Thursday, August 30, 2012

Good things come to those who wait...

From time to time since February I have tried to accomplish a task but have failed dismally.  I finally managed it today.

Back in February I conducted two video interviews at Rootstech. One I uploaded from the conference hotel to Youtube with no issues . The other slightly larger file just would not upload for me. When I got home I tried again - Failure. I tried a few video converters I found on the web - Failure. Every few weeks I would have another try - Failure.

Yesterday Thomas MacEntee on Facebook mentioned a video conversion program,  Prism Video Converter http://www.nchsoftware.com/prism/index.html. I downloaded the software and thought I would have a go. My first effort produced a file that was going to take over 300 minutes to upload to Youtube - Failure. So I played around a bit and found a setting to compress the file; I didn't quite know what I was doing but I did it anyway. Hey Presto - I ended up with a .avi file that was 1/10th the size of my original. Thank you, Thomas.

The video quality is not as crisp as on the original but it's way better than many files on Youtube. As with the video with Darrin Lythgoe I am embarrassed by my facial expressions and hand waving. Perhaps I need some Botox to stabilise my face!

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, I announce the delayed release of my video with Diane and Walt from Flip-Pal.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Family History Through the Alphabet – P is for … Images

P could be for photos or portraits but all images that genealogists collect are not photos. We collect a profusion of images that we digitise : vital records, baptismal certificates, military records of service, letters, handwritten notes, invitations, orders of service etc. Whatever you call them they create problems for people like me who are disorganised.

Are you able to retrieve an image a family member requests within a minute of being asked?

A collection of images that is not organised is like a book without an index, virtually useless if you need to retrieve something efficiently. There are evangelists around who spruik about the advantages and disadvantages of different methods of organisation; some people even part with good money to purchase books on organising ones images. You just need to find a method that suits you and stick to it.

So how do I do it? 

WARNING: this may not be the best or most efficient method but it works for me.

I treat photos and images of documents separately. There are three places where I store images:

Photos are organised using free Picasa software from Google. Stored on a portable hard drive (and backed up on another) are my 90,000+ photos. These are arranged chronologically in folders by date; earlier ones just by year, from the 1990s by year and month and from the 2000s by day. Each photo is tagged with one or more tags that describe the when, where, what and who of the image. Typical tags for a photo might be Rootstech, Salt, Lake City, 2012, Thomas MacEntee, Amy Coffin or Jill Patricia Curry, 1956, First Communion, St Vincents College Chapel, Potts Point or Restaurants, 2010, Sydney Opera House, Food and Drink (for one of my many photos of food).

When I travel the hard drive goes with me so that I can organise and tag on the go. Now that Qantas  has power outlets on planes used for international journeys I am able to use my time in the air fruitfully and arrive home with some of my stuff already organised.

Images of documents as described above are stored in folders according to my very simple Fling it in the Folder method. These are stored on the same portable hard drive as my photos (and backed up on another). Screendumps that I use in presentations are stored there in the folders I make for each presentation I prepare. Having the hard drive with me when I travel allows me to save images of new documents straight into one of  my folders once I have entered details gleaned into my Family Historian database,

Bits and Pieces found during web wandering Those images that I find interesting like genealogy cartoons I clip using the Evernote web clipper, tag them and file them away in Evernote. They may at a later date find their way into Picasa or a folder but, in the first instance, they are saved into Evernote where I can easily retrieve them.

Use whatever pleases you but if you can't put you hands on an image within a minute it's time to ponder a method that allow you to do so.

1920s images in Picasa



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Trove Tuesday - Titles and Tags

One of the things I bang on about is being able to find and retrieve things. It's no good having a great collection of stuff on the internet if it can't be easily retrieved or appear high on a list of hits from a search engine.

Today several geneabloggers have written wonderful Trove Tuesday posts. For these to be easily retrieved by others and to get high up on Google's results pages the term Trove Tuesday needs to appear in the post (and preferably not once just in the body of the articles we write).

I don't know much about the algorithms Google uses to return hits to us but I suspect that if Trove Tuesday appears in the title of a post then that post will rank higher in the list of hits returned to us. Similarly if a post is tagged with Trove Tuesday it might move higher up in the list of hits returned from a Trove Tuesday search on Google. So when I write a Trove Tuesday post I will put Trove Tuesday in the title, include the term in my post and add a tag for Trove Tuesday.

I just did a search for Trove Tuesday in Google and here is what I found:

You will notice that my two posts about Trove Tuesday are near the top after Shrove Tuesday (go figure). Maybe this is because I have mentioned the term three times. Merron's post makes the list further down. Where are the other fabulous posts?

Let's help to make Trove Tuesday posts more findable by adding appropriate Titles and Tags.

Trove Tuesday - Frank Duncan


Already this morning two Australian geneabloggers, Fi Basile and Merron Riddiford, have accepted the Trove Tuesday Challenge.

Amy Houston, in her blog Branches, Leaves and Pollen, talked about her love for Trove and how she was going to document her relationship with  Trove  in a series of Trove Tuesday posts. Never one to pass up a good idea I implored other Geneabloggers to join Amy in this weekly homage to Trove.  As Fi says " I'm yet to meet an Aussie Genie who doesn't love Trove".

Trove has enabled me to turn dry old genealogy into interesting family history. I am thrilled to share the results of my digging in  Trove  on Trove Tuesday.

For my first post I will take a look at my grandfather, Frank Duncan. I have previously blogged about him here and here. I know quite a bit about Frank from stories told by my Mum and her sisters and from photos that I have inherited but from Trove I have learnt even more.

The first item I found was a copy of a photo of Frank and his travelling cafe. Although the entry for the photo in Trove states  "Reproduction rights owned by the State Library of New South Wales" the photo is in my Mum's photo album so I don't think I am breaching copyright by publishing the family's copy of that photo. 


Aunty Lil (now 83) behind the wheel of my Grandfather's catering truck
On Page 8 of The Sydney Morning Herald of Thursday 14 February 1907 this report appeared.



It gives Frank's age and so confirms that the date of birth I have for Frank is near to the mark; Frank's birth had not been reported as his parents never married. It also places Frank in the Cobar area in 1907; Wrightville being a small town close to Cobar. 

From an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 6 December 1930 I can see that Frank did not enjoy cordial relations with his fellow graziers.


My grandmother inserted this notice in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 August, 1949. She was just 49 when she was widowed for the second time.


It has taken me too long to compose this post because I have been sidetracked as is my wont when trawling trough Trove. If I am to continue posting in this challenge I must  discipline myself to stay on task and not indulge in Tangential Genealogy but it just lead me to my first Trove find on my great-grandfather, Francis Duncan.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Found in the Garage

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the treasures that we have been finding in our great garage cleanup.

Among the treasures were many full and part rolls of wallpaper from the days when we had wallpapered walls. My son and his wife were so pleased with one of our finds that they took a roll home, snipped a sample and put it in a frame on their toyroom wall for their kids. They were able to show the kids a photo I took in 1976 of Daddy asleep in the room with that wallpaper.

One of the benefits of being a bowerbird is that the kids can reconnect with their past via the junk we have saved.

Wallpaper Sample
Sleeping Beauty 1976

It's a wonder the poor child slept with that loud wallpaper, yellow furniture and curtains, red sheets and green blankets.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Getting ready for a Gig

As it is only three weeks until the 28th Annual Conference of the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies I am back at my computer polishing up my workshop presentation about blogging.  A little bird has told me that there are over 300 people already registered for this event. I hope that some of them see fit to come along to my workshop on the day of the Free Family History Expo, 14th September. You'll have to part with $5 to come on a journey with me through the world of geneabloggging.

Title slide for my workshop
If you have not registered for the conference you must do it by 25th August. Details can be found here

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Trove Tuesday

I read on Twitter yesterday of a new (to me) blogging prompt with a real Aussie flavour.

Amy Houston of the Branches, Leaves and Pollen blog was busy on Twitter promoting Trove Tuesday, where she said "Aussie bloggers - join me on "Trove Tuesday" & write a blog post about a treasure you've found on Trove! @troveaustralia @geneabloggers".


Twitter  21 August 2012

What a great idea, Amy. I've missed the boat for this week but will try to get a post ready for next Tuesday.

Are any other Australian Geneabloggers going to take up Amy's invitation? 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Clear Advice - Maybe not.

In a comment on my post, Google Docs and Evernote, Chris said "Now this is interesting. But it wasn't till you said you'd dropped Delicious in favour of Evernote that I really sat up and listened and was moved to comment!

Have been wondering what everyone raves about evernote for. Haven't had time to really dig into it and how to use it but REALLY want to move on from Delicious without losing all those filed urls. Have you got a suggestion for some good clear advice on the uses of Evernote and getting the best out of it?

Many thanks Chris".

I don't know that I am equipped to give clear advice but I will certainly expand on my use of  Evernote for Chris and anyone else who may be interested.



Firstly I have Evernote installed on four devices and I use it on each of them.

On my laptop and netbook I have installed the Evernote for Windows program which gives me the ability to have all of my notebooks accessible should I find myself without an internet connection. This application synchronises via the internet with the Evernote apps I have on my Android devices. I also have the Evernote web clipper extension installed on my Chrome browser on the two computers. Additionally I can access my Evernote notebooks by logging in to my account on the Evernote website.

On my Android phone (new Galaxy S3) and tablet (old Galaxy Tab) I installed the Evernote app from the Google playstore. Providing I have an internet connection these seem to sync whever I open them I also have the Android Dolphin Browser Evernote addon installed on my tablet (but I don't use it much).

Having Evernote available on all of my devices enables me to access my Notebooks (Folders) and Notes (files) from each of them. If I find myself devoid of a device I can log into the website from a foreign computer and see my stuff. 

Evernote's catchcry is "Rememember Everything: Capture Anything, Access Anywhere, Find Things Fast". As an avid collector of information and trivia I need help for my failing memory; my cerebral storage facility has reached capacity; Evernote provides me with the crutch that I need.

Ditching Delicious where I had several thousand links stored was not a decision I took lightly but I was aware that I had stuff stored in all sorts of places and Evernote gave me an opportunity to bring all sorts of media together in one big virtual filing cabinet.

There was no easy way to import my Delicious links into Evernote so I imported them into Google Bookmarks and am slowly evaluating whether they are as valuable as I thought when I saved them five or six years ago. Those that I deem worthy of saving I save into Evernote.

My advice (which doesn't fit into the clear department) is to play, explore and read what others who have been Evernote disciples longer then me have to say. Denise Barrett Olsen of the Moultrie Creek Gazette is a genealogist who has written quite a bit about Evernote. Other devotees are Thomas MacEntee of Hi-Definition Genealogy and Lorine McGinnis Schulze of The Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. If you can find a webinar about Evernote sign up for it and also take a look at the slides from this presentation at Rootstech 2012.

I did not start using Evernote seriously until several months after I installed it.So what have I saved into my Evernote notebooks? Lots of genealogy related bits and pieces and a few personal things. These are all tagged and some are annotated. 

My Evernote for Windows Homepage
Evernote on Android Screen Dump
Two of my notebooks,  Genealogy and Technology  (the ones with genealogy related information), are public and the others are private. 

Some of the things I have in the Genealogy notebook are web links (just like Delicious), handwritten notes to myself, pictures of books that I come across in my travels and want to remember, personal notes to myself when a thought appears (I need to grab these), articles from newspapers, .pdf files, newspaper clippngs, handouts from talks, lots of links to blogs, text from selected blog posts and screen dumps of some Twitter, Google+ and Blog posts for use in my presentations. Many people use Evernote to take notes at presentations and it is eminently suitable for this - I just happen to use Google Docs for this purpose. I haven't made my audio files public (yet).

The things in my Technology folder are similar but there are lost of links to howtos and guides to the various apps I use for genealogy purposes.

I find that because I have tagged all of these things with my terms I can retrieve them quickly. I guess I look like a bit of a Smart Alec when I whip out my smartphone to get and share details of a resource. It's not that I am smart - it is Evernote that makes me appear smart.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Google Docs and Evernote

Two of my favourite tools are Google Docs/Drive and Evernote. Just yesterday I was reflecting on my use of these products and thinking on my personal practices.. As they can be used for similar purposes I need to have a personal policy for their use or I won't know where I have put my stuff.

Firstly I thought about some sort of tool that would sync my Evernote and Google Docs stuff and I found a few. But that's not what I want; I don't need to duplicate everything I have stored in one or the other; I need to work out what to do with each of them. I considered asking people on Twitter and Google+ how they differentiated their use of these tools or if they were just loyal to one.  Then I got distracted (I'm not just tangential in genealogy) and put my pondering aside for another day.


Lo and behold, what should appear in my RSS feeds this morning but this post from educator, David Andrade, "Google Docs and Evernote – when and why I use each one". David said "I see them as two completely different tools and when used together prove a powerful combination of resources for students and teachers alike." I would add and "little old ladies who dabble in the digital world."

I looked at the way David uses the tools and compared my practice. Because of our situations my use differs from his but his post gave me a good yardstick against which to compare my practice. The major difference is that  I will take notes from presentations in Google+. I find it easy to do this then, at a later time, edit them for future reference,  publishing on the web, in print or as the basis for a blog post. 

Evernote is my way of organizing captured images and text clipped from the web, random thoughts, short notes and URLs. I share two of my notebooks, Genealogy and Technology publicly while I keep others private. I even have a couple of audio files saved. I no longer use Delicious to look after my bookmarks; Evernote does this and much more.  My private notebooks store recipes, health notes, humour, travel info, my travel bucket list and all sorts of other stuff. The powerful Evernote tagging facility means that I can easily retrieve things that I have tagged (especially useful when my memory fails me).

Like David I use Google Docs on Google Drive for writing documents and spreadsheets. I have dabbled with presentations but may use this more when I travel with my netbook that does not have Powerpoint installed on it. The ability to easily collaborate through document sharing on Google makes it a winner for me. On a personal level I have used Google spreadsheets to organise parties, travel and weddings with family members. For geenealogy purposes I have collaborated with genealogists in three other countries to prepare a Rootstech presentation. I am presently using a Google spreadsheet to maintain with the Social Media Committee a planning document for our Society blog.  I also use Google’s Gmail and calendar for organising my life. When at a conference or event I use the Google drive Android app to take notes.

That I am able to have both Evernote and Google Drive/Docs on my four devices: laptop, netbook, Android tablet and Android 'phone makes my life so much easier. And now that I have thought about how I will use each of them I should become more efficient - Hope springs eternal!

Does your practice differ from mine? I am open to ideas.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Family History Through the Alphabet – O is for …Catalogue

....or for those of you who are au fait with Library Lingo: O is for OPAC.

OPACs have made life so much easier for genealogists to prepare for visits to libraries so that maximum time can be spent using resources during those visits.  I remember being so proud when my first OPAC came online in the late 90s. It was a milestone in my library life that I should have recorded.

You don't know what an OPAC is?

An OPAC is an Online Public Access Catalogue; a library catalogue that one is able to access via a web browser to search for, identify and select library resources from a library collection's database. A dictionary gives this definition "A computerised system to catalogue and organise materials in a library (the kind that contains books). OPACs have replaced card-based catalogues in many libraries. An OPAC is available to library users (public access)."

If you don't already it is wise to get into the habit of seeking out resources from home when you are planning your next library research trip. I keep, in my research log, details of resources found on OPACs that I want to consult when next I get a chance to visit. 

I already have a list ready for my next visit to The Family History Library in Salt Lake City at Rootstech time next year. On my list is also a newspaper that appears to be available only in one library in Scotland. Hope springs eternal - I may get to Scotland one day to see it.

I'm not sure if these databases are OPACs; I would call them metaOPACs, Worldcat (The world's largest library catalog) is a resource that one can use to find out where in the world a particular resource can be found and, in Australia, a Trove search will give locations of resources.

Do you consult library OPACs prior to your visits?

See all my posts in this series at http://geniaus.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/family-history-through-alphabet.html

Friday, August 17, 2012

Before Google

This image shared by educator, Chris Betcher (aka @Betchaboy)  on Google+ today made me reflect on how I used to deal with questions from the offspring.

My stock response was "Ask your father".

What was yours?


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Paper overload

Source:  kathrynbutler.blogspot.com
Are you drowning in a a sea of paper?  I am.

As fast as I scan papers I get more to replace them. Major contributors to this avalanche are genealogy presenters who pass out paper handouts. It's not that I don't appreciate the handouts - I do. I agree that presenters should dispense some sort of handout to the people who turn up to hear them but they don't have to be in hard copy.

When I have the inclination I scan my latest bundle of handouts, save them as .pdf documents and consign the hardcopy handouts to the recycle bin. I then file my digital copies of the handouts according to my Fling it in the folder system.


My plea to presenters is to offer an alternative to hard copy handouts. PLEASE.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Family History through the Alphabet


Having passed the halfway mark in the Family History through the Alphabet Challenge that was set by Alona from Gould Genealogy I am having trouble remembering what I have written about in my posts.

As an aide-memoire as I continue with the challenge I am posting this set of links to my posts. As I progress towards Z I will continue to add further links.

Family History Through the Alphabet – A is for … Android

Family History Through the Alphabet – B is for …Billion Graves



Family History Through the Alphabet – L is for …Straying (Tangential Genealogy)

Family History Through the Alphabet – M is for … You've got Mail (Email)


Family History through the Alphabet - N is for ... Browser (Browsers)

Family History through the Alphabet - O - is for ... Catalogues (Library OPACs) 

Family History Through the Alphabet – P is for … Images

Family History Through the Alphabet – Q is for … Query

Family History Through the Alphabet - R is for  ... Online (Reading that is)

Family History Through the Alphabet – S is for … Coincidence

Family History Through the Alphabet – T is for … Ten

Family History Through the Alphabet - ... U is for Universal

Family History Through the Alphabet – V is for …Vacation

Family History Through the Alphabet – W is for … Magic

Family History Through the Alphabet – X is for … keep it ...

Family History Through the Alphabet – Y is for …Y not?

Family History Through the Alphabet – Z is for … Zealots

Family History Through the Alphabet – N is for …Browser

Netscape Navigator was the first browser I used consistently to surf the web in the mid nineties after using Mosaic for my early explorations in cyberspace. If I remember correctly Netscape came installed on my computer and, if one didn't get it this way one had to purchase it. 

By Browser I mean a piece of computer software that provides a conduit for people to search for, find and access information on the World Wide Web. Wikipedia  tells me "web browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting, and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web". So I guess I have it right!

When Microsoft introduced the free Internet Explorer 3.0 in 1996 I tried that out too. I also dabbled with Yahoo's search. As Yahoo was a directory rather than a search engine I did not use it too often preferring Internet Explorer. Then, after it was released, I was true to the Australian search engine ANZWERS for local searches until Mozilla Firefox came along in 2004. I had a long relationship with Firefox until around 18 months ago when I was seduced by Google's Chrome.

I dabbled with a few metasearch engines like Dogpile and  Mamma  in the early 2000's but these do not seem to have taken off. A metasearch engine simultaneously searches a number of search engines for you and aggregates the results in one list.

On my Android devices I have tried a few browsers and over a year ago switched from Opera to the Dolphin browser.

There are a couple of genealogy search engines around. As I don't have a very high opinion of the most popular one I am not even going to mention its name. I believe that carefully constructed searches on a general search engine will return better results than that product.

I believe that a book without an index is useless similarly if we didn't have an efficient browser to provide a gateway to the World Wide Web we would not be able to easily access all the wonderful genealogy resources in cyberspace.

Which browser do you favour?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Another Closing Ceremony

As I prepare to watch the Closing Ceremony of London 2012 tonight my mind is taken back to another closing ceremony - that of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

At that time I was a teacher at MLC School who had volunteered to chaperone a group of students who were performing in the opening and closing ceremonies. I posted my reflections on an educational listserv at the time. Here is what I wrote nearly 12 years ago.

Sunday was a very long day. At 9:00 am I met my MLC girls at our transport hub from which we were bussed to the Olympic site. It was a sunny day with big winds. On arrival we were allocated our space for the day at SIAC (Sydney International Athletics Centre - used during the games as a warm-up field for track and field) - a sloped section of damp grass - this was to be my home till 11:30 pm. It had no shade,shelter or comfortable seating. On arrival we collected our lunch - sandwiches, fruit, cake, muesli bar and drink.

The girls were called for dress rehearsal about 11:30 - I was supposed to sit with the bags for the afternoon. No way!! I had proper accreditation, a lot of front and the encouragement of my girls who said "Just get in the middle of us and come into the stadium". So I did. I planted myself in a front row seat to witness the afternoon's proceedings. There were policemen and security people all around but no-one challenged me. Two teachers from another school had girls absent from their groups so they got the girls costumes, put them on and took the place of the kids in the show. They just made sure that they kept their hats down over their eyes and didn't go near the production staff!!

The dress rehearsal was an absolute schmozzle. As the centre stage was still under construction (and still was when we left at 4:00pm) no rehearsals could take place on the stage. Many of the performers were lined up under the stadiun waiting to rehearse but didn't get a chance because of technical difficulties and the march of time. Other performers came on and had to practise on the grass. Some artists only had the opportunity for a sound check. Some of the large inflatible figures deflated in the middle of their item. David Atkins, the director, appeared to remain cool during the proceedings - I would have been tearing my hair out.

 As we walked back to SIAC the girls and I wondered how the show would ever come together at night. Faced with a cold night on the damp grass I decided to follow the girls into the stadium for the Opening Ceremony. Level 0, under the Olympic Stadium (from where the athletes enter) is like a mini-city. There is a road under the track, parking for ambulances and service vehicles, storage rooms, offices, kitchens, toilets and goods lifts. My girls were performing in the stands and had said there'd surely be empty seats in their section - but I had to find the girls. I have no sense of direction - so I spent a fruitless hour wandering around under the stadium trying to find the correct entrance- my accreditation got me to all areas - I stood at the tunnel and watched the marathon runners enter the stadium, I rubbed shoulders with the VIPs in their entry foyer, I got into the press area. I asked numerous staff for directions to the entry I wanted but due to a combination of their scanty knowledge of stadium layout and my lack of spatial skills I had to give up and go back to my wet grass.

I procured an unattended chair and space blanket and tried to keep warm while listening to the Ceremony and reading my book. It was still awesome being on the periphery - I saw and felt the fighter plane fly over as the flame was extinguished, I heard Juan Antonio lead the crowd in Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi, I could see the crowd in the stands waving their torches along with the music and I was only a fence away from the fireworks launch site. I took heaps of close-up photos of shivering performers as they lined up to exit SIAC and make their way to the stadium.

The MLC girls were exhultant when they returned to me - they'd been on the field mixing with the athletes, getting autographs, swapping pins and falling in love (so easy at 16) .... they couldn't believe that such a disastrous dress rehearsal could turn in to such a perfect performance. There was a transport lockdown which meant we had to hang around until the Olympic family had left the precinct. This gave time for the girl who wanted to marry the Mexican hunk to cool down before I delivered her back to her parents at the transport hub. With my charges back in parental care I headed for home.

When I woke on Monday I wondered if the last two weeks had been a dream or if I'd really been to the Olympics.

It was an affair to remember.

A Garage full of Memories

Mr Geniaus and I are bowerbirds, thankfully we have lots of storage at our house especially in the huge garage downstairs. Whenever the kids say they are throwing out a piece of furniture or disposing of some childhood treasures we offer to house them because "You never know when someone may need one".

Crunch time has come; we need to make space to store a houseful of furniture for one of the kids who is rebuilding and we are not going to add more storage space to our house.  So Mr Geniaus and I started a major cleanup (and throwout) in the garage.

And what did a find? - A Garage full of Memories. 

Holly Hobbie Fabric
My back is aching, my hair is full of dust, I am filthy and in need of a bath but I had a wonderful time clearing out and will continue to as I have more days of tidying ahead of me.

The Holly Hobbie material in my box of fabric reminded me of the doona cover and pillow cases I made for our younger daughter to match her Holly Hobbie wallpaper. She had a lovely little room at our house in Bronte. The scraps of rainbow wallpaper reminded me of the bedroom our boys had in our Maroubra house; the yellow chunky tube beds they had are resting on the other side of the garage.

Glittering in the bottom of a fabric box was a remnant from the purple sequined material out of which I made a formal dress for my elder daughter when she was at Uni. She had a very social time at University; I always seemed to be making formal dresses for hear to wear to balls and dinners.

Tucked away in a corner is the big posh metal English pram that I transported my first two children around in before I got a Mini Minor for a car. There was no way the pram that was nearly as big as the Mini would fit in the boot. Prior to getting the Mini I used to push that pram on a 5 mile round trip to have lunch with my Mum in her lunch hour.  Just along from that pram is my younger daughter's toy pram, I can offload that in a year or two when her daughters are big enough to push it.

Three young cousins
Still in boxes were some books belonging to my late father. As I offloaded these onto the bookshelves I found some other treasures in the box. There was a full copy of the Daily Telegraph from October 17, 1983. That is the issue that had a picture of the Geniaus offspring with Captain Mark Phillips, there was the order of service from a cousin's First Communion and a photo of some younger cousins playing dressups in their mother's wedding dress.

Trivial Pursuit, cricket bats, roller skates, an electric trainset and other toys from the seventies and eighties sparked further happy memories of a family growing up.

Do you have a garage full of memories?

City to Surf

The Annual City to Surf race was held today in Sydney. The race from the CBD in Sydney to Bondi Beach has been held each year since 1971 and attracts thousands of fun runners as well as serious athletes.  I was prompted to share a few family snaps from races last century by a post my daughter just put on Facebook.

I have never donned my running shoes to take part in the race but have watched the finish from the comfort of the VIP stand at the finish line. I think I watched around ten of the races from there between 1980 and 1990. I know that 3/4 of the Geniaus offspring have taken part in the race, not sure about the youngest one but I only have photos of the elder two.

Miss and Master Geniaus with NSW Premier Barrie Unsworth and his Missus (baby unknown)  1987
Miss Geniaus nears the finish line 1987
Fun runners nearly there - 1988
Miss Geniaus  (Centre - Dark tshirt) heads for the finish 1988


Thursday, August 9, 2012

One small step....

......on the road to becoming a genealogist?

Like many ageing genealogists I despair of what might happen to all my precious files, certificates and photos when I pass on.

A photo posted on Facebook earlier today has given me some hope.

The Blazer
My daughter has demonstrated a nostalgic tendency by posting this image of her old school blazer and some other photos of treasures on Facebook and Instagram. I left this comment on her photo " The first step on the road to becoming a genealogy junkie is reminiscing about old things and days gone by."

If I remember correctly I was her age when I started dabbling in genealogy. I do hope she has the genealogy gene.

PS. Daughter, if you read this - please don't dispose of the Blazer.


Geniaus' gigs

I have recently updated the Presentations page on this blog.

Please take a look to see when and where I will be spruiking about  genealogy related topics. I'd love to meet you.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Packed in like sardines

When the small seminar room at Mosman Library was nearly full yesterday morning I heard someone behind me say "We're packed in like sardines."

People continued to pile in to the room for Carol Fox's talk "Writing your life story". A lady sat on the floor beside me and a few stood in the hallway. The helpful library staff rustled up a few extra chairs for the overflow. There is a booking and ticketing system for the Mosman events  presumably so that once all seats are allocated no more bookings are taken. No-one appeared to check off names as people arrived for this popular event. That the room was over full and there were chairs set up in the hallway blocking egress created a safety hazard. The venue for this event was totally unsuitable. 

If  the numbers at these events can't be limited and if demand exceeds  the space available the nice people at Mosman need to think about another space. I have previously attended Mosman events that were held  in the Local Studies room; while using this would have inconvenienced the one or two users of that area it would have served more people by being used for the seminar. Perhaps the Council has another space outside of the library that the library can use for its events, perhaps the Council Chamber might be available for these events.

In spite of my safety concerns (I was first to arrive so got a seat close to the door) I enjoyed the seminar and thank the Mosman Library people responsible for organising it. Carol is the fourth speaker I have heard on this topic but as each presenter has taken a different approach to the topic I heard some new ideas yesterday.

Carol reminded us that "There is no right way" to do this. She suggested that we "just get it down" and  emphasized that " this is your story you can write whatever you like". 

During her talk the vibrant Carol read excerpts from a number of self-published family stories to illustrate the different approaches that can be taken to the writing task. She shared details of many resources that have been written on the subject including  one she particularly likes by Michael Oke "Write your life story". An Australian title she recommended was Remember when by John Hockney.

As a practical exercise Carol suggested we construct a personal timeline of events from our lives and 
start writing from anywhere on timeline. To make the initial writing easier she suggested we start with the easiest topic or a happy event.

As I enjoyed this event I will be keeping my eye out for announcements of further talks in the Monday Matters series.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

An 80th Birthday

Yesterday the Bambino took me out west to State Records NSW for a special birthday celebration.

As part of its 80th birthday celebrations The Society of Australian Genealogists hosted a seminar for members at State Records Western Sydney Records Centre at Kingswood. Society Vice-President, Martyn Killion, opened proceedings and explained the format of the day. As it was an 80th celebration There were to be four presentations each of which would highlight 20 things related to genealogy.

Emily Hanna, who is the Officer in charge of the reading rooms at State Records NSW, spoke about 20 State Archives you can't live without. After describing the history and activities Emily told us about the 20 record sets that can provide information for family historians. Her talk was supported by images of items from the archives and the often grisly stories behind those images. While I was aware of these records it was useful being able to hear about them as a genealogical collection and to learn about the scope of some of the record sets. The one record set that I haven't fully explored is Photo Investigator; I'm going to take a look to see what I can find on the places where my ancestors lived, worked and played.

At morning tea in the sunny courtyard  we were all treated to a cupcake to celebrate the Society's birthday. I met up and got chatting with a couple from Northmead who, like me, love using technology in their genealogical activities.

Heather Garnsey's first presentation was "20 tips to help you research successfully". There were many nodding heads as Heather discussed each of the tips she had drawn together in a personal brainstorming session. Heather, who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of  family history practice expanded on each of her points with practical examples. I need to heed "Remember you won't live forever" and get my records organised and make sure my family knows what I want done with my genealogy "stuff" when I leave this earth. I need to let them know how much blood, sweat, tears and money has been poured into this pursuit lest they hire a dumpster and ditch the fruits of my labour.

After a break for lunch in the courtyard we moved back into the seminar room for Martyn Killion's presentation. "20 websites to visit". Martyn categorised the sites under five headings: Ensuring you don't reinvent the wheel, Births, deaths and marriages, Putting meat on the bones, What's on the internet anyway and Join a Society. There was only one surprise in this list for me and it was the AFFHO website, www.affho.org, which has a listing of genealogy sites that those with an interest in Australian genealogy might join. Martyn suggested  finding and joining a society focusing on your ancestors' localities. Martyn is one of the best Australian genealogy speakers I have heard, he has an engaging personality, a sense of humour and engages his audience. His voice and diction are excellent and his knowledge of genealogy is evident as he speaks with just his slides to keep him on track.

The courtyard was the venue for afternoon tea where we were treated to more sweet things. After tea  Heather Garnsey, the Society's Executive Officer,  presented a new topic "20 research repositories you need to visit". In her 100 miles a minute style (which I love) Heather told about the services and resources at ten Australian and ten overseas sites. I am fortunate in having visited most of the places on her list. Having listened to Heather I will put the Vaughan Evans Library at The Australian National Maritime Museum on my list. I was pleased to hear Heather suggest The Society of Genealogists in London as a very useful place, she especially recommended browsing the print collection there. She has convinced me to visit there later in the year when I am in London; I just wonder whether I should join the Society or pay the per day research fee to use their facilities.

Although the focus of the four talks at this event was at beginner level I was pleased that I attended. The speakers were knowledgeable and competent, the venue was good, there was parking practically at the front door, I met some interesting new people and it was free.

Thanks SAG for inviting me to your birthday event.

Link to Martyn's photo taken at morning tea. (I think he and I were the only people who tweeted from the event)


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Opportunities to hear about Ned

Earlier this year I heard Paul O'Keefe speak about his Ned Kelly research at Randwick Library  and I was blown away by his presentation. Here's my report :http://geniaus.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/spine-tingling-stuff.html.

It would be well worth a trip to Liverpool to hear Paul's presentation.

Paul just posted this announcement on Facebook:

Hi Everyone,
My next lecture is on at Liverpool Regional Museum (Sydney) on Saturday the 18th August at 11am. I'm Keynote speaker as part of their History Week celebrations - Its Free!...so come along!
Find below a story about my discovery and my lectures

http://www.smh.com.au/national/childhood-sweetheart-neds-secret-love-20120302-1u7yw.html

Michelle Nichols from Hawkesbury Library tells me that Paul will also be presenting there in History Week. Details should appear on the Library website shortly.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Family History Through the Alphabet – M is for … You've got Mail

When L was announced as the letter for last week's challenge I immediately knew what I would write about - it was going to be L is for Listserv but my memory failed me when I sat at the keyboard to type my entry and I wrote about Links instead.

But never fear, magician that I am, I can turn an L into an M for this week's post - You've got Mail. As my focus in this series of posts is technology I am not talking about Snail mail but Email - the sort of mail that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan's characters used as they fell in love over the internet in You've got Mail

For those who have been living under a rock this link will tell you all about Email.

This morning something unusual happened, I received a letter containing a genealogy report via snail mail. I don't know why as the person who sent it to me has previously sent me files by email. This person could have saved money by using email, I know they have internet and email so there would be no extra cost involved in emailing me, I also know they have access to a scanner so they could have attached the report to an email saving on the cost of ink and paper and they could have saved on postage. The first benefit of email for genealogists is that it allows for sharing of data quickly and economically.


Since the mid nineties genealogists have been able to use email to join mailing lists to communciate with others with similar interests. The first such lists that I used were Rootsweb Mailing Lists that "can help you find information about your ancestors and connect you with people who have research interests similar to yours". There are now over 30,000  genealogical mailing lists at Rootsweb. If you cannot find a list at Rootsweb that caters to your interests you can set one up. In spite of the emergence of social media the Rootsweb Mailing Lists are still going strong. I find a few messages in my emailbox each day from the various lists to which I belong. They are still a valuable resource for genealogists today.

The wonderful thing is that Google seems to index most of the posts to such Mailing lists so if you put an ancestor's name into a Google search you may be directed to a listserv post. What is frustrating is that some of the messages on a mailing list from 10 years ago or more are linked to dead email addresses so it is difficult to contact the original messenger.

For my tip for this week please read my blog post from 2008, Static Email Addresses.

If you are not a member of any Mailing Lists please browse the collection at  Rootsweb Mailing Lists  and join a few, then you'll be able to say:

"I've got mail."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why have a website?

I was about to highlight the website of an Australian genealogy society by writing a Follow Friday post about them for tomorrow.

As I am such a conscientious linker I read the fine print at the bottom of their home page:


The material herein is also copyright and may not be reproduced or linked to without the permission of the XXX Genealogy Society Inc.  Thank You.


I have changed my mind about sending them a bouquet tomorrow and am sending a brickbat today.

If you want people to promote your society and its wonderful resources and services by please do not place such silly, outdated terms of use on your site.


How To Keep Printing Costs As Low As Possible

Here is some required reading for those who are challenged by a paperless world.

How To Keep Printing Costs As Low As Possible:

'via Blog this'

Should I print it out for Mr Geniaus to read?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

120th Carnival of Genealogy - Business and Commerce

Business and Commerce is the theme chosen by Jasia of Creative Gene for the Carnival of Genealogy,  120th Edition The challenge is:

Did someone in your family own a small business? Was there a favorite clothing store, ice cream shop, shoe store, restaurant, gas station, etc. that your family frequented? Did you operate a lemonade stand when you were a child? This time around we are going to be researching small businesses and recording family memories of such.

Unfortunately in spite of all of their toil none of my ancestors was rewarded with wealth from commerce. Rewards came in the form of happy lives and healthy families.


Frank Duncan, my maternal grandfather, was the subject of a post in 2009 for the 75th Carnival of Genealogy.  I cannot go past Frank and his efforts at making a quid for this post.


Frank's first job was in the copper mines in  Cobar , in outback NSW. I don't know how successful he was at this venture because he left the mines fairly soon after World War I broke out to join the Australian Army. After an unremarkable tour of duty in Europe Frank returned to Cobar.

On his return  Frank was able, through the Soldiers Settlement Scheme, to gain a grant of Crown land on which he built a house for his bride, Ethel. This plot was a station (very large farm) of 32,000 acres, Elsinore, outside of Cobar.  Elsinore was 40 miles west of Cobar NSW. In 2012 this is a remote area, nearly 90 years ago it was extremely remote. Cobar, the nearest town, was a long carriage ride over rutted, red, dusty roads. Sydney and the coast was 700 km away. Life was tough, there were droughts, bushfires and loneliness.
Frank Duncan at Elsinore
Frank ran sheep on his large property. In 1924 there were 3 horses, 2 cows and 916 sheep ; in 1926 there were 3 horses and 1200 sheep. From photos I have of the farm I can see that they also kept chickens.  Life was challenging on the property; my mother says her father wasn't suited to the hard work required "he was basically lazy". By the time my mother was old enough to go to school in around 1930 my grandmother and the girls moved into town and Frank worked the property and came to town on weekends. Some time after 1936 Frank gave up on being a grazier and gave the property away!
Elsinore wool being carted to town

Poddy lamb and chickens at Elsinore
An interesting venture of Frank's was his catering van, he was the Mr Whippy of the outback.  He drove this van around the countryside to feed the crowds at race meetings and other gatherings. From this van he sold his home made pies (I imagine that my grandmother cooked these - I remember that she made pretty good Cornish Pasties) and the ginger beer he brewed. Mum enjoyed the trips she made with her Dad to these far-flung events.
Franks catering van with Aunty Lil (now 83) behind the wheel
Together with my grandmother, Ethel Jane Pusell, Frank ran a cafe in Cobar; the family lived in a flat above the shop. I am not sure how long this venture lasted or if it was successful.  On my recent visit to Cobar I noted that the shop is now an antique store.

Frank certainly didn't make a killing from any of his business  pursuits. When he and the family moved to Sydney in the early 1940s he took a job driving a van for the Kensington Post Office.

This post first appeared on the Geniaus blog http://geniaus.blogspot.com

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