Saturday, 22 August 2015

Last week National Family History Month - Genealogy Notes 7-23 Aug 2015

In between my medical appointments and my National Family History Month talks for Moreton libraries, I have mainly been adding last minute events to the NFHM web calendar and encouraging people to enter the NFHM sponsors prizes giveaway via Facebook and other social media.

Normally I would have been blogging my 31 Activities for genealogists in NFHM but with only one hand that is not going to happen this year. However I do hope people have had a look at the suggested activities and perhaps tried a few.

As an incentive to get genealogy societies to place their events in the web calendar before 30 June, we offered a gift certificate from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies for one free course per society to either use as a raffle/door prize or to reward a volunteer or member. As the month is nearly over I am starting to receive the names of the lucky winners or recipients from the 53 societies who took up the offer.

As well I am getting feedback on successful events, new memberships and it seems that everyone has been enjoying NFHM 2015. Sometimes I pick up information on events or newspaper articles and where possible I have been adding them to NFHM Pinterest. If you know of any other feedback please let me know.

In September I will be doing a full report for AFFHO on how successful it has been this year, despite my one handedness and being out of action at key times. Part of this success is also due to my many social media friends who have also promoted NFHM, genealogy societies, libraries and archives who have hosted events and of course our sponsors have also helped to spread the word.

The sponsors prizes giveaway closes on 27 August and late entries are not accepted. The giveaway takes place on 29 August and I will be placing the lucky winners names on the NFHM website shortly thereafter.

The wonderful display at Arana Hills Library to promote my talk for NFHM - thanks Alexandra Daw 
Hard to believe that NFHM is almost over for another year. I have three more talks for Moreton libraries, one for Sunshine Coast Libraries and a seminar at the Genealogical Society of Queensland. Then I hope to get back to some blogging as at the moment I simply don't have time to type one handed when I am out every day of the week as well.

Make the most of the last week of NFHM and have lots of genealogy finds. Until next time.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

National Family History Month and other news - Genealogy Notes 1- 6 Aug 2015

Since last Diary I have been operated on, spent a few days in hospital, come home and started the rehabilitation process on my right arm. Last Friday the 30 staples came out and the wound is healing nicely. But I still can't use the right arm except to do my exercises. On the plus side my left hand is doing better than I ever imagined.

All the outstanding events have been entered on to the National Family History Month web calendar and I have set up the individual sponsors prizes giveaway. For an update on NFHM see my report here.

If you can't get to an event near you, remember that there are some online activities to do at home and there is always my 31 Activities for Individuals. There are some new prize sponsors this year so have a look at the Sponsors page too.

I would like to thank Australian Family Tree Connections for their August 2015 issue which quite clearly lets everyone know that August is National Family History Month. I hope within a few years everyone will automatically associate NFHM with August and add their events to our web calendar.

Over the next two weeks I have 11 talks to give as part of NFHM speaking at Moreton and Sunshine Coast Libraries. My final talk will be at a Genealogical Society of Queensland seminar where we will also be doing the sponsors prizes draw for societies and individuals to wrap up NFHM for another year. It always goes so quick. Details of my talks are on the Events page of my website.

While I haven't done too much the last fortnight, I could not resist checking out all the Staffordshire updates to Findmypast. While the National Burial Index had given me burial dates for some of my ancestors I had not seen the actual registers from Staffordshire which are now digitised and available through Findmypast.

We should always check original documents in case there is more information than what is included in a transcript or index and this piece of advice proved itself yet again. My GGG grandfather Henry Price died in 1840 the year before the 1841 census and I have never been able to get any further back. I still can't, but at least now I know that he was accidentally killed as the burial register states 'died in a coal pit'.

This statement sent me off to look at British Newspapers also in Findmypast (or the British Newspaper Archive) but absolutely no luck in finding a reference to Henry's accident or an inquest into his death. The Coal Mining History Resource Centre seemed to have references to every other death except Henry's and as I don't know which coal pit he died in, I can't search by place, although it would have been close to West Bromwich. More searching required!

I have a stack of reading to do but every time I sit (or lie down) to read I fall asleep, must be something to do with the medication I am on as genealogy type reading never puts me to sleep. If anything it motivates me to get up and do something! There are lots of new titles from Unlock the Past and some from the speakers on the last genealogy cruise to the Baltic. I still have two reviews for Carol Baxter's new books and the Reviews Editor of the Australian Society of Archivists has asked me to review Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage edited by Donald Hawkins.

At the Bribie Island Historical Society AGM I was elected to the committee so I am looking forward to getting involved with the Society's historical projects. Sadly I missed the unveiling of the plaque celebrating local involvement in WW1 (including my GG grandmother's nephew Alexander Thomas Davis) but there was a nice write up in the local Bribie Weekly. I will have to visit once I am up and about again.

I am not sure what will excite me more - being able to type with two hands again or being able to drive. Then again feeding and dressing myself would be good - but each week things are improving and it could always have been worse. All the good wishes via Facebook and emails has also helped to keep me cheery and in touch with everyone.

Enjoy the remaining two weeks of NFHM and I hope you all have some exciting genealogy discoveries. Until next time.

Friday, 31 July 2015

I'm Back (sort of) and National Family History Month 2015 - Genealogy Notes 8-31 Jul 2015

What a difference three weeks make! I have returned from my Unlock the Past genealogy cruise with my right arm in a back slab from fingers to shoulder. My fractured elbow will be operated on on Monday with a few nights in hospital to follow. Using my left hand has been a real learning experience and there will be a delay on cruise and travel blogs as everything is taking longer.

My priority has been getting new events up on the National Family History Month website and so far I have added over 100 events with my left hand. More will be added as they are submitted with time out while I am in hospital. It looks like being a great month.

The NFHM launch was yesterday in Adelaide and sadly I missed it. There will be reports and photos so stay tuned. 

Now finalising my 12 talks in August and luckily I did a lot of preparation before leaving on holidays. I have only had to reschedule one talk which clashes with a post surgery follow up. I'm happy to say that I look better now than just after my accident. My poor face took a bit of a battering on the cobble stones but fortunately nothing serious. Helen Smith's photo shows my determination that the show must go on, but I think in hindsight I was in a bit of denial!

The day after my fall in Germany, photo courtesy Helen Smith
Details of where I am speaking during NFHM are on the Events page of my website. My cruise presentations are on the Resources page, scroll down to Presentations.

My 31 Activities for Individuals and 31 Activities for Societies to do in NFHM are on the Resources page of my website. If you are stuck for ideas on how to make the most of NFHM 2015 in August check out my suggestions.

Remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, #NFHM2015.

Time for a little rest - everyone have a great time in NFHM and I will be bringing more news post my surgery. 

Monday, 6 July 2015

Genea cruising and National Family History Month - Genealogy Notes 29 Jun - 7 Jul 2015

8th cruise map 800

There is nothing like impending holidays to focus one's mind and try to do everything before you leave. Of course it is not possible and I am now down to the last few absolutely essential things to do.

This afternoon I fly out for the UK where I will be joining the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to the Baltic. I think I am packed, the bills are paid, the place is reasonably tidy and Max will be here finishing off the backyard landscaping.

I have handed over my Occupations course for the Australian certificate with the National Institute of Genealogical Studies so I hope they find it all satisfactory. If any amendments are needed it will be after I get back.

State Library of Victoria asked me to do a guest blog post for National Family History Month and I have sent that winging its way to Victoria. Look out for it in early August.

Also completed were my August blog post for The In-Depth Genealogist  again on NFHM (what else) and was pleased to learn that they are now a prize sponsor for individuals.

Great news but please do not enter the giveaway until 1 August or your entry will be invalid. There are messages to that effect against each individual prize in bold capital letters and yet people still enter. I have been notifying people who do enter early but I won't be from now on as I will not be here.

Also completed my August article for Going In-Depth, the digital magazine published by The In-Depth Genealogist and it will be a tight thing to get the September ones done when I get back. I hope inspiration will be with me!

NFHM has kept me busy with events being continually added but note that any events added between today and 28 July will not be visible until I come back and make it so. Probably lots to do when I get back! Everything for the launch is under control and I am now doing 14 talks in August. Might need another holiday in September.

My 31 Activities for Individuals and 31 Activities for Societies to do in NFHM are on the Resources page of my website. If you are stuck for ideas on how to make the most of August check out my suggestions.

This Diary will also be on holiday until the end of July. I am not taking a laptop, otherwise it would not be a holiday. It is only three weeks but lots will be happening with some great speakers and presentations on the cruise not to mention sight seeing in all those wonderful European cities. Stay tuned for some blog catch ups later this month. Until next time, happy genea searching.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

New Resources & NFHM 2015 - Genealogy Notes 22-28 Jun 2015

The countdown is now really on for my genealogy cruise to the Baltic with Unlock the Past Cruises. Only 8 days before I fly out and still so much to do. Although being coordinator of National Family History Month is a voluntary position it still requires a lot of 'work' especially at this time of the year. Lots of events have gone up into the web calendar and I have been busy promoting these on the National Family History Month Facebook page.

Many of our sponsors have also included pieces on NFHM in their magazines or newsletters - thanks to Ancestry, Australian Family Tree Connections and Inside History magazine and there may be other pieces that I have not seen yet. My blogging friends have also been spreading the word so August looks like being another great geneafest.

As I only get back a few days before the launch I have tried to organise everything and I am leaving all the instructions and notes with Genealogy SA, the South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society,  who will liaise with the National Archives of Australia while I am away if anything comes up. If I don't make it back to Adelaide in time for the launch, at least everything will still go ahead.

So far with all my travels I have never encountered any real issues apart from the odd missed flight due to road traffic delays, cancelled flights and the only luggage issue was when I went to Darwin and my luggage ended up in Tasmania. If my good luck continues to hold, I will be there for the launch.

Each NFHM I put up my 31 activities for individuals to do during August and I have another 31 activities for genealogy and family history societies to do to help them make the most of NFHM this year and in the future. I have put them up a bit earlier due to my absence overseas but people might want to start planning what they want to do during August. Both sets of activities are on the Resources page of my website, at the very top so you can't miss them.

Just about every week we hear about new resources being released but this week I was especially excited to hear that Findmypast has entered into partnership with Public Record Office Victoria  to index and digitise the coastal passenger lists 1852-1924. When I worked there these were on our wish list but the lists were in a fragile condition, unindexed and not even microfilmed.

The other exciting news is that Findmypast and PROV are also doing Courts of Petty Session records for Victoria - regular readers will know that I simply love CPS records as so many of my ancestors are in them for all kinds of crimes from the petty to sometimes more serious.

Here is a snippet from the Findmypast media release.

Sydney, Australia, 25 June 2015, Never before microfilmed or indexed, the collection of Victoria’s Coastal Passenger Lists 1852-1924 will be brought online to later this year. Comprising both original images and transcripts of an estimated 118,000 records, these passenger lists provide a vivid snapshot of immigrants and travellers alike arriving in Victoria’s coastal ports.
Family historians using these invaluable records will uncover details of their ancestors’ passage to Australia, as well as biographical information. Covering the 1850s onwards, these records capture the mass immigration into Victoria in the historic gold rush era, which fuelled one of the most dramatic population booms in Australian history.
Over one million Victoria Petty Sessions records, dating from 1851 to the 1970s, will also be brought to Findmypast as part of the partnership in an ambitious project expected to span several years. The collection includes approximately 1.7 million original images and transcripts, covering numerous record sets from dozens of central and regional courts throughout Victoria – from Prahran to Port Fairy to Mildura.
Capturing details of each case, those involved, and the trial outcome, the Victoria Petty Sessions will help family historians to investigate their ancestors’ criminal history.
Director of Public Record Office Victoria Justine Heazlewood says the advantages of this new digitising partnership are two-fold “These informative historical records will become available to online researchers much sooner than would have been possible otherwise, both on our digital catalogue within two years as well as via” 

It really is an exciting time to be doing genealogy as we have never had access to records like this in the past. I can't wait for those records to come online.Now it is cheaper to have a subscription than travel to another state to do research. And more instant, no more waiting for snail mail or time off work to travel. Of course we do need to remember that not everything is online.

The hardest part for me when I see these new releases is that I want to go and look straight away but I know that I should be doing an article or blog post for The In-Depth Genealogist or finishing the course I am writing for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies or updating one of my research guides for Unlock the Past. I have a new edition of What Was the Voyage Really Like? coming out next month - it was the first research guide I wrote so very exciting to see a new edition.

With only 8 days left I am still working out what to fit into the suitcase and currency is a bit of an issue. If I want to buy something on shore with so many different countries, euros are not as standard as I thought especially in Denmark and Sweden, plus I am still reading about the history of the countries we are visiting and some of the places I am hoping to see when on shore.

What will probably happen is that I will end up getting everything done on time, throw things together the night before and set out for a great holiday and have a good time. Travel jitters get me every time!

So no more genealogy releases please to distract me although Trove can continue to send those wonderful emails saying that what I was waiting to see is now ready. I'm just not opening them till I get back as I know I will be off on another tangent and lose more hours in Trove. There is only one more Diary until I leave so wish me luck finishing everything and have another great genealogy week.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Tasmania, NFHM & Trove - Genealogy Notes 15-21 Jun 2015

Another big week and some amazing family discoveries in Trove (Australia's free digitised historical newspapers for overseas readers). More and more titles are being added - see the latest update of newspapers here. Now whenever I have a spare 15 minutes I do a quick Trove search on a family name. Of course this is a trap as it is very rare for me not to find at least one new story.

Yesterday I decided that I would have another look for Max's elusive grandfather and this time I looked for the names of each of his three wives. What a bonus! Articles on all of them and most of the stories also included Henry Spencer's name  ONLY the OCR was poor and the articles were not showing up under a search of his name. I didn't have time to correct the text but I did add tags for his name.

I am beginning to think that Henry lived at the District Court as there was another court appearance with his brother as the plaintiff and another one with his first father in law. I will now have to spend a whole day at the Queensland State Archives looking at court records, with these new cases on top of what I already had.

This is where Trove is so fantastic - it gives you the clues, dates, places and topics that you can then use to find original records and learn more about what ever it is. BUT you need to remember the disadvantages of OCR and do searches from all angles and maybe it is only an initial and not a full given name. Anyway my 15 minutes before dinner turned into a late dinner so maybe do your quick 15 minute search at a more convenient time or risk the family's wrath.

Tasmania has also been on my mind this week and not because that is where we first started tracking Henry Spencer. The University of Tasmania is again offering its free online introduction to family history course and you need to enrol before 6 July. I know others who did this last year and they said it was fantastic. So I have signed up for this round and I can start it when I get back from holidays. But I have to catch up quickly on my return. Sadly the list of things I have to do as soon as I get back is growing, I will probably need another holiday later in the year!! Still I think it will be good to do an introductory course as family history has changed a lot in recent years and refresher courses always motivate me with new ideas and resources.

In 2013 I was given a print copy of Michael Piggott's book Commonwealth Government Records About Tasmania to review. At the time the launch was delayed so instead of publishing the review, I saved it till after the launch.Yes out of sight out of mind and as Michael is the keynote speaker of this year's National Family History Month launch I was thinking about the review and wondering why I could not find it on the Resources page of my website. I forgot to publish it but better late than never. Read the review here and the guide really is a good resource if you have Tasmanian families. It is also a good insight into the usefulness of the National Archives of Australia's research guide series.

Last but not least National Family History Month was the big time taker this week with adding events to the website, promoting them on the NFHM Facebook page, liaising with Genealogy SA who are helping me with the launch preparations and chatting to sponsors. I have to say I am a bit disappointed that more genealogy and family history societies, libraries and archives have not put their events in the web calendar yet. I had hoped there would be more before I went overseas as nothing will be added in my absence. Perhaps there will be a mad flurry this week.

We have no events for WA, TAS or the NT yet and QLD has 27, NSW 26, VIC 57, SA 5, ACT 4 and only 1 online event so far. Why not remind your society, library or archive and get them to add their August events to the NFHM web calendar? Remember it has to be before early July or it will get added at the end of July which will still in time for NFHM but some people like to plan so that they can attend as many events as they can.

Well it is a beautiful winter's day here in Paradise and my garden looks much warmer than my coolish study. I am going out to enjoy the sunshine and maybe even a coffee before I tackle the dreaded weeds! Happy researching and please help me spread the word about NFHM 2015.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Brickwalls, Old Dog, New Tricks - Genealogy Notes 8-14 Jun 2015

Two presentations last week - my own at the Deception Bay library which went well with an enthusiastic crowd and lots of questions. If only I had a dollar for everyone who has chatted to me about their brick wall! The presentation is on my website Resources page, scroll down to Presentations.

The other talk was also part of the Moreton Bay Region Libraries family and local history program. They had Helen Smith talking at the Bribie Island Library so I didn't have far to travel to hear one of my favourite Queensland speakers. Helen's talk was on Death Certificates and Archaic Medical Terms and I had heard an earlier version of this talk.

Helen at Bribie Island Library
The second part of her talk was completely new to me and I would have loved to hear a whole hour on it. Basically Helen looked at occupational diseases and how some jobs ended up disfiguring or killing the people who did them. With lots of miners in the family, I was already aware of miner's phthisis but in the days of no health and safety, a lot of working people's health was at risk of accidents and diseases.  Looking forward to hearing more about this from Helen and there may even be a book on the way.

The first part of the talk was on the basics - why get death certificates, where from and what's on them and so on. Essential to know if you are starting out but a bit boring if you have been around a while like me. BUT even if you are an old hand you should never tune out as you just might miss something totally relevant. Helen said not one but two things that made me sit up and start thinking during this part of her talk.

Most of my brick walls have tumbled over the last few years with new indexes, digitised resources and mega databases but I still have one that has eluded me since I first hit it in 1977. For nearly 40 years I have been trying to find the death of James Henry Trevaskis in Copperfield Queensland between Oct 1868 and Nov 1873 when his wife Dorcas remarried. So what did Helen say that might be relevant for my brick wall?

Helen mentioned how many unknown deaths there were - people who die and are not identified or their remains are found until many years later. Is my James Henry an unknown? I suspect even if he was it might be a bit hard to prove but I will be looking into all unknown male deaths in my time frame to see if any fit or should be looked into more.

The second thing was similar in that if there is no body there is no death certificate. So if James disappeared his wife would have had to wait seven years to declare him dead. But she remarried five years after the last known sighting of James Henry which tends to suggest that she knew he was dead. But why no death certificate? Helen's talk has motivated me to look at everything again and it has been a while since I looked in Trove for him. Wish me luck!

The other big time occupier this week was adding events to the National Family History Month web calendar - August is not that far off now. If family history and genealogy societies want to receive a bonus sponsors prize this year their events must be in the calendar before 30 June. For all those excited individuals out there, the individuals prize giveaway does not start until 1 August so no early birds please! See the NFHM website for details of sponsors, prizes and terms and conditions.

The NFHM launch in Adelaide is coming together and thanks to South Australian friends for helping me put together a guest list. Invitations are going out this week and I need to work on my speech notes and background launch slide. I have to get as much done as I can before I leave on holidays as I arrive back just a few days before the launch and will be fighting jet lag and a back log of everything before I jump on a plane and head to Adelaide.

After the launch I am staying on for the weekend in Adelaide so that I can participate in the Unlock the Past Power Up Your Local and Family History Research all day seminar which looks at war, sport, photographs and diaries and letters. I am doing three talks, Graham Jaunay is doing one and so is Susan Marsden, President of the History Council of South Australia. Should be a great day and an excellent way to kick off National Family History Month in Adelaide.

The next week should see me finish writing the Occupations course for the Australian certificate run by the National Institute of Genealogical Studies.  This has been a lot of work mainly because there are so many resources but I have also learnt a lot too. I think future students will find it interesting.

This weekend I am cleaning out the pantry cupboard (although a lot of the time I seem to have been procrastinating or wondering where something came from). It is always a mystery how something neat, tidy and organised always seems to end up so messed up. When I shop I put all the tins in one place, cereals in another, sauces in their spot, spices together, I don't hide anything. But I am not the only one that lives here. The small tins of dog food were a surprise, I thought at first glance they were sardines but no, apparently it is good fishing bait. Why in our food cupboard?? Then there are the chocolates, biscuits, jams, empty jars, plastic containers all tucked away and forgotten about. At least now the other half has some supplies for the next fishing trip and I have a neat and tidy pantry again.

Until next week happy researching.