Sunday, 22 March 2015

Google, photos, sporting ancestors:Genealogy notes 16 - 22 Mar 2015

Last week's Diary brought the news of an exciting discovery of a WW1 ancestor's photograph. I'm happy to say that I have just been sent a photo of my great great grandmother's sister. As we have no photos at all on this line I am super excited as she looks just like my grandmother or is that wishful thinking? Or do all little old ladies look like that?

This exciting discovery came about because someone (my third cousin once removed) Googled our common ancestor John Carnegie of Toorbul and found all my blog posts on how I eventually knocked down the brick walls around this family. I've dashed off a quick email to say hello!

I have to say that Google is perhaps the most exciting genealogical discovery of all time BUT you still need to be blogging your family stories to be discovered and contacted by long lost cousins. I really don't know why everyone doesn't have a geneablog. It is a wet rainy day here and when I logged on to write this Diary post, there was the email and the photos. How easy is that?

Week 35 of my personal genealogy blog challenge is Sporting Records and that is also one of the topics I am talking about next week at the AFFHO Congress in Canberra. I'm also happy to say that my new research guide Discover your sporting ancestors: it was not all work and no play is also now available. There are so many aspects of our ancestors lives that we can explore and I have really enjoyed tracking down some of these sporting stories.

My first blog post for The In-Depth Genealogist was this week and not surprisingly I was writing about the AFFHO Congress and how we will all be using social media to share what is happening in Canberra over five very exciting days and nights. Only four more sleeps for me!

Although Congress is now occupying most of my thoughts I need to keep in mind that the weekend after it I am heading back up to Maryborough for the genealogy seminar cancelled courtesy of Cyclone Marcia. I am giving three talks and the seminar is being organised by the Maryborough Family Heritage Research Institute. I'm really looking forward to catching up with them as I first started giving talks there in the 1980s!

My book review of Jayne Shrimpton's Fashion in the 1940s is here. It gave me some great ideas to follow up on my female relatives during WW2.

During a quick visit to Brisbane I was lucky enough to have a look behind the scenes at the Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages. Plus they are one of our new prize sponsors for National Family History Month (NFHM) in August 2015. The list of sponsors prizes is looking good and thanks to AFFHO and Ancestry for being major sponsors this year (new/additional sponsors may also join between now and August). Keep up to date by visiting the NFHM website or this Diary as I am the voluntary coordinator again!

There must be other news but I really want to get back to my Carnegie research and look at the two pages of information sent along with the photos. Although looking at the time, the family might be expecting me to cook dinner! Perhaps they won't be hungry tonight? Happy researching and blogging, let people find you.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

WW1 Soldier Portraits, the first AFFHO Congress and women - Genealogy Notes 9-15 March 2015

I love blogging. I actually relax when I write and this week I managed to do two blogs. Week 34 in my 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 is on Maps another fascinating resources for genealogy and family history research. The second blog was Thoughts on the 1977 AFFHO Congress (the first ever Congress) and its proceedings and speculating on how many people who went to that will be at the 14th Congress in Canberra in a week or so.

I started researching my own family history in March 1977 so I have been lucky to hear many of Australia and New Zealand's top conference speakers since then. Plus I have always bought the proceedings to refer to later. The genealogy world has changed so much since then.

The State Library of Queensland has been digitising soldier's portraits from WW1 as published in The Queenslander as part of their QANZAC 100 Memories for a new generation project. They are doing detailed images and as such the images and soldier's names are much clearer than what is in Trove. For example, I have been unable to find Denis Patrick Finn's photo in Trove but thanks to the SLQ's project, I now have his image and the reference to the page and date of The Queenslander. Denis was wounded and served time in a prisoner of war camp so I am really glad to now have a photo of him in uniform. He looks so young but then he was only 17 years old. I have more WW1 soldiers to find so that is another project I am closely following.

March is Women's History Month and my geneacolleague Hazel Edwards (author of How to Write a Non Boring Family History) sent me some wonderful ideas from her annual Witty Women's lunch and this year guests had to bring a plate of food to share with a quote from an historic female. Hazel has been doing this for 36 years with different themes, that's a lot of celebrating women of the past. Here are some examples and I have tried to keep to a family history type theme:
  • Actress & inventor Hedy Lamarr developed a patent for frequency hopping now used in Wifi & Blue Tooth
  • DNA researcher & biologist Rosalind Franklin, was mentioned three times, with double helix fruit platter, corkscrew cheese sticks and rice rolls in genetic patterns. Her male colleagues Watson, Crick & Wilkins got the Nobel Prize for the double helix model in 1962.
  • Family historian Kath Ensor wrote ‘The Blue Family history with Indigo and Skye’ 
  • Nurse Florence Nightingale was quoted in connection with ‘Notes on Nursing: What It is, and what it is not,’ translated as having a little of what you fancy, has and always will, do you good.’ 

Reading Hazel's list of women, food and quotes started me thinking about my female ancestors and could I associate them with a food or a quote. Something to work on for next year's women's history month. Thanks Hazel for the reminder of all those talented women from the past and present.

Two talks this week and both on Bribie Island which made a pleasant change from all the driving I have been doing lately. It is always nice to speak at my local library (part of Moreton Bay Region Libraries) and it was a good turnout with some new and familiar faces. Plus a blast from my past - the 60s - a lady came up and introduced herself as the daughter of the family who lived across the road from us in Bardon (Brisbane suburb) back then. There is also a family connection as her brother married my cousin and they and their two children lived two doors up from us in the same street.

My other smaller talk was at the monthly meeting of the Bribie Island Historical Society. It was a members night and a number of people got up and talked about various families and events. My focus was on Max's Burstow, Eldridge and Spencer families and their connection to Bribie in the 1920s and 30s. It was amazing how many of the members stories interconnected. Max has now met one of his Eldridge cousins still living on the Island and we have swapped notes over a yummy carrot and walnut cake which I made. I As I have been a bit stressed with all his medical issues, I reawakened my domestic goddess as I do find cooking and creating meals relaxing.

Regular readers will remember that I was going to be involved in a mini genealogy do over based on promptings from Thomas MacEntee. I was really shocked yesterday when I looked at where I was at - Week 3 - and when I visited his website they are up to Week 11. If you ever want time to fly, nurse someone with a broken leg. So I'm a bit behind there and the other thing I missed out on finishing was my free trial of Family Historian. That month is well and truly over and I had only really started looking at it when priorities shifted. But my mind was almost made up to purchase and swap over so that will be a post Congress task.

In my spare five minutes I always try to do a quick search in Trove and without fail, I am turning up new articles on my families. Some of the new titles added recently have just been fantastic. The Brisbane Telegraph is coming soon and that is going to be a geneafest of family info.

Only one more week or so before I head down to Canberra so it will be a catch up/tidy up kind of week so that I am totally prepared to simply sit back and enjoy Congress. If you are there too, come up and say hello! Till next time, happy researching.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Crime, new books & a strange bird - Genealogy notes 1 - 8 Mar 2015

Another week with little time to think but an amazing range of genealogy activities. I guess there is always room to squeeze in what we like doing.

Collecting my mail from the post office is an easy way and I was thrilled to see that Unlock the Past has just published three new titles from some of my favourite speakers - Paul Milner with Buried Treasure: what's in the parish chest?; Chris Paton with Down and Out in Scotland: researching ancestral crisis and Thomas MacEntee with 500 Genealogy & Family History Tips. I can't decide which one I want to read first, I love Chris' "ancestral crisis" as that is what my families seem to do all the time and Thomas' is bound to have me zipping all over the web while Paul's looks like a gentle read but will have me wanting to be on the next plane to England!

There is another new title Til Death us do Part: causes of death 1300 - 1948 by Janet Few who is a UK speaker who I have not heard before. It looks fascinating and I must check out her website The History Interpreter.

I have also been asked to review another book The Convict Theatres of Early Australia 1788-1840 by Robert Jordan and now published by Currency House as an ebook. That sounds really interesting too and I am still working on my reviews for Jayne Shrimpton and Carol Baxter. Sounds like I need a nice quiet place to curl up and have a good read!

My personal blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 continued with Week 33 on Church Records, another underused resource for finding out info on our ancestors, especially some of our female ancestors. Below is my great grandmother Elizabeth Price who was a deaconess at the Baptist church in Charters Towers.

It was a big week for talks with one at Albany Creek Library on Warning Warning: Tips & Tricks to Avoid Common Mistakes and one for the Queensland Family History Society on court of petty session records. Both talks are on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations. The QFHS talk was part of their seminar on Criminals and Victims and you can read my report on the day here. You can learn so much from attending education seminars like this as the speakers really know their topics.

I haven't done any feedback gathering on my talks for a while so with the Moreton Bay Region Libraries talks I have been asking people to fill in a quick survey form. I am happy to say that most people gave me 5s, said they could have listened to me longer and would attend another talk given by me. Plus some suggestions for future talks. This was great and confirmed verbal feedback on other occasions.

But there was one person who gave me 2s indicating that I was not clear, interesting or relevant. There was nothing else to give me a clue as to why I had been so disappointing for them. I know you can't please everyone but it would have been good to know why and perhaps there is something I can do to change their experience in the future.

The reason I raise this is that geneafriend Jill Ball called me a 'strange bird' in her post Going Out on a Limb. I have always placed the slides from my talks on my website so that attendees can go home and relook at the slides at their leisure and so that they don't have to madly write notes while I am talking. They can experience the talk in total and then go home and think about the detail. It also means that those who can't attend can at least see the slides even if they miss all the dialogue that goes with it.

Jill's point is that not many people do this and some even try to stop people taking photos of their slides rather than writing the points down. I did think about not putting my slides online last year after I heard that someone had reproduced one of my talks after taking out my footer and logo. I know my online practice is appreciated by people who attend my talks, why should they suffer because someone decides to copy my work. As Jill says, if someone is going to reproduce your work they can still do it by taking handwritten or typed notes so are we going to ban note taking too. I for one am happy to continue being a 'strange bird'.

This week I am talking at the Bribie Island library so not a long drive which is a refreshing change plus I am going to be talking about Max's families on Bribie in the 1930s at the Bribie Island Historical Society meeting on Wednesday night. It's been fun putting together  a bit of show and tell on his families and their connections to the Island way back then.

The absolute must do is finalise my talks for the AFFHO Congress 2015 which starts in Canberra on 26 March 2015. So much to say and so little time to do it. All the Congress papers are being published on USB although a paper copy will also be available for those who want to pay. It is going to be a fantastic four days catching up with friends, listening to some great talks and socialising.

Until next week try and get some genealogy searching in  or at least read some  fantastic blog posts, or a genealogy society journal.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Talks, articles & webinars - Genealogy notes 22-28 Feb 2015

Hard to believe that it is the end of February already. Having only 28 days doesn't help but it seems to have gone by in a blur but I have been busier than normal with my nursing duties on top of everything else.

One casualty was there was no new post in my 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 but that should resume next week (as I touch my wooden desk). I did manage to send off my second blog post  for The In-Depth Genealogist and article for Going In-Depth and watch out for my first one in the March issue coming soon. It has been a learning curve working with a new online magazine as they have different procedures from other magazines I have written for. But all good new skills for me and as I get into a routine it will be easier, I thank Terri O'Connell for her patience in answering all my questions.

My talks at Woodford and North Lakes for Moreton Bay Region Libraries went well and you know you are in a rural area when a frog starts hopping around right where you are going to give your talk. Probably driven inside to get away from all the rain we had last week. Luckily some brave young men came to our rescue, picked it up and returned it outside. Albany Creek is on Monday and they are always a good group as the talk follows their local genealogy society meeting.

As I am an early riser I tuned into Legacy Family Tree Webinars to hear Lisa Louise Cooke's New and Must Have Google Tips for Genealogy. I was familiar with most of what Lisa said but there were a few new tips that I will be trying out. It was a free webinar and can be viewed online for free until 4 March. I have listened to a few webinars now, in real time if it suits us here in Australia or after the event and they can be quite useful.

The In Time and Place history and genealogy conference in Brisbane in October now has a website. There are some great sessions over the two days and I am struggling to choose between the local history stream and the family history stream. As usual I want to attend everything! Should be a great weekend. See the program here.

The local history course I have been attending at U3A has reawakened my interest in the local areas where my ancestors lived and trawling through Trove I am finding lots of information on events that were happening around them. It is so easy to be sidetracked when researching. For example, when I lived at New Farm in Brisbane for many years in the 80s and 90s I always walked past a beautiful old home called Santa Barbara which was just around the corner from us. This week I found it was built by Sarah Balls, an enterprising widow who had the fish cannery on Bribie Island before World War One. Small world as they say.

Congress 2015 is looming at the end of March and I need to finalise my two presentations and to make sure I fit within the time constraints. It is always hard to try and say everything you want and make it interesting.

The other big thing I need to do in the coming week is start to invite genealogy and family history societies to participate in National Family History Month in August 2015. Interest from sponsors has not been as strong this year (so far) possibly because most of them are already heavily involved with Congress 2015. Still we have one major sponsor and some prize sponsors and perhaps more will join us as we move closer to August. Make sure it is in your calendars and help me spread the word.

More medical appointments this week so more chauffeur duty for me. I think I have spent more time driving over the last five weeks than I have in the last five years! So that with my talk on Monday and my local history class on Friday will be almost a full week out and about. I will have to squeeze in the work on my presentations and blog writing and try to avoid being distracted by Trove and new posts on Twitter and Facebook. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Asylum records, upcoming talks and new records - Genealogy notes 16- 21 Feb 2015

A week that did not go according to plan. I was supposed to give three talks for the Maryborough Heritage Institute at the weekend and we were going to have a short holiday in Bargara nee Bundaberg just before going to Maryborough. On the second day at Bargara we were told that we would have to evacuate due to Cyclone Marcia heading for the Queensland coast. This also meant that the Institute had to cancel the seminar as cyclones are too unpredictable with lots of wind and rain. So our little trip north was cut short and we headed back home to avoid getting trapped by floodwaters.

The Maryborough seminar is now on 11 April so keep that date free and I do have one photographic memory of our less than successful trip to see the turtles at Mon Repos (near Bargara).  The weather was against us but I managed one walk on the beach near the resort we were staying at. Just near the stairs to the beach I came across a nest of turtle eggs that had been exposed by the high tide and surf. You can see the steps on the right and the nest on the left of the photo.

Mon Repos is a turtle sanctuary but some of the turtles go to nearby beaches and you can be lucky and see them at Bargara. When the weather is bad, volunteers go round trying to find exposed nests so that they can save the turtle eggs until they hatch. Apparently they don't mate until they are 30 years old which is probably why so many of them are facing extinction, especially when cyclones and high tides wipe them out before they are even born! Another amazing fact is that the baby turtles remember where they were born and they go back there to lay their own eggs, year after year.

Wouldn't it be fantastic if our own ancestors were as predictable! Genealogy wise, I have been amazed at all the Scandinavian records (millions) that MyHeritage have added recently. My direct line is Norwegian and I researched it back in the 1980s the hard way. This time I put my great great grandparents names into MyHeritage and up came their marriage certificate information. I think it cost me a fair bit back then as I had to find it, purchase it, have it translated and then wait however long for it to arrive from Norway. Now it is instant, although you don't get the certificate, just the facts!

As I am going on the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to the Baltic in July, I thought it would be good to do a bit of sightseeing in England. Although I have been to the UK before, there are lots of touristy places I have yet to go to. My friendly and efficient travel agent Kelli at the Flight Centre on Bribie Island has booked me into a nice hotel for 3 nights and 2 coach tours so that each day I can tick off some of my must see places in England bucket list. Usually do all my own bookings but with limited me time at the moment, it was nice to be organised and spoilt by somebody else. Thanks Kelli. So looking forward to a bit of R&R and me time!

Somehow I managed to keep my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 going. Week 32 is on asylum records and I have got amazing information on some of my ancestors because there were admitted to asylums at some stage. It is not a place you would instantly look for people, but they could go into an asylum for all kinds of reasons. The biographical information collected on admission is similar to hospital and prison records and fantastic, if all the details are known.

This week sees the start of my series of genealogy talks at Moreton Bay Region Libraries. Woodford and North Lakes are on my travel itinerary this week and Albany Creek next week. It will be good to visit all those libraries again as there is usually a good attendance at talks. Details of upcoming talks are on the Events page of my website.

As most of my time is spent behind the wheel of a car lately I am behind with my newsletters and blogs  and seem to be getting most of my genealogy news via Facebook and Twitter. In just over four weeks time there will be lots of genealogy happening at AFFHO Congress 2015 in Canberra. Hope I am not too exhausted to enjoy it - imagine going to sleep in some of those brilliant speaker sessions! After the fantastic lunches is always a worry, but the general air of excitement and anticipation usually keeps everyone awake and taking notes.

More medical appointments tomorrow for the other half and his broken leg, so instead of reading all those dated magazines in the waiting room, I have a couple of genealogy magazines and journals in my bag this time! Until next week happy researching.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Photographs, Rootstech & New books - Genealogy notes 8-15 Feb 2015

Not a lot of spare time this week due to the additional nursing and chauffeuring I have been doing. Thank goodness for the internet and social media. I had originally planned to attend Rootstech 2015 along with other Aussie geneamates but Mum's health was a concern and I never envisaged that Max would break his leg so just as well that I decided not to go this year.

I have been following Rootstech via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and blogs so I know what I fantastic time everyone has been having. When everyone gets home I look forward to many blog reports - who to look out for? Geniaus (aka Jill Ball), Helen Smith, Alona Tester, Pauleen Cass, Caitlin Gow to start with. No doubt they will refer to others there as well.

Check out Rootstech 2015 and note that some of the sessions were recorded and you can view them. There was also live streaming but you had to be in the right time zone or prepared to watch at odd hours. It would be fantastic to see Rootstech downunder one day but at least we have Congress 2015 coming up at the end of March. Hopefully Max will be out of his leg cast by then although he will still have to be careful about what he does.

Week 31 of my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 was on Photographs. Again it was a great challenge as I relooked at one of my grandmother's early albums of mostly unidentified people. I could pick my father in some of them so I am trying to date them that way and then try and work out who the other people are. Dad (Mervyn Gunderson) is on the left, he was always tall and skinny and easy to pick out in photos.

With all my running around after other people I had not visited the post office box for a while and was pleasantly surprised to find some new books to read (in that mysterious space called spare time). Carol Baxter has a new book called Help! Historical and Genealogical Truth: How do I separate fact from fiction? which should be really interesting.

I have a standing order for new titles from Unlock the Past so I was pleased to see a second edition of Chris Paton's Irish Family History Resources Online and a new guide from Noeline Kyle on Nurses & Midwives in Australian History: a guide to historical sources. I have Irish ancestors so Chris' book will be one to work through and Noeline's more of a read as I don't have any nurses or midwives in the family. It will be good to know more about the historical context of nursing and midwifery.

My three talks for the Maryborough genealogy seminar next weekend are finalised and ready to go. I will also have some of the Unlock the Past titles with me for sale as people do like to see things before they buy. It must be coming up for two years since I was last there so I am looking forward to seeing old friends.

Next week looks equally full on with everything except genealogy but hopefully I will get some time to at least keep up with the Rootstech news and blogs as my Aussie friends make their way home. Until next week happy researching!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Postcards, NFHM 2015, Congress - Genealogy Notes 1-7 Feb 2015

Another big week as I try and finalise sponsors for National Family History Month 2015. Our first event has been listed on the NFHM web calendar - thanks to State Library of Victoria for adding their annual Family History Feast. There was a Skype meeting of the AFFHO council this week and I gave an update on progress so far.

The first part of the meeting was frustrating as I could hear everything but they did not think I was there. After 30 minutes I just hung up and that's when they realised I was there and called me back so that I could have my say. The technology is fantastic but you do get little hiccups from time to time. Anyway from this month you can look forward to more updates on NFHM on the website, the Facebook page of NFHM and through this Diary. I am again voluntary coordinator so make sure the whole of August is in your calendar, it is going to be our best yet.

Seated Thomas and Elizabeth Price, Charters Towers ca 1913
Postcards was the topic this week of my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 and I am really glad that I picked that topic. I went back through my collection of family postcards and selected a few to talk about and made some new discoveries which is always exciting. But it also led me to rethink about mysteries I have not thought about in years. Who is that woman in the portrait with my great grandparents Thomas and Elizabeth Price? She must have some significance or why include her in the photo. Why have her standing there?

There are now over 400 people registered to attend Congress 2015 in Canberra next month. It is not too late to register and join us for a wonderful four days of genealogy, fantastic speakers, perhaps a little buying frenzy in the exhibitors area, networking and socialising. It is the last chance until 2018 as Congress is only held every three years.

I have received a new book to review - Jayne Shrimpton's Fashion in the 1940s and it looks fantastic. Some great family photos and some great advertisements from magazines and newspapers. For some reason I always like to look at the photos in a book before I read the text. Stay tuned for that review.

My course at the 3UA on Bribie Island history is going well and even when you think you know a lot about a place, it is amazing what you can still learn. After last week's session, I asked about the Amateur Fishing Association and its records as Max's great uncle was President at some point (that clue courtesy of his funeral notice located via Trove). This week the lecturer brought in the AFA's published history and there are lots of references to Adkins Robert Spencer so no guesses what I am reading this week.

It is also timely as I am finishing up a new research guide on sporting ancestors for Unlock the Past and I was including a piece on Spencer and the AFA so now I have even more information to include. This is a perfect example of why you should visit the local historical society to see if there is any information on your family in their library or collection. By the way, sporting ancestors is one of my topics at Congress 2015, I am hoping to inspire people to look for their sporting ancestors. It wasn't all work and no play!

I have received another challenging expert query for Inside History Magazine which I definitely need my thinking cap on for. The Society of Australian Genealogists have asked me to do a webinar on Queensland genealogy for them in May. These webinars are only available to their society members but I think it is great that the Society is trying to meet the needs of members who can't attend talks in person due to distance or other factors.

On the home front the last week has been challenging. My partner broke his leg in two places while walking his brother's big dog who simply pulled him over in his excitement at going for a walk. So lots of time taken up with medical appointments, driving him places and doing things he normally does around the house. I guess we don't really realise who does what until someone no longer does it. His friends have been really good and even mown the lawn for me. And help and support from the brother, owner of the big dog? So far a couple of cheap pizzas so I didn't have to cook dinner one night!

On the plus side I can now manhandle a wheel chair into the back of our car and take Max for a walk/ride along the beach and he can sit and watch the boats and people fishing, although not quite the same as being out in his own boat. Better than sitting in the house and going stir crazy and thank goodness we didn't buy a place with steps. The study chair on wheels is a nice little vehicle to get around inside the house although some of the walls may need a paint touch up when he is mobile again. The chair is a bit like a shopping trolley, with a mind of its own.

Although I have been quiet on this topic my mother has been in hospital since before Christmas. Yesterday we found out that she was being released and sent home which is what she wants. But my brother is overseas at present so I will be doing a few trips up and down the highway while I try and look after both my charges. Mum's neighbour is very good  and will do daily checks but we are not convinced that she is really up to living alone now. We couldn't even persuade her to have a holiday on Bribie as it would be easier to get her here than Max down there. Plus there is no room for all of us in her small townhouse and we have a spare bedroom here. Mum just wants to be at home, her place.

It is sad to see your parents grow old and lose their independence. As babies we are dependent on them but then we are too young to really know what that means. When we are older, we know the value of independence and what it's loss means. Even Max who is now dependent on me and others for the next couple of months is feeling that loss of independence because he simply can't do what he wants to do. Someone has to help him. I hadn't meant to say all this but obviously it is at the forefront of my thoughts and will probably remain there for some time.

Thank goodness I have genealogy to distract me in my spare moments! Happy researching this week.