Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gifts for the girl who has everything

Diane MacLean Boumenot's recent fantastic and timely blog post "50 Gifts for Genealogists this Christmas" reminded me that my offspring and better half always say that I am hard to buy for because I have everything.

I beg to differ. 

I have a costly habit to support and, while I am fortunate in that I can buy many of the things I would like, there are still plenty of items that would be most welcome.  I could share Diane's list but I already have some of those things whilst others on the list have an American bias.

For the benefit of my children and any other people who feel inclined to support my habit here are a few suggestions.

*  Scanned copies of family birth, baptismal, marriage and death certificates and children's birth and baptismal certificates

*  Scanned copies of academic or other awards

*  Scanned copies of any family photos that I may not already have

*  Lists of any significant family dates that I may not have recorded (highly unlikely)

*  Written anecdotes of childhood holidays, adventures or incidents

*  Bibliographic details of any journal articles, book chapters etc you may have had published

* Scanned copies of any newsletter, newspaper or journal articles that might mention you or other family members

* Screenshots of any websites that might mention you or other family members

* Any postcards or letters I may have sent you that you would otherwise throw out

The items listed above are priceless and would be most appreciated. There is no need to spend $$$ to put a smile on my face and give me a gift that I would cherish. Following is a list of other things that only money can buy.

* Several boxes of  Bantex A4 polypropylene pages 70 micron (box of 100) 

*  Gould Genealogy $20.00 Gift Voucher - I can spend as many as I receive

*  Google Play Gift Cards - from a supermarket near you. I can always find an app or ebook to buy

* Kiva Gift Cards - to help me support our Genealogists for Families Team on Kiva

*  Renewal of Inside History Magazine Subscription

*  Subscription to Internet Genealogy Magazine

*  Gift Card for Brotherhood Books

*   Gift Card for The Book depository

* Some Albox photo albums but as it's too expensive to transfer all my photos to these...

*  I want quite a few Black Satin Photo Boxes

*  3TB or more External Portable Hard Drive - Western Digital MyBook or similar

*  Portable Power Supply/energy Bank similar to these

PS - an extra I wouldn't mind having
* Some comments on my blog posts that you read would be wonderful. Everyone likes a bit of positive reinforcement.

What Geneagifts are on your Christmas list this year?

Since I wrote this post other bloggers have shared their lists. Here are a few links:

12 Gift Ideas for People Who Appreciate Family History

All I want for Christmas

Christmas gifts for genealogists

Susan Petersen shared For the Gadget Geeks:

Friday, November 29, 2013

All learning together

Prior to yesterday's third GeniAUS' Hangout on Air I had another huge case of preshow butterflies but once I pressed the record button and I found myself in the company of a few generous genealogists these flew away and another learning journey began.

Three former GeniAUS panelists, Anne Young, Jenny Joyce and Chris Wright,  joined for for a repeat performance and Donna Cooke made her Hangout debut. I thank these ladies for so generously sharing their knowledge with me, those who were watching online and those who have since watched the video recording on Youtube. Thank you also to those viewers who made comments during the recording on the GeniAUS Community page. 

Although the video is patchy in parts with a bit of feedback happening, a panelist in the dark and some of us forgetting to mute and unmute ourselves I am proud of the product; as we all become more familiar with the Google interface the quality of our production will improve.

Yesterday in addition to learning about new sites we panelists learnt a little more about Google Hangouts along the way. I was so proud of the way we managed to share our screens and share details of the sites we showed. 

What has been extremely rewarding about the session has been some of the feedback received. Maureen Trotter outlined her success in this blog post: Thankful Thursday - Some new records and Fi Basile made this comment on Google+ "Thank you for the mention of the 'It's an Honour' site. I found my grandfather and have just sent them an email to correct his name. They picked up his 2nd name & omitted his 1st.".

In addition to the sites mentioned by the panelists several viewers have made contributions. I will attempt to make a full list of the sites below. Please accept apologies if I have missed any.


Donna Cooke
Internet History Resources
Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

Jenny Joyce
Australian Cemeteries Index
Sentenced beyond the seas HTTP://
State Records NSW
Biographical Database of Australia

Chris Wright
Trove -
Bonzle - - for photos of people, places etc
SS Borda - - photos of passengers and crew on the SS Borda in 1921
Central Queensland Family History Association - Articles & Indexes - especially the Scrapbook index of Newspaper clippings
Qld Births Deaths & Marriages -

Anne Young
Public Record Office of Victoria
NSW Births Deaths and Marriages
Victorian Births Deaths and Marriages
Australian War Memorial 

Jill Ball
The Ryerson Index
Australian Dictionary of Biography
It's an Honour
Women of Vision
National Archives of Australia


Pauleen Cass
Judy Webster's Queensland Genealogy
Queensland State Archives
Using the Wayback Machine I've got the website I was looking for. It appears to have been inactive since 2012 which is a great shame. If anyone wants to search SE Queensland cemeteries best to do it soon.

Geoff Mulholland
The Historical Atlas of Sydney contains digital versions of maps and associated documents -
City of Sydney Archives - Sands Directory Sydney: downloadable pdf versions of the directory for 1868, 1888, 1918 -
City of Sydney Archives - AchivePix - (includes historical photos of Sydney, I found a photo of terrace houses in Foveaux Street, Sydney, that were once owned by my maternal gggrandfather, one of which was his home at the time of his death, these houses were demolished long ago and I would never have known what they looked like) -
National Library of Australia - Trove - (I am sure needs no introduction, one of my favourite sites for Australian newspapers up to about 1954, it allows people to make corrections of the OCR online records, I was thrilled to find a 50th (Golden) Wedding Anniversary announcement in 1903 of my maternal gggrandparents wedding amongst many other stories for related families -
THE RYERSON INDEX to death notices and obituaries in Australian newspapers - This index (e.g. for the Sydney Morning Herald) has the number of "completed" years growing all the time, I think they are complete back from current to 1946, and from 1831 - 1917 complete so the gap from 1918 to 1945 will be narrowed down progressively -
The Sydney Morning Herald archive is available online to NSW residents who hold a State Library, NSW - library card, -
After selecting the above link, Library card holders then click on "Registered NSW residents may log in from home" and then are asked to enter their library card number. You can then search or browse through the archived newspapers. If a search does not return what you are looking for, you can browse by date and issue, if you find an article of interest, eg the births section of the page can clicked on and an enlarged. Its not as easy to use as Trove, but helps to fill the gap after 1954 for the SMH.
National Archives, Australia - Military Service Records - digital Australian Military service records are available for viewing and download -
Colonial Tasmanian Family Links database -
The Australian Dress Register is a collaborative, online project about dress with Australian provenance pre-1975. This includes men's, women's and children's clothing ranging from the special occasion to the everyday. This site may help when you need to date a photo -

Michelle Nichols
Hawkesbury on the Net - Cemetery Register   

Brenda Wheeler
Free Settleer or Felon?
Google's Panoramia
Helen Doxford Harris Indexes

The Third GeniAUS' Hangout on Air was another triumph for Social Media. 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trove Tuesday - Family Photos

This week finds me knee-deep in photos. My cousin lent me a small suitcase of photos belonging to her parents Thomas William Curry and Lillian Duncan who were my parents' siblings. In that case I have found many treasures.

I wondered what Trove had to say about family photos. The following is an article from the Australian Women's Weekly in 1971. You can view the article here

1971 '[No heading].', The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), 23 June, p. 32, viewed 26 November, 2013,

Monday, November 25, 2013

I feel like a fraud...

... I received this email this evening.

"You are an absolute magician.  This is my grandfather's death certificate and mentions the names of my mother and aunts and uncles. I never knew he was divorced and I have to assume it was from my maternal grandmother which may be a reason his personal history is a bit obscure. Thanks so much."

The story behind this email is that we had lunch in Canberra with a dear friend last week. He had mentioned to one of his neighbour's that I "do genealogy" and invited the neighbour to come over to meet me and get a few pointers. I don't do research for other people because I just don't have time or the knowledge to do a good job but said that I'd love to talk to the neighbour.

When the neighbour appeared and said he was trying to trace the death of his grandfather in Rhodesia I groaned.  I said that I couldn't offer much help but proceeded to give him a few URLs to track down the family in England prior to their move to Rhodesia and promised that I'd see if I could find anything.

When I got home I had a look at The FamilySearch Wiki under Zimbabwe and discovered that the Death Registers for Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) had been digitised and that there was an index. In less than 10 minutes I had found what I thought was Percy's death but couldn't be sure. I emailed the gentleman in Canberra with some images and the email above is his response.

Thank you FamilySearch for making me look clever and thank you to that kind soul who wrote the Wiki article on Zimbabwe.

If you have some knowledge about a locality please consider adding it to the Wiki so that other people like me experience the thrill of being a magician.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Patricia Constance Hall

Last night I shared on Google+ a letter of condolence to Jackie Kennedy on the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy from Patricia Hall of Corrimal Street, Wollongong. The letter had originally been shared by the US National Archives.
My interest was piqued because the typed letter the Archives chose to publish was from an Australian.

As I don't want to breach copyright I won't paste a copy of the letter to this post; it can be seen here:

I started wondering about Patricia Hall.  A quick trip to Ancestry and a check of the Electoral Roll told me that her full name was Patricia Constance Hall, a Secretary living at 128/130 Corrimal Street, Wollongong in 1963. There were no other people with the name Hall registered at the same address. That Patricia was a secretary answers my question as to why she typed her letter of condolence.

A search of the NSW BDM Indexes told me that a marriage between Patricia Constance Comerford and Parnell Hall was registered in Wollongong in 1941. It is highly likely that this is the Patricia who wrote the letter. A visit to the State Records NSW site tells me that they hold divorce papers for Patricia and Parnell who divorced in 1952. A search on Trove returned several articles referring to the divorce case, one of these from November 1953 named three children of the marriage : Stuart Hall 10, Annette Hall 7 and Louise Hall 4.

I hope that one day Stuart, Annette, Louise or their descendants come across this post and are able to view letter that their mother sent to Jackie Kennedy in 1963.

Sepia Saturday 204: 23 November 2013 - Roused from my sleep

It was a Saturday, 23 November 1963, when the news of JFK's shooting reached Australia. I was in bed when my mother came into my room to tell me the news. Like millions all over the world I was absolutely stunned. Just as I remember what I was doing the day Princess died I have a very clear recollection of what happened 50 years ago today.

Catholic Schoolgirl - 1963
My heroes weren't pop stars (except for the Beatles), they were men and women of vision or selfless characters who worked to improve the lot of others.

I was a great fan of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and used to read every newspaper and magazine article about him that I could get my hands on. I also had a small collection of books about Kennedy some of which I still have in my library today. No doubt this interest was fuelled by the nuns at the Catholic school I attended as they were also in awe of the Catholic President. I admired  the American Princess, Jackie Kennedy, and the cute little Kennedy kids. The Kennedys were America's royals.

My interest in Kennedy has waned over the years but if there is an opportunity to watch a documentary about Kennedy, his family and the assassination I take it. Just last night I watched two Kennedy related documentaries.

The only place I visited when I had a day in Dallas last year was The Sixth Floor Museum (The former Texas School Book Depository). Although it was a sobering experience the pilgrimage to the Museum was one of the highlights of that trip to the US. It took me back to that day 50 years ago when a Catholic schoolgirl mourned one of her heroes.

The Sixth Floor Museum (2012)

The former Texas School Book Depository (2012)
This post is my submission for Sepia Saturday 204.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Repent at Leisure

A contact on Google+ this morning wrote "Ideal Christmas gift for the genealogist - family historian in your family." and posted a link to purchase Family Tree Maker from

This raised my hackles. So I replied:

 I am reminded of "Marry in haste, Repent at lesiure"

I have to disagree. I won't suggest one program over another but would counsel people wanting to buy a program to think about what they want from that program.

I would use these resources first:
Kerry Farmer's book "Which genealogy program? " and Lewis Kessler's marvellous site Genealogy Software reviews: where one finds that Family Tree Maker (current version) was ranked 28 on the list of genealogy programs in 2012. 

I would also check to see if the program developers are members of FHISO (Family History Information Standards Organisation)  

I would add to this short response, to talk to lots of people and find what they like and dislike about their current program. See if any user groups for the proposed package are in the user's local area. See what forms of print and online support are available for users. Seek the pinion of vendors of multiple software packages, they will know what to recommend.

I don't have a personal issue with Family Tree Maker, I know a lot of people who use it and are very happy with their experience. Purchasing genealogy software is like buying a car, the product has to fit the user's needs.Giving a genealogy software package as a Christmas present is a fine gesture but the giver should really do her homework first before committing to a purchase. 

What would perhaps better would be the gift of a voucher from a genealogy software supplier for purchase of a package of the user's choice.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Trove Tuesday - On the Move

This week I am spending a few days in Wagga Wagga, a large inland city in New South Wales. On our drive down from Sydney yesterday we crossed and sighted the mighty Murrumbidgee River several times. I took to Trove this morning this morning and was impressed to see that 300,000 souls would pass the Murrumbidgee in this region in 1856. Read on:

1857 'NEW SOUTH WALES.', Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), 20 July, p. 3, viewed 19 November, 2013,

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Librarything for Genealogists

Librarything for Genealogists is the title of one of the talks I will be presenting on the 4th Unlock the Past Cruise in February. I am so excited to have an opportunity to tell a few people about it because it is one of my all time favourite sites. I visit Librarything on most days.

As I start to prepare my presentation I have been going over the site. I don't use all of its social functions because I just don't have time but I do have a favourite.  

Librarything Connection Page

On the Connections Tab of Librarything is "Interesting Libraries";  this is one element of Librarything that I love because I can follow what other people are adding to their personal collections if I add them to my list of "Interesting Libraries".  Most of the interesting libraries I follow are those of other genealogists and bookish friends. I like to see what they add, rate and review and to compare their libraries with mine. I could even check to see if they own a hard to find title and plead  with them to do a lookup for me.

Looking through the list of "Interesting Libraries" I follow I note that there are a few fellow cruisers on the list. If you want to take a peek into their libraries here are some links for you.

Bibliaugrapher (Me)
Chris Paton
Helen Smith

I wonder if any other cruisers are Librarything fans.

Among the other libraries I follow are these genealogists:
alexdawAnglersRest,audreycollinsausgenjourneysBeckyJamisoncaroleriley,cassmobcdfhsCMPointer,DebbieKennettdougangene,drumcondrajohngasson,kingstongenealogy,KirstyF.WilkinsonLeslie_Ann,Linda.Otterylmdhs,lovegenealogy,MerronNSWGenealogy,perkinsy,pschultz, sheenatait, smbrennan

Librarything membership is free for your first 200 books added and a lifetime membership is $US25. 

Librarything is a fantastic tool to organise your personal library and record your reading. I suggest you give it a try.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Rootstech at Sea

I'm sorry that I won't be attending Rootstech in person this year and have been worried that I won't be able to fulfil my obligations as an Official Blogger but some great news from Unlock the Past Cruises has given me hope that I will be able to take part in Rootstech from the comfort of my cruise ship.
We'll be watching Rootstech from here

Alan Phillips of Unlock The Past has arranged with Familysearch to have two of the streamed sessions made available to cruisers on the 4th Unlock the Past Cruise. Although we will see them at a delayed time I will be able to blog about the cruisers' reactions to the sessions. Only a handful of the cruisers have attended Rootstech in person; I am sure they will be impressed by what they see. They may even join the Australian contingent that will visit Rootstech in 2015.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Forgive me I have been playing. This is the result of a first attempt to use my latest toy

Genealogists share their Favourite Books

As promised here is a list of the books shared in last night's Hangout on Air. In order of appearance (with links to Trove where available)

A concise history of Australia / Stuart Macintyre
Australia in a nutshell : a narrative history / Frank G. Clarke

The family historian's enquire within / Pauline Saul

Smokey : the bear from Gumeracha / Rocky Marshall

Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W Jones. Available from the National Genealogical Society, ( ISBN; 978-1-935815-07-5

Exiled three times over / by Irene Schaffer and Thelma McKay

Oxford companion to family and local history / edited by David Hey

The genealogist's Internet : the essential guide to researching your family history online / Peter Christian

The Phillimore atlas and index of parish registers / edited by Cecil R. Humphery-Smith

Farewell my children : Irish assisted emigration to Australia 1848-1870 / Richard E. Reid

William & Fanny Green and their descendants, including Phillips, Ridland, Bell, Sinkinson, Tucker & James / compiled by Glenis Reid

The floating brothel : the extraordinary story of the Lady Julian and its cargo of female convicts bound for Botany Bay / Siân Rees

Collins tracing your family history / Anthony Adolph

History of the 15th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force : war 1914-1918 / by T.P. Chataway ; revised and edited by Paul Goldenstedt

Guide to New South Wales State Archives relating to convicts and convict administration

A history of Thetford / Alan Crosby

Fair game : Australia's first immigrant women / Elizabeth Rushen & Perry McIntyre

Sophy under sail / [edited by] Irene C. Taylor ; illustrations by Leon Crossley

Family memories : a guide to reminiscing / Bob Price

Tracing your house history : a guide for family historians / Gill Blanchard

Birth, marriage and death records : a guide for family historians / David Annal and Audrey Collins

Atlas of the great Irish famine, 1845-52 / editors: John Crowley, William J. Smyth and Mike Murphy

Arthur Phillip : sailor, mercenary, governor, spy / Michael Pembroke

The Zen of genealogy : the lighter side of genealogy / Beth Maltbie Uyehara ; design and illustrations by Lois Jesek

Ahab's trade : the saga of south seas whaling / Granville Allen Mawer

Our outback home : memories of Nymagee / edited by Dolly Betts

A town like Alice / by Nevil Shute

Thank you to all who participated.

Hang In There to Hang Out

I was on a high last night after having an enjoyable and educative experience in my second Hangout on Air and so had a bit of trouble entering the Land of Nod.

I was of course disappointed that more genealogists were unable to join in and share their books. Unfortunately once I am on air it is difficult to give assistance/instructions to those who wish to join. As I learn more about this tool I will develop a cheatsheet with some clearer instructions.

We started last night with five panellists and quickly reached a full complement of ten. By the end of the session there were several vacancies on the panel which I announced. The idea being that one tunes in and watches the Hangout and when I (or my helper) announces that there is a vacant spot on the panel one clicks on the arrow on the left hand side of the GeniAUS Google+ Community page to take the vacated spot. One needs to "Hang In to Hang Out".

Thanks to those who joined the panel from England, The Northern Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria; my mate Russ Worthington from the US viewed and posted comments at some obscene hour; we had representatives from three continents. You can view the video to see who was on line. But where were the Tasmanians and Western Australians?  

I am going to use the PMI evaluation strategy to make a few comments. I welcome further suggestions on the GeniAUS Community on Google+

Plus +
We did again it, Hooray!
Sharon's first book was a perfect intro and it wasn't even staged.
There were more prospective panelists than places on the panel
There was interest in this event not only from Australia but from overseas
Panelists used the GeniAUS Community page to add details of books

We got to see and hear people we hadn't met in person
Pauleen assisted with the monitoring of the conversation on the Community page
There were participants who were first timers

There were participants from outside my blogging circle
Panelists were respectful of others
Several panelists managed to share screenshots
We all learnt about some new resources
The conversation remained on task

We managed to cover a lot of ground
I was able to easily add tags and further information about the video at YouTube 
DearMyrtle's suggestion to create a Google+ Community overcame difficulties with issuing invitations to join the Hangout - Thanks Myrt

I am becoming more familiar with the Hangout interface
There is enthusiasm for more hangouts

Minus -
I still said Um far too many times
My head still bobbed around - I must try to be still
Some people had trouble joining the panel

We could not help late arrivals with setting up their lower thirds
Some peoples' sound and video was crook at times
At times we lost video and audio was patchy (problems with storms?)

Interesting ?
Only one male joined the panel.
The age range of panelists was huge - spanning several generations

Books ranged from weighty scholarly tomes to children's stories and humour
The crispest picture was from Maggie all the way from England
Panelists suggested a weekend hangout. - will try to schedule that.

Panelists suggested MetaHangouts (Hangouts about Hangouts)
I think I'll repeat this topic in six months or so - we're on a winner with this one and it's not too onerous on the host.

Our next Hangout on Air - Online Resources for Australian Research is scheduled for 28 or 27 November (date dependent on your location).

Thursday, November 14, 2013


For some people rock and movie stars are heroes. I tend to save my admiration for thinkers, explorers and movers and shakers from many fields. I have a particular bias towards people from my fields of endeavour: libraries, education and information technology.

Yesterday, at the ASCCA Conference in Sydney I noticed that one of my heroes was on the program. As I was watching the passing parade from my perch (where I was demonstrating the Flip-Pal) I saw a tall gentleman wander past, I thought I recognised him. A quick Google image search told me I was correct, one of my heroes was within cooee.

Our State Librarian, Dr Alex Byrne, actually came up to me and I introduced myself to him as a lover of the State Library. We had a general chat and I congratulated him on the Library's newest online resource, a collection of WW1 diaries that the library has digitised and made available online. Dr Byrne then proceeded to give me a personal tour of the site (on my tablet); his enthusiasm for this resource reminded me of a Dad showing off his newborn. He was so proud as he showed me the resource; what I learnt about was the collaborative dimension of the collection. Readers are invited to add value to the collection by "adding your original stories, photos or records."  How cool is that!

GeniAus and Dr Alex Byrne
And why is this affable chap my hero? He has taken a venerable but staid institution and is making a huge effort to move it into the 21st Century. I imagine that this has not been an easy task. I thank you, Dr Alex Byrne, for your efforts in making The State Library of NSW and its resources accessible not just to those who are easily able to visit Macquarie Street but for the many of us in the State and beyond for whom a physical journey is not always possible.

My Place

Nadia Wheatley's My Place, is one of my favourite picture books for older children that I regularly shared with students in my days as a primary school Teacher-Librarian.

Starting in 1988 the book works its way backwards through time to first settlement  in 1788 relating the history of one place, which is now St Peters in Sydney, through the generations of children who lived there.

This popular book first published 25 years ago is still used as a teaching resource in Australian schools. The ABC also made a television series around the story, the associated website shows pictures of what the houses from the book would have looked like.

If you are into Australian history and haven't read this excellent book then it's time to grab yourself a copy.

Picture books just aren't for kids.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday Preservation Group

Most Wednesdays finds me at Ku-ring-ai Historical Society where I work with fellow members on a range of tasks.

This poster that is part of a current display at the Society outlines our activities.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Trove Tuesday - Commercialisation

It seems as though the commercialisation of religious and other commemorative events is not a new thing.On this day on 1929 a gentleman from Rose Bay complained about the commercialisation of Armistice Day.

1929 'OTHER SERVICES.', The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), 12 November, p. 12, viewed 9 November, 2013,


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