Thursday, August 29, 2019

Positive Overload

A while ago I wrote that I would be suffering from Blaine overload at DNA Downunder.

My day started off well when I entered the lecture room to be greeted with a hug from Blaine Bettinger.

Blaine and GeniAus
And then there was the meetup with my Rootstech buddies, Fran, Pauleen and Sharn. I let out many squeals of delight as I kept finding more genimaates.

With Rootstech buddies Fran, Pauleen and Sharn
Today on the the first day of DNA Downunder in Sydney I attended five DNA talks given by Blaine. My brain is certainly overloaded but this is a most positive outcome. I have had much of my DNA knowledge reinforced, been given many tips and ideas to further my genetic sleuthing and have been energised and inspired by Blaine'a enthusiasm.  The 300+ genies who were in attendance today had a real treat.

One of five talks from Blaine today
The other presentation I attended was from the researchers from Genioz who told us about their research study and shared findings from their work on personal genomics in Australia. As someone who has a blinkered view and hasn't thought much beyond the use of DNA in family history research this presentation was a real eye opener. It was good to be exposed to the whole picture as opposed to my narrow little focus.

Jacqueline from Genioz
Alan Phillips from Unlock the Past has excelled himself with venue choice, the program and the whole organisation of the event which so far has been top notch.Thanks also to Alona and Anthe - the women who keep Alan under control. Well done Phillips family.

Alan Phillips
Being able to meet old genimates and online friends in the flesh is one aspect of a geneaconference that I enjoy. I can't wait until tomorrow when I hope to chat and take a happy snap with those I missed today.

A hall overflowing with genimates
My day ended at a dinner with some of the many Downunder Genies who are travelling to London in October to attend the Rootstech Conference there.

We certainly experienced DNA to the Max at Castle Hill today.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Trove Tuesday - A lightbulb moment

This morning while listening to a webinar on Government Employees hosted by State Records NSW I had a lightbulb moment.

For several years I have been interested in my Great-Great Grandmother's brother, Rev. Michael Harrington Ryan. I have previously searched Trove and British and Irish newspapers for mention of this chap and have looked at resources in The National Library of Australia and the National Library in Dublin, Ireland. I have gathered quite a bit of information on his life but, as one day I want to tell his story, I want more.

When John Cann was talking about Government Records in the webinar I recalled that M H Ryan had some Government appointments to penal colonies under the jurisdiction of NSW and gaols in NSW. John mentioned that keyword searches in Trove will return results from the NSW Government Gazette. Now I haven't done any Trove searches on the good Reverend since the Gazettes became available. So what did I do? I ditched my task of editing and distributing minutes of a Family History Group and fired up Trove.

I have tagged several articles in Trove with M H Ryan's name but I prefer Lists because I find them easier to find through searches. As I didn't have a list I set up a new one for Michael Harrington Ryan which I have made Private for the moment. I was then ready to search.

Was the hunt successful?

It certainly was although I had to use a range of search terms to find articles. I had previously found reports of some of these events in Trove newspapers but many of the results I found today are news to me and will add more to the story of my great (x2) grand-uncle.

Below are just some of the snippets I found relating to Michael Harrington Ryan.

1872 'Index page', New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), 31 December, p. xxvi. , viewed 27 Aug 2019,

1877 'Government Gazette Notices', New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), 30 January, p. 451. , viewed 27 Aug 2019,
1877 'Government Gazette Appointments and Employment', New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), 27 July, p. 2869. , viewed 27 Aug 2019,

1879 'Government Gazette Appointments and Employment', New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), 4 February, p. 473. , viewed 27 Aug 2019,

1879 'Government Gazette Appointments and Employment', New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), 7 February, p. 528. , viewed 27 Aug 2019,

Government Gazette Appointments and Employment (1883, July 20). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), p. 3903. Retrieved August 27, 2019, from
1887 'In the Supreme Court of New South Wales. ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION.', New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), 15 November, p. 7682. , viewed 27 Aug 2019,

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Like a Sponge

It seems as though some of my genimates who are going to DNADownunder in Sydney later this week are beating themselves up as they indulge in a frenzy of activities related to their DNA matches.

I was on this merry-go-round until a few days ago but I decided to dismount. I really don't think that identifying a few more of my matches, writing to more prospective cousins or updating my files will have much of an impact on my learning at the event. I am going to take time out from DNA for the next few days and go along to DNADownunder with a clear head.

The things I most want to happen like getting Ancestry DNA matches to upload their data to another site so I can paint them in DNAPainter or getting responses from many of the matches I have messaged is just not going to happen quickly. I have no control over these issues but maybe I will pick up a few tips at the conference.

I am going be a sponge and sit back, relax and learn from the experts at the event, I read somewhere that "learning by osmosis" occurs when one is exposed to and immersed in something.  
DNADownunder will provide that DNA exposure and immersion.

 The sponge inside my head is ready to absorb
I may not attend a talk in every time slot (except for Blaine's) because I won't want my new learning to leak out of the sponge. I may use those times to reflect and reinforce my new learning and I may pull out my laptop and play while the learning is fresh in my mind. Three full days of learning is exhausting at events like this; we need to factor in some time to refresh, relax and reconnect (with genimates and vendors at the event).

If you have been daunted at the prospect of all the learning at this event do come along and be a sponge like me, you will definitely have a beaut time. (If you haven't booked you can buy tickets at the door.)

I'm a DNA Dabbler so while being educated at DNADownunder is my main focus I am also going along to be entertained, enthused and energised. It's the Australian geneagathering of the year.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Familysearch at the Lake

Several months ago members of the Lake Macquarie Family History Group (LMFHG) told me that they had discussed with a local library a suggestion for the library to become a about Familysearch Affiliate Library. What a brilliant idea!

The Familysearch site states that "Affiliate libraries (whether public, special, or university) have access to FamilySearch’s digital genealogical collections that are otherwise accessible only through a FamilySearch family history center. FamilySearch also provides its affiliates with the latest tools and tips for genealogy reference librarians."

Having affiliate status allows libraries to provide access to additional digital records not available outside a family history centre or an affiliate library. Affiliate libraries have access to around 400 million original records in digital format. These records provide images and indexes that assist family historians to identify ancestors to add to their family trees. Having access to these resources in areas distant from The Family History Centers run by The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints is of great benefit to family historians.

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City
Last week I was speaking with a member of  LMFHG who told me that the local library's application for Familysearch Affiliate status had been successful and the it was now available through the Speers Point Branch of Lake Macquarie Libraries

I was keen to check this out as I have a list of Familysearch resources I cannot view from home but can access in an affiliate library. I had a look on the library's website and could find no mention of this news, I looked in the library catalogue and on their family history page and their ecollections page but could not find mention of this important new resource.

As I was in the vicinity of the Speers Point Library yesterday I dropped in and discovered this framed certificate sitting by the computers.

In speaking with a member of library staff I found that the busy Council's IT department has not yet had time to add the Familysearch link to the page of family history databases on the library computers but that the service has been extensively tested and members of the public are available to access it during library opening hours. 

While it is disappointing that the library has not yet promoted the resource it was good to hear that this is in the pipeline. 

The best news for family historians in the Lake Macquarie and Newcastle area is that the Speers Point Library is now a  Familysearch Affiliate Library.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Office

My genimates like to post views from their office windows. Here was mine as I travelled by train  to Hornsby for their Family History Group meeting.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Going Local

When I woke on Saturday morning little did I know how my day would unfold.

While I was enjoying my morning coffee I had a phone call from members of my local Family History Group at Lake Macquarie who had gathered early for the monthly and annual general meetings. The purpose of that call was to ask me if I would accept a nomination as the President of the Group. I was both flattered and flabbergasted as consideration of this role was not on my radar. After a short discussion I said that I would give it some thought and talk about it further when I got to the venue for the meeting.

I had reservations because I am a relatively new member of the Group and have only been a resident of Lake Macquarie for two years. I also have the travel bug and was concerned that my absences would adversely impact on the role of President. On the positive side I have a commitment to grassroots genealogy and I have observed that The Lake Macquarie Family History Group runs like a well-oiled machine. I am keen to become an active member of the local community. This offer was difficult to refuse.

When I arrived at the venue I chatted with most of the current Committee members who offered me their support and encouraged me to stand. I signed the nomination form and was duly elected. 

I was honoured and humbled to be invited to lead the Group and I will endeavour to conscientiously fulfil the role entrusted upon me. I am fortunate to inherit a dedicated, experienced and knowledgeable group of committee members and volunteers who run the group so efficiently.

I am hoping that some of my genimates will make the trip to Lake Macquarie to meet the members of the group up here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Virtual Genealogical Association - Free Conference Registration Competition

I have been an enthusiastic member of this online genealogy society since its inception in April 2018. The Association was founded by Katherine R. Willson, Christine Woodcock, Terri O’Connell, Tami Mize  and Lisa Alzo and now has an impressive membership list that reads like a who's who in the genealogy world.  

The Virtual Genealogical Society is a global organisation for the 21st century that fulfils the needs of family historians:

  • whose circumstances make it difficult to attend local genealogical society meetings
  • who prefer online presentations, special interest groups (SIGs), conferences, and socializing
  • with an interest in connecting, networking, and mentoring with global genealogists.

The Association has announced its VGA virtual conference to be held from November 1-3, 2019! 

Speakers include Judy G Russell and Blaine Bettinger from the US,  Fiona Brooker from New Zealand, Ursula Krause from Germany, Audrey Collins from the UK and Helen Smith from Australia. 

Australians who may be sleeping while the live sessions are broadcast will not miss out on any of the sessions. Attendees will have access to recordings & handouts for all sessions for 6 months following the event - watch any time, any place, on any device

Closed captioning via will be added to all sessions and made available to attendees within 7 days of the event. 

Cost is reasonable at $US59 for VGA members & $US79 for non-members. 

You have a chance to win a Free Registration to this event. 
As the Convenor of the New South Wales Chapter of of the Association I have a FREE Registration Code to share with one of my genimates.

* This competition is open to both members and non-members of the Association
* Entries are restricted to one per person 
* The prize is not redeemable for cash
* The winner will be contacted by email and subsequently announced here on the Geniaus blog
* All entries must be received by Midnight (AEST) on Sunday 15 September
* The judges decision is final

To enter the competition you must:

* 1. Share this blog post with a comment in a public post on either your Twitter account, on Facebook or in a blog post. I must be able to access and share your posts.

* 2. Using the subject line "VGA Competition" Email with a link to your social media post.

Good Luck

Monday, August 12, 2019

Conference Ribbons

One of the extra-curricular activities at geneaevents in the US is the collecting of Conference Badge Ribbons. This practice has spread to Australia and the UK although it is not yet as popular as in America.

Kiwi genealogist, Roger, has a long ribbon cascade
It's certainly great fun to collect these ribbons from friends, institutions, societies and businesses but have you actually thought strategically about the wearing and placement of these ribbons?

I started collecting ribbons at an early Rootstech conference and, after a few years, joined the fun by ordering some to promote my blog and website.  For the first few years I sought and accepted ribbons and added them to my ribbon cascade as they were given to me.

One day I realised that the the Ribbon Cascade I was wearing was a walking billboard that told those who admired my colourful collection who and what was important to me and whom I supported. So from then on I didn't rush to add ribbons. I made sure that I added those ribbons that were most important and told something about me to the top of my cascade.

I began to think of the strategic placement of  ribbons on my cascade. At international events an Australia ribbon goes near the top of my cascade followed by my GeniAus ribbon and a Convict Descendant if there are some on offer. Other ribbons near the top will be for associations of which I am a member like the Virtual Genealogical Association, an event with which I am associated like The Genealogy Show and Kiva Genealogists for Families a charity I support.

As the ribbons can create a trip hazard I try to keep my cascade to a reasonable length.

Blogs I follow (especially Australian ones) get good placement. I may add ribbons for companies with which I have tested my DNA and services I use like Google, Wikitree and Familysearch. I will add funny ones like "I Haunt Cemeteries" closer to the bottom of the cascade. Once I have added all of these I may add incidental ones that people give me but if they are irrelevant I file them away for another day.

As I prepare for Rootstech London I am thinking about ribbons. Now that my Facebook page is my main platform for communication I order may some with a link to my Facebook page and some for our Downunder genies who are attending. I am also considering deconstructing some of my Ribbon Cascades from earlier events and creating something to wear in London. It's such a waste to have them sitting in a box at home.

I hope those attending Rootstech and other geneaevents consider sharing some ribbons. They are a great conversation starter and will provide excellent promotion of your sites and services.

Remember to stop and think about the ribbon you are going to wear or offer at an event. What message does it convey to other conference attendees?

Cascades from my past

Here and there in National Family History Month

Aware that it's National Family History Month and that I am actually in Australia I threw myself into #familyhistory activities last week. Surprisingly I am not giving any talks this month so I've had a bit of time to play. Mr GeniAus does wonder what I am doing in my geneacave all day!

Piling system
From time to time I tear myself away from the more palatable geneactivities to do a little bit of tidying, scanning and think about filing. I'm very good at digital filing but a failure at physical filing. I have reorganised my cupboards but my piling system is still evident.

I continued to microblog via my GeniAus Facebook page and The Hornsby Shire FHG page. I contributed to many conversations on Facebook which I fine myself using more and more since the demise of Google+.
Although I haven't written on this blog I have been blogging here and here and  here

Monday was spent experimenting with data gathering and importing into my CurryAus project see blog post above).

On Tuesday I took myself to the monthly meeting of the Newcastle Family History Society, it's only the second time I have been to one of their meetings since joining. I'll try to do better. Sitting among the small audience of members who all knew each other I once again realised how lonely it can be as the newbie in a Group. It was disappointing to see such a small attendance at a meeting of a group with such a large membership. I wasn't sure that I would enjoy the talk by Marie Hughes who talked about her family and their business, Hughes Pottery which operated in the Merewether area for over 100 years. As a newcomer to the Newcastle Region I found the talk fascinating the story of the family business was interwoven with the family's genealogy. 

Hughes Pottery at Newcastle Family History Society
Two webinars were on my program for Wednesday. Firstly I watched Fiona Brooker's webinar on New Zealand  at Legacy Family Tree Webinars. I left this early to tune into the Newspapers webinar from the National Library of Australia which you can now view on their website or Youtube. I'm sorry that I didn't stick with Fiona's webinar as there was more for me to learn there than at the newspapers session which was a basic presentation aimed at new users and beginners.

On Thursday I made a rash decision to register for The Society of Australian Genealogists' Wikitree Challenge that was scheduled for the next day, Friday. This event organised by Veronica Williams and Danielle Lautrec aimed to improve Australian content, share our research, and promote the Society's collections all in one day. 

I failed on promoting the Society's resources but managed to share second place in the Challenge. I went way beyond the finishing time of 3pm so that I could complete my personal goals. My 16 Great-grandparents and many of their descendants now have sourced entries on the Wikitree. You can visit me here on Wikitree

My mother always taught me that if had a commitment one shouldn't back out if something else came along so on Saturday I missed the dedication of a new plaque on my descendant Elizabeth Phipps' grave at Richmond. Thanks to cousin Lynn Griffiths who organised the event to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Elizabeth's death.

Meanwhile I spent the day at Hornsby Library chairing the annual Geneagala day we at Hornsby Shire Family History Group host in conjunction with the library with special guest Emily Hanna from NSW State Archives and Records. It was a splendid day. You can see some photos and a report here in a Facebook post.

Genies at Gemeagala Day at Hornsby
While August has been a quiet month for talks presented by me September is busy so I have fired up Powerpoint and worked on my webinar and in person presentations. I spend way too much time preparing for these gigs; I am a serial reviser.

I spent quite a deal of time on my DNA Matches. I have used DNA Painter to map both my and Mr GeniAus' chromosomes. In the hope of finding new cousins to map I have repeatedly visited  Family Tree DNA, Gedmatch and MyHeritage but haven't had much joy. My greatest disappointment at the moment is the lack of matches to paint. If you only have your DNA at Ancestry and want to make more connections PLEASE upload to each of these sites. I have been able to keep up with new strong matches at Ancestry as they seem to be trickling in.

Mr GeniAus is smiling because I won a free pass for him  to attend #RootstechLondon. To win the prize I had to submit an interesting word that I had come across in my family history research. My winning word was Progonoplexia (I have a bad case - how about you?)

What did your week look like?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Get your genes in order

I heard a rumour that hundreds of genies are attending the Unlock the Past series of DNA Downunder seminars around Australia.

If you are not among the "in crowd" who have registered for this event and you don't want to be suffering from FOMO in the coming weeks you must register today at

If you are grappling with the results of your DNA test or are an experienced genetic genealogist there is something on the program for you. As an added bonus you will be able to meet and network with fellow genies and DNA experts and spend your geneadollars at the exhibitor stands at the event. and then there are the prizes - over $17,000 across all cities over $4300 in Sydney and over $2000 in all other cities.

I hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Jill's Jigsaw

Mr GeniAus and I are hoarders. Back in 2014 I even started writing about my efforts to offload stuff  in Diary of a decrapifier.

When we moved house two years ago we thought that we had tossed out a lot of stuff prior to the big move but we didn't! Two years down the track we still have a garage that is full of cartons and  odd bits of furniture. Over the past few days we have stepped up our efforts to claim the garage for our cars.

As well as attending to the big stuff I have been looking at my tech gear. We took a hammer to our museum of laptops' harddrives earlier in the year. Gone tonight are a few old thumb drives of 128 and 256 megabytes together with old cables, adaptors and chargers. I am now looking at old external hard drives (and taking a trip down memory lane) and copying files I want to keep (nearly everything) onto my 8TB external Hard Drive. This has taken me ages as I look at the websites I built in the late nineties and early this century.

One gem I found was Jill's Jigsaw, my first family history related site that I built around 2000 using Adobe Dreamweaver. I had a narrative page each for some of my earliest ancestors and spreadsheets that listed all ancestors and their families. I kept this up until I created the GeniAus family site using TNG in 2009. It is so much easier to look after my current site than Jill's Jigsaw.

It was gratifying to find that all of the links on the site still worked when I fired it up in Chrome.

Do you still have a copy of your first attempt at an online tree?


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