Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Blogs, Books, Congress 2018 & Other News - Genealogy Notes 1-14 Mar 2018

The first two weeks of March certainly sped past and were super exciting for all those who attended the Bridging the Past genealogy conference in Sydney. Ongoing family and health issues saw multiple trips to Brisbane and were the main reason this is two weeks and not my usual weekly update.

Blog Posts

Congress was fabulous and as usual I will be sharing my experiences with those who could not attend in person. Day One is already written and Days 2-4 with a final post on Exhibitors and other bits and pieces are still to be completed. As I write the posts I am compiling a to do list to follow up on various links and searches. Congress 2018 will be in my life for a few more weeks yet.

Some of the other bloggers have also written or are in the process of writing up blog posts for Congress. Some of the links are being posted in the Facebook page Geniemates for Congress but this is a closed group. Some kind soul may also be compiling a list of bloggers doing reports so stay tuned.

Some of the bloggers at Congress 2018, photo courtesy Lilian Magill
Lilian Magill has been quick to do a number of Congress posts and has also shared her photo of some of the bloggers who attended. Sadly I missed the photo opportunity as well as the one for Queensland attendees, but I did manage to make the photo opportunity for the students of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. So much was going on, it was hard to be everywhere at once!

My blog post on one of my favourite Western Australian websites, Outback History, was featured on the In-Depth Genealogist on 8 March. There are so many great Australian websites I don't think I will ever run out of topics.


Although I say no more books, who can resist buying them when there is so much opportunity at an event like Congress. The after dinner speaker at the Congress dinner (more in the daily post to come) was a very passionate speaker and so now I have an author signed copy of Mark Tedeschi QC's book Murder at Myall Creek: the trial that defined a nation.

Another speaker who motivated me was Lisa Louise Cooke from Genealogy Gems and I purchased the 2nd edition of her The Genealogist's Google Tool Box together with a DVD package on using Google Earth. While I use Google Maps all the time I seem to struggle with Google Earth so time to learn a new resource.

The Congress Handouts are in PDF format and I have now downloaded them - all 309 pages! No wonder they didn't go for a printed version. I've even refrained from hitting the print button. This might be the time to seriously try reading (and enjoying) a publication on my laptop.

Nathan Dylan Goodwin has asked me to do a review of his latest book The Wicked Trade so that is winging its way to me. Always a good read and I'm looking forward to curling up on the lounge for some uninterrupted reading time.


As usual everyone is sad that Congress is over for another three years, but it is even sadder this time as the next Congress has not been announced as no society or group of societies have said they will take on the enormous task of running an event like this.

However we do have some state conferences which might be of interest. This year the NSW & ACT conference is in Bateman's Bay on 14-16 September 2018 with the theme Sailing into History. I usually try to go to these if possible but not this year as I am already booked on the Unlock the Past Alaska cruise.

Another one for early next year is the History Queensland and Caloundra Family History Research  conference on 24-26 May 2019 with the theme Waves in Time. That will be a definite attend as it is only about an hour up the road from me.


Most of the new resources I've come across will be in the daily blog posts from Congress so keep an eye out for those and there will be a round up in the next Diary.


April 2017 talk at Caloundra
My next talk will be on Sporting Ancestors: everyone has them and it will be with Caloundra Family History Research on 19 April. They are a super friendly group and always have a great afternoon tea and chat.

Plus it is a great excuse to get another purple top to fit with the Group's image!

What's Coming Up
There are only another two weeks of First Term at Bribie U3A remaining - all of the present attendees have signed on again and we will have additional students for second term as advanced family history seems to be a popular topic.

No surprises there. But it does keep me busy preparing sessions based on the individual needs of the class.

There are research projects, articles and blog posts to write not to mention all the things I want to follow up on my own family history research. Busy times but fun times.

Until next Diary have fun searching and remember to try out some of those URLs mentioned in my Congress posts. Good luck.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Cousin Bait, Blogging, Talks & Other News - Genealogy Notes 19 -28 Feb 2018

Full on the last few weeks with time out for talks and a couple of trips to Brisbane. The whole of summer seems to have flown past although the start of autumn still seems hot and humid. While browsing the local bottle shop for some birthday party wine, I came across this wine label and I simply had to buy the bottle. Luckily I like red wine! Who would have thought we would be using convict photos to sell wine?


Managed to get my monthly article to The In-Depth Genealogist for their Going In-Depth digital journal in on time despite the short month, those 2-3 days make a difference. This time I was looking at the wonderful digital resources on the State Library of Western Australia's website and last month it was State Library of Victoria. We really do have some wonderful libraries offering free access to key genealogical resources. Both articles will appear in future issues of Going In-Depth.

I was also excited to be asked to do a Q&A for Traces magazine which made it's debut at Christmas. It has taken over the now defunct Inside History magazine and many of our favourite pieces are still in the new magazine. The website is worth a visit as some of the old Q&A content from Inside History is on the Traces website and the advice is still good advice.

Cousin Bait (aka blogging)

Maria Jeffers
I first wrote Letters Home - My Irish Families in March 2010, eight years ago which doesn't seem possible, and I am still being contacted by people who are related to the Jeffers family. Just this week there was another email from yet another unknown branch. Blogging and Google make it so easy for distant relatives to make contact. Anyone doing a Google search on Jeffers from Portadown will find my blog post and me. Amazing and I'm surprised that not everyone is telling their stories online.

My U3A class this week discussed the issues with putting your info online and how some simply take and never acknowledge which is disheartening. So I guess that has to be weighed against the benefits of finding people you would never be able to track down easily or cheaply. I never put everything online which encourages people to make contact and that's always a plus.


With many mining families, both in Australia and in England, I was excited to see that Find My Past has added England, Mining Disaster Victims. There are over 9000 transcripts from four counties - Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. I really wanted Staffordshire as one of my direct ancestors was killed in a mine accident, (from the burial register) but so far I haven't been able to find a reference to the accident in the newspapers. 

There are so many new collections going online all the time it is hard to keep up with everything. Repeat searches are a must.

Thanks to Queensland Family History Society March enewsletter Snippets I found out that New Zealand was also sending its convicts to Australia - a fascinating article Soldiers Thieves Maori Warriors: the New Zealand convicts sent to Australia by Kristyn Harman. Back issues of Snippets are online and always some good tips.


My talk on Weaving Your Stories on the Web at Arana Hills Library went well with a very enthusiastic audience all keen to either start a blog or improve what they are already doing. Moreton Libraries have indicated they might get me to do it at some of their other libraries later in the year. As usual my presentation is on my website Resources page - scroll down to Presentations.

What's Coming Up?

I can't believe Congress 2018 is next week in Sydney where I, and 599 other delegates, will experience some fantastic talks, catch up with friends and spend money at the exhibitors stalls. I fly to Sydney on Thursday and hope to collect my Congress satchel at the Society of Australian Genealogists in Kent Street before they close Thursday afternoon. That way I will beat the rush on Friday morning. Plus I always like to go through the goodies before the Congress starts.

I will be too busy over the four days, attending sessions and giving two of my own talks. So there won't be daily blog updates but there will be daily reviews once I'm back. Flying home on Monday night so it will be a late night and probably a sleep in, but then straight on to blogging all the news and excitement.

This coming week I need to prepare two U3A sessions - Fleshing Out the Family and Some Different Websites for Genealogy so that I don't have to panic when I get back. The sessions are popular and there are so many on the waiting list that we have decided to dispense with tables in the room and just have chairs. This should double the numbers next term. I send my session notes via email so we don't use the tables and it will be nice to have new faces and a wider pool of experience.

If you are going to Congress, I will see you there. If not, have a fun week searching for those ancestors.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Geneafiction, Freebies, Cornwall & Local Talks - Genealogy Notes 29 Jan - 18 Feb 2018

We had a week away tuning in to nature instead of technology which was fantastic. So much more relaxed but of course you do have to come back and read those emails, blogs and open up those bills. I hardly ever get mail via Australia Post these days and no more paper cuts!

It also means that there was nothing to report last week although I will comment on the book I read while lazing around. This week has been catch up and trying to get organised for some events coming up soon.

GeniAus' blog post Getting Conference Ready was a wake up call that Congress 2015 is almost upon us. I'm not going to Rootstech 2018 like so many of my other geneafriends but I will be following it via social media. It starts in a week or so and Congress a week or so after that. An exciting geneamonth coming up.

But back to the post - lots of good tips for newbies to Congress and a good reminder to old hands as we always want to try and fit in more than we possibly can over the four days. Already there are additional meetings, breakfast, lunch and dinner gatherings for various groups and you really can't go to everything. Plus you also want to just chat with geneafriends you only ever see at Congress every three years.

My tips are comfy shoes as there is a lot of walking and standing, money/credit card, business cards, notebook and pens (I'm a Luddite), camera, and try not to make your bag too heavy. I carry an across the chest bag to help distribute the weight more and not burden my shoulder/neck.

It's a while since I mentioned genEbooks but they offer a free download and this month's caught my eye - Ranks and Badges in the Australian and American Navy, Army and RAAF published ca 1943. It should be useful to help identify uniforms in family photos. It's a simple process to download, even easier if you are already registered which saves entering your email etc. You can usually find the free download in with the specials.

Rootstech 2018 is where about 30,000 genealogists will gather for four days of talks, explore or is that be enticed by exhibitors  and catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Probably more than 100,000 people will also participate remotely via livestreams and social media. The world's biggest geneaevent.

Check out the livestream schedule and remember to convert to your local time. If it is not too inconvenient time wise, you might want to attend some of the sessions. You need to register or you can wait till it is over and watch at your leisure.

My preference is to watch afterwards without the pressure of a busy week during Rootstech. You can still watch some of the 2017 sessions for free.

While on hols I read Marie Benedict's Carnegie's Maid which is a fictional story of an Irish maid who worked for the Carnegie family. While my grandmother on Dad's side was a Carnegie there is no connection to Andrew Carnegie and his family (unfortunately). The story is presented through the eyes of the Irish servant and how she was forced to leave Ireland and her family to seek work in the US to help her family. She connects up with Irish cousins who went before and sees their struggles to adjust to life in their new homeland.

We also see what life was like for the servants and what type of tasks they were asked to perform. As a lady's maid, the book's heroine has to help her mistress dress, undress, hair, makeup and accompany her places. Today we find it strange that people didn't brush their own hair or put their own hand cream on. It was an interesting insight into that type of world. I never give away the key story but this was a nice lighthearted look at the trials of being a lady's maid in the mid to late 19th century. 

I simply love geneafiction and once started, rarely put a book down until finished. So it was good to pick up some genealogical fiction 'must read' from Janet Few's blog post Genealogical Sleuths - Fiction for you to enjoy on the In-Depth Genealogist. I'm already a fan of Nathan Dylan Goodwin's genealogical books but there are some new authors for me to follow up.

There are always new resources each week and it can be hard to keep up with things. The best way I find is to subscribe to free emails that give you weekly updates from Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage and FamilySearch or smaller national/state archives and libraries.

For example, this week FamilySearch added collections for Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Panama, Russia and Slovakia. Now most of those countries don't interest me but the English collection was Cornwall parish registers 1538-2010 with almost 500,000 indexed entries. I usually use the Cornwall Online Parish Clerk but will also check out this new FamilySearch collection. I was also surprised to see that BillionGraves is now in FamilySearch as that is another resource used frequently.

What's Coming Up?
My immediate priority is a talk on blogging for family history which is 21 February at Arana Hills Library. There is a sizable audience already registered to learn the benefits of blogging - not only capturing your own family stories but also learning from the experiences of others. It should be a good afternoon and I just hope I don't get too lost again. Arana Hills Library is one of those places that is tucked away in suburbia. It is also the most far flung of the Moreton Region Libraries, almost Brisbane!

Then of course I have the weekly preparations for the Advanced Family History Session I tutor at Bribie U3A. It's another enthusiastic group and we are covering a wide range of topics suggested by those attending.

Plus I'm starting to work through my Congress 2018 preparations to make sure everything is ready to go. I don't think I will do any live blogging while there, too busy having fun but I will write up my adventures on the return home.

Have another great genealogy week. Until next time.