Friday, 27 November 2015

Momento competition, book reviews & new digitising projects - Genealogy Notes 21-28 November 2015

As foreshadowed last Diary, most of this week was taken up with trips to Brisbane and medical appointments. Seriously hoping that 2016 is a better year health wise. Not a lot of writing done, in fact not one blog post although I am about to send off my regular monthly blog contribution to The In-Depth Genealogist. My contribution is a series of blog posts on Australasian archives and libraries useful for genealogy and family history if you have not seen it yet.

My article for their digital magazine Going In-Depth is also nearing completion. It is good to be getting back into writing for them after my three month 'holiday with a broken right elbow'. I find that writing a regular monthly article seems to speed up the month as no sooner do you finish one article then the next deadline seems to be nearing. A bit like weekly blog posts speed up the week for Diary. Perhaps I need to be more irregular and lose track of time.

My review for the Australian Society of Archivists on Personal Archiving: Preserving our digital heritage edited by Donald T Hawkins was completed antod sent off to the editor. It will be published in the next issue of their journal Archives and Manuscripts and after that I will be able to put the review on my website. I picked up some useful information for my own family history research and there is probably a blog post or two coming up as I explore that more.

I received Nathan Dylan Goodwin's new book The America Ground (another Morton Farrier forensic genealogist adventure) which I am really looking forward to reading. We head to Adelaide soon to catch up with family and grandkids so I might keep it for the plane trip, if I can wait that long.

I also received Hazel Edwards' OAM new book, Not Just a Piece of Cake: Being an Author, for review. It is a memoir and takes it's name from Hazel's best selling children's book There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake. Her memoir will be interesting as I have known Hazel for years and am a fan of her How to Write a Non Boring Family History.

There are some great digitising projects on the go at the moment. I was excited to see the announcement that Ancestry is working with the Anglican Church in Sydney to digitise baptism, confirmation, marriage and funeral registers from 1824 to 2005 and in return, minute books from diocesan boards and Synods will be scanned by Ancestry for preservation in digital format. Read more about the announcement in the Sydney Anglican News here.

I first picked up that announcement via Facebook but another way I find out what is actually new online now is reading the What's New Online section of Inside History Magazine. While some are familiar via social media, there are other sites I would have missed. For example, in the Sep-Oct issue there was a reference to of the Catholic Parish Registers 1740s to 1880s at the National Library of Ireland

John Finn born ca 1856 Ballygannon,
County Wicklow
These were actually released the week I went overseas back in July and I was going to look them up when I returned home. But breaking my elbow, subsequent surgery and recovery over the following three months meant that these records had dropped from my priority view. The magazine reminder had me visiting the site and looking for my Catholic parishes. I have never really progressed my Catholic Finn and Fegan families of County Wicklow since I first started researching back in 1977. Wish me luck as it would be fantastic to push them back a generation or two. I only have approximate years and not sure of the parish and as there is no index yet I have to scroll through original parish registers.

As I mentioned last week, one of our Australian National Family History Month sponsors Momento has a Christmas competition closing on 30 November 2015. Momento is offering a $150 gift voucher for a Christmas giveaway. So there are just two more days to get your entry in. So if you are in Australia just email me at shauhick @ (without the spaces) 25 words or less about "how you manage your photos" by 30 November and you could win. See how easy it is to create a unique Christmas photo book gift, card or personalised stationery with Momento's software here.  The winner will be announced in early December.

Apart from more medical appointments this week, I also have the Bribie Island Historical Society committee meeting to look forward too. Their last meeting for 2015 is the following week and is also a Christmas breakup, bring a plate function.

Have a great genealogy week, until next time

Friday, 20 November 2015

Immigrant health, Baltic geneacruising & other news - Genealogy Notes 12 - 20 Nov 2015

A busy week with a few medical appointments in Brisbane which really take up whole days what with the drive there and back plus waiting time in doctors surgeries. This time I took some of my printed reading material backlog and there is some fascinating reading which a lot of people won't see because it is not online. For example, in the Royal Historical Society of Queensland August 2015 journal there was an interesting article by John Pearn Emigrating to Queensland: medical advice for intending colonists. On a similar theme was Duncan Richardson's Breaching Quarantine: the Flying Cloud Incident 1864. It also talks about the health of Brisbane in the early 1860s which was when a lot of my families arrived. Lots of good context for placing my families in that early Brisbane environment.

It's funny how one thing often leads to another with family history research. I also caught up with my National Trust magazine Trust News Australia and in the May 2015 issue there was an article on the historic Queen's Wharf in Brisbane. This neatly tied in with the two articles from the RHSQ journal! Thousands of immigrants first stepped ashore at Queen's Wharf and it now has its own website with lots of Queen's Wharf stories.

Those who have heard my talks in the last couple of months will know that I have had a bit of a family history crisis. Well I have finally ordered a DNA kit from Family Tree DNA and my brother has agreed to do the test for me. This is following up on my earlier test with Ancestry DNA which was just me taking the test. It will be interesting to see the results and there just might be a sequel to my Love Sex & Damn Lies talk which is now booked twice for next year already.

All excited before the cruise!
During the week I managed to write two blog posts - I finally did my report on the Unlock the Past Baltic cruise last July which I really enjoyed despite breaking my right elbow - read the report here. The other post was Week 43 Geographical Places Names in my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015. If I am going to finish the series this year I need to write at least two a week from now on.

Momento were one of Australian National Family History Month's prize sponsors and they are now getting ready for Christmas. Momento is offering a $150 gift voucher for a Christmas giveaway. Only open to Australia so if you are in Australia just email me at shauhick @ 25 words or less about "how you manage your photos" by 30 November and you could win. See how easy it is to create a unique Christmas photo book gift, card or personalised stationery with Momento's software here. There is a 25% discount for books and boxes until 26 November. The winner will be announced in early December.

Momento gift ideas

Further to the mention of National Family History Month, I have some very exciting news to announce soon. In the meantime, I hope everyone has August in their calendar marked as NFHM and that you remind your society, library or archives to have an event and be part of NFHM 2016. It will definitely be bigger and better, especially if everyone helps me to spread the word.

During the week I often look at sites suggested by friends on Facebook, Twitter or Google +. As part of my new look for Diary in 2016  I will be including a few links that I find useful. The hard part will be selecting just a few. For example this morning I have been reading about Rosemary Kopittke's exciting finds in the new freemason membership registers for the UK on Ancestry. After I finish this I will have to investigate.

My next week has more medical appointments in Brisbane but I still have to write some articles for The In-Depth Genealogist and Inside History Magazine. Plus I must keep working on my church records module for the Australian certificate with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.My book review on personal archiving for the Australian Society of Archivists is almost complete and that has given me lots to think about to in regard to my own personal family archives.

We are in the middle of a heat wave here at the moment so staying inside and writing is a good option but the pool looks awfully tempting too! I hope everyone has a good genealogy week and remember when the family asks what do you want for Christmas, think of something that you need in your research. Otherwise it will be perfume and chocolates! Until next week.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Rockhampton Seminar & Travelling the Burnett - Genealogy Notes 28 Oct - 11 Nov 2015

Yes I have been away from the keyboard for a while. A week's holiday (and I actually did no work, blogging, writing or anything much else) at lovely Bargara near Bundaberg. Max has a 94 year old aunt that we like visiting - she has some great memories and stories of his mother's family. We also spent some time with her youngest son.

Keen members of the Central Queensland
Family History Association 
As Bundaberg is only about 4 hours from Rockhampton it was a great opportunity to present an afternoon of talks to the Central Queensland Family History Association. I did two talks before afternoon tea and two after and although four talks is a stretch, everyone was still really enthusiastic at the end. As usual I have put the four presentations on my website, go to the Resources page and scroll down to Presentations.

By doing this, it takes away the need for the attendees to madly note urls, points of interest or whatever, they can simply sit back listen to the talk knowing they can go home and look at the slides again. In the four hours I covered lots of different kinds of archives, church records, knocking down brick walls and finding online pictorial collections. I also gave away as lucky door prizes one of my books and some issues of Inside History Magazine, kindly donated by them which also had people enthused.

Our display of Unlock the Past titles was appreciated and there was some keen buying with authors Chris Paton, Thomas MacEntee and myself as the popular authors of the day. The Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to the Great Barrier Reef next March was also promoted by the Society as quite a few of their members are planning to go on it as part of their 30th birthday celebrations. I am a bit sorry now that I am not going on that one as they are a great group of people and will be enthusiastic geneacruisers.

The Big Orange at Gayndah
We spent the next day looking around Rockhampton, Max was last there with the army in 1968, and we also went down to Yeppoon and Emu Park. As we didn't want to travel back home the same way we decided to do a leisurely trip down the Burnett Highway. There wasn't a great lot of traffic so not a lot of tourists which is a shame as there is so much history along this highway. I was going to include our adventures here but it became too wordy so now a separate blog post on my website - read it here.

Although we were travelling I still followed social media as that is where you can learn all kinds of new information. Only today I found out that Victorian BDMs have now removed the search fee from their site. A quick test for some of my names and it seems to be an improved search too. But if I hadn't seen the posting on Facebook I would not have realised it had changed. Of course these exciting news snippets tend to sidetrack you from whatever you originally started out to do.

I subscribe to the Queensland BDMs free enewsletter which has updates on what is happening along with some interesting stories. Read the latest issue here and it includes a link to subscribe.

A big development, at least for us, is that we have finally decided to get a landline again to have greater internet capacity. The mobile wi fi has served us well but most months I was running out of data and going slow. I am still keeping the mobile wi fi at a reduced level as we still trip around or head down to Mum's and need it then so together slightly more expensive but way more data. I can feel a few more webinars, podcasts and other exciting adventures coming up.

As usual I have come home to a mountain of everything to catch up on so until next week, have a good genealogy time and have lots of exciting discoveries.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Online seminars & New Resources - Genealogy Notes 18 - 27 Oct 2015

This last week has been interesting thanks to a fishing competition which meant I was home alone for 5 whole days and 7 nights. Yes I could have done some spring cleaning, some gardening and other domestic goddess stuff but I decided, with a birthday looming, that I would spoil myself. I started out data entering all my new data and filing things I had discovered while I was incapacitated with my broken elbow.

Relooking at these finds sent me in search of other discoveries and even in the last couple of months new resources have gone online and I found even more to get excited about. In Findmypast I think I have found a death notice in the Irish newspapers for my GGG grandfather Robert Fagan in Wicklow, Ireland - the name, age (80 years) and place (Glasnarget) are all spot on but no one else is mentioned in the notice. It is not a common name in the area but I would like to find more confirmation.

An intriguing sentence at the end is - American papers please copy. Does this mean that while his daughter Sarah Fegan came to Queensland, did some of her siblings or Robert's siblings or other relatives go to America? Something else to follow up!

But the point is that the last time I looked in the Irish newspapers there was no result for him at all so you really do need to go back and look regularly. I have particularly noticed this with Trove and since they have added the Brisbane Telegraph and the Daily Standard I have found lots more references to my families than I ever did in the Courier Mail. You have to check every newspaper as it may be totally new information or perhaps just slightly different.

While I made some really interesting discoveries in all those digitised newspapers, it did seem to soak up the hours or else it got dark early that day!

On Facebook I noticed that Kerry Farmer from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies was giving a free webinar on local history for genealogy and fresh from the History Queensland family and local history conference (see my review) I decided to listen in. Only a small group attended which surprised me, but Kerry squeezed an amazing amount of information and sources into that hour.

While I was familiar with most of the sources some of the NSW examples were new to me. I hadn't realised that you could get all those exciting parish maps online free. I was madly trying to write down URLs while Kerry kept talking so that I could follow up later. She also reminded me about QueryPic which I used to use a lot when I lived down south but since coming north it seems to have slipped out of my mind. I could have really used it in my keynote talk at the History Queensland conference but QueryPic is now back in the forefront of my search strategies again. So a great hour of reminders and new things and all for free. Thanks Kerry.

Sketch of my GG grandfather John Finn
 in the Brisbane Truth 
Week 42 Gaol and Prison Records in my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 had me delving into Trove again and yes more references to all my criminal ancestors. It is a rainy afternoon as I write this and I am so tempted to open up Trove and just have a little browse. Yesterday was Trove Tuesday (actually every Tuesday is Trove Tuesday) and many of my Geneablogger friends do a Trove Tuesday post. It is really interesting to see what others find on their ancestors. Another great way to spend some time!

Genealogy Sunshine Coast have asked me to do an all day seminar as a grand finale for National Family History Month 2016 which sounds a great way to end a genealogy and family history month. I haven't quite got around to thinking about NFHM 2016 just yet but I will have to start thinking about sponsors and planning soon as August has a way of catching up to me. Sponsors and ideas are always welcome and as 2016 will be the 11th year I am hoping for a new look.

In a week or so I will be in Rockhampton presenting 3 talks to the Central Queensland Family History Association so that will be exciting. The talks are all done and I will have some of the Unlock the Past research guides for sale too including my own titles. We are planning to go up the Bruce Highway and come back via the Burnett Highway to see a little more of that part of Queensland.

Mum, a cute me and my baby brother
My mother has just told me that it is 6 weeks to Christmas and asked what are we doing this year. I am having trouble even realising that 2015 is almost over. It has been a big year with broken limbs and time spent in hospitals and doctor's waiting rooms so a quiet uneventful Christmas/New Year sounds good to me.  But Mum is a traditionalist so I need to start giving it some thought but my grandmother's rum ball recipe has leapt to mind. I always loved them!

Next week is Melbourne Cup, my birthday (the old Guy Fawkes night
for those old enough to remember) and I will be doing what I love most, travelling. Diary will be coming from an exotic Queensland location yet to be disclosed but one I always love going to. Have a great genealogy week and remember, keep looking for new information online, it can pay off.  

Monday, 19 October 2015

Convict records & more talks for 2015 - Genealogy Notes 10-17 Oct 2015

Famous last words from last week were that I had no more genealogy talks for the year. A last minute opportunity presented itself to speak in Rockhampton at the Central Queensland Family History Association. I will be giving three talks at an afternoon seminar which will be full on but I hope their members enjoy it. As I haven't been to Rockhampton since the early 90s I will also enjoy being back up that way.

Another report on the In Time and Place Conference is from Helen Smith, also one of the presenters at the conference. Read Helen's review here. It seems that everyone wants a repeat Queensland conference so I hope the History Queensland people take all the positive feedback on board.

Max and I in our convict gear on Norfolk Island
Week 41 Convict Records continues my personal genealogy blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015. Writing that brought back great memories of our two trips to Norfolk Island and it really is good to visit where your ancestors once lived. Attending the reenactment of the convicts leaving when the First Settlement closed was really quite moving. It was easy to see why they would not have wanted to leave such an island paradise.
Max carrying all his worldly goods down to the rowboats

The only trouble with doing a weekly blog challenge is that the weeks seem to go faster!

One of my favourite resources is the Ryerson Index and they have just celebrated a milestone. Every death notice published in the Sydney Morning Herald since 1831 is now included in the Index. A total of 1,861,095 which is an amazing effort from the volunteers. They have also been indexing funeral notices and over 200,000 of those are also in the index from the Sydney Morning Herald. Well done everybody who has worked on the project over the last 17 years.

Of course the Ryerson Index now covers all states and territories but remember to check the coverage as not all newspaper titles are included and not all date ranges for each title.

Findmypast Fridays are always exciting with the release of new records and last week it was another 22 newspaper titles and more Staffordshire, Kent and Durham records. Another search for a great uncle involved in a serious crime in Staffordshire revealed more newspaper accounts with gruesome details. The Friday blog post is well worth checking out and it is every Friday. The week before it was England and Wales electoral registers from 1832 to 1932 which is really helpful trying to trace elusive ancestors between census if they were on the rolls.

MyHeritage announced that they had added about 46 million Swedish household records from 1880-1920 with images, that are now available, indexed and searchable online for the first time ever on MyHeritage Super Search. I don't have Swedish myself but that is a staggering number of new records. Their blog post has more about it here.

Another site adding lots of new records all the time is Deceased Online which is the central database for UK burials and cremations. They have 8 million records for London and 5 million records for Lancashire not to mention heaps of records for elsewhere. I keep up to date with the new additions by subscribing to the free enewsletter which is the easiest way to learn what's new.

It also means I receive lots of these free enewsletters but if something is not of direct interest to my own family history, then it is just a quick hit of the delete button. If it is relevant then I have the choice to either dive straight in or park it for a rainy day when I have more time. Keeping up with everything is the hardest part I find.

This coming week will be preparing my talks for Rockhampton, finalising my blog post and article for the December issue of Going In-Depth and working on the church records course for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.In between I will be putting in some laps in the pool to help restrengthen my arm, keep up with the gardening (amazing how weeds always live and plants die when it doesn't rain) and enjoying our beautiful spring weather. 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Local & Family History Go Together - Genealogy Notes 3 - 9 Oct 2015

What a fantastic week starting with the History Queensland In Time and Place conference in Brisbane. The conference was excellent and there were a number of geneabloggers there and I have listed some of the reports below. There may be more coming or I haven't picked them up yet. Some of the other bloggers went to different sessions so I think we have captured most of the sessions and different aspects of the conference.

Reports on the Time and Place Conference so far:

Alex Daw (Family Tree Frog)  In Time and Place - Just Right 

Caitlin Gow (Genealogically Speaking) In Time and Place

Fran Kitto (Travel Genee) Queensland's First Local, Family and Social History Conference 

Shauna Hicks (SHHE Genie Rambles) Review of History Queensland Conference 3-4 Oct 2015

As well as my blog post on the conference I  kick started my 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015 again. Week 40 is on Company Records and my focus was mining companies given my families' mining background but there are company records for all kinds of things. Given all the lessons learnt in last weekend's conference, company records should not be overlooked for what they might tell you about the local community and the people who lived there.

While visiting the Queensland Family History Society display at the conference I picked up their beginner's course flyer and was pleasantly surprised to see that they are using my Where Do I Start? research guide as the text book for the beginner's course. We had chatted about this earlier in the year before the guide was even printed but I hadn't realised they were going ahead with it. My broken right elbow has kept me out of the loop with lots of things so lots of catching up to do.

Myself and another committee member of the Bribie Island Historical Society have set up a new blog (Bribie Island History blog) for the Society although some members of the Committee are not convinced it is a good move or necessary. To me blogging is such an obvious way to spread the word about whatever you are researching and as a blog is searchable by Google it is ever so much more effective than having something published in a local newspaper which has limited readership.  Hopefully the blog will see some results quickly which will help to show people why blogging can be good for societies and individuals.

Having two hands to type again certainly helps with my writing and I finally finished my book review of Carol Baxter's two new Help! books - Help! Historical and Genealogical Truth: How do I separate fact from fiction? and Help! Why Can't I Find My Ancestor's Surname?  Read my review here.

I am also excited to have been asked to review Nathan Dylan Goodwin's new book The America Ground (another Morton Farrier forensic genealogist adventure). While I wait patiently for that to arrive (still a paperback girl), I have to do my review for the Australian Society of Archivists on Personal Archiving: Preserving our digital heritage edited by Donald T Hawkins. So lots of reading ahead.

My next piece of writing is an article for Going In-Depth, The In-Depth Genealogist's digital magazine. I will be continuing my Australian series for them again from the December issue. It seems simply ages since I wrote the last article but I couldn't keep with my injured arm and fortunately they have been very understanding.

As usual I am behind with my emails, enewsletters and even my print journals. We have had some lovely weather and I have been out and about now that I can drive again. I have even started exercising in the pool again but nothing too ambitious yet. The gardening had also been sadly neglected so a few hours were also spent getting rid of weeds.

With no more talks for 2015 I am also hoping to do some more of my own family history research. Until next time, have a great genealogy week.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Look Two Hands - Genealogy Notes 25 Sep - 2 Oct 2015

This is my first blog post using two hands since early July. I now have the go ahead to use my right arm but it is a bit weak from no usage and aches a bit if I overdo things. But I can type ever so much faster.

During the week I did a catch up on some of the WDYTYA episodes in Australian season 7 and I think it is one of the best series so far. Also noted quite a few geneafriends helping the celebrities which was fantastic. Some great stories and even a bit teary eyed in some episodes. You can catch up online if you missed any of the episodes.

Gordon Price in Syria 1941
I am all set for the History Queensland conference this weekend and I hope people like what I have done for my keynote address. It is a bit different from what I usually do but then it is a keynote. I am also looking forward to hearing the other speakers but there are two streams outside the keynotes. One with a local history focus and the other a family history focus. As usual it would be good to be two people and go to both. I will have a blog report next week.

The tidy up of the study went well - now I have neat piles of stuff to read and file. My trouble is that while reading or filing/entering data I get bright ideas and hive off to do a spot of research which is of course more interesting than just straight filing/entering data. Some of the websites I read about in magazines or see talked about on Facebook can lead to hours of research. For example, I read in an RSL newsletter about the Rats of Tobruk Association Victoria website and as my Uncle Gordon was a Rat of Tobruk I had a quick look. There is lots of information about Tobruk and members of the Association.

Regular readers will know that at the beginning of the year I took on Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do Over challenge to relook at some of my family lines which I first started nearly 40 years ago. I was making great progress until family medical dramas overtook the year. Cycle 4 has just started and Thomas has a new workbook on the horizon. Read about the changes here.

I have to also get back to my own blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015. I am up to Week 40 so 12 blog posts to go and only 12 weeks to the end of the year. I need to get my skates on if I want to wrap this challenge up.

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies have just asked me to do another online course for them on Australian church records which will be interesting. I give talks on this topic as I believe church records are an underutilised resource. My Unlock the Past research guide on Finding Ancestors in Church Records: a brief guide to resources highlights some of these resources. It will be good to do a much deeper look at church records for family history.

Now that I have the use of both hands again I really do want to get back into more blogging, writing up my own stories and tidying up my research. There are no more talks for the year so I can concentrate on my projects, get back my fitness after three months of little activity and tame the garden again!

Have another great genealogy week. Until next time.