Sunday, September 26, 2021

From the Archives - Into the 21st Century with SAG

In the ten years since I penned the post below I have hosted and presented several webinars in the Society of Australian Genealogists Education Program. 

From one session a month in 2011 the Society now hosts several sessions each week, some are presented on the GotoWebinar platform while many are now presented on Zoom which allows for easier interactive participation by attendees. 

For five years I have been a proud member of the SAG Education Committee which assists and advises the staff of the Society with program delivery and development. We regularly host international expert presenters from overseas which provide our members access to learn from geneastars without having to grab a passport and hop on a plane.  Recently the SAG opened up attendance at these sessions to non-members so genies anywhere in Australia and overseas can learn from home. 

Since the Covid19 pandemic hit in March 2020 all SAG events have been delivered online giving members in regional and remote areas opportunities to receive high quality education.  The popular Members' Hangouts during the pandemic have given members an opportunity to socialise and chat while absorbing online tips and shared stories from fellow researchers. I know more SAG members now than I ever did during my many years of membership.

You can access the SAG Education Program here on their website,

Following is my report of the very first hangout in 2011. Thanks to Heather Garney and Martyn Killion for their vision in launching this impressive program.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Into the 21st Century with SAG

Thursday night, with Captain Heather Garnsey at the helm, I joined around 60 other members  of  SAG (The Society of Australian Genealogists) in SAG's first paid webinar for members. It is so good to see this organisation employing technology to reach out to members.

Thanks Heather for permission to post this image
Genealogists from a number of Australian States and rural and metropolitan areas in NSW joined Heather for the event. Instead of an hour's trip by car to get to SAG in the city I only had to spend a few minutes firing up the computer to get my fix of CGD. For members who live in rural areas getting to SAG for educational events is extremely difficult. Hopefully this initiative will snag a few new members for SAG.

I salute Heather on her competent management of the GoToWebinar software that is used for delivery. She did a great job drivng it while presenting her talk. As SAG are charging $10 for the webinar and, as they should be getting the software for a song (hope Aussie organisations get the great deals available to non-profit organisations in the US), perhaps they could afford to have another person online to support the presenter.

NSW Shipping Records Online was the topic for Heather's talk. Although introductory in nature I learnt a few new tricks from the talk that concentrated on online records at and State Records of NSW.   Added to my todo list is to take a look at these records for the ancestors whose immigration details I found years ago - I should be able to find more details to flesh their profiles. After her formal presentation Heather responded to attendees questions.

Webinars are a wonderful way to present educational and information sessions via the web. I attend on average one per week, this week I have tuned into three. A list of webinars available to genealogists can be found at the Geneawebinars calendar. The SAG webinars are not listed on this site

Future SAG Webinars
It appears that SAG has at least one webinar a month scheduled for the future. Anyone is able to visit the SAG site to find details of these forthcoming educational offerings (scroll to bottom of page) but you will have to become a member to join in.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Science Mirroring the Traditional

It took me half a dozen attempts this morning to find my new DNA ethnicity estimates on the Ancestry app. I presume many other genies around the world were trying to access their results at the same time.

When I finally got the results I was rather pleased as they appear to reflect what I have found through traditional research. I have always thought that I am about 67% Irish so I'll take 65% - thanks @AncestryDNA.

As I am an only child I have no siblings with whom I can compare research but I'm lucky enough to have a double first cousin who shares my two sets of grandparents and all my ancestors going back in time. 

While the results from my cousin's test and mine are basically the same there are a few minor differences in the amount of Scottish and English estimates but the total of these is very close. My cousin additionally has a 1% Basque estimate, I feel that may be a furphy.

My Results
Cousin's Results

I've posted our results here so that, next year, when Ancestry issue their next round of ethnicity estimates I can easily retrieve what they offered 2021.

What did you discover?

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Home body

I only left the house once in August - that was just prior to this latest lockdown.

So thankful for our beautiful garden.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Housework time at

I remember somewhere, sometime saying that I intended to update my website GeniAus Family Site every month or so. It seems that my good intentions flew out the window. I just checked to see when I had last updated the site and it was back in February.

GeniAus Family Site

Ever since we went into our latest Covid lockdown a website update has been on my gunna list but I keep saying I'll do it tomorrow. During the lockdown I have been hatching, matching, and dispatching many ancestors.  I hadn't looked at some of my research from last century since last century and, in that period, many new records have come online and several elderly cousins have left this mortal earth. 

When I did my early research I was grateful to find one source for each event but I have learnt that is not enough. Events need to be corroborated by multiple sources of quality. Lockdown has given me time to go back, update records and seek new sources.

Each day I think I'll update the website now but then I say "I'll just check a few more records and upload tomorrow."  I could have gone on like this until Christmas. When I wanted to share a link to the record of a family member who had recently passed away I realised that I needed to upload a gedcom containing the death date of that person to make the record appear on the GeniAus Family website.  (Records of living people are not in the public domain on my site.) All of a sudden I had a pressing need for an immediate upload.

So today, 7 months since my last update, I have spent a few minutes exporting a gedcom from my Family Historian software and uploading it to my website ( TNG software hosted by Simply Hosting). If I had remembered where I had saved my login details for the site this should only take around five minutes! Sadly it took me much longer to retrieve those details. Once I was at the host's site I also made a full backup of my website that I will store on an external hard drive. 

A few statistics from the GeniAus Family site today.

I am constantly making edits and additions to my Family Historian database so I will try to remember a monthly website upload (reminder now in calendar). I wonder if I will manage.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Norma Jean Ball 1931-2021

We were saddened to hear of the death yesterday of Norma Jean Ball, my Father-in-Law's first cousin. Norma was the youngest daughter of Fred Ball and Nellie Irene Whiteford.

We had not known of Norma until I came across her name and interests on a genealogy bulletin board in the late 1990s when I was researching the Ball line. I tried to contact Norma but my emails bounced back. It took us several years to find her but finally Mr GeniAus managed to make contact in 2011.

Norma's Bulletin Board Message

We first visited Norma at her home in Wingham in May 2011. We discovered that she had a keen interest in family history having done research at The Society of Australian Genealogists in the 1990s. Unfortunately, as her sight had failed her, Norma was no longer able to use a computer or email. We had a wonderful discussion about family history and our trips to Rochdale, Lancashire, in search of the Balls. Norma generously shared her research, family photos and stories with us. 

Norma Jean Ball- Army Portrait 1952

Since that first meeting we have visited Norma on several occasions at the care facility where she moved when her eyesight declined. Norma was a delightful character who was mentally as sharp as a tack when we last visited her earlier this year. We enjoyed sitting with Norma and hearing stories of  family members and of Norma's career in the Australian Army. She always showed a keen interest in my research and enthusiastically consented to take a DNA test on our last visit. 

We are pleased that we were able to get to know Norma and are most grateful for her contributions to the Ball story. We send our condolences to her nieces and nephews as they mourn the loss of a beloved aunt.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Jottings, Journeys, Joy - A Big Footprint

I run hot and cold with my personal blog jillballau: Jottings, Journeys, Joy. 

This morning I had to enlist the help of that blog's archive on Trove to find out when I had actually written my first post. Over the years, I have added some predated posts to the blog and integrated the posts from another earlier Men at Work blog into it.

After a a bit of digging I found my first post was on 4th July 2012. Here is what I said:

Do I really need another Blog? Am I suffering from Blogarrhoea?

I don't need another blog but active blogs Geniaus and Android Genealogy are targetted towards my friends in genealogy. Sometimes I'd like to post about my travels, the books I've read, the things that bug me and the performances I've seen. Sometimes I'd just like to share a photo that doesn't fit in with the theme of my Men at Work blog. I don't want to clog up my genimates blog feeds with off topic posts that could be regarded as spam.  

When I am travelling I publish a few photos and updates to Facebook and when something tickles my fancy I write about it there too. Aggregating these Facebook items in one stream is not easy.

Recently I have been following and enjoying Jackie van Bergen's new blog, Jax Trax. As a genealogist I see the value of leaving a personal blog like Jackie's as a resource for future generations. Jackie's blog has been the catalyst for my decision to pollute the blogisphere with yet another blog.

Look out blogisphere here comes jillballau.

The current Covid lockdown has given me time to evaluate  jillballau which is not very popular in the blogisphere. Firstly I thought about my purpose, I have realised that, while the visits and comments from friends and strangers may massage my ego, my purpose was stated succinctly in that first post where I said "I see the value of leaving a personal blog like Jackie's as a resource for future generations".

I have recommitted to that purpose. It is important to me that I leave a big footprint behind for the generations of the future. I am honoured that jillballau is preserved in The Australian Web Archive on Trove so I know what I post will be preserved. 

Back in June I wrote a post Unloved in which I promised to give my neglected blog some attention. I have been plugging away over the past few weeks giving it some much needed attention.

Among the things I have done is modify the static pages on the blog by adding pages for my travel map and books read which had previously been in widgets in the sidebar. I have renamed all the sexist "Men at Work" tags to "Workers". I have changed and added many other tags and selected some popular tags, that reflect the main themes of the blog, for a Topics widget on the home page. I have gone back through my 4 Terabytes of photos and found many of the folders of resized photos previously shared on FaceBook which I am cheekily sharing in predated posts to preserve the chronological nature of the blog. 

The blog is rich in images with many posts having 20+ images and few words, my pictures tell many stories. I have tried various tweaks to get the posts to load faster without success. Hopefully with better internet speeds in the future this will be fixed.

I apologise to the ancestors and DNA matches who I have been ignoring but, as my biological clock is ticking away, I am taking some time to focus on my story. Reliving my jottings and journeys has given me much joy during this lockdown. 


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