Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Floundering in a Sea of Photographs

I read a very interesting post at the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog this morning in which Lorine discussed her plans to organise her family photographs. A number of readers had posted thoughtful comments to the post.

I made some comments that I think are worthy of post on this blog so I am repeating what I said  here.


My four grown children all enjoy flipping through our family albums and reminiscing.I am preparing a digital album for each of them.

I have combined my parents and inlaws collections with mine - the photos are all in albums arranged chronogically.

Over the Christmas break I borrowed a scanner with a feeder that would scan 20 photos at a time - a great timesaver. Over a couple of weeks I scanned around 5,000 images into folders by year with subfolders of specific dates for occasions like weddings, 21sts with lots of images. I scanned the images as .tif images at a high resolution. These are saved on an external drive and backed up to another.

I already use Picasa to organise my digital photos so I imported all my newly scanned images into that program. So far I have tagged 35 years of photos with names,location and various other labels eg Christmas, Swimming, Family Cars. Initially I applied a year tag to each image (easy to do in big batches). I have 19 more years to tag so I can see that an end is in sight.

Once the tagging is completed I will easily be able to retrieve collections to burn onto CDs not just for my children but for aunts, cousins and family friends.

My advice is get your images scanned and then organise them with software like Photoshop Elements, the Windows Live product or Picasa. Don't try to scan with a flatbed scanner - it is too time consuming. Get hold of a scanner with a feeder for a more painless process. Scan at a high resolution and edit your images with software. I particularly like the straighten photo facility in Picasa.

Thanks for raising this issue. We all need to think about preserving current family history for future generations.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Found a Florence in your family tree? Please share the story.

Nearly half the year has gone and I just discovered that this year, 2010, is International Year of the Nurse (IYNurse). It is the centenary year of the death of the founder of modern nursing - Florence Nightingale (1820-1910). In a 2009 poll "nurses have been voted the most trusted profession in America according to Gallup's annual survey of professions for their honesty and ethical standards".

On its website The Royal College of Nursing, Australia (RCNA) states "RCNA  is dedicated to profiling the achievements of Australian nurses throughout the year". Unfortunately I can't find any  IYNurse stories on their site. There have been some celebrations in the United States,  a new Florence Nightingale Museum has been opened in London and the International website invites people to submit Nurse Stories and Nurse Tributes.

I need to scour my family tree to see if I can find some nurses to write about. There must be some wonderful nurse stories lurking in family histories all around the world.

Genealogists, let's not let 2010 slip away without recognising this noble profession. How about  sharing the stories of the Florences in your tree on your blogs and websites in this International Year of the Nurse?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Comparison of Windows Live Photo Gallery with Picasa - New Version

Genealogists, are you wondering which free photo management software to use for your precious family photos?

Amit Agarwal of Digital Inspiration , one of my favourite blogs, compares Windows Live Photo Gallery with Picasa in this thoughtful and detailed post. I switched to Picasa this year and am happy with the tool but would give Windows Live Photo Gallery a try if I was starting afresh.

Comparison of Windows Live Photo Gallery with Picasa - New Version

Friday, June 25, 2010

Flatline defeated

I couldn't wait 24 hours to check Google Analytics. 6 hours was long enough for me! After Brian posted a comment to say he had visited curiosity got the better of me.

Thank you to those 4 Australians and 1 American who have visited my blog today - I am pleased to report that Google Analytics is up and running.  Now I just need to remember to add the script when next I change my template.

All National Anthems

Wondering about the national anthem from the lands of your forefathers?  You've heard Grandma humming the tune but she doesn't have much tune and is a bit rusty on the words.

At All National Anthems, a website that is trying to collect all anthems, one can use a Google site search to find a country or click on a country's location on an interactive yahoo map to find information on its anthem.

Presently, for some countries there is only information about the anthem while for others there are recordings available.

Flatline antidote

Thanks to Amy Coffin of We Tree for her positive reinforcement in her comment on my Flatline on the blog post and letting me know that she reads my blog via RSS. My son also called on his Grandpa's birthday after he read my Happy Birthday, Dad Post . I suspect that I have other readers so why the flatline???

This morning I decided to find a solution to my problem by checking the Blogger help pages and some user forums.  Surprise, Surprise:  I found my answer in about five minutes of searching. I applied the remedy and now have to wait for around 24 hours to see if the antidote worked.

Around ten days ago I changed my blog template to one with more columns. With this change I lost any modifications I had made to the old template so I faithfully added most of these to the new template.  The source code for Google Analytics is a bit of a sleeper that I had overlooked. Once seen and applied its  forgotten but it's an important piece of code. Without this code data about visits to my site cannot be recorded. The code has been now installed as per directions.

Dear Readers, if you happen across this post today via RSS, would you mind visiting the actual blog site please so that I can verify that I have the code correctly installed.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Scottish Heritage Week 24th June- 4th July

The Scottish Australian Heritage Council is hosting a range of events for Scottish Heritage Week in Australia.

During this week I am thinking of our Scottish ancestors who settled in Australia : James Duncan from Aberdeen, Archibald Gillespie from Kilchoman, William Purves Gowans from Hawick and Margaret Munro from Paisley.

 Photo: William Purves Gowans

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Flatline on the Blog

Although my blog doesn't have a high readership I continue to blog because I enjoy writing, want to preserve some stories for future generations and believe that some of the things I write about may be of interest to others.

I therefore got a shock this morning when I checked in with Google Analytics to see who had been visiting lately.  The visits usually go in peaks and troughs with no particular pattern. On the image below visits go from a low of 16 to a high of 70 in a day. A report on recent visitors tells me that my blog has had no visitors since June 15th.

I find this hard to fathom as someone commented on one of my posts during this time so I must have had at least one visit. Others may read my posts in an RSS reader and not actually visit the blog but to have no visitors for 10 days seems a bit strange. I am now wondering about the effectiveness and reliability of Google Analytics.

20th edition Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture: I Speak From Experience

"To be sure, to be sure" is the dream I have for my Irish research.

Sadly I cannot be sure about much to do with my Irish ancestry that is complicated by many brick walls. I have visited Ireland and trudged through muddy cemeteries in search of ancestors who are resting six feet under but was not able to find a grave for any of the fifteen direct ancestors I have identified.

A number of kindly parish priests let me sit in their parlours for hours to pore over their parish registers. I was able to find some relevant records for the Kealys of Ballyfoyle but was not lucky with my Tierneys, Ryans, Moores,D'Arcys, Currys, Molloys, Connollys and Bowes.

Searching for civil registrations didn't help because I was seeking persons who lived before registration. The recently published 1901 and 1911 censuses of Ireland have helped me identify distant cousins but are not relevant to my ancestors.

From my experience the only advice I can offer is that with time and persistence you may find what you are seeking. Due to work commitments and time constraints my research trip to Ireland was very short. I do believe in "See and ye shall find" so plan to spend a longer period of time when I retire on my next ancestor hunt in Ireland  where "with the luck of the Irish" I may find those elusive ancestors.

Happy Birthday, Dad

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How Aussie are you?

Doing the rounds of Australian Bookish Blogs at the moment is this meme that I found on Mysteries in Paradise.

My responses to this meme will, in future years, tell my descendants a little more about me. Other Aussie genealogists may consider completing this meme for their families.

101 things that may indicate you are an Aussie

I've marked my  "accomplishments" in bold and things I'd like to do in italics
  1. Heard a kookaburra in person. (There are many in our garden)
  2. Slept under the stars. (Yes five star hotels)
  3. Seen a koala. (Held one)
  4. Visited Melbourne (For the tennis and genealogy)
  5. Watched a summer thunderstorm.
  6. Worn a pair of thongs.
  7. Been to Uluru (Ayers Rock)
  8. Visited Cape York.
  9. Held a snake 
  10. Sang along with Khe San (is that Australian?)
  11. Drank VB.
  12. Visited Sydney (live on Australian's best city)
  13. Have seen a shark.
  14. Have used Aussie (and NZ) slang naturally in a conversation. (daily)
  15. Had an actual conversation with an indigenous Australian.
  16. Eaten hot chips from the bag at the beach.
  17. Walked/climbed over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
  18. Used an outside dunny, and checked under the seat before sitting down.
  19. Seen Chloe in Young & Jackson’s.
  20. Slept on an overnight train or bus. (On the Southern Aurora to Melbourne)
  21. Been to Sydney’s Mardi Gras
  22. Have gone bush-bashing
  23. Taken a sickie
  24. Been to see a game of Aussie Rules football.
  25. Have seen wild camels (only overseas)
  26. Gone skinny dipping. 
  27. Done a Tim Tam Slam.
  28. Ridden in a tram in Melbourne.
  29. Been at an ANZAC day Dawn Service.
  30. Held a wombat.
  31. Been on a roadtrip of 800km or more
  32. Seen the Great Australian Bight in person.(from the sea on a cruise)
  33. Had a really bad sunburn.
  34. Visited an Aboriginal community.
  35. Seen a redback spider.
  36. Have watched Paul Hogan.
  37. Seen Blue Poles in person.
  38. Wandered barefoot in the bush/outback.
  39. Eaten Vegemite.
  40. Thrown a boomerang.
  41. Seen the Kimberleys.
  42. Given a hitch-hiker a lift.
  43. Been to Perth.
  44. Have tried Lemon, Lime and Bitters.
  45. Tried playing a didgeridoo.
  46. Seen dinosaur footprints.
  47. Eaten Tim Tams.
  48. Been to Darwin.
  49. Touched a kangaroo.
  50. Visted the Great Barrier Reef. (Snorkelled there)
  51. Listened to Kevin Bloody Wilson.
  52. Killed a Cane Toad.
  53. Gone to a drive-in theatre.
  54. Have read and own books by Australian authors
  55. Visited Adelaide.
  56. Know the story behind “Eternity”.
  57. Been camping.
  58. Visited Brisbane.
  59. Been in an outback pub.
  60. Know what the term “Waltzing Matilda” actually means.
  61. Gone whale watching.
  62. Listened to Slim Dusty.
  63. Own five or more Australian movies or TV series.
  64. Sang along to Down Under.
  65. Have stopped specifically to look at an historic marker by the side of the road.
  66. Eaten a 4′n’20 pie.
  67. Surfed at Bondi. (Daily when I worked in the Beach Pavilion)
  68. Watched the cricket on Boxing Day.
  69. Visited Hobart.
  70. Eaten kangaroo.
  71. Seen a quokka (At Rottnest Island).
  72. Visited Canberra. (Last time last week)
  73. Visited rainforests.
  74. Used a Victa lawnmower.
  75. Travelled on a tram in Adelaide.
  76. Used a Hills hoist.  (have one in the backyard)
  77. Visited Kata Tjuta.
  78. Used native Australian plants in cooking.
  79. Visited the snow.
  80. Chosen a side in Holden VS Ford.
  81. Visited the desert.
  82. Been water skiing.
  83. Read The Phantom.
  84. Visited Parliament House (New, Old and State)
  85. Gone spotlighting or pig-shooting.
  86. Crossed the Nullarbor. (In a plane)
  87. Avoided swimming in areas because of crocodiles.
  88. Listened to AC/DC.
  89. Called someone a dag.
  90. Voted in a Federal Election.
  91. Have been swimming and stayed between the flags.
  92. Had a possum in your roof. (Too often)
  93. Visited the outback.
  94. Travelled over corrugated roads.
  95. Hit a kangaroo while driving
  96. Been well outside any mobile phone coverage. (At home when on Optus)
  97. Seen an emu.
  98. Have woken to the smell of bushfires.
  99. Subscribed to RRR. (The three Rs?)
  100. Patted a pure-bred dingo.
  101. Seen the Oils live.

Pioneer Registers

Among the 30 books I requested from the National Library on my visit last week were a number of Pioneer Registers for areas where my ancestors and their descendants resided. Pioneer Registers  record the names of early settlers in a particular area and are usually published by local family history or genealogy societies. The National library holds a number of Pioneer Registers.

One of the registers I consulted was Bathurst Pioneers published in 2007 to which I had made some contributions. Another was the Hawkesbury Pioneer Registers. The Camden  Register published by the Camden Area Family History Society Inc. also included submissions made by me. From the entries therein I was able to identify more descendants of my convict ancestor, Patrick Curry.

Pioneer Registers are a fantastic resource for family historians but one must use these resources with caution and check sources to ensure that the information published is accurate.  In one publication I consulted a given name was typed as "Casuman" but I knew the gentleman's name was "Casimir".

I commend Pioneer Registers to genealogists but, as with many secondary sources, one must verify the information published in them.

Do you have ancestors from the Inverell district?

The  Inverell District Family History Group Inc. is collecting submissions for a Pioneer Register of the District pre 1900.

 Click here to download the Pioneer Register submission forms

Submissions will be received up to 30 Septmeber 2010.  Further details are available on the society's website.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reflections from a "spur of the moment student"

Week three of the NIGS Australian and New Zealand Genealogy course has arrived and, because I took a trip to Canberra last week,  I have fallen behind in my studies; a situation I will redress today.

I was  excited about the first online meeting scheduled for our group last week.  I studiously downloaded and tested the required software (so I thought). Around fifteen minutes prior to the meeting I tried to connect to the chat but had no success; I fiddled with all sorts of things on my computer but just could not get through. Both an officer of NIGS and Kerry Farmer, our tutor have sent me directions for connecting.  I have connected to the "trial meeting" this morning so hopefully can join in the live meeting tonight. It is interesting to note that a confusing link on the NIGS Chat sessions page has been changed.

Kerry has been an exemplary tutor connecting with her students through a number of relevant emails that answer questions raised in the first online meeting or pointing out more relevant resources. Her written notes are comprehensive and easy to follow.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Our National Library

I love our nation's library.  Although I get to visit Canberra a few times a year I usually spend my time catching up with friends. During my visit this week I set aside time to do some family history research at the National Library of Australia. I was thrilled at some of the changes I witnessed.

An unnatural silence punctuated by laptops starting up, mobile phones beeping and bags rustling pervades the Main Reading Room. A little piped light classical music is needed as an antidote to the deathly silence. It would be hard to engage in collaborative work in this morgue like atmosphere. Perhaps it is time for the silence rule to be relaxed.

The library has a copy of "The Wanton Witches of the Wanstead" a book about the females who were transported to Australia on the ship, Wanstead. The catalyst for my visit was, as my ancestor Elizabeth Phipps was one of the witches, to read this book.  The night before my visit I accessed the library's catalogue and found this and a number of other works I was keen to consult. I logged in with my NLA library card  and requested the maximum 15 books. I arrived at the library at 9:00 am, opening time next morning, and made for the reading room.  14 of my 15 books were waiting for me.  What service!

When I selected a desk I was pleased to find it fitted with a dual power supply so that I could plug my laptop in without having to worry about conserving battery power. As I had limited time to read all the books I had packed my digital camera. Although  "The Wanton Witches of the Wanstead" was a disappointment the other resources I used  brought me a harvest of new births deaths and marriages and a few new cousins. Additionally I was able to find background information on some of the country areas where the ancestors lived and worked. I took digital images of several relevant paragraphs in some of the works and will peruse these at my leisure at home.

Warmth pervaded the library from the friendly smile of the lady on the baggage desk to the young librarian who searched valiantly but couldn't locate the 15th book I had requested.  The lightfilled reading room and comfortably heated room add to the warmth of the library.

I enjoyed my visit so much that I delayed my return home. This morning I requested another 15 books from our hotel and then dragged Mr Geniaus along with me for another library visit. Mr Geniaus was impressed as the library had free wireless internet access so he was able to catch up on his work while I continued with the ancestor hunting.

Genealogists, a visit to the National Library should be at the top of your bucket list.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Clan Fraser

Do you have these names in your tree?

Bisset Brewster Cowie
Fraser Frazer Frazier
Frizelle Freer Frew
Grewar Gruar MacGruar
Lovat Lovett MacKin
MacKimmie MacImmie Oliver
Sim Sime Sims
Syme Simpson Simson
Twaddle Tweedale Tweedie

Then The Australian Clan Fraser website is the site for you.

Here you can use the Genealogy Forum to share information ans ask questions about your Fraser links and genealogy generally. Additionally the site gives inforamtion about the Frasers.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday

It's not quite a tombstone but I loved this tablet that we came across in WInchester on a genealogy trip to the UK.

Awarded Aussies

Yesterday The Queen’s Birthday 2010 Honours List was announced by the Governor-General.  666 Australians were the recipients of various awards. The Australian Honours Database is a very useful tool for family historians, as it houses details of 240,000 recipients of awards since Federation.

A search for John Brown returns quite a number of hits:

Each recipient record has a number of fields:

As well as the 240,000 short individual entries the Honoured Australians page tells the stories of some of these inspiring Australians.

Monday, June 14, 2010

OMG. It's hideous

I just pressed a button to reapply the new template I had uploaded to my blog as I wasn't too happy with some of the customisations...... and this purple monstrosity appeared.

Hopefully I can restore a more sedate look and my customisations soon.

Keen as mustard

It seems as though the participants in the "Australian & NZ Genealogy Course" from NIGS are as keen as mustard as is our leader Kerry Farmer. Kerry has gone out of her way to negotiate with the people at NIGS in Canada to accommodate the needs of her students.

Lesson 3: Births, Deaths & Marriages teaches about resources for finding these details of these events in Australia. The comprehensive course notes are set out clearly and logically. As it is a long weekend in Australia Kerry organised for our course materials to be available online earlier than the advertised date. Additionally Kerry wanted her students to have time to be able to take advantage of a long weekend special to order transcriptions at a reduced rate.

From Kerry's emails I can deduce that we have people from at least three continents in our study group.
Tonight we have our first online chat where I will meet these folk.Can't wait.


Since I first donned ballet slippers at the age of four (photo) I have had an ongoing interest in and love of the ballet.

My mother and aunts took me to see many ballets in Sydney theatres when I was a youngster; sadly I cannot remember details of these outings. I do remember my disappointment at not being able to see Dame margot Fonteyn.

A wonderful resource that records stories of the of Ballet in Australia is the Behind Ballet Blog. I particularly enjoy the Flashback posts which focus on the history and artists of the ballet in Australia. I read these in the hope that they might trigger some childhood memories.

I now enjoy a subscription to The Australian Ballet which Isee with my grandaughter and daughter; they will not forget these trips to The Opera House as I record them with photos and diary entries. It is so important to record these future memories.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Message from Mr. President

"At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better." Barack Obama

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Meaningful subject lines

As a connected genealogist I subscribe to many email lists, forums and blogs related to my interests. Greeting a full email box each day does not perturb me as I can quickly scan the subject lines of the emails,delete those that are not relevant and open those that may be of interest. Some people, however, just don't get it.

Particularly relevant to people downunder is the myriad of Rootsweb Mailing Lists, each of which is devoted to a particular niche area of the field. There are a number of Australian lists to which one can subscribe and connect with people with similar interests.

On one such list last night I eagerly opened a message whose subject line was one word,my given name, thinking that it was a personal note to me. It was for another person who shares my first name.

In all messages is is useful and polite to clearly state, in the subject line of the email, clues to the content of the message that follows. A recent message on The OrangeBathurst list has the subject "John Henry Williamson of Boronore", this clearly tells users about the subject ot the message, however other posts entitled "The New Family" give very few clues. Sinilarly this subject line "[HHHV] Hawkesbury pounds and poundkeepers 1855" from the HillsHawkesburyHunterValley list is very specific, whilst another heading "Wills" is far too general.

List etiquette would suggest that a list is not the place for personal messages. Sometimes, however, it is not possible to contact another list member because of a dead email address. In these cases something like "Personal message to Mary Jones" ,"Trying to contact Fred Wright" or "John Brown - please contact sender" would alert other listers that the content of the message is personal.

Sometimes during the course of a thread (or email conversation) the subject changes. Do not let an irrelevant subject stand. Change it to reflect the contents of the messages in the conversation. Search engines, such as Google, index the contents of mailing lists; it pays to have relevant subjects so that your posts can be indexed correctly and subsequently found by others.

Busy people may skip emails with fuzzy headings such as "genealogy question" or 'help please"; if you want people to read your messages remember to have a clear and cogent subject line.

Official Google Blog: Blogger Template Designer now available to everyone

Do you use Blogger for your blog? Here is news of a new feature that I stumbled across yesterday.

Official Google Blog: Blogger Template Designer now available to everyone

News from Toowoomba and Darling Downs

I am unashamedly copying this news from the News Website of the Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society in the hopes it will reach a wider audience.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Addition to Our Biographical Register

Our very popular Biographical Pioneer Register is now about to be expanded to a new Edition which will cover the time period up to 1920.
We are now calling for submissions from members of the Society and the wider community.

Do you have family from the Downs who settled here before 1920?

Download a Submission form HERE and submit it to our Society to help make this as complete as we can.
You will need to know a little about your family and if you are unsure of dates and times etc we can help you confirm your research at our rooms in South St, Toowoomba.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sisters by the Sea

In last years Annual Swimsuit edition post I shared a photo of myself on a family holiday at Ettalong, NSW. For this year's offering for the 95th EDITION OF THE Carnival Of Genealogy I am going back to the scene of many happy family holidays and posting a photo of myself with my mother, aunts and a close family friend.

In her teens and early years Mum,her four sisters and Roma, the family friend pictured, lived in Kensington with my maternal grandparents. As my grandmother also had a couple of male boarders it must have been pretty crowded in their four bedroom home. From photos in the family album I see that trips to beaches around Sydney figured prominently in their social lives. Once they were married they carried on the tradition of trips to the beach with shared family holidays in January to Ettalong and later Port Macquarie.

In the photo below taken in January, 1956 are (L-R) Eileen Duncan, Mary Duncan, Lillian Duncan, Geniaus, Elsie Duncan and Roma Hambly posing at Ettalong Beach. As an only child I relished the family time shared on these holidays.

"Australian & NZ Genealogy" course. Week 1.

On the spur of the moment last week I enrolled in the "Australian & NZ Genealogy" course.

The course notes are in .pdf format and password protected but it is an easy matter to donwload copies onto one's computer for reference.

I have just completed Lesson1 : Introduction. Although I didn't learn much I found the material well written and organised with welcome touches of humour. The attached reading list is quite extensive and a wonderful resource to have. As someone who is entranced by technology I was taken aback by the discussion of organising one's research with its focus on hard copy but I realise that many beginning family historians don't share my enthusiasm for techie toys. This lesson had small practical tasks scattered through its pages; as I have a comprehensive family tree I skipped these exercises that would be most useful to a beginning genealogist.

Phew! I have just finished reading Lesson 2: Historical & Geographical Background, a fairly dry topic.. In this 33 page lesson one is given a potted history of Australia and New Zealand since European discovery and settlement. As my knowledge of New Zealand's history is scant I found this information most illuminating.

I look forward to Monday when I can access my next week's lessons on Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Scottish Genealogy News and Events (SGNE): HistoryPin site launches

Scottish Genealogy News and Events (SGNE): HistoryPin site launches

Great article on an innovative new Web2.0 resource where genealogists can share historic photographs.

Genealogy Carnival

News of a new genealogy carnival from f o o t n o t e M a v e n

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Myall Creek Massacre: 172 years on - New South Wales - Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Myall Creek Massacre: 172 years on - New South Wales - Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Was there a doctor in your house?

At the Sydney Medical School Online Museum and Archive there are valuable resources for genealogists.

The 24,000 students who have graduated from the Faculty of Medicine can be found on a database that can be searched by name,year and degree. On the Biographies page one can see 155 alumni biogra

The Senior Yearbooks from 1922-1980 are also digitised in .pdf format on the site. These substantial publications contain biographies and photographs of lecturers, photographs of the university and its teaching hospitals and "personal details and characteristics" of the fifth years. Searching these is painfully slow but it is worth perservering.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


A post on the Puffin website that celebrates 70 years of Puffin Books led me to think about the books that I read in childhood and what I am reading now. Puffin has chosen a book of the decade for each of the seven decades it has been publishing, I am pleased that I have read six of the seven 'modern classic' titles listed.

The books one reads gives others a picture of one's interests and adds a bit more flavour to dry genealogical facts. If you are a reader and family historian have you recorded your reading for your descendants?

I have kept a reading log for around 30 years, initially I recorded in chronological order, in an A4 tartan notebook, basic details of books I read. In April 2006 I joined the fledgling website Librarything and from that date have recorded my reading there. I said at the time " I'm now moving into the 21st century and transferring my written reading log into a digital format. Now I can classify, sort, search and easily retrieve details of favourites read long ago."In the future my descendants will be able to take a look at what I have read and hopefully gain more insight into the person that was their, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Family historians, consider leaving a legacy of a list of the titles you have read for the future generations of your family.

Methinks some people tweet too much.

Twitter is a wonderful resource for learning about current news and new resources. My problem is how to use Twitter for family history responsibly.

I don't want to clog up the tweet streams of my followers with useless tweets so I don't retweet items that a number of my followers who have the same follower base have already retweeted.

Neal Chambers says that "The most important thing about your Twitter account is your username. This will be used to identify you in the Twitter stream and how people will find your account ( It's best to choose something easy to remember/spell. A perfect example of this is your real name (gasp!)." I chose Geniaus as I wanted something short and easy to remember that indicated my interest in genealogy and my location and interest in Australia. If you do not want to use your own name think of a short identity that somehow describes you. I particularly like @infolass, @geneabloggers, @genebrarian and @geneaphile.

The nine essentials of Twitter etiquette includes the advice "Don't feel compelled to tweet regularly. I promise that if you take a personal tweet-free day, your audience will understand." One does not need to tweet every day, interesting news does not arrive at regular intervals but in waves, one's pattern of tweeting can reflect these peaks and troughs. Less is more.

Some Twitterers with a commercial affiliation use Twitter as a marketing tool and seem to retweet endlessly; I am tempted to unfollow them but I might miss some of the original snippets they post. The Search Marketing Spin Blog warns against being"Re-tweeting Machines: If all you do is re-tweet, that can get annoying as well. I definitely encourage re-tweeting articles and thoughts that are deemed important, but keep that as part of the overall mix." I wish Twitter had a facility where one could select individual settings for those one follows ie so one could select to see just a user's original tweets, retweets, replies or any combination of these.

"Don’t RT Yourself If you have multiple Twitter accounts, for example one for personal stuff and another for work, please do not Retweet what you said on another account. If people want to follow both, they will. There’s a reason you have two accounts: not everyone cares about both of your online personalities." This advice from "Online etiquette: Tweet with care" should be heeded by some genealogy Tweeters.

In Mind your twitter manners Jacqueline Whitmore says: "Don’t spam. If people are following you, they are going to want real content that matches their interests or teaches them something new. If you are sending out numerous tweets that are trying to sell your products, you will quickly lose your following. People have enough spam through e-mail and don’t want this to be another source of excess clutter."

I actually unfollow and refollow some people while they are at events and conferences. A PCWorld article "Twitter Etiquette: How to Tweet Politely" states "Reconsider the running commentary. Live-tweeting sporting events or conference speeches may seem like a public service, but who's listening? If you normally use Twitter to post once-a-week status updates but then abruptly let fly with 80 tweets in a day, you'll aggravate followers who aren't expecting their account to be inundated by your sudden outpouring. Consider composing a blog post instead, or offer a single succinct observation each hour".

"Don't bother re-tweeting the big dogs" is more sage advice from The nine essentials of Twitter etiquette includes the advice. Most people interested in genealogy will follow Ancestry and FamilySearch and other major organisations in their countries, don't retweet what most of your followers will have already read.

One of my pet hates is the Follow Friday post where one thanks followers. These posts seem impersonal to me and clog up tweet streams. If a thank you is warranted one can send a private thankyou via a direct message. It is important to build relationships on Twitter; this can be done by sending public individual thankyous, using the reply function and retweeting followers' posts.

Remember that your Tweets are in the public domain. If you say something on Twitter you are potentially telling the world. Your tweets can be read by everyone.

World Oceans Day

June 8th is World Oceans Day. The theme for this inaugural celebration is "Oceans of Life".

My mind on this day immediately turns to all of my ancestors who came to Australia over 150 years ago. They each would have braved the oceans as they headed for the promise of life in a new land.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Prompt response from NIGS

Gold star to the people at NIGS (The National Institute for Genealogical Studies) - they have taken my comments about timezones on board. I now have access to the learning materials in my briefcase.

ACT Public Library Blog: National Cyber Security Awareness Week

ACT Public Library Blog: National Cyber Security Awareness Week

First disappointment - NIGS Course

I just tried to log in to my course that starts today, 7th June, but cannot do so, the course site lists it as a Future Course.

My first piece of feedback to NIGS is that, if you are offering courses internationally, you must pay attention to international timezones. There is a world outside North America and it is ahead of North America - it has already been the 7th June for 11 hours here!

Spur of the moment student

I am aware that there are huge gaps in my knowledge in the field of genealogy and have been considering formal post-graduate study in genealogy for a number of years. I am often 'gunna' enrol in some award or other but never quite get around to doing do.

A few times I have looked at the offerings of the
NIGS (The National Institute for Genealogical Studies) and had read about their "Australian & NZ Genealogy" course. This appealed to me as it is a non-award course at a reasonable cost, led by an Australian genealogist, Kerry Farmer, with a good reputation. Perhaps it would help me decide if I really want to pursue formal studies in this area.

Last Friday a post on Facebook by Gould Genealogy alerted his friends that the next NIGS
"Australian & NZ Genealogy" would be starting today, 7 June. I enrolled on the spur of the moment.

It is Day 1 for this 'spur of the moment student' and I already have a good feeling about the course. The leader, Kerry Farmer, has emailed participants with details of the course and asked a few questions that will help her know her students. My reply to her elicited a prompt, warm and personal reply back form Kerry = A good start.

Now to read the course materials.....

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Twigs of Yore

Shelley, from Twigs of Yore, another blogger who was included in the MyHeritage Top 100 list, yesterday weighed into the debate about these awards with her post In defence of my honour!

Pasted below is a copy of my response to Shelley's post:

My Geniaus blog was on the MyHeritage list and was chuffed to find myself there. When I received the initial email from MyHeritage telling me they were going to put my blog on a list and offering me a badge I didn't take much notice of it and ignored the message.

I was surprised when a few days later I found my blog listed in their Top 100. I was pleased, not just for myself, but for genealogy in Australia as there were a number of Australian blogs on the list. With our small population base we have a hard time getting noticed and noted in other 'best' lists that tend to feature North American blogs.

My Google Analytics reports show a spike in site visits around the time the awards were announced. I imagine this was the case for the other Aussie blogs listed. The MyHeritage Award has helped in telling the world that genealogy is thriving downunder.

I won't be removing my badge - I am honoured to have been noticed.

Sharing pays dividends

I have shared my family tree on my own site,, on the internet with only details of living persons supressed. Anyone doing a simple Google search for our common ancestors will usually find my site listed in their list of hits. By doing this I am allowing others to copy and paste my information thus sharing the fruits of my labours with them.

Some family historians closely guard the data in their trees and require others to apply for a username and password before searching their sites for possible matches. My open policy has paid dividends for me.

Most weeks I hear from someone who has shared ancestry or a relationship to someone in my tree. Some of these people ask for the world ie "Can you send me all the certificates you have for the family of XXX"? Most people, however, offer some small pieces of information to add to that I have gathered.

Two weeks ago Carl was checking some records on my site and was able to correct some misinformation I had published, he generously emailed me a copy of an original birth certificate for the person in question. This morning I was contacted by a woman who shares my husband's paternal 2nd great-grandfather; she too has offered to send me certificates for her line.

This week a second cousin of my husband's contacted us - we did not know of his existence. He was thrilled to have found a major part of his family history published on the internet; I immediately added to my database the extra information he gave me on his line. He also has, in his possesion, photographs of two of my husband's maternal great-grandparents that he is generously sending us together with copies of other family documents. My husband has never seen pictures of these Gillespie great-grandparents.

If you wish to make connections with others use the internet to get your information out into the public domain and make it easily accessible to others.

In genealogy, as with other areas, It pays to advertise.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Elizabeth Phipps - an honest woman

On this day, June 4th in 1834, William Magick made an honest woman of my 3rd great-grandmother, Elizabeth Phipps when they were wed at The Scots Church in Sydney.

Elizabeth had lived a colourful life having been transported to Sydney on Wanstead in 1814 after a trial at The Old Bailey. Elizabeth was one of "The wanton witches of the Wanstead". Old William, another convict, arrived in the colony per General Hewitt.

Elizabeth gave birth to 10 children between 1815 and 1830 but their paternity is hard to determine as she resided with both her first husband, James Westbrook, and Magick during this period.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Computer maintenance

Genealogists, if you store you valuable family history files on your personal computer you must schedule regular maintenance. My boss shared this useful link with me by email yesterday.

You probably don't clean your computer screen very often and it is really difficult to get to the inside. Just click here then wait a few minutes and it will be done for you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Timeline yourself - A tool for genealogists

create a Personal Timeline of your life from any digital assets you have, such as pictures, videos, blogs, documents, or any internet page.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Having a say

I take my hat off to Unlock the Past for providing an opportunity for those who attended the Find My Past In Australia Roadshows to complete an online evaluation for the event. I had a few things I wanted to say and was able to do so in the comments section of the survey. Whether my suggestions are taken on board or not I appreciate being able to "put my two bob's worth in".

By providing a mechanism for participants to provide feedback in an anonymous online forum the people at
Unlock the Past will have a valuable tool with which to evaluate the events they have staged. Future events will benefit from this evaluation.


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