Sunday, August 30, 2009

2nd Annual Small-leaved Shamrock Summer Reading Challenge

To take part in the 15th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture genealogy bloggers were asked to read a book of Irish fiction, a selection of Irish poetry or a work of non-fiction about Irish history and/or culture, and share it with us.

I have read a number of books this month but none fit the bill so I am turning to my account on Librarything to find some books by Irish folk and about Ireland that I have read and recorded there.

Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks is an hilarious account of the author's journey around Ireland with a fridge in his luggage. This book that gives an insight into the character of the everyday Irishmen that the author encounters and illuminating descriptions of the Irish places is a worthwhile read.

I have read a couple of family saga type novels set in Ireland by Maeve Binchy. The quality of Echoes, Tara Road and Copper Beech is not consistent. I remember enjoying one of the books and then on reading the next declared that reading the second was a waste of time. These books did not make much of impresssion on me and I can barely remember reading them.

I have read the books by Frank and Malachy McCourt and enjoyed them all although Angela's Ashes the poignant tale of the McCourt family's life and struggle with poverty was the one I most enjoyed. Another book in a similar vein to Angela's Ashes was Forty Four: a Dublin Memoir by Peter Sheridan, this book that describes the journey of an Irish family in the 1906's as they battle poverty.

As a tourist in Ireland I was determined to kiss the Blarney Stone. In spite of asthma brought on by the chilling winds, with the help of Ventolin, I made it to the top and kissed the stone. As a memento of the visit I purchased Blarney Castle : the story of a legend, a rather dry account of the history surrounding that Irish site. Although it didn't make for scintillating reading this little tome is a treasured memento of my travels in Ireland.

Through the years I have read quite a bit of children's fiction. A Long Way to Tipperary by Sue Gough stands out as a wonderful historical record of an Irish family who, in the mid 1800's, make the long journey to Australia. Joan Lingard's Across the Barricades set amongst the troubles in Belfast is another young people's novel that gives an outsider a view into this strifetorn area in the 1970s whilt recounting a story of young love.

Perhaps the Irish book that had the most profound effect on me was The Light in the Window by June Goulding that describes the horrible treatment of unmarried mothers in an Catholic institution where they were sent for thier confinement. The story is told through the eyes of the author, June Goulding, who took a job as a midwife at the home in 1951 and witnessed scenes of unbelievable cruelty. Fifty years later she wrote this book to tell the story of these persecuted young women.

The Irish have the gift of the gab and are able to spin a great yarn. I have enjoyed reading many tales by and about Irish people and places. This post describes just a few.

Friday, August 28, 2009

New Book on Cowra's History

A new book on the history of Cowra "Cowra Eagles On the Rock" is to be launched Sunday, September 13 at the Multi Purpose Room at the Cowra Library, at 2pm.

Read the author's story here in The Cowra Guardian.

Ideas for the Diary

In a recent blog post educator Will Richardson posted this list:

What did you make today that was meaningful?
What did you learn about the world?
Who are you working with?
What surprised you?
What did your teachers make with you?
What did you teach others?
What unanswered questions are you struggling with?
How did you change the world in some small (or big) way?
What’s something your teachers learned today?
What did you share with the world?
What do you want to know more about?
What did you love about today?
What made you laugh?
As someone whose diary looks like an appointment list I am going to modify and use this list of questions as prompts when writing daily entries. I already add my Facebook statuses into my diary as they express my thoughts and feelings at particular points in time. The responses to these questions should give any future generations a fuller picture of me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

WW2 British Roll of Honour and POW databases - Ancestry

WW2 British Roll of Honour and POW databases - Ancestry: "Ancestry has released two new important military databases for World War Two on its website at

1) UK Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945

This database contains the Roll of Honour – a listing of British Army casualties from World War II (WWII).

The original data comes from the National Archives records series WO 304, War Office: Roll of Honour, Second World War. This Roll was compiled from various War Office records between 1944 and 1949. Originally the data was encoded onto cards using a Hollerith Machine (a unit record machine), the original print outs of which are kept at the National Archives. The cards have since been decoded and transcribed by the Naval & Military Press and published on CD.

Information recorded on the Roll of Honour includes:

•Name of soldier

•Initials, titles, and decorations



•Enlisted rank

•Rank at time of death

•Enlisted Regiment

•Regiment at time of death

•Theater of War or country where wounded or died

•Death date

2) British Army Prisoners of War, 1939-1945

This database contains a listing of World War II British Army prisoners of war. Information provided about them includes:



•Army number


•POW number

•Camp type

•Camp number

•Camp location

•Record office

•Record Office number


The Geneva Convention of 1929 established the rules for the treatment of prisoners of war that were used in World War II. Over 100,000 soldiers of the British Army were captured during this war and placed in prisoner of war camps. There were two types of POW camps run by the Germans that soldiers of the British Army were assigned to. These were:

•Oflag – camp for officers

•Stalag – camp for enlisted personnel

There were separate camps for navy, aircrews, and civilians. The German camps were named according to a numbering system, beginning with a Roman numeral representing the military district the camp was located in. Following the Roman numeral could be a letter. This letter represented a specific camp within the military district. If the camp was a sub-camp, “/Z” was then appended to the end of the number. If the camp was a main camp, then the “/H” was appended to the end of the number. You will see this nomenclature in the “Camp number” field of this database.

Both databases were previously available on CD from Naval and Military Press.

(With thanks to the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog)


Professional genealogical problem solving and research


Search for history of Melsham gold digger (From This Is Wiltshire)

Search for history of Melsham gold digger (From This Is Wiltshire)

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Monday, August 24, 2009

24 Things about to become extinct

On the Committed Sardine Blog Ian Jukes writes about:

24 Things About to Become Extinct

"24. Yellow Pages
23. Classified Ads
22. Movie Rental Stores
21. Dial-up Internet Access
20. Phone Landlines
19. Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs
18. VCRs
17. Ash Trees
16. Ham Radio
15. The Swimming Hole
14. Answering Machines
13. Cameras That Use Film
12. Incandescent Bulbs
11. Stand-Alone Bowling Alleys
10. The Milkman
9. Hand-Written Letters
8. Wild Horses
7. Personal Checks
6. Drive-in Theaters
5. Mumps & Measles
4. Honey Bees
3. News Magazines and TV News
2. Analog TV
1. The Family Farm

What is really scary is that some of these eg Analogue TV, Movie Rental Stores and Answering Machines were introduced during my lifetime. I must write about the excitement experienced when they were introduced for my descendants.

Watching The Davis Cup on TV through a shop window, watching The Mickey Mouse Club on a neighbour's TV each day are fond childhood memories. The purchase of a VCR and membership of a video shop at Bondi gave me respite from four energetic children during long summer holidays. Ahhh - memories.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sensis - A Leading directory, advertising and information provider

Sensis - A Leading directory, advertising and information provider

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Back from dead canoeist 'researched new identity in Morpeth' - Morpeth Herald

Genealogy records assist with new identity

Back from dead canoeist 'researched new identity in Morpeth' - Morpeth Herald

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BBC NEWS | Technology | Tech giants unite against Google

Genealogists will be the winners if more books are digitised.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Tech giants unite against Google

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Ryerson Index - 1 Million SMH Entries

News from Bill on the OrangeBathurst and HHHV Rootsweb lists:

"The last update of the Ryerson Index, occurred on Friday night.Statistics kept by John Graham the Co-ordinator show that the site now contains in excess of one million entries extracted from Sydney Morning Herald newspapers of varying years, in nearly eleven years of indexing."

As a regular user of this amazing resource I congratulate and thank the band of volunteers who index not just the Herald but a range of Australian newspapers for our benefit.

Bill says that additional indexers are always welcome. If you can assist with this work please contact >Phil Holford

Friday, August 21, 2009

Why Genealogy?

When I joined up with GenealogyWise on the day it was launched I filled in a little profile information. One of the questions was "For what reason did you start genealogy research?" I simply wrote "fun".

As I seek new members for the Australian Genealogists Group I take a look at members' answers to this question. Not many cite something as simple as fun - they talk about problem solving, curiousity, discovering their roots and leaving a legacy for the grandchildren. As all of these are my goals and fit into my perception of fun I don't think I'll update my profile.

I just hope that one of the little people in this photo will catch the genealogy disease and continue to record our history when I am no longer around to do it.

Geniaus and the grandchildren - which one is the future genealogist?

John Oxley Library Blog » Send us your photos of big things, floods and pubs

Queenslanders = Please Help

John Oxley Library Blog » Send us your photos of big things, floods and pubs

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UK genealogist and author, Michael Gandy, to present talks at the State Library « SLWA Blog

UK genealogist and author, Michael Gandy, to present talks at the State Library « SLWA Blog

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Wordle Fun- What have I been writing about?

Using Wordle a tool to generate “word clouds” from text provided by the user I created a wordle for this blog. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.

Whilst it is good to see that the words family, tree, using and sources are prominent I would have liked to see Australia more prominently displayed in this Australian blog. When I look closely at the words displayed I suspect that Wordle has not created this word cloud from my whole blog but from the most recent posts displayed on the current front page.

I wonder what Wordles that other genie bloggers create would look like.

Langwitches Blog » Digital Storytelling- What will your Great-Grandchildren Know About You?

This article from an education blog details some technologies and classroom activities that can be used to create our stories that will pass on to future generations.

The ideas outlined in this article could be used by family hsitorians to preserve their stories.

Langwitches Blog » Digital Storytelling- What will your Great-Grandchildren Know About You?

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Thursday, August 13, 2009


My updated status on Facebook this morning is "gardening = growing, tidying and pruning the family tree". I should also have added digging.

When I first started growing the family tree 20 odd years ago I was just dabbling I didn't realise that my then hobby would become a passion so I wasn't too careful about noting the sources of my information. As a result my large tree is rather patchy in spots with lots of unreferenced events recorded. As I have taken the step of republishing my data and making it freely available at my new family website: I realised that I must reference that data and acknowledge the generosity of those kind folk who, over a long period, have shared the fruits of their labour with me.

It is going to take me some time to redress the sloppiness of my earlier enthusiastic research. I therefore apologise to those who have shared information with me and whom I have not properly acknowledged - please let me know of any issues you have with my data and I will rectify.
As genealogy is a leisure pursuit I am not being bogged down by using a complex genealogical standard for referencing. Many years as a librarian and teacher have taught me that the most important thing in referencing is to reference an item so that another person can find it..... so that is my standard for referencing. If I was compiling my family history for an academic award then different standards may need to apply.

The proliferation of online databases and indexes has also enabled me to tidy the tree. Since I began using the NSWBDMs on microfiche the historical indexes have appeared online with the addition of 33 more years of death notices and 13 years of marriages. This has been a boon for tracking down my parents' cousins. The Ryerson Index, compiled by a group of volunteers, has grown enormously and has allowed me to add death dates for many of these kin. It has also given me a very long task list of Death Notices to check on the Sydney Morning Herald Microfilms on my next visit to The State Library.

Volunteers have also been busy indexing Australian cemeteries. A simple surname search of some of my surnames on The Australian Cemeteries Index yesterday netted burial details for many second and third cousins. Every couple of days I am able to upload a new updated gedcom to

Exploiting the features of TNG, the software that powers my website, is keeping me busy. I have had to brush up on my very basic html skills to personalsie the site. I need to choose which photos and documents to upload and share. Geocoding the thousands of placenames in my tree is a bit boring but brings great results with personalised GoogleMaps for all in the tree. I force myself to do this in a couple of fifteen minutes bouts per day.

The recent digitisation of newspapers by the National Library and Google has allowed me to find news articles about some of the more colourful folk in my tree. I have gone back to my subscriptions to Ancestry and FindMyPast and found new documents relating to the ancestors and taken advantage of a trial of WorldVitalRecords to download snippets from the NSW Police Gazette relating to my convict ancestors. PictureAustralia has netted a few photos for the album.

My indoor gardening over the past week
has been guiltfree as I have been housebound on crutches. I do need to go out to libraries etc to check some records but my digging, growing, tidying and pruning the family tree from home has borne fruit. I have few more weeks of leg resting ahead so my garden should be pretty spiffy by the time spring arrives.

Official Google Blog: I scream, you scream, we all scream for iGoogle social!

I read with interest this morning of iGoogle's foray into the social networking sphere. Presently I have three iGoogle pages set up: a Start page with the weather, quote of the day, currency convedrter, world clocks, my Google RSS feeds and a couple of other gadgets, a News page that includes feeds from Australian and overseas sources and a search page that has links to my favourite online reference tools.

I am wondering what innovative uses genealogists can make of these new features.

Official Google Blog: I scream, you scream, we all scream for iGoogle social!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Free access to World Vital Records for 3 days starting today!

Thanks, Carole for this tip. I know what I'll be doing tomorrow.

Free access to World Vital Records for 3 days starting today!

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What Comes First: Internet or Breakfast?

Seems as though I am not alone. I have a little netbook on my bedside table and regularly read the news and RSS feeds with my morning coffee in bed.

What Comes First: Internet or Breakfast?

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Free access to SMH archive from Google News Archive

I somehow missed last week's announcement that Google had quadrupled its searchable archive of historical news articles.

Included in the new offering is free access to The Sydney Morning Herald archives. Although I cannot find information on the dates covered I have done a few test searches and recovered free articles for the time period 1840-1950.

Although personal notices do not appear to be searchable there is still a wealth of information in the archive for genealogists. In looking for my birth notice I came across an article on November 19,1949 about a relation of my fathers, a linesman who was electrocuted in the course of his work in 1949. The contents of this small article give me lots of information about young Eric.

I am going to have a wonderful day searching the SMH archives. Thanks to Diane Haddad, The Genealogy Insider for alerting us to this news.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Genealogy Quote

I just came across this quote from George Bernard Shaw:

"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance."

Really pertinent for those of us with crims, bigamists and shifty characters in our trees.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The latest edition of this newsletter has too many interesting snippets to list. It is worth reading online.

Now&Then 39 - August 2009 — State Records NSW

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Genlighten Blog — Genealogy Documented » Blog Archive » Genealogical Serendipity: Does the Internet lead to more or less of it?

An interesting article from the Genlighten blog.

Genlighten Blog — Genealogy Documented » Blog Archive » Genealogical Serendipity: Does the Internet lead to more or less of it?

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Convict trials published online, now we’re chained to internet

Guess what I'm doing?

Looking for all my convict ancestors on Although the details there are scant the information found directs one to other sources. I have already found a brother in family and crime for young James Pusell/Pusill and have discovered an earlier conviction for James. Sadly I can't keep on searching all day as I have an appointment to keep.

Convict trials published online, now we’re chained to internet

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Aussies on the Internet

This image from a article last week shows us that Australians have embraced the internet with 80.6% of the population being users.

With the proliferation of web-based genealogy sites like the new GenealogyWise I imagine that family historians contribute to this high percentage.

Queensland banker

Queensland banker&squo;s past is highway robbery | The Courier-Mail

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