it was my database of incarcerated Queensland women 1850-1900 and this time it is my research plan for Queensland State Archives and my Bibliography to date. It is only seven months since I started so quite full on. 

Take care over the next few weeks of summer weather. A good opportunity to stay inside with a good book, either digital or print. I'm almost preferring digital to my surprise. New skills, new ways of doing things. Until next time, happy researching. Shauna