Friday, August 27, 2010

The Gift of the Gab

My ancestor Patrick "Paddy" Curry as an Irishman from Limerick probably had the gift of the gab but, as he died 130 years ago, I never had the chance to meet him.

Fortunately some of Patrick's words were preserved in a Sydney Morning Herald article from  Thursday 8 June 1848. This and many other great stories can be found at The National Library Of Australia's Trove website.

For this 21st edition of the Carnival of Genealogy I am posting a copy of that article in which Paddy demonstrates that he had The Gift of the Gab.

Sydney Morning Herald 8 June 1848
 This post has been prepared for  the 21st edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture

Macquarie Buildings

Found this notice on the Facebook page of The Hawkesbury Family History Group 

Hawkesbury Family History Group Historian Dr James Broadbent will be delivering a talk on Macquarie’s buildings & the vision he held for progress. Former Senior Curatorial Advisor at Historic Houses Trust of NSW, he also co-wrote 'Age of Macquarie'. This event will be held Thursday 9 September from 4pm-6pm in the historic St Matthews Anglican Church Moses St WINDSOR. FREE but bookings necessary T (02) 4560 4460 or E

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Genealogy Event in Penrith




Christine Yeats - Chasing your ancestors' land - sources in the NSW State Archives.

Lorraine Stacker - Researching your family using local government resources.
Lorraine will be bringing along some of the original local government documents held by Penrith City Library.

Laurence Turtle - Looking for missed clues in your family history research - BDM certificates - how to get the most from them.
Lorraine Turtle - Other avenues of research.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spithead to Sydney Cove 197 Years Ago

Thinking of my 3rd Great-Grandmother, Elizabeth Phipps, who left Spithead on the ship Wanstead for New South Wales with 120 other female convicts on 24 August 1813. I have previously blogged about Elizabeth.

I have now identified over 1600 descendants of Elizaabeth. Their details can be found at my website

Australian Cemeteries Index - Editor position becoming vacant

The Australian Cemeteries Index is a wonderful collaborative resource for genealogists.

I received this email via two lists to which I subscribe. As there is a message to Please distribute attached I am doing so.

"Please distribute this message.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Reg McDonell" <>
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2010 4:17 PM
Subject: Australian Cemeteries Index

> Dear Contributors,
> This is to let everyone know that, because the years are catching up on
> us, Jean and I will be retiring at the end of 2010. We both wish to
> express our sincere gratitude to the many contributors of images and
> data to the Australian Cemeteries Index over recent years. It is
> obvious from the swag of positive feedback we have continually received,
> that the site has been a blessing and help to lots of people all over
> the world who have been doing family history research.
> The site will remain online, of course, but may be in static mode for a
> while until a new editor takes over.
> If you are working on or planning to do any cemeteries in the near
> future, please try and get the data to us by the end of December and we
> will undertake, God willing, to get it all online as soon as possible.
> Best wishes,
> Reg and Jean McDonell"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Free Technology for Teachers: 7 Sources of Free Sounds for Multimedia Projects

A number of posts on the Free Technology for Teachers blog have relevance for genealogists.

If you want to add a bit of pizazz to your website, podcasts or presentations take a look at the following post in which Richard discusses a number of sites where one can source free sound clips, sound effects, and music.

Free Technology for Teachers: 7 Sources of Free Sounds for Multimedia Projects

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mary Jane Aspinall

My maternal great-grandmother, Mary Jane Aspinall, was born in Carrawa, New South Wales on this day in  1862. Unfortunately I do not have many photos of Mary Jane. Hopefully one day I'll hook up with some distant cousins who may have some pictures stored away. Reporduced below are some of the photos I have.

Mary Jane and daughters c 1912
Mary Jane c 1949

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I have previously blogged about using Twitter for genealogy. When I do a search of my blog archives I find that I have made many references to Twitter and I first blogged aboutTwitter and genealogy in November 2008. Since those early days a number of switched on genealogists have turned to Twitter but they are in the minority.

Derek Baird from Barking Robot today made reference to this cheat sheet from Thomas MacEntee on Scribd that is a handy reference for wouldbe Twitterers. Genealogists who are considering Twitter will find this useful.

I still have concerns about the way some of my connections use Twitter. The "Be a Good Twitizen" section of the cheat sheet makes some pertinent points.

Mea Culpa - I  am guilty of not pausing between tweets. I will try to space them out.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pointers for Presenters

Having retired from the world of education I now have some time to devote to my hobby/passion for family history. Over the last eighteen months I have  attended a number of seminars and talks on genealogy and related subjects. Some presenters have been excellent and some have been downright woeful. Some of the genealogy presenters I have seen could do well to watch and learn from the presentations I have seen given by Australian students in our schools.

Having knowledge of a subject does not qualify one as a competent and engaging presenter.

Prompted by Thomas MacEntee's announcement that he has published a book " Approaching the Lectern: How to Become a Genealogy Speaker"  I have decided to make a few suggestions for Australian speakers. Each of these points could have helped one or some of the speakers I have heard recently.

  • Update your knowledge of the topic
  • Get prior information on your audience 
  • Be prepared, have backups of your presentation
  • Prepare a handout or disk for distribution to participants or provide links to the presentation on the internet
  • Practice your talk in front of a trusted and honest friend or colleague and use their feedback to polish your work
  • Maintain regular contact with the hosting organisation
  • Dress appropriately for the situation 
  • Arrive early and check setup

  • Set the scene by giving some background information on yourself
  • State the rules of the game - Are you happy to be interrupted or do you want people to keep questions to the end?
  • Start with an overview of the presentation's content - Outline your goals for the gig
  • Display enthusiasm or passion for your subject
  • State your relationship to products being demonstrated - Some talks are thinly veiled marketing exercises/infomercials - Be honest and upfront about your connections to vendors/products
  • Speak clearly, coherently and with animation - Engage your audience through good communciation
  • Avoid Death by Powerpoint - You are the presenter
  • Sprinkle your talk with anecdotes and analogies - but don't overdo it
  • Use visual aids and artefacts to embellish your talk - Cater for individual learning styles of participants
  • Involve your audience - Ask them questions, get them to comment on a photo or artefact
  • When showing internet sites connect to the site - avoid screenshots - use them as backups for times of technology failure 
  • When talking about software - Accompany with a live demonstration
  • Be honest - If you don't know the answer to a question say so  
  • There may be experts in your audience who can add value to the event - Accept their comments graciously

  • Invite feedback via a printed or online feedback form - Offer a prze draw for completed forms
  • Set aside some time to talk to audience members individually after talk
  • Provide contact details for audinece followup 
  • Use audience feedback to amend and polish your presentation 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Take a Look at Rookwood

I have shamelessly lifted the following from this page on The Rookwood Cemetery Site (I hope they appreciate the publicity):

ROOKWOOD OPEN DAY will be held on Sunday 19th September, 9am-3pm.
Activities throughout the whole Cemetery, including:

Heritage & garden tours
Bus tours
Crematorium and mausoleum tours
Offices open for family enquires
A street parade
Grave-digging demonstrations
Talks on the history of Embalming
Frazer Mausoleum and St Michael’s Chapel open
Delicious food
Books & bric-a-brac
Plants, heritage roses
Kids craft & colouring-in competition
Entertainment & HEAPS MORE!
JUST COME ALONG! No bookings required.
Gold coin donation for tours & buses
The day is organised by the Friends of Rookwood. The Friends is a voluntary group, whose aims are to raise the public’s awareness of the need to preserve our history and raise money to help with restoration projects within the Cemetery.

More information phone or email

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My trip to town.....

...sounds like a year 4 essay topic!

I have been a member of SAG for quite a while and had never made the trip to town to collect my membership card. After visiting the Hawkesbury Family History fair last week and meeting TMG enthusiasts, Carole Riley, Bruce Fairhall and Linda ?  I thought that it was about time I attended a meeting of the TMGSydney User Group at SAG. Having heard Bruce talk at the Fair I realised that, although I am a longtime TMG user, I am somewhat of a novice.

I didn't want to blot my copybook by arriving without my membership card so I first collected it from the SAG Library at 379 Kent Street before heading to the seminar room at historic Richmond Villa for the TMG meeting.

Kerry Farmer the leader of the group was absent today but the other five new attendees (three of whom travelled from Lithgow) and I got a very warm welcome from the members assembling for the  meeting. Graham Grant greeted us all personally and gave us a 2 page handout with information on the group, the software and resources to support its use. Bruce Fairhall, on opening the meeting, asked us all to introduce ourselves.

Barb Toohey and one of her charts
Today's meeting featured a guest speaker, Barb Toohey, who demonstrated how to make charts of all shapes and sizes using Visual Chartform the charting software that is integrated into the TMG package. As I have only produced simple reports to email to relatives I had not explored this part of the  package. I have thought of printing charts for members of the family but as I never stop researching I can't seem to draw a line in the sand and say "This is it - I'll print a pretty chart." Maybe those relos who have everything will get a pretty chart for Christmas this year.

Barb was an enthusiastic presenter who, after giving a short introductory presentation, did a live demonstration using the software to develop a range of charts. She shared useful many tips and tricks. I admire people who give live demos - demonstrating software with screenshots is like teaching someone to swim from a series of diagrams! Thank you, Barb.

Barb, who hails from the ACT, has a business, Eezy Charts, where she will produce and print TMG charts. She had an impressive range of samples with her today. She can be contacted via her email address

Attending the meeting with a group of knowledgeable enthusiasts has spurred me on to look at my database and add some more bells and whistles. Since  arriving home I have added flags for Convicts, Immigrants and the 2,617 People Born in Australia. In the peripheral chit-chat that went on in the room I learnt of a few more tweaks that I will apply to my database. I would suggest that one of the criteria for selecting a genealogy package is the availability of support from other users.

TMG is one of the most powerful and customisable software packages on the market; with the support of the TMGSydney User Group through its Yahoo Group, blog and user group and the busier international lists the program's value  is enhanced.

Glen Innes Photographs

This plea for help from Kempsey Museum comes via Bruce Fairhall on the TMGSydney List.

"I received the following information, so I'm trying to publicise it as widely as possible. Please post it to other relevant lists:

Kempsey Museum -Phone 02 65627572- has over 40,000 prints from Angus
McNeal's studios in Glen Innes. He took photographs in surrounding areas too.

The pictures date from 1897 to 1960, but so far only 400 have been identified. They are on display 7 days a week, with the people in charge being there usually on Fridays. All help in identifying these
historic photographs would be appreciated."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Is there a lefty in your family tree?

A post on the ABC News site reminds us that today is International Lefthanders Day. Apparently around 15%  of the population is left-handed.

Genealogists, are you left-handed?  Were your ancestors left-handed? Do you think your natural orientation is to left-handedness but that it was knocked out of you when you were forced to learn to write with your right hand?

Can you identify the lefties in your family tree? Until today I hadn't thought about this but now that it is on my radar one of my tasks for today is to go to my tree and to add a tag to the records of those that I know to be left-handed and that includes two of my offspring.

As @StateRecordsNSW suggests on Twitter  let's give the lefties a hug today.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thanks to my Referrers

I regularly look at Google Analytics to see how visitors have reached my blog. As well as referrals from big sites like Google, Blogger, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter I get referrals from smaller organisations and individual genealogists.

I am so grateful to those individuals who link to this blog from their blogs and websites so the purpose of this post is to say thanks to the people behind these sites that have sent readers my way in the last three months.

Creative Gene 
Elyse's Genealogy Blog
The Family Curator
Footnote Maven
The Genealogue
Genealogy Wise
Gould Genealogy
Hunter Valley Genealogy 
Jennifer's Genealogy Blog
Mosman Library
My Family History Research
Shauna Hicks
Small Leaved Shamrock
TMG Sydney
Twigs of Yore
Unlock the Past
The Wandering Genealogist

Scottish Ancestors

Although Family History Week is over there still seems to be a good lot of genealogy events happening in and around Sydney. Last night I travelled to my local library at Hornsby for a workshop presented by Jeremy Palmer from Anzestry.

Family Historians at Hornsby

Jeremy Palmer
The Library's meeting room was packed for this fully subscribed event.  Jeremy gave a talk on "How to trace your Scottish Ancestry." As with his Irish talk Jeremy spent some time discussing Australian Records before moving on to Scottish Records.This appeared to affect the end of his presentation where he didn't have time to discuss in depth some of the resources listed on the handout distributed to the audience. Jeremy's presentation style has matured since I last heard him; he was confident and clear with a few touches of humour. His talk was supported with a few slides and screenshots.
Slide - Scottish Census Dates

Those present appeared to enjoy Jeremy's talk. It is very difficult, in an audience with a range of experience and expertise, to pitch a talk to all paticipant levels.   I think that if the title of the talk was "Introduction to Scottish Research" or  "A brief overview of resources for Scottish Research" the content of the talk would have been clearer to prospective attendees. Although I only learnt of one new resource from this talk ( Statistical Accounts of Scotland Online) I enjoyed the event. I would perhaps have mentioned the great value to be gained from using online collections of digitised newspapers,  added Chris Paton's new book, Researching Scottish Family History to the useful books list and given links to major Scottish genealogy blogs but one can't keep going ad nauseum!

Host, Neil Chippendale, chatting with visitor
It is always rewarding to attend an event for genealogists where there is an atmosphere of camaderie. I wish to thank Neil Chippendale who is responsible for local history at Hornsby Library and his colleague Niall who warmly welcomed all their visitors. Neil, as Hornsby's Local Studies Coordinator, works tirelessly for the local community in his role. Thankyou, Neil, for organising the series of Family History talks at the library, your efforts in pulling all this together within tight budgetry constraints is to be applauded. That the talks are fully subscribed is a testament to their usefulness.

Monday, August 9, 2010

There's to be a Family History Fair at Liverpool, NSW

Earlier today on the State Records site I noticed that Lindsay Allen is scheduled to talk at The Liverpool Family History Fair this weekend. As I really enjoyed Lindsay's talk last Saturday at Hawkesbury I thought I'd chase down details for the Liverpool Fair.

I tweeted about this but had no response so I sent an email to Liverpool Library to see if I could track down a program.  Julie Senior the Family History Officer at the library promptly replied with a copy of the program and gave me permission to post it on this blog.

So if you feel like a drive to Liverpool this Friday or Saturday here is an outline of what is on offer.

Liverpool Program (Double click to enlarge)

Hawkesbury Family History Fair - The Speakers

When I arrived at the fair at 9:00 am I did not know whether I would stay for an hour or two or the  whole day. After perusing the program I decided on taking the day option as there were a number of engaging speakers in the lineup and some of the topics were of particular interest to me.

HFHF Program

After racing up the street to raid an ATM for spending money I parked myself in the front row of the Tebutt room to hear Lindsay Allen from State Records discuss Family history resources for the Macquarie period. In deference to the range of  interests and experience in the audience Lindsay prefaced his short Macquarie talk with an overview of the history, business and resources of State Records and gave pointers to genealogists who may wish to use those resources for research.
Lindsay Allen makes a point

Allen then showed some screenshots from and discussed The Lachlan Macquarie Digital Gallery that  "celebrates Macquarie by featuring iconic documents (together with transcriptions with some interpretation) from the wealth of Macquarie related material in our collection."

Allen then went on to talk about the history and value of The Colonial Secretary's Records and outlined Convict Records that are available to family historians. Allen was a knowledgeable, competent and engaging speaker. He regularly travels around the state giving presentations - details of upcoming talks can be found on the Activities pages of State Records.

Cathy McHardy
The delightful Cathy McHardy, a librarian from Hawkesbury City Library was stunned when the  audience for her talk in the Charles Harpur Room overflowed into the library. Cathy connected with her audience with  a well-structured and pertinent talk on "Searching Land Titles" in NSW. My understanding of this tricky topic was greatly enhanced. Cathy provided attendees with a wonderful handout that will be one of my treasured resources and so useful when I journey into the Lands Department to research family properties.

As the descendant of a couple of Hawkesbury convicts I was  pleased to stay put in the Charles Harpur Room for a talk by Hawkesbury Local Studies Librarian, Michelle Nichols on Researching Hawkesbury Families. By the time she gave this talk poor Michelle, who had been running from room to room all day fielding questions and solving problems, appeared a little flummoxed. Michelle rose to the occasion and gave an interesting talk illustrated by slides with pertinent illustrations of the area. I was encouraged to visit the Local Studies area of the library where I found files on my ancestors in the library's collection. As I had my digital camera on hand I was quickly able to copy relevant documents before taking off to the next talk.

Heather Garnsey
 In a tweet from the next talk I attended I said "Heather Garnsey talking at a rate of knots with loads of fab info at the Hawkesbury Family History Fair". Heather, Executive Officer from The Society of Australian Genealogists spoke on "10 websites you can't live without as a genealogist." Pint-sized Heather who could barely see over the lectern, delivered her talk with enthusiasm. It was obvious from the whispered comments of some audience members around me that what they were hearing from Heather was quite new to them. I loved Heather's talk and delivery style but would probably replace one of her choices!
Heather's Top Ten Sites

Bruce Fairhall
I have been a user of TMG (The Master Genealogist) software for over ten years but am still a novice user. As Bruce Fairhall said in his presentation "Introduction to The Master Genealogist (TMG)" this is a package that can be used "straight from the box" but it is also a very powerful piece of software that is eminently customisable. I was glad that I stayed around for Bruce's presentation that confirmed that I am a novice user. Bruce, who is passionate and enthusiastic about the product gave a live demonstration (much more effective than using screenshots) of a TMG database. I was most impressed by the modifications Bruce has made to the program. Bruce spoke of the TMG Sydney user group that has its regular meetings at SAG. Although I subscribe to the TMG Sydney blog their Yahoo Group and am a fan on Facebook I have not yet attended a face to face meeting. Bruce, you have inspired me to come along.

I had a great day at the fair and would be interested to hear reports of others' fair experiences. I hope to see some reports in the blogosphere or on mailing lists soon.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hawkesbury Family History Fair - The Exhibitors

I arrived at The Hawkesbury Family History Fair with only a little cash in my wallet and found, in the exhibition rooms an overabundance of genealogy resources for sale. As well as Gould Genealogy, professional genealogists and other vendors there was a number of historical societies selling their publications and giving advice. As some of the vendors did not have EFTPOS facilities I had to make a dash up the road to an ATM.

There was only one software user group represented at the fair. As a TMG user I was thrilled, when I walked into the room, to see members of the TMG Sydney User Group on deck to promote this great package.  Sitting on the TMG table was Sydney genealogist, Carole Riley, who has been a virtual friend of mine for quite  a while. Meeting Carole was a highlight of the day.

Carole Riley and friend demonstrating TMG

 The members of the Hawkesbury Family History Group who worked like Trojans throughout the day warmly welcomed all visitors to the fair. I have convict ancestors from the Hawkesbury area  and have been thinking of joining this society;  I was so impressed by the friendliness of the ladies pictured below that I will make an effort to go to their meetings..

Friendly welcome from Hawkesbury Ladies

 The Society of Australian Genealogists was represented by Executive Officer, Heather Garnsey, and  members. Their stall was very busy as they sold resources and dispensed guidance to attendees. I am a member who does not visit the society often but feel a responsibility to maintain membership of this society that does so much work to promote family history in our state and preserve resources for future generations.

Heather Garnsey from SAG
Lindsay Allen from State Records was kept busy doling out advice and Archives in Brief information leaflets.
Lindsay Allen

I just had to go up and simply say "Thankyou" to the volunteers who index newspapers for the Ryerson Index, one of my favourite genealogy resources.

As well as carrying out their regular duties the staff of the Hawkesbury City Library fielded enquiries from visitors and graciously proferred help. I was able to get a copy of an ancestor's will from the files in the Local History Section. As a former public librarian I was proud of the professional and courteous approach of the library staff..

There was a good balance of  not for profit and commercial bodies represented at the fair. This gave visitors  an opportunity to see a broad range of resources and speak with representatives from different organisations.. Thank you to all of the people who put time and effort into organising this superb event.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

They only asked for a gold coin donation....

....and it was the best value I have had for $2 in many a day.

I took a cross country drive to the Hawkesbury Family History Fair at Windsor today. I will blog further about this event after the weekend but initially I want to thank The Hawkesbury Family History Group and The Hawkesbury City Council especially Michelle Nichols and the stunning library staff  together with the fair exhibitors for organising such a splendid event.

After my big day out I am on a genealogy high.

T H A N K  Y O U

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Family History Feast 2010 podcast now available!

From The State Library of Victoria:

"Family History Feast 2010 podcast now available!:

The podcast of our annual Family History Feast held on Monday 2 August 2010 is now available on the State Library of Victoria website.There is also a vidcast of the Don Grant Lecture given by Professor Geoffrey Blainey.

If you missed the event this is a great chance to catch up with the broad range of talks given on the day or you might want to hear one or all of them again.


In my day......James Valentine

If I am out for a drive in the early afternoon I tune the car radio into ABC702 and listen to the ramblings of James Valentine. I wasn't listening yesterday when he had a segment "In my day...." in which he asked listeners to phone in with reminiscences. I heard about the segment in an ABC Blog post.

Some of the contributions were:
"In my day, fizzy pop was a treat"
"In my day we ate offal, often."
"In my day the school didn't cancel the bush walk excursion due to flooding, we swam it!"

To hear the podcast of this session point your browser to:

I was reminded of a conversation at a school open day last week in which my daughter and her thirty-something mates were talking about schools, how different they are today from how they were in their days.

To add interest to our family stories we could ask our contemporaries to tell us about five things that happened in their day and record these "in my day" snippets for future generations as notes in our genealogy programs.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I am one of many genealogists who uses Twitter.

In a Mashable post today I read about some Twitter Follower visualisation tools. I had a play with the five listed and found that by using Twittersheep I could cloud generate a word cloud from the bios of  my ) followers. This clearly showed me the interests of my followers.

It's no surprise that Family History Genealogy and Genealogist are the most prominent words in my cloud that is reproduced below. I wonder what sort of clouds my fellow genealogy Tweeps would produce using  Twittersheep.

How the internet works infographic

From Jane's Pick of the Day comes this infographic that explains "a little of the mystery from this great web."

Genealogists who wonder about what makes things tick will find this diagram illuminating.

How The INTERNET Works (via Online Schools)
[Via: Online Schools

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What will you be remembered by?

From Aunty - ABC

What will you be remembered by?: "
Obit_head We were inspired to talk about the impact the the obituary has in 2010 after hearing a lovely tale of survival. Neil Miles discovered a part of his life that he had no recollection of after an accident that left him with burns to 30 per cent of his body...all because he read the obituary notices in the paper.

Neil Miles of Port Macquarie was nice enough to share his story.

So how important are death notices and the short biography of our lives known as the obituary?

We spoke to a funeral director, Diana Luccitti; and Nigel Starck, who's written about the classic newspaper obituary.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Horses' Birthday

In Australia we celebrate Horses' birthdays on August 1st. Yesterday, on the horses' birthday,  I was thinking about the importance of horses to my ancestors for transport, work and play. This morning I looked for family photos I had with the tag "horses.".

I have chosen to share a photo of my Dad, aged 9 years, on a horse at the family farm in Canowindra, NSW. The skills my Dad learnt as a young boy on the farm helped him to gain membership, as an adult, of the prestigious New South Wales Mounted Police Force. I blogged about this previously in my post "When the Queen came to town".


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