Friday, January 30, 2015

Getting Conference Ready - Attend to your blogs

It is so easy to nelgect your blogs when you are involved in conference activities.

One goes to conferences with every intention of blogging while there but when one gets swept up in the hype of conference activities and involved in discussions and socialising with old and new friends our blogs are neglected.

At events like Rootstech and The AFFHO Congress for my GeniAus blog I resort to blog posts with lots of images and little text. I am not going to let my blogging get in the way of  my conferencing activities. Another option is to post short vlog posts (if you can find a good enough gree connection to do so).

But what of my other genealogy related blogs?  I write a few posts in advance and schedule them for the time I am away (I do this when I take long holidays too). I don't go overboard but just plan a post per week to keep the blogs on people's radars.

Part of my travel plans always includes attending to my blogs. These last few days have found me busily writing and scheduling posts.

GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 30 January 2015

Here I am again with a selection of posts from my RSS feeeds this week. I hope you enjoy my selections which include several posts from across the oceans.

1. Amy challenges us to go beyond the usual five records when researching our ancestors.

2. Judy writes about a WW1 soldiers effects.

3. So I am biased, some of my convicts also came from the Hawkesbury area.

4. As a former librarian I love to hear of successful library projects.

5. Sharon discovers that the puzzling word was Kidnapped.

7. Alona from Gould Genealogy reminds us to pay it forward.

8. US based Australian blogger, Matt, writes about the man he thought was his grandfather.

9. 70 years on Jo Ann reflects on Auschwitz..

10. My mate at Moruya Historical Society has whetted my appetite for a visit to Canberra.

11. I appreciate the trouble to people at TNA, Kew go to to preserve records for us to use.

12. Another expat's blog post has convinced me that I must visit this Museum next time I have an opportunity to visit Singapore.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Congress Keynote Presenter Interview - Roger Kershaw

My latest interview is from one of our Keynote Presenters Roger Kershaw who has a dream job working at The National Archives in Kew.  I attended some of Roger's talks at Congress in 2012 and found them most illuminating. I look forward to catching up with Roger and hearing what he has to impart in 2015.

Roger Kershaw
* Are you a genealogist, researcher, historian or representing your organisation? 

I guess I'm a little bit of all, plus an archivist, having achieved an MA in Archives and Records Management. History was my favourite subject at school and since joining the National Archives in 1986 I have become more immersed in it ever since.

* I wonder if you could tell us a little about your background?

I am from a small market town in Cumbria called Brampton, close to the Scottish border. I moved to London when I was 18 to go to college and have been here ever since, though I intend to return to my roots when I retire. After graduating with a degree in Modern European Studies, I joined the National Archives (then Public Record Office) in 1986 on a temporary casual contract and nearly thirty years later I am still here, thoroughly enjoying what I do. Throughout my career I have been public facing and working with the records either through an management, editorial, research or advisory role

* How has genealogy improved or changed your life?

I didn't really start to do any research in my own family history until the late 1990s and have been hooked on it ever since, discovering lines of my family history revealing people in all walks of lives, plus a murderer, not a direct ancestor I hasten to add! I think genealogy is a healthy, vibrant business, where you can meet a lot of interesting and engaging people, many of whom volunteer their time to vastly improve access to archives across the globe by cataloguing and promoting further research.

* What do you love most about genealogy?

On a personal note, the joy of discovering something new and revealing in my own family history is really satisfying. For example, my parents moved to Brampton from Yorkshire in 1967. It wasn't until I started to research our family tree in detail that I realised that his paternal great grandfather was born there in 1842 on a street just around the corner of the Office where my father worked for 20 years. I also like how genealogy is constantly evolving and how it's becoming more about how life has changed dramatically across generations as we embrace the broader public history ethos.

* Have you previously attended Congress?

Yes, in 2003, 2006 and 2012.

* What are your key topics for Congress?

Some a records based mainly around migration from the UK to Australasia, but I am also giving a talk on medical treatment for those in the Army during the first world war, together with two practical sessions on how to make the most of using the National Archives website – and on how archives can engage effectively with volunteers during the current austere years.

* How do you think your topics will help the family historians at Congress 2015?

I'm hoping that the practical sessions will equip them with new skills and methods for using resources at the National Archives. The records based sessions will also demonstrate how so many collections remain difficult to access because the level of cataloguing is too basic or because too little is understood about the collection and further research is required. I'm hoping this may help raise awareness and interest in future collaborative enhancement work, possibly involving volunteers.

* What do you think are the benefits of attending a large conference like this for you personally and for others attending?

Definitely networking, sharing ideas, and seeking collaboration. For me, I'm keen to find out more about the National Archives of Australia and share ideas and knowledge about how we can effectively face challenges of the future. I'm also interested to see how commemorative plans around the centenary of the First World War are progressing to see if we can be more collaborative on this global issue.

* Do you have a favourite piece of advice or a tip or trick you can share with conference attendees?

Don't believe everything you see on TV or online! Shows like Who Do You Think You Are? have been really great for promoting genealogy and increasing awareness of history and archives, be it at a local or at a national level. But they don't really reflect the realities and frustrations of family history and make it sound far too easy. Genealogy is really a skill that can take a long time to master so please use this opportunity to talk to as many people as possible, exchange contact details and engage effectively to help achieve greater accuracy, awareness and understanding of the holdings, wherever they may be.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Getting Conference Ready - Pills and Potions

As well as having travel insurance I travel with another form of insurance in my luggage.

Before I set off on an overseas jaunt I pay a visit to my GP and pharmacy to stock up on my favourite medications. This applies for even short trips like my forthcoming Rootstech adventure.

Once I mislaid one of my regular medications while on holiday in Canada, it was lucky that I was staying with a family member who was a doctor otherwise I would have been in trouble. Since then I have always travelled with my prescriptions that I can get made up in an international pharmacy in a big city. In addition I have saved to my smartphone and Evernote a printout of my medications list from my GP.
Getting my pills and potions ready for Rootstech
I am usually quite healthy at hoome but sometimes succumb to foreign bugs which lead to chest infections. My GP gives me scripts for antibiotics and the cortisone tablets I need to recover from these episodes, I am always pleased if these meet the expiry dates before I need to use them. Luckily I had them on my last US trip or I would have arrived home very, very sick instead of very sick. I also get a script for sleeping pills, I take these on long plane journeys and they help me get a few hours sleep.

Visiting pharmacies and drugstores in the UK and US has taught me that many popular items that one can buy over the counter in Australia need a prescription in these countries. So if you may need a specific painkiller, anti-fungal cream, diarrhoea medication, cough supressant or anything containing codeine make sure you take it with you in your Emergency Kit.

Monday, January 26, 2015

You can still save on a Rootstech Registration


Register Today and Save $80 on a RootsTech 3-day pass

You can still register for RootsTech, the largest family history event in the world, and save $80 on a 3-day pass. The early bird discount price of $159 for a RootsTech 3-day pass has been extended to Monday, January 26, 2015.
With a 3-day RootsTech pass, you will:
  • Have access to over 200 classes of all skill levels taught by industry professionals.
  • Enjoy daily general sessions with inspiring keynotes speakers, like former First Lady Laura Bush and daughter Jenna Bush Hager and singer Donny Osmond.
  • Explore the expo hall with hundreds of family history and technology exhibits.
  • Experience events with special guest performers, including internet sensation Alex Boye, David Archuleta and the cast of Studio C from BYUtv.
Save $80 when you register today to attend RootsTech, happening February 12–14, 2015, at the Salt Palace in the heart of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Plugging Away

I have previously blogged about I am decrapifying my life, this also applies to my family history files and tree.

In a recent GeniAus Hangout on Air someone suggested writing down the steps one is taking while Revisiting Recording and Revising one's research.

I have previously mentioned that I think this is an ongoing evaluative process that never stops but I realise that, although I am continually  Revisiting Recording and Revising some of the people in my database may have been missed.

These are the actions I am taking to ensure that I eventually cover all people in my database, it may take some time!

Common errors I have found so far are many hundreds of instances of sources recorded as notes, many unsourced assertions, some wrong genders or no gender and quite a few typos. There are a few duplicate people but not as many as I thought I might have. Until the new version 6 I could not add witnesses to events into Family Historian so Witness Recording is an important part of the Revision.

I am forcing myself to be consistent, I am recording the same type of information for the indivisuals in my database in the same format  in the same fields. Over the years I have used several genealogy databases and just transferred my gedcoms from one to another. Inconsistency has been a result of both this and my past practices.

The Jobs

* Revisit and Revise my Place List in FH that was a bit of a mess. I feel pleased that I sorted this before attacking the people in my database.

* Revisit all of our direct ancestors in my FH database and revise their entries.

* Sort the entries in my FH database by "Last Updated" and revisit and review these systematically (in Alphabetical order) . The earliest are 14/8/2010. Once I revisit and review these I will then work through other dates systematically. I will examine each of these entries putting more effort into those who are direct ancestors of Mr GeniAus and I. Once I catch up with the backlog I can continue this process.

* Go through all of my physical family history folders and extract the BDM certificate copies and transcriptions I hold. After going through these with a fine tooth comb (reviewing) and extracting and recording as much information as I can into my FH database I will scan them then file them all by individual's Surname/Given Names in archival quality sleeves in an archival quality binder.

* Examine all of the papers in my physical family history folders, scan them and file into my digital folders, extract and record as much information as I can into my FH database.

* Periodically update my website to reflect the changes I have made in Family Historian. (There have been at least half a dozen updates so far this month.)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Congress Presenter Interview - Heather Garnsey

When I think of Heather Garnsey, the Executive Officer at The Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) the term "Little Dynamo" springs to mind. Anyone who has met Heather at SAG or at events in the geneaworld will know that Heather is a a bundle of energy who, equipped with warm smile, works tirelessly to promote genealogy in Australia.

If you have not met Heather in person then you will have an opportunity at the AFFHO Congress in Canberra. In the interim please enjoy the following interview responses from Heather, a presenter at Congress 2015.

* Are you a genealogist, researcher, historian or representing your organisation?

I’m a bit of each! I’ve been researching my own family history for over 40 years and have been employed full time with the Society of Australian Genealogists in Sydney for more than 30 years.

* I wonder if you could tell us a little about your background?

My fascination with family history fortunately started when I was around 11 years old and I was blessed with parents who encouraged my interest; my mother and I used to enjoy many research trips to the city together where I’d work on dad’s side of the family and she’d do hers as we sat side-by-side at State Archives, the Probate Office etc. I was born in Sydney, educated in Melbourne and then moved back to Sydney in my late teens. My early working life was spent in arts administration (helping tour blockbuster art exhibitions around Australia) before I allowed myself a year off paid employment to do the research required for my Dip FHS. Just as I was beginning to explore getting back into the workforce the SAG asked if I’d like to work for them. I’d knocked them back the first time but decided to see if I could combine a hobby and career – and I’m still there.

My day job doesn’t leave a great deal of time to pursue my own genealogy these days and I’m at the point of trying to draw it all together so I can pass it on to other family members. After I completed the SAG’s Diploma in Family Historical Studies I then did my BA and Masters by external study through the University of New England – the latter allowing me to delve into the intricacies of the Old English Poor Law during the Napoleonic Wars!

* How has genealogy improved or changed your life?

Combining a passion with a career has meant that I tend to live and breathe genealogy. The SAG operates six days a week and there is never a dull moment or much spare time. Aside of the fun I’ve had doing my own research I’ve been able to help others to start their research or climb over a brick wall – the latter especially through the Sydney Benevolent Asylum website I help run in a private capacity (

* What do you love most about genealogy?

You never run out of ancestors to trace! And if life gets in the way and you put your family history down for a few months to concentrate on something else, those ancestors are still patiently waiting for you when you return.

* Have you previously attended Congress?

My first Congress was Canberra in 1986 and I’ve only missed one since, and that was because it clashed with another genealogy commitment.

* What are your key topics for Congress?

I’m giving two papers – one on how to find those ancestors who seem to have signed up for a ‘witness protection program’ and another about the SAG’s work to preserve NSW parish registers and make them available to researchers.

* How do you think your topics will help the family historians at Congress 2015?

We all have someone in our tree we can’t find and just approaching the search a little differently is sometimes all it takes to find them. And church registers are an under-utilised resource which can help so many people.

* What do you think are the benefits of attending a large conference like this for you personally and for others attending?

It’s a great opportunity to network and to have the chance to say hello to people you only see every few years – and for me personally it’s usually a time to catch up with SAG members and to put faces to email addresses.

* Do you have a favourite piece of advice or a tip or trick you can share with conference attendees?

Be adventurous in your choice of conference sessions – make sure you listen to speakers you know little about or those you don’t normally get the opportunity to hear not just the ‘names’. Conferences should be all about extending your knowledge and moving outside your comfort zone.

Friday, January 23, 2015

GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 23 January 2015

My secateurs have been busy this morning. Before I opened my Evernote GAGs Notebook I knew that I would have to prune down the list of contenders for inclusion in this week's edition of GeniAus Gems. Perhaps I was in a positive frame of mind this week and clipped a few too many posts or maybe geneabloggers are hittng their straps after the Christmas break.

It took a a bit of detective work to determine the authors of some of the posts I found this week. I had a rant about this last week. Does your blog have an author statement?

The pruning is done so I present to you my (biased) list of GeniAus' Gems for this week.

1. My dear friend Pat, aka DearMyrtle, has joined the Worldwide Genealogy blog team and her maiden post is a winner (and I am not at all biased towards Hangouts).

2. Susie couldn't resist following up a query. Perhaps you can help.

3. A clever marketing idea from Cairns.

4.  A treasure from Diane's Aunty Glad

5. Sharon visits one of my favourite sites.

6. A reminder from Wayne.

7.  Lorraine takes aa closer look at an old building.

8. I like to share via Billion Grvaes too.

9. Congratulations to the team at The Thomas Nevin blog. I wanted to leave a comment for them but comments on this blog post are closed!

10. Old photos looked familiar to Maria.

11. A useful guide from SLV.

12. Good results for money spent by Bob.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Getting Conference Ready - Directionless

I don't know what your sense of direction is like but mine is punk especially when in the Northern Hemisphere.

I am off to Salt Lake City soon for Rootstech, it's a place where the sun can shine brightly but sometimes it is dull and one can't see the sun.People often give directions using the points of the compass, North, South East and West. This can cause issues for disoriented people from the Southern Hemisphere like me.

At our Society Technology Group meeting lat week one of the members shared the Compass App on her iPhone. I was rather impressed so set off to find a similar app for my Android. I haven't decided which I will use but know that I will find my chosen one quite useful when trying to find my way around when on my travels.

Plenety of Apps to choose from in the Google Play Store

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Just 13 friends

The Rootstech App
Every morning and evening I check the Rootstech app on my smartphone to scan the list of attendees for Rootstech 2015 and send out friend requests to people I know from the geneasphere. It doesn't take long because it's a very short list . So far I have just 13 friends  and have sent out requests for another five or more. Thanks to those who have accepted my friend requests and those who have extended the hand of friendship to me.

I know the Rootstech app has problems but it is a good (has the potential to be excellent) tool to have in your pocket or purse. The usefulness of any database/tool is dependent on the quality of the data it contains.

The Rootstech organisers are doing their bit by providing schedules, maps, exhibitor and speaker information and social media links. But those who are attending are not pulling their weight. If this was a gardening or golf conference I might understand the attendees' hesitation to use a smartphone app.

Rootstech is supposed to have a focus on technology so I would imagine that the majority of attendees would either be proficient in the use of technology or have a positive attitude towards technology and be willing to try out new apps and tools.

I would like to know in advance which of my genimates will be amongst the crowd that will be gathered at The Salt Palace. One of the highlights of such a gathering as Rootstech is the opportunity it creates for one to meet our online geneafriends in the flesh but we need to be able to locate them.

If we submit our details to the Rootstech app and make our profiles public then we will give others an opportunity to plan their meetups in advance. Once the madness that is Rootstech commences there will be little time to arrange meetings.

How about joining the Appy Crowd?

Monday, January 19, 2015

An ill wind blew some good

Following on from the problems in last night's Hangout where my headset failed for the second time I raced out to the shops this morning and purchased a new one. I'll keep my old headset as a backup as it seems to work spasmodically.

New Gear
There was no doubt about me buying the Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 from JB HiFi (who price-matched Officeworks) when I noted the Purple sticker "Get 40% cashback". On arriving home I went to the Microsoft website to put in the claim for my cashback and found that there is a whole list of Microsoft accessories that one can buy with this offer at participating retailers prior to the 1st February.

Participating Retailers
I was waiting until I went to Rootstech in the US to buy a couple of new mouses and who knows what else but, with that cashback offer, prices should be better than in the US so I'm returning to the  local shops to add to my collection of tech toys.

If you are into Hangouts on Air you need a headset (as was demonstrated when mine failed),  this is a good opportunity to purchase a good headset and any other essentials that are on the product list.

Aussies and Commonwealth Cousins at Rootstech

Following on the success of our dinner in 2013 I have invited a few Aussie friends plus Audrey Collins from the UK and NZ expat Roger Moffat to a pre Rootstech get together in Salt Lake City at The California Pizza Kitchen in The Gateway Center on Tuesday February 10  prior to Rootstech. We'll be there from 6:30pm (it gets cold at night in SLC) and will try to order by (The California Pizza Kitchen is still showing up as being in the Gateway Center but I will confirm this on my arrival in SLC and also warn them of an impending invasion.)

We members of the British Commonwealth are greatly outnumbered at Rootstech so it's nice to get to know a few people before the big event.  

I am hoping that our Commonwealth Cousins from Canada, the UK, South Africa and other Commonwealth nations who would like to meet up with people from downunder will drop in and say G'day.  If you are able to join us please drop me an email (or message me via the Rootstech App) so I can get an approximate idea of numbers.

The Gateway Center is just a brisk walk down from the Radisson Hotel and Family History Library or a couple of stops on the free Trax light rail. California Pizza Kitchen (which serves more than just pizza) is number 14 on the Gateway Mall Map below

Gateway Center Map

Walking directions from The Radisson (A) to Gateway Center (B)
CPK's address is 
156 South 400 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
One Block South of the Delta Center
(801) 456-0075

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Getting Conference Ready - Pockets and Purses

I saw a comment somewhere today from a lady enquiring whether she should take her Flip-Pal scanner to Salt Lake City for use in The Family History Library. Someone else suggested that, for security, one would need to carry it around. That's not a problem at that Library as one is allowed to take bags into the building. However in some of the repositories you visit you can't take big bags into the research areas.

This conversation got me thinking about conferences like Rootstech and AFFHO Congress and the essential stuff one needs to get one through a conference day. One of the things I try to do is wear trousers with deep pockets  and a jacket or vest with more pockets.

These pockets relieve the strain on the bag I carry around at conferences and, in repositories, allow me to take more bits and pieces in than I would otherwise be able to do. My camera and smartphone are reasonably safe in my deep trouser pockets.

A Moneybelt just like mine
Additionally, if my hotel doesn't have a safe, I just carry a small amount of cash on me in a little purse and keep the rest with my passport in a moneybelt. If you don't have a moneybelt it's a good idea to purchase one with a RFID pocket so nasty people can't skim your credit card details.

While I am on the security bandwagon the handbags I travel with are Pacsafe antitheft bags, they are expensive but have lots of security. I find the Citysafe 200 is ideal for everyday use, it takes all the gear I need for a day out at a conference.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Geneabloggers - Who and Where are you?

I love a spreadsheet. I use Excel and Google sheets for all manner of geneatasks. On one of my Google sheets I keep a record of the blogs I have included in my GeniAus' Gems or GAGs posts. I have columns for Date, Blogger Name, Blog Title, Post URL, Country and Blog type.

You wouldn't believe the trouble I sometimes have finding information to record in the name and country fields. I realise that some geneabloggers are shy and concerned about security but you can  afford to give a little information away about yourself.

You don't have to go overboard. On your About Me page or Widget you can simply call yourself Sue from Sydney, Wilma from Wyoming or John from Jersey. This small amount of information will give readers some context when they read your post and should not put you at risk of a major cyber attack. If you are a risk taker you might even add a little more biographical information that does not lead a robber to your door.  Alternatively you can tell a little about yourself in the subtitle of your blog, I describe myself there as "an amateur Australian genealogist who enjoys collaborating via sociall media".

Printed books usually display the author's name and give a bit of biographical information. Let's make sure we do this for our blogs.

Today I looked at the About Me page of a "Professional Genealogist" in which she wrote glowingly of her skills. I had to do some major sleuthing to find out what country she was situated in, from the bias in her blog posts I guess it must be the US. Also amazing was that she did not mention about her areas of expertise. Duh!

Another About Me was from a a genealogy author who is a nameless blogger. Her About Me page had links to her books on Amazon so I had to go there to find her identity. Duh!

This little spreadsheet exercise sent me running back to my blogs to make sure that I was easily identifiable. On this blog I have an About Me widget that directs the reader to my Google+ profile and a Contact page that has my name. Phew!

Have you checked your About Me information recently?

GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 16 January 2015

The weeks roll by quickly here at the GeniAus office, can't believe it's Friday again -time for the next edition of GeniAus' Gems. Reading genealogy and related blogs is an important part of my ongoing CGD, my weekly GAGs post gives me an opportunity to share posts that have resonated with me and to highlight some blogs that my be unknown to you. I make no apology for my strong Australian bias.

For your reading pleasure I present:

1. A beaut aggregation of resources for your society from my Dear Genimate DearMyrtle in Utah.

2. An example of super sleuthing from WAGS

3.  Can you help Sharon from NSW solve her mystery? She is fortunate to have such a trove of family treasures.

4. A lecture at SAG prompted Maria to do a series of posts.

5. Dawn's mission is to "find descendants of the unwanted/unloved vintage photographs I've found in my travels around NZ & on the Internet"

6. I always enjoy seeing what the latest post on this blog turns up

7. Sharon from Victoria shares one of her organisational tools

8. Nola tells the story of a woman behind enemy lines in WW1

9. Could this chap James found on Trove be related to him?

10. Are any of your names longer than this one found by a SLWA researcher?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Getting Conference Ready - Time to get covered

Having shelled out quite a bit of money for my airfare and accommodation for the forthcoming Rootstech Conference I renewed my annual travel insurance policy this week.

Even if you are not travelling internationally to attend Rootstech or the AFFHO Congress in Canberra, if your plans involve expensive airfares and accommodation, then it might be wise to get covered.

I always joke about about getting hit by a double decker bus but this could happen and it a foreign land costs could wipe one out financially. And what if you have to cancel your trip at the last minute?

As I usually fly with Qantas I take an annual policy they offer with QBE. There are many other policies around that would be suitable for your specific needs.

Are you covered?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

In case you missed it....

Pasted below is last night's GeniAus' Hangout on Air - To do or not to Do (over) that is the question. Please excuse the hiccup in the middle of the recording where I lost my connection. I felt powerless sitting at my computer looking at the other panelists' and not being able to communicate.

My next Hangout will be on Sunday 18th January - Getting to know  Family Historian with Jane Taubman. Details here:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Great-Granny in the Minutes

Liverpool Regional Museum Research Facility
Last week Mr GeniAus and I travelled out to Liverpool in search of information on his Great-Grandmother, Emily Ball (nee Royds). We had found many articles about her activities in Trove and expected that we might find some maps, photographs or mentions in the collections at The Liverpool Regional Museum or at Liverpool 's Heritage Library.

The people who assisted us were very helpful and showed a lot of interest but we found very little to add to our knowledge of Emily. While at The Museum we did discover from an index to the Rates Books that Emily owned several properties in the area but we were not able to access the Rates Books to seek further information. Apparently they are suffering from "Red Rot".

While there we also had a chat with Jennifer from The Liverpool Genealogy Society which shares the building with the Museum. I was impressed by their tidy, well organised and wekk resourced premises.

Mr GeniAus with Rate Book Index 
Our next stop was the library, a huge building in Liverpool's main street. I had visited the library when it first opened in the late 90s and remember saying that it reminded me of an RSL club on steroids, the gaudy decor has faded over the years but is still gross.

The staff we encountered were helpful but they had not been able to find any relevant photographs for us and, as the maps that might have been useful are uncatalogued and in map drawers somewhere, we were not able to access them. As we were preparing to leave a staff member who had been on the periphery of our conversation asked did we know that the old Council Meeting Minute Books had been digitised, were online and were searchable. She showed us how to access them and did a preliminary search for Ball.

When we hit home Mr GeniAus fired up his laptop and went through the minute books. He hit gold. Searches of each of the files showed that Emily, who lived in the area for over 30 years, had many dealings with Liverpool Council, each of these instances added a little more detail to her story.

The lesson here is to ask if the Minute Books from your ancestors' Local Government areas have been digitised. You never know what you might find.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Getting Conference Ready - Tips from Amy Smith

I just listened to a great webinar directed at speakers for Rootstech 2015 "Rootstech 2015 - What you need to know as a speaker webinar."

At the conclusion of the session the presenter, Amy Smith, reiterated some general tips that are worthy of mentioning to all conference attendees at both Rootstech in Salt Lake City and AFFHO Congress 2015 in Canberra.

  • Stay hydrated
  • Dress in layers
  • Wear comfortable shoes

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Tables have Turned

I can confirm that with constant exposure to a family historian and family history research one can catch the Geneabug. 

After traipsing around various ancestral towns and cemeteries and spending quite a deal of time as my Geneassistant over the past fifteen years or so Mr GeniAus has caught the bug. He's got it bad. When we were on our recent cruise and he had some time on our hands he decided that he would use my research to write up his family history.

I gave him a narrative report from my Family Historian software, put a swag of documents on a Hard Drive for him and with access to our family website  he was off and running. Since Christmas I have spent quite a deal of time helping him flesh out his document with images and further information. His document is now up to 71 pages and that's all my fault because I keep making suggestions on extra things to add.

I have to admit that I am not the most patient of people. In a former life Mr GeniAus was CEO of a large organisation and had a large team of people at this beck and call. Sadly this is not the case in retirement and I am spread rather thin answering questions and providing details.

There are some positives. This has forced me to look back at some research that was done many moons ago. It has sent me scurrying to find copies of documents and references and to correct errors Mr GeniAus has found, I have updated the gedcom on our family site each day this week.  Mr GeniAus appreciates my efforts over many years and he has become enthusiastic about his family history. I will be able to use some of his stories as posts for this blog. These are some pretty good outcomes.

One can teach an old dog new tricks.

Friday, January 9, 2015

GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 9 January 2015

As previously stated My GeniAus Gems are subject to my personal biases ( I favour posts that contain original material) and I make no apology for that. I have a distinctly Australian bias and most of my selections relate to family history.

You may enjoy these posts from the past week.

1. What's your ancestor score? Kim has worked hers out.

2.  Is the pomodoro technique for you? It seems to have worked for Marion

3.  Michelle relates a story from Pitt Town

4. Tales both funny and sad from Carmel

5. A newsy post from Shauna

6.  Alona faced a real emergency this week

7. Derek returns to the cemetery

8.  Susan finds that searching for someone with an unusual name sin't always easy

9.  Best wishes to Kerryn as she accepts another challenge

10.  Stephen asks what kind of reader you are

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hanging out in 2015

After quite a break I have scheduled the first GeniAus  Hangout on Air for 2015. You are invited to join me on Monday evening, 8:00pm Sydney time, to discuss the topic "To do or not to do (over) - that is the question"

Hangout details and RSVP can be found here on Google+:

If you are not a member of the GeniAus Community at Google+ then you might also consider joining.

I  have plans in train for two further Hangouts this month, I will share details as soon as they are firmed up. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Family History Society proposed for my District

Presently there is no Family History Society for my  Local Government Area, Hornsby.  I belong to groups in two neighbouring areas, Ku-ring-gai and Hawkesbury, and enjoy being a member of those groups. It would be a great asset to the Hornsby area to have a local group.

A few months ago I was approached by another Hornsby area family historian, David, with the idea of forming a group for Hornsby. David has been working with Neil Chippendale, our Local Studies Librarian, and a few other interested parties to investigate the feasibility of starting up such a group. I am pleased to let you know that an initial meeting has been set down for February. All interested parties are invited to attend as per this email from Hornsby Library.

"Dear Family History Enthusiast

Over the last, few months a small group of family historians have been having informal talks about re-starting a local Hornsby based family history society, discussions have been fruitful and it is hoped that a new society will be formed. It has been decided that a meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 for all interested parties with the idea of formally establishing the Hornsby and District Family History Society. Ideas about the formation and objectives of the society will be discussed, we hope that you will be able to attend.

The meeting will take place in the large meeting room at Hornsby Library on 25th Feb. at 2pm.
If you have, any queries please feel free to contact Neil Chippendale on 9847 6807 or"

Should you have any ideas/thoughts on this proposal I'd also love to hear from you. 

Congress Presenter Interview - Simon Fowler

My fellow Congress Official  Bloggers Pauleen CassShauna Hicks and I are conducting a series of interviews with presenters at the forthcoming AFFHO Congress in Canberra. These posts should help you get to know the presenters, entice you to attend Congress or if you are unable to join us, give you a flavour of happenings at the event.You can find links to some of the published interviews here.

Interview with Simon Fowler

Simon Fowler
JB: Are you a genealogist, researcher, historian or representing your organisation?
SF: I am mainly a freelance professional researcher, writer and historian.
Although if the opportunity arises I’d like to find out about my great-great-
grandfather John Osbertus Fowler who captained emigrant ships to Australia
and New Zealand in the 1850s and 1860s. I have a telescope given to him by
grateful passengers for averting a disaster at sea.

JB: I wonder if you could tell us a little about your background?
SF: I worked at the Public Record Office in London and then The National
Archives (TNA) on and off for over thirty years. Latterly I edited the Archives’
Ancestors Magazine.  I’ve also edited Family History Monthly and was the first archivist at the Society of Genealogists.  After I left TNA in 2011 it seemed a
natural progression to become a professional researcher. I also teach online
courses on military genealogy for Pharos and at Dundee University and write
regularly for the UK family history magazines. But I particularly like doing talks
and lectures before a live audience.

JB: How has genealogy improved or changed your life?
SF: My life over the past thirty years has been bound up with genealogy.  I’ve
gained so much from studying, teaching and researching family history, and
made many friends.  Of course over that time genealogy has been
transformed by technology. We can do now do research and, even better,
make links between ancestors, that either would have been impossible even
fifteen years ago or at least taken decades to achieve.

JB: What do you love most about genealogy?
SF: Genealogists are more than willing to share their research and will go to
extraordinary lengths to help if they can.  This amazes academic historians
who tend to keep what they are working on, as close to their chests as
possible, which I think is a very sterile approach. Mind you family historians
can sometimes be too helpful …

JB: Have you previously attended Congress?
SF: No – this is the first time, but I hope not the last.  I have heard good things
about previous Congresses.

JB: What are your key topics for Congress?
SF: I am covering four very different subjects: deserters from the British Army;
local records for assisted immigrants from the UK; hidden gems at local
archives in England and Wales; and, how to write about family history ‘for
pleasure and profit’.

JB: How do you think your topics will help the family historians at Congress
SF: 1. to encourage them to use records which tend to be little used by family
historians. The temptation is to just to stick to material that is already online,
but this is only the tip of the archival iceberg. There are just so many more
documents that might shed light on their British ancestors.
2. to share their researches with fellow enthusiasts and hopefully with a wider

JB: What do you think are the benefits of attending a large conference like
this for you personally and for others attending?
SF: What is said on the podium can be very useful, but the real benefits come
from talking to fellow attendees and hobnobbing with the speakers.

JB: Do you have a favourite piece of advice or a tip or trick you can share 
with conference attendees?
SF: This is very boring, but can save many frustrating hours.  In search engines
put your query in double quotes “”. Type in Don Bradman you may come up
with all the Dons and all the Bradmans, type in the phrase “Don Bradman” will
just produce results for Don Bradman. Simples!

Contact details




Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Trove Tuesday - Where has all the silver gone?

When helping Mr GeniAus, who has developed more than a passing interest interest in his family history, I recently found a new treasure on Trove.

In the absence of family photos of his Ball ancestors this article reporting on the wedding of his Grandparents, James Ball and Harriet Parkinson, paints a picture for us. One wonders what has happened to the cache of silver the happy couple received as wedding presents.The good news is that Mr GeniAus has the Bible which is mentioned, it has recently been restored.

A transcription of the article follows.

Source: 1916 'WEDDING BELLS.', The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), 1 July, p. 11, viewed 6 January, 2015,

On Saturday the Baptist Church, Liverpool, was crowded to excess on the occasion of the marriage of Mr. James Ball, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. James Ball, of 'Dorking Villa,' Liverpool, to Miss Harriet Parkinson, eldest daughter of Mr. W.H. Parkinson, of Batley, Yorkshire, England. The Rev. W. Bain officiated at theceremony; and the bride was given away by her brother, Mr. R. Parkinson, while Mr. James Kay was best man and Mr.Pettitt groomsman. The bride was prettily attired in grey pallette silk, relievcd with creme maltese lace, hat en suite, and carried a handsome bouquet of white camellias. Miss E. Grundy, bridesmaid, wore a grey crepe de chine frock and black
velvet hat; Miss Ball, bridesmaid, creme crepe -de chine, relieved with lace and minon. mobcap to match; Mrs. Ball, black crepe de chine and lace, relieved with heliotrope, black hat to match. 

After the ceremony the party, adjourned to the residence of the bridegroom's parents in George street, where over 100 guests sat down to breakfast, at which the Rev, W. Bain presided, The Rev. W. Bain, In proposing the toast of 'The King,' referrcd to the service both the bridegroom and his brother had rendered to King and country in the army and navy. Mr. and Mrs. Ball, Jun.,will make Liverpool their future home.

Many presents wore received: — Mrs. J.Ball, sen., cheque and house furnishings;Mr. R. Parkinson, hanging lamp; Mr. Fred Ball, silver cake stand; Miss Ball, celery glasses; Mr. J. Kay, clock and cutlery; Mr.R. Walsh and Miss McGuire, silver butterdishes; Mr. Frank Weeks and Miss Rose-bridge, silver salad dishes ; Mr, Frank Madden, set carvers;  Mr. T. Fielding andMiss Sedgewick, silver tea pot; Miss Lees(2), silver cruet; Mr. Alex Lee, silver pickle jar; Mr. and Mrs. C. Turner, Mrs.Claughton and Miss Pollard, eider down quilt; Mr. Geo. Chapple, silver tea spoons;Miss Edna Schell, silver jam dish; Cor-poral Ferguson (R.S.A.), silver butterdish; Mr. H. Watt and Miss Wilcoxson, silver jam dish: Rev. W. Bain, Bible, Mr. Pettitt (H.M.A.S. Yarra), silver breakfast cruet; Alderman and Mrs. P. Everington, silver butter dish; Mrs. Birchmeyer, silver trinket casket; Mr. and Mrs. Osborne, silver fruit stand; Mr. and Mrs. Hunt, kitchen requisites; Miss Markham, set salad dishes; Mr. and Mrs. Grundie, silver fruitdish; Misses Grundy silver biscuit barrel; Nurse Collins, set glasses and jugs; Misses Andrews, salad bowl; Mrs. Bush,cutlery;. Mr. Bush, silver butter dish; Mr.and Mrs. Laurence Murphy, silver jam dish; Mrs. M. A. King, set, silver teaspoons; Mr;, and Mrs. Leathart, silver vase; Mr. David and Miss Dolly Mills, tea service; Mr. Shepherd and Miss Bower (Sydney), tea set; Mr. and Mrs. Chapple, silver jam dish; Mrs. Brin, set glasses; Mr. andMrs. J. Grinsdod. silver Jam dish; Mr.and Mrs. James Munro, silver butter dish; Mrs. Wood, silver dish; Mrs; Jones, breakfast cruet; Mr. R. Robinson, silver dish; Miss Hanns, dishes; Mr. and Mrs. F. Hunt Jun., jardiniere, etc.; also presents from Mrs. Ratcllffe, Mr. and Mrs. Giles, Mr.Tom Wylie, Mr. J. Stone, and many others.


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