Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Genealogy notes 11-18 Dec 2014 - more AFFHO Congress interviews

Hard to believe Christmas is now only a week away and the New Year a week after that - but then I say that every year. We have hosted a party for the neighbours and most of the shopping is done, the tree is up and the lights flashing around the yard and house. So definitely looks like Christmas even if I am still wondering where the year went.

I have done two more AFFHO Congress 2015 speaker interviews - Robyn Williams from New Zealand on New Zealand topics and Kate Bagnall who has been researching Chinese Australian families. I still have a couple more interviews to do next week and I have been sending out reminders to others on my list to interview. Pauleen Cass, my fellow official Congress blogger with Jill Ball, has posted her interview with me - see it here.

Time does fly as since the photo I sent to the Congress organisers which must have been back in 2013, I have changed my look. Always odd seeing photos of yourself and that is something I have done a lot of over the past week. I have been going through photo albums selecting photos to digitise and at the same time, generating so many memories.

There has been a sustained attack on all my paper genealogy magazines and  journals, although each one I read has just given me new ideas to follow up. Once I am on a new website hours can go by and of course there are all the leads from Twitter and Facebook posts too. In an attempt to capture some of the #genealogy tweets I started a Shauna Hicks Genealogy Daily Paper-li but for some reason, even though I only selected people I follow for genealogy, I have ended up with some strange additions.

So that needs a bit of tweaking and of course I still follow Jill Ball's The Australian Genealogists Daily. I noticed that some key tweets weren't showing up in that which is why I started my own. We have so many good online social media enthusiasts in Australia we should try and capture more of what they are sharing with us.

MyHeritage issued a press release about their new Instant Discoveries which

"provides information about one's ancestors and relatives while signing up to MyHeritage, giving a free, fun and immediately gratifying introduction to the fascinating world of family history. First-time users to provide very basic information about 7 family members: themselves, their parents and grandparents and then powerful technology automatically searches for information about their family in MyHeritage’s vast databases of billions of records. Within seconds, users are then presented with an Instant Discovery™, showing a person likely to be their ancestor, together with a wealth of related information including the entire family branch, names, facts, photos and documents. Users can then apply it all to their family tree in a click." 

They tested it on people in New York and you can view the video here. I am wondering how it would actually work here in Australia and at the moment it is only available to new MyHeritage users. I have had a MyHeritage account for a few years so I can't check. So if anyone here in Australia has tried it please let me know.

While I can see the appeal of instantly finding someone, especially in this day and age, I am not sure if that is better than some of the research thrills and satisfaction I have had over the years as I have painstakingly tracked people down. For me the path has been the challenge, not just the family knowledge at the end.

Findmypast had a very handy family historian Christmas gift guide for the  which I hope my family noted and of course I am also hoping for Nathan Dylan Goodwin's new novella The Orange Lilies. I have also mentioned a new orchid several times and there is that wonderful red and white toadstool statue at the local nursery which would be perfect in the back garden. Boxes of chocolates or electric toothbrushes will not be accepted! I do hope that Santa is more receptive than the family.

My other big task is getting the website and Facebook account for National Family History Month changed over for 2015. I have made some changes to wording on the home page but got stuck changing over the banner so I have called in the cavalry to assist.  Sponsors are still being finalised so I have left 2014 sponsors for the moment.

Events for 2015 can now be added to the web calendar - see here. The Family History Month Facebook page has been updated to and I will start to post any NFHM 2015 news as it comes too hand (or I generate as the voluntary coordinator).

Finally as part of the Kiva Genealogists for Families team I made another three loans for Christmas - two were from repayments from earlier loans and the other $25 loan was my Christmas gift to others. Join me by clicking here. $25 has the power to change peoples lives and it is so
nice to be part of this team helping families.

Very hot and humid here today and a storm predicted for the afternoon. We have seen some very bad storms the last few weeks so I hope everyone stays safe. There will be one more Diary before Christmas so have fun with all those last minute preparations. Remember to find some time for genealogy, it doesn't take too long to read a blog or two! Until next time.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Genealogy Notes 4-10 Dec 2014 blog posts & 2015 events

The last week has seen three very different blog posts. The first was a So This is Christmas 2014 geneameme challenge from Sharn White (FamilyHistory4U) and it has been interesting reading the various responses from other Geneabloggers. My response was 2014 Christmas Genealogy Geneameme and I found it very hard to remember any of my childhood Christmas dinners. So this Christmas I will have to ask my brother what he remembers and to see if Mum has any old Christmas photos to jog my memory!

My next blog post was a book review of Nathan Dylan Goodwin's first two genealogical crime mysteries with Morton Farrier, a forensic genealogist - Hiding The Past and The Lost Ancestor. Read my review of both books here. Since I finished the review, I have discovered there is a new Morton Farrier adventure, a novella ebook The Orange Lilies and I have been dropping hints to the family. Certainly a more interesting present than the electric toothbrush I received last year!

The final blog for the week was another interview in my AFFHO Congress 2015 series of interviews with speakers. Read my interview with Michelle Nichols here. I have some more interviews to put up but there have been severe storms here every day and it is just not worth being online with so many lightning strikes around. Pauleen Cass one of the Congress official blogging team is doing a similar interview with me although I am still considering my own answers to the questions!

I have received some sponsor confirmations for National Family History Month 2015 which is fantastic. Hopefully I will hear from the others in the next week or so and then I can change the website over for 2015. Make sure you have August marked in your diaries as NFHM.

All my known speaking engagements for 2015 are now on the Services & Events page of my website.  I have three major conferences, two genealogy cruises, some society seminars and library talks so far and as I commit to any other presentations I will add them to the list. But it looks like being a big year for genealogy in 2015 especially if you live in Canberra, Port Macquarie, Adelaide or Brisbane or can travel to those events!

I went to the Bribie Island family history group meeting and Christmas lunch today and everyone spoke about what they had been doing. Sometimes that is a great way to learn about new sites or to get other peoples ideas on your family history problems. No more meetings now until next year.

Another storm is rolling its way in and it is now so dark I almost need the lights on and it is still afternoon. We are fairly lucky here on Bribie Island as the main storm cells seem to go around us and as a sand island, the water usually just goes straight through. The winds can be pretty full on depending on the direction they are coming from.  Thunder, lightning, rain and wind now here so time to log off and stand by with the mop and a torch! Happy researching until next time.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Genealogy notes 24 Nov - 3 Dec 2014 Congress 2015 speaker interviews

The last week or so has totally got away from me. But yesterday I did make the Bribie Island Family History Group meeting where the speaker talked about his own convict families and how wonderful the Australian Joint Copying Project was. This reminded me of the talk I gave on AJCP earlier this year for the Genealogical Society of Queensland - the presentation is still on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations and it was in May 2014.

There are now two interviews in my AFFHO Congress 2015 speaker interviews - Richard Reid interview and Sue Reid interview (no relation to Richard). Over the next week or so I will be doing another two interviews and all up I have 12 speakers in my list. The other two official Congress bloggers Jill Ball and Pauleen Cass are also doing a similar number of interviews. Some fantastic speakers are lined up for Congress so watch out for all the latest news.

There is an AFFHO committee meeting tomorrow night. I am a member with my role as voluntary coordinator for National Family History Month. Meetings always prompt me to do things so I wrote a small piece on NFHM 2015 for the December News Flash and I have contacted all of last year's NFHM sponsors and invited them to sponsor us again. Of course we always welcome new sponsors too!

Another new experience is looming for me too. I have been asked to participate in Maria Northcote's Genies Down Under podcasts - January and February episodes to be exact. In the past I have done podcasts with the State Library of Victoria and the Genealogical Society of Victoria for members only (more just recording my talks at those institutions). This is a bit different so I have said yes so look out for them in the New Year.

I have been busy writing some Q&A pieces for Inside History Magazine and Family Tree Magazine UK and as usual, always amazed by some of the tricky ancestors out there doing their best to stay hidden!

Findmypast have been adding lots of Scottish records over the last month so I did a quick search and was pleasantly surprised to find three references to my Scottish GGG grandfather. The references prove that he was a merchant seaman (an occupation on one of the certificates I have for him) and one of the references had his birth date so I know it is definitely him. I just wish I could work out what all the abbreviations and squiggles on the entries mean. One of the entries looks like US which might explain the American colours tattoo he had, I always believed he must have travelled to the US prior to marrying and coming to Queensland.

Unlock the Past Cruises sent out a media release for the seven cruises they have in 2015-2016 - something for everyone. You can see their 16 page catalogue here. It would be great to do them all but not really an option time or money wise for most of us. So I am definitely doing the Baltic cruise in July 2015 as it is a while since I last went to Europe.

I have never been to America so I am also doing the Trans Atlantic cruise in November 2015 plus I have always wanted to celebrate my birthday at sea. The Melbourne Cup is just going to have to miss me next year. It is a while since I was in New Zealand too so I am going to do the New Zealand to Australia (including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth) cruise in February 2016.

I am missing out on Western Australia, Queensland and the Barrier Reef cruises and I am still undecided on the European river cruise which goes from Amsterdam to Basel in Switzerland through France and Germany. My issue is timing - it is late July early August 2016 which is of course National Family History Month but perhaps I will no longer be voluntary coordinator by then??

Now that I have my next research guide with Unlock the Past's editor, I am going to have another big tidy up in the study, get back to cataloging more of my books into Library Thing and do some of my own research during the 'quiet' holiday season. The other half has a significant birthday coming up and I have something planned which I need to start working on or it won't be finished in time.

So lots to keep me going next week.Happy researching.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Genealogy Notes 17-23 Nov 2014 AFFHO congress papers due

Back home again and trying to get back into normal mode again but playing catch up with emails, blogs and things that should be done. Amazing how fast weeds grow when you have been away for a few weeks. One of my orchids also flowered while I was away and then got battered in the storm just before we got back.

The most pressing deadline is the end of November when all the AFFHO Congress 2015 speakers have to get their papers in so that the organisers can arrange publication in time for the Congress in March. The deadline for presentations is later so I have not given them any thoughts yet. My two papers are on sporting ancestors and court of petty session records for family history and I have my drafts here ready to go. I like to read them a few times before sending off because I quite often want to make last minute tweaks.

Still on Congress, I have been in touch with some of the presenters who I will be featuring in blog posts between now and Congress. Along with my official blogging team partners Jill Ball and Pauleen Cass we will be doing interviews in blogs, hangouts and YouTube. It will be interesting to learn more about everyone over the coming months. By Congress they will seem like old friends!

Speaking of AFFHO, I was asked to provide copy for the next News Flash on National Family History Month 2015 which I have not given much thought to yet. But I must get on to changing the website over in preparation for 2015. Contacting NFHM sponsors is also on the must do list. What I can say is that NFHM 2015 launch will be in Adelaide in 2015 so slowly moving around Australia now with previous launches in Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra. Make sure August 2015 is in your diaries!

I have also done a couple of ask an expert queries for Inside History Magazine and as usual they are challenging. Some people's brick walls are bigger than the Great Wall of China and in some cases it would be fantastic if we could simply go back in time and ask our ancestors why? In my post office box on my return was the latest issue of Inside History Magazine so when it gets too hot today I will be curling up with that for a good read.

While on the caravan trip I managed to read both of Nathan Dylan Goodwin's genealogical mysteries and I totally enjoyed them. Still in the process of doing a review but hopefully that will be completed in the next week.

Also managed to read quite a bit of Carol Baxter's new reference book - I'm providing pre publication feedback which is a great opportunity to see how another author works. I have to finish that by early December.

Of course my own new research guide is still nearing completion. I like to find dedicated time to do that and travelling in a caravan doesn't give you that luxury. So that is the major task this week - to finish it and send it off to the wonderful editor at Unlock the Past. Finishing a guide always seems to take me longer than writing the whole thing in the first place!

On the good news side I have been asked to present a master class on Public Record Office Victoria at the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies annual conference which is in Port Macquarie in October 2015. It is still early stages in their conference planning so the website is not up yet. There will be a link from the Association's website soon. There is a Facebook page for the NSW & ACT 2015 conference. I try to get to these conferences whenever I can, usually determined by their location which changes each year. Port Macquarie is one of those places we nearly settled in so it will be a great opportunity to revisit this historic area.

My speaking calendar for 2015 is full on and I hope to put all the dates on my website soon, still waiting on some confirmation of presentation titles. So far I have 15 events with more than one talk at some of those events. So a busy year ahead.

There hasn't been any opportunity for my own genealogy research but I am planning to give up television. At home we seem to have got into the habit of just flopping in front of the TV at night and while in the caravan we didn't too that. Other things occupied us so my new resolve is to try and be a little busier at night rather than just flopping!

Until next time, happy researching and think about attending some of the great conferences happening in Australia in 2015.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Genealogy notes 10 -16 Nov 2014 family visits & keeping up to date

Well this has been another week on the road travelling by caravan with friends and taking the opportunity to visit family on the way. This is currently being written in beautiful Bargara on Queensland's Coral Coast. Max has a 93 year old aunt in nearby Bundaberg as well as some cousins living nearby. So lots of morning teas and passing around of old photos.

By coincidence a friend and former colleague from Canberra saw that I was visiting Bargara and as she now lives here, we took the opportunity to catch up over coffee. We last saw each other in 2003 but have kept in touch over the years via email while she lived in Cairns and I was in Melbourne.

Now for an even greater coincidence at the Bargara bowls club last night Max recognised his former next door neighbour from when he lived in Adelaide after leaving Darwin in the early 70s. So  another opportunity to catch up on news of what each has done over the last four decades.

Bargara is such a small place and yet within a few days we have both caught up with people from our pasts. Now planning another visit early next year as we are heading back tomorrow and no more time for catch ups.

While here we walked through the National Park to the Mon Repos turtle rookery and just inside the park we came across a pod of some pretty big kangaroos. We walked quietly passed while they just stood and watched and on the way back they were still there. Lucky they were just happy to keep eating while keeping an eye on us. In the dry creek bed we spotted some huge emu prints but didn't see them, just their tracks. The bird life was fantastic with lots of green parrots.

The next day we drove round to the Mon Repos Turtle Centre to see the displays and there were some young European tourists there. They did not believe that the big loggerhead turtle on display was a real one (sadly dead but preserved as part of the display). They could not believe loggerheads get that big despite us saying so and other photos also showing rather large turtles.

Back in the 80s we had friends in Bundaberg so I have been to Mon Repos many times and seen the females laying eggs and also the babies hatching and making their way down to the sea. Both are fantastic experiences and truly amazing that the females might take 30 years to come back to the same beach and start reproducing. No wonder so many of our species are endangered.

Also visited Bert Hinkler's house in Bundaberg (shipped out here from England) and the huge Hinkler's Hall of Aviation which is a must visit. Of course we also visited the Bundy Rum Distillery and also the Big Barrel where they make all that great ginger beer. They now have a pineapple and coconut flavour and while doing the test taste I couldn't help thinking that they should go into partnership with the Distillery and put some rum in for the perfect cocktail! But then they probably would not be a kid's venue although plenty of adults there too.

So mostly tourist things this week but I have been reminded by AFFHO Congress 2015 that my two papers are due at the end of November. They appear to have set up Dropbox accounts for all Congress speakers to put their papers into. A new idea and also a good one as you can then also put your presentation in as well but that is not due until next year.

One of the official Congress geneabloggers, Pauleen, has written about the Congress 2015: Be a Winner in the Ballot which closes on 30 November so have a look and don't miss out.

This coming week I am still on the road but should have more time to focus on genealogy. At the least I always try to read Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Daily Newsletter, Chris Paton's British GENES blog and Jill Ball's Australian Genealogists Daily so that I am at least aware of what is happening around the  genealogy world. Until next time happy researching.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Genealogy Notes 3 -9 Nov 2014 lots of blogging & celebrations

The first week of November is always a big week for me. I am a year older and this year my brother joined me in celebrating the big day. The last time he did that was my 21st nearly 40 years ago so we spent a lot of time talking about our childhood. Amazing what memories come back when you start chatting about the past.

My big day is either on or next to Australia's big racing event, the Melbourne Cup so I have always embraced that as my one day of betting on the horses. I managed to back first place so that was a bonus but this year's race was overshadowed by the deaths of two horses after the race. I have always thought it was a dangerous occupation but then most sports are dangerous and people/animals can get hurt or killed.

I guess it is all about choice and my choice is genealogy. It is not dangerous but it is addictive. Most of this week I have spent writing blogs. For those who missed my Twitter, Facebook or Google+ notices here are the links to my reports on the Eastern Australian Unlock the Past cruise, the Norfolk Island genealogy and history conference. It was a fantastic 10 days away.

This week we have Remembrance Day and I usually have an Anzac Day/Remembrance Day blog focusing on one of my military ancestors. Most of my direct ancestors have been written about so this November I wrote about my great grandmother's (Dorcas White nee Trevaskis) nephew Frederick Trevaskis. He died at the Western Front in 1917 never having married. If someone dies without descendants, we as family historians, need to tell their stories as perhaps no one else will or can.

As part of the official bloggers team for AFFHO Congress 2015 next March in Canberra, I will be doing a series of interviews/blogs with some of the Congress speakers. My team bloggers Jill Ball and Pauleen Cass have already started some of their interviews. We hope to have everyone done by Christmas and it will be a great way to know more about the speakers before you get to meet/listen to them next year.

As well as blogging myself I also like to read other people's blogs too and one blog I follow on a semi regular basis is The Legal Genealogist. The last two posts It's Not Sharing and It Bears Repeating: Just Say No should be read by everyone, including the comments. As someone who has found her own work on other websites word for word with no acknowledgement, I totally identify with the first post and with the second post, we do need to read, accept and abide by terms and conditions of websites, applications or whatever we use.

However I am not going to stop blogging my family stories as only this morning I opened up my email to find yet another distant cousin had found me via a blog post. She is thrilled and it is reciprocal as I believe the family bible in her possession, was given to my GG grandmother (new cousin's G grandmother) by her mother in 1861 in Ireland. Therefore, once we can arrange a visit, I will get to see my GGG grandmother's handwriting! Plus there are photographs.  

I have so many commitments at the moment I am feeling a bit overwhelmed but then I am off on a caravan trek with friends for the next two weeks and hoping that I can do things along the way! I find it hard to say no to requests from geneafriends especially when something is of interest to me. I am having a read of Carol Baxter's new book out in time for AFFHO Congress 2015 so stay tuned for more details. Carol is one of the speakers with me on the Unlock the Past Baltic cruise in July next year. Lots of other great speakers too so should be another fantastic genealogy cruise.

Watching the most amazing sunset as I type this. At last the rosellas and other birds have fallen silent and it has been another perfect day in Paradise. Time to wander out and see what is in the fridge for dinner although Sunday night is usually home made pizza night if we are not having our Sunday roast. Happy genearesearching until next time. Next post will be from Bargara, another one of those perfect little spots on Queensland's Coral Coast.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Genealogy Notes 23 Oct - 2 Nov 2014 - back online

Well I am back home after a genealogy cruise followed by a history and genealogy conference on Norfolk Island. All up we were away for ten days and I presented ten talks during the five days and one night which were genealogy days. So I am a bit talked out! However as usual I have put the talks up on the Resources page of my website, scroll down to Presentations.

The whole purpose of my talks is to show attendees a broader picture and to get them thinking of how they can apply what I am saying to their own research when they get home. Feedback from both the cruise and the Norfolk Island conference attendees was exactly what I hoped for with people telling me they could not wait to get home and try out some new resources or search strategies. Makes all that preparation worthwhile.

I still have to do a report on both the genealogy cruise and the Norfolk Island conference but hope to get them done over the next few days. As usual internet connections are either expensive or you need to buy a package although the venue for the conference did generously allow wi fi access to attendees during the day.

But regular readers will know that I like to turn off my online access at least for a few days each year and it is usually easiest to do this when I am removed from temptation. So over the last ten days I only had one day of access in between the cruise and the conference. Does it make a difference? I find that I slow down as I am fitting less into my day and perhaps doing more things outdoors (touring and seeing the sights).

Although I do miss what all my geneamates are doing but that is part of the fun of coming home and catching up. There are lots of emails to catch up on, genealogy enewsletters to read and lots of blogs to skim from some of my favourite bloggers. One of my talks on Norfolk Island was about social media so it will be interesting to see if any attendees follow up on my suggestions.

I still have to finish unpacking and sorting out my notes and handouts from the trip so I will finish this Diary with a brief para on Norfolk Island which is a convict world heritage site. There were two convict settlements and the resettlement of the Pitcairn Islanders (descendants of the Bounty mutineers) so the Island is rich in history and heritage. We went on a progressive dinner to the homes of some of the descendants of the Pitcairners and it was fascinating to hear the stories of their ancestors and to see some of the memorabilia that some of them have from Tahiti and Pitcairn.

As some Islanders are of American descent they celebrate Thanksgiving and Halloween on the Island so it was interesting to be part of a Halloween celebration the night before we left. Although I am not sure about all that fake spider web and plastic spiders hanging everywhere to scare unsuspecting tourists.

The other major attraction for us is Norfolk Island's sheer beauty and incredible bird life. The weather was fantastic although they do need to see some rain soon. Of course there is all of that duty free shopping and some fantastic dining experiences with authentic Island food. We have now been twice and it would not surprise me if we do another trip in the future. Back next time with more of a genealogy update. Happy researching until then.