Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Genealogy Notes 20-26 August 2014 - National Family History Month nearly over

It seems to have been a really good National Family History Month so far. I have seen lots of reports on various social media sites with people sharing what they have done and learnt at the various events around the country. Make the most of the last few days of August by reading some of the blogs and follow up on the tips. One that I am going to be looking at this week is from one of my favourite online resources. Trove Tips for Family Historians by Catriona Bryce from the National Library of Australia is a must read and it was great to see that the tips came from a brainstorming session with Liz Pidgeon from Yarra Plenty Libraries.

Liz was one of my geneabuddies when I was living in Victoria and her enthusiasm for family history is fantastic and she is a source of lots of great tips. The beauty of the internet is that I can still keep in touch with Liz (and others) by simply following their blog, or on Twitter, Facebook or wherever. In some ways once we embrace social media it does not really matter where we live.

In the first two days of this week I have done three talks in three libraries and while I am starting to feel a bit all talked out, I still have one more talk to do for National Family History Month. Today I am at the Redcliffe Library and afterwards we will be drawing the sponsors prizes giveaway which closed yesterday. We are all organised and with the help of attendees I will have some good news for the lucky winners tomorrow. Good luck to all those who entered for the various prizes and thanks to Moreton Bay Region Libraries for their fantastic support in NFHM.

There is still time to register for one of the three online genealogy courses offered by the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. You can choose from Google for the Wise Genealogist or Social Media Tools for the Wise Genealogist or Connecting Family: Online and Virtually. To register for your complimentary course send an email to info@genealogicalstudies.com with the following details - your name, mailing address, email address, course name and start month. The courses start the first Monday of each month and you can select which month best suits you eg September, October etc.

I have also managed to complete Nos 16-31 of my 31 Activities for Researchers in National Family History Month. You can read Nos 1-15 here and it has been good to see others also blogging what they have been doing. A couple of examples include Geniaus with her #NFHM2014 Report Card and TravelGenee has been blogging each of the challenges.

There hasn't been much time to do anything else except NFHM related things and I will probably find myself at a loss of what to do next week. Not really because the next Unlock the Past cruise is looming - a 3 night cruise out of Sydney and the genealogy sessions without the distraction of foreign ports. It will be just like a genealogy conference and I am really looking forward to it. It is also a great opportunity to simply have a fantastic long weekend on board a luxury ship with no cooking, no housework and you don't have to make your own bed!

But for now it is time to get ready and head off for Redcliffe. I must add up how many kilometres I have travelled this month around South East Queensland and of course if I add in the trip to Canberra for the launch it will be in the thousands. Enjoy the rest of National Family History Month. Until next time.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Genealogy notes 13-19 August 2014 - More National Family History Month news

Another busy week with one talk for Moreton Bay Region Libraries and a webinar (my first ever webinar presentation) for MyHeritage. I found it a bit strange just sitting in my study talking to my laptop knowing that there were about 120 people out there listening to me. More new technology mastered or at least experienced!

My experimenting with a NFHM board on Pinterest has been working really well (if I can say that) as I did a Google trawl looking for items about NFHM and found some interesting pieces which I was able to pin to the board. Quite a few people are following and some have even pinned my pins on to their own boards.

This week was the deadline for my next article for Irish Lives Remembered and I was sent a proof of an article I wrote for Inside History Magazine which is looking good for the next issue.

I have added a few more events to the NFHM web calendar and continue to add individuals into the sponsors prizes giveaway. There are a fantastic list of prizes to be won by individuals including 10 Ancestry subscriptions, 2 Findmypast subscriptions, 2 MyHeritage subscriptions, 2 AFFHO Congress 2015 registrations, 2 $100 genEbooks vouchers, 3 NSW transcriptions from Joy Murrin, 1 Momento photo book valued at $150, 2 Unlock the Past cruise vouchers at $200 each and $150 research services with yours truly. How to enter is on the home page of NFHM and please read the terms and conditions. The prize giveaway closed in one week - 26 August at 5.00pm. Links to all the sponsors are on the Sponsors page.

Also on offer is a free online genealogy course with the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. There are three courses to choose from and instructions on how to enrol in the course of your choice is on the Sponsors page of NFHM.

There are still lots of events to go in the last two weeks of NFHM so check out your local area and remember to see what is online as there are some interesting offers there too.

My 31 Activities for Researchers and 31 Activities for Societies in NFHM is on my Resources page and I did manage to write up my first 15 activities and you can read it here. The other 16 will hopefully be later this week.

I also managed to take up another 3 Kiva loans with my repayments from previous loans, all part of the Kiva Genealogists for Families project. That is also a good activity to do during NFHM and I must remember that for next year.  You can join me at http://www.kiva.org/invitedto/genealogists/by/shauna1522

Tomorrow I am speaking at the Deception Bay Library on Family History on the Cheap and I have not been to that Library before so probably all new people. Next week I have four talks to finish off NFHM and of course the sponsors prizes giveaway draw on 27 August at Redcliffe. I really like that I can spread some of my major NFHM  activities around - launch in Canberra, talks throughout Moreton Bay Region and the prize draw at Redcliffe. Just as well I don't mind a bit of travel.

For those not familiar with Redcliffe it was Queensland's first European settlement and September 2014 marks the 190th anniversary of settlement in the area. So a nice historical place to end my NFHM! For those reading this overseas, we really are a very young country.

I think that is all I have done the last week but then I am a bit weary! Planning a nice week off post NFHM with a week's holiday at Surfers Paradise. I haven't been there since I was a teenager so it will be interesting and something a bit different, not our usual exotic places.

Keep on enjoying NFHM and happy researching.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Genealogy Notes 6-12 August 2014 National Family History Month is nearly half over already!

Time does fly when you are having fun! I have given 6 of my 11 talks for Moreton Bay Region Libraries already and there have been some great audiences. Lots of people have gone home to try out some of my ideas for Demolishing Brick Walls or doing Family History on the Cheap. As usual I have put the presentations on my website Resources page, scroll down to Presentations.

At the top of the Resources page are my 31 Activities for National Family History Month (for individuals and societies) and it has been good seeing some people do all or only a few of the activities. One person  I know is blogging all of her activities and Fran (aka Travelgenee) has done some interesting posts on her adventures so far this NFHM. It is always surprising how people interpret a challenge and I usually pick up new ideas as well.

Pauleen (aka Cassmob) has done a NFHM 2014 geneameme challenge and again I find it inspiring to read what others are saying in response to the prompts. Read Pauleen's response to her own challenge here. Geniaus (aka Jill) has introduced us to the concept of 'geneacave' where we do our family history at home. Sure beats 'study'! And she has introduced me to the PIP process - read all about it here. Pauleen will be collating all of the responses so why not give it a go or at least read a few of them. My NFHM geneameme response is here.

Surprisingly I am still adding a few events to the NFHM web calendar and of course I am busy with entries for the NFHM sponsors prizes giveaway which closes on 26 August. So far there are no entries from TAS, WA or the NT and only one from SA - what does this mean?

NFHM is mainly promoted online with events around the country so are those places not following us on Facebook or Twitter or Google +? I have even placed notices on the main mailing listservs for all States and Territories just in case people are not into social media. But very little response for the effort of signing up to post the notice in the first place.

Or is it just because people don't want to win the NFHM prizes? It can't be that because I would love to win some of those prizes but because I am the person running the giveaway I can't enter! Sob. I hope people don't leave it till the last day or I will go demented trying to organise everything before the prize draw takes place at Redcliffe Library.

It is Ekka week here so we are planning a visit to Mum and then on to the Ekka which brings back all kinds of memories of going with my parents as a child and taking my own son to the Ekka too. At least now I don't have to contemplate those rides but I will admit to a certain fondness still for the showbags.

Next week I am doing another talk for Moreton Bay Region Libraries and my first ever webinar with MyHeritage. I am a bit spooked at this stage as I have still to master a Google Hangout so now to get myself organised and cool and collected before Monday. Deep breath needed and maybe even more than one.

The other new thing I am trying for NFHM is Pinterest and I am really surprised at how many people have shown interest in the NFHM board that I have done. The only way to learn and get to know about some of these social media sites is to dive in and have a look. You can't break anything or at least I haven't yet!

My 'geneacave' desk looks like a cyclone has hit it so time for a good tidy up before I move on to my next NFHM challenge. Have a great time this August researching your families in NFHM. Until next time.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Genealogy notes 30 Jul - 5 Aug 2014 Start of National Family History Month

I always knew the lead in to National Family History Month was going to be busy but I have been flat out like a lizard drinking! It was great to be in Canberra for the launch at the National Archives of Australia, sponsor of the launch since 2006. You can read about my report on the launch here. It was also a great opportunity to catch up with old NAA colleagues and friends from HAGSOC (nice to see the PR for NFHM on their home page).

I did not have to remember why I left Canberra as it was a bit snowy on the day of the launch, although I always did love seeing the snow on the Brindabellas and the flight home the next day was pretty with all the snow lying around in southern New South Wales. By the time I got home to Bribie the cold front had moved north and I still needed a cardy!

My 31 activities for individuals in NFHM are now on the Resources page of my website and there are also 31 activities for genealogy/family history societies there too. Nothing is compulsory and you can do as many or as few activities as you want during the month. Remember there are other online events in the NFHM web calendar. Also on the NFHM website are the giveaway prizes from NFHM sponsors and details of how to enter are on the Home Page.

When I agreed to do my 11 talks for Moreton Bay Region Libraries I was only thinking it was one hour talks not factoring in travel time. Moreton must be one of the bigger shires as the travel time varies from 8 minutes to the Bribie Library to almost an hour to the Arana Hills Library where I am speaking today. I am giving 5 talks this week but only one next week as it is Ekka time. The following week is also only one talk with the final three in the last week of NFHM. The giveaway prize draw takes place at the Redcliffe Library on 27 August and I do thank Moreton Bay Region Libraries for their fantastic support during NFHM. As well as myself, they have other speakers giving family history talks too.

State Library of Victoria asked me to do a guest blog on their Family Matters blog for NFHM and you can read it here. This will be the first Family History Feast that I have missed since we first started it back in 2004 so a bit sad. But fantastic that it continues even though two of us have retired! And of course they do podcasts of the speakers so I will be able to listen once the sessions go online. Something to anticipate!

Sadly I suspended my own personal blog challenge 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014 as I simply could not keep it up and still get all the events etc up for NFHM but I will return to it in September. Sharon (The Tree of Me) has been playing catchups with it and I have just put links to her posts on my website. It is always interesting to see how others approach a set blog post and it is great for finding new ideas.

I have promised to blog my 31 activities for the month but haven't done so yet. One new thing that I have done is set up a Pinterest account and have boards for NFHM and Diary of an Australian Genealogist. Social media is amazing and there are so many things you can do to express yourself and your interests online. Not only did I put some NFHM photographs on Pinterest but  I also put some on the NFHM Facebook page. HAGSOC member Jeanette Hahn took some photos of the launch and has given us permission to use them.

Time for me to head off to Arana Hills Library and my third talk for NFHM and I hope everyone else is having a great time this August. Until next time, happy researching.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Genealogy Notes 22-29 Jul 2014 getting ready for National Family History Month 2014

As some of you may know I am the voluntary coordinator of National Family History Month which is an initiative of AFFHO, the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations. As it is only three days to the start of NFHM 2014 just about everything I am doing at present is NFHM related.

I am working on a few things that I cannot put up on the website until 31 July as we do not want people jumping the gun which makes it a bit hard for me as last minute stuff is always tricky. What if my internet plays up or I get sick or my laptop dies? Yes I am a worrier but I do want this NFHM to be bigger and better than previous years.

I did a media interview with the Seniors newspaper so I hope that we get some publicity in their August issue. It is often hard to attract media attention but we send out media notices and hope that it is a slow news day. All of our NFHM sponsors also help promote NFHM through their own enewsletters and social media.

Events are still going up and the launch is all organised. Although last night's weather did not thrill me. There was some talk that it might even snow in Canberra on Friday as a cold front is coming in. It will probably be frosty and that often reminded me of snow when I lived here. But fortunately for me most of the really frosty days seem to be after I leave and return home to sunny warm Queensland.

I came to Canberra early because I was attending the launch of Discovering ANZACs but it was postponed when the Governor General went to the Netherlands following the MH17 air tragedy. So I have some unexpected free time on my hands and a return trip to Canberra at some point.

I have been a member of Genes Reunited for years although I don't often go on and see what's new. So I have been trawling for some of my family names and finding that there are quite a few new people researching the same families. I have sent contact emails and already received some positive responses and when viewing their trees it is obvious that we are descended from the same ancestors just down different lines. A timely reminder to recheck databases from time to time as new material is continually being added.

The closure of State Records South Australia's reading rooms took me by surprise as I had not seen anything about it until after the event. The city search room closed on 18 July and the Gepps Cross reading closes on 1 August which is a bit of a sad start to NFHM. State Records is relocating its public access services to the State Library of South Australia so it will be interesting to see how that works. The State Library has some great events planned for NFHM so perhaps that will help fellow family historians get over their disappointment with State Records. See SLSA list of events on their website here.

I have been following the 5th Unlock the Past cruise with lots of great photos from them on Facebook and the occasional blog from Helen Smith and Alona Tester. It has almost been like I was there but not really. They seem to have had fantastic weather judging by the short sleeves which surprised me as I always think of the north of Scotland as cold and bleak. Too much Hamish Macbeth perhaps!

When I do return home at the weekend there will be no rest as on Monday I start the first of my 11 presentations for the Moreton Bay Region Libraries to celebrate NFHM and they have other speakers too so at this early stage I think Moreton is going to take out the title of most supporting public library for NFHM 2014. This also reminds me that I will need to finalise my talks  between now and then. The Events page of my website has where I am speaking and the NFHM web calendar for Queensland has all the Moreton events listed.

Only three more sleeps to NFHM 2014 - get ready for a huge month of genealogy and family history across Australia and New Zealand. Happy researching everyone.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Genealogy Notes 15-22 July 2014 - NFHM & exciting family finds

Wow the past week has been full on with all kinds of exciting things. National Family History Month is keeping me busy with more events added and there have been some changes to dates, times, venues and even a cancellation. So remember to keep checking the NFHM web calendar for any changes. There is also a new prize sponsor - Momento photo books so keep an eye out for news about the prize draws as we get into NFHM in just over a week's time. Full list of NFHM sponsors and prizes here.

Findmypast (a NFHM prize sponsor) have been doing 100 record sets in 100 days and some brilliant records have been added over the last 100 days but the one that got me most excited were the last four sets - Nos 97 - 100 Staffordshire baptisms, burials, marriages and banns. I have oodles of Staffordshire ancestors and have had a quick play (found my GGG grandfather's marriage and the deaths of my GG grandparents amongst other things ) but there is a fishing competition on this weekend and I will be alone for two days. So I am quietly planning my Staffordshire feast of family history for this weekend!

Peter from Lost Cousins also drew my attention to the Staffordshire records release as I have put my Staffordshire census information into the Lost Cousins database. I need to recheck that as more census information has been released since I last added my families.

Another NFHM prize sponsor, Inside History Magazine has featured a story on Max's ancestors which I discovered over a cup of tea this morning. Max's grandmother was the cousin of Archie Barwick who features in the new documentary The War That Changed Us so looking forward to seeing that  and to learning more about Archie. It goes to air on 5 August on the ABC so perfect timing for NFHM!

At the prompting of other relatives I have put my family trees up publicly in Ancestry (a major sponsor and a prize sponsor of NFHM) and I am a bit amazed at the distant relatives that have sent me emails and new information. It certainly pays to advertise but keeping up with all the new enquiries at this time is a little hectic. Thank goodness NFHM is only a month although there are some who have suggested it should be all year!!

I also been watching the new series of Who Do You Think You Are on SBS and found Andrew Denton's story so moving but then all the stories are interesting and get me wanting to do more research on my ancestors! Just wish some of them had led more exciting lives! If you have missed an episode you can watch them online too.

The other exciting news is that I have been invited to the launch of the National Archives of Australia's new Discovering ANZACs website by the Governor General and followed by high tea so definitely not to be missed. Luckily it is the same week that I am in Canberra for the launch of NFHM, next week is going to be huge. Plus I get to catch up with all my old Canberra friends.

The 5th Unlock the Past cruise is currently underway and both Alona and Helen have managed to write some blog posts and put pictures up on Facebook so that those of us not there can still find out all the news. Read Alona's posts here and Helen's here.

Trove is having a pre NFHM event and are looking for your family stories and there are some I Love Trove badges on offer so read all the details here but closing date is 30 July so be quick!

Well that's my news for this week and I will have another Diary update on Sunday before I head off to Canberra will all the latest news on NFHM. August is going to be a fantastic month for genealogy and family history. Happy researching.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Genealogy Notes 8-14 July 2014 A History Conference and other news

Since the last Diary I have been in Brisbane attending the annual Australian Historical Association history conference. While mostly academic history I find that some of the papers presented are also of interest to me in my love of all aspects of Australian history, especially colonial times. I have reported on the conference in my SHHE Genie Rambles blog on my website and you can read the report here. There is a link to the conference abstracts in the blog post for anyone who wants to look at the hundreds of papers presented over the five days plus other links which may be of interest.

One of the issues of being away from home for five days is trying to keep up with all my usual things. National Family History Month continues to get closer and we have another prize sponsor - Joy Murrin Family History Services.  I am still trying to decide on where to have the prize draw as I like to do it in front of an audience towards the end of NFHM. Moreton Bay Region Libraries have asked me to do 11 talks during NFHM so I need to revamp those talks too before August. I also have to finish my 31 things to do in NFHM for individuals and societies - this was popular last year so I am doing a revised version for 2014.

The launch of NFHM is on track and the winners of the Nick Vine Hall awards have been notified so that they can attend the launch. This year thanks to our major sponsors Ancestry.com.au, FamilySearch and MyHeritage we can bring both winners to Canberra which is really good. I think it is nice that I have started a new tradition (but then that might just be my personal bias).

I know that NFHM hasn't even started yet for 2014 but already I am thinking ahead to 2015. Sponsors, prizes, events and where to have the launch. I have moved it from Melbourne, to Brisbane and now to Canberra. Where to next for NFHM?

Invitations to speak are always nice to receive and 2015 is starting to look very busy. But in the past week I have also received invitations for the second part of this year. Fortunately the date suggested by the North Brisbane Branch of the Genealogical Society of Queensland was free so I am doing my church records talk there on 5 September. I used to go to their meetings back in the late 70s so we have known each other for a very long time. The other invitation is still not confirmed so more news next time. Details of all my talks for the rest of the year are here.

There are also lots of new records online and special offers around. Being tardy with my emails means that sometimes the offer is over before I even see it. But MyHeritage have a free offer to search their WW1 military records until the end of July. More about the offer here. Findmypast.com.au continue to add a staggering amount of records to their database and I find reading their blog the best way of finding out what's new. Read their blog posts here. I have also been looking at the Lives of the First World War website too. Ancestry.com.au have had free access to Australian records over the weekend and the offer ends today.

So while it is nice to go away for a five day history conference, you can miss out on other good things too. And of course I brought back a stack of new reading material and it is beautiful fine, sunny and warm outside (although the early mornings and evenings remind you that it is winter) so I am tempted to go outside and have a nice read. But that doesn't get blogs written, emails answered or talks prepared. Moderation in all things is a good motto so the kettle is on, my stack of Fryer Library journals on the poolside table and I am about to enjoy that winter sunshine with a nice chai latte! Until next time.