Thinking about linking – thanks to Geniaus

Once again blogger extraordinaire, Jill aka Geniaus, has challenged us to think about our blogging practice, and especially the use of hyperlinks. I only read Jill’s post about hyperlinking a few days ago and I’ve been reflecting on my practice ever since.

So what are my strategies – always assuming I’m not rushing, or distracted, and forget.

Referencing other posts

If I mention something about another person’s post I’ll link the actual story, after all that story is their copyright property and I’m recommending it to the reader as something useful or interesting, or both, to read.

If it’s a comment about a blogger or website in general, I link to their overall blog page or website. What to do with an example as above? If I’m going to mention Geniaus closely followed by a specific reference which will take you to the same site, I don’t link twice….it seems repetitious, but in this case I’ve linked to the post, and to Jill’s Google+ page.

This is not unlike using footnotes in a written document, though these may still be necessary in some cases.

Copyright images

Sometimes I want the reader to be able to see an image I found but it’s copyrighted. One way to deal with this is to hyperlink to the page where I found it. A good example is the gravestones on the Australian Cemeteries Index pages, which refer to East Clare people I’m talking about in my posts.

Prior history

We all know our readers join us over time. Sometimes it’s worth referring to an earlier post which the reader may not have seen when it was published or have forgotten (just imagine!). Or you may have more than one blog and want to cross-refer to a story.

Vernacular expressions

I’m sure I’m as guilty as the next person of occasionally taking some phrases for granted, but I do try to link to the more peculiar ones. Of course Aussies grow up watching American and British TV programs so we understand a variety of expressions. But who would have thought that “boiled sweets” would have caused as much confusion as it did in Susan’s post about her father on her Family History Fun blog?

Places

Strangely I’m a little more ambivalent about this. Sometimes it’s useful to hyperlink if there’s a particular aspect of a place that could be clarified by the link eg Charters Tower’s mining history. In other cases I’m not sure it’s necessary. If I don’t know where Chicago is, or much about it, it may not affect how I appreciate Kristin’s family stories on Finding Eliza.

On the other hand, perhaps I should be linking to information about specific places in my East Clare blog – or get permission to use a map which shows East Clare and its key towns. I think I’ll use the relevant Clare Library page for the parish, eg O’Brien’s Bridge, as it lists all available resources on their site. Thank heavens I don’t have too many posts which need additions.

How do you think about linking in your blog posts?

It’s Good News Week

Will you be going to Canberra?

Will you be going to Canberra?

I was excited to see the other day that the program for the 2015 Australasian Congress of Genealogy and Heraldry has been released. I already knew that my proposals for presentations had been accepted, but the cat is now officially out of the bag.

My topics probably won’t be a great surprise to regular readers of my blogs:

The marriage of local and family history: a bridge to the past. Use the combined skills of local and family history to draw past communities from the shadows.

From Dorfprozelten to Australia: how social media reunited the emigrants’ descendants across time. From cousin bait to match making: blogging isn’t just self-indulgence.

One of the memorial walls at the Australian War Memorial.

One of the memorial walls at the Australian War Memorial.

It’s exciting to see all the topics, and even more so, the presenters. My geneabuddies, Helen Smith, Kerry Farmer, Shauna Hicks and Carole Riley are among the speakers with topics ranging from migration schemes to land records. I’m also really looking forwarding to hear talks by Richard Reid, Perry McIntyre and Cheryl Mongan who are mates from Shamrock in the Bush conferences and Irish history gurus, and in Richard’s case also military experts.The icing on the cake is a bunch of speakers who I’ve never yet had the chance to hear present. What a treat it will all be!

I do hope I get to meet some more of my virtual friends in the nation’s capital, Canberra, between 26 and 30 March 2015. Just think of all the temptations – Congress, the Australian War Memorial, the National Library, the National Archives of Australia and all the museums and galleries. Time to start drawing up a running sheet for the “to do” list. Meanwhile I’ve got some homework to do.

Fun times ahead!

My thoughts on David Malouf’s A First Place

David MaloufI’ve just begun an e-book of short stories, A First Place, by David Malouf. Absorbing stories written by Australians always seem slightly disorienting, so accustomed are we (or is it only me?) to reading books whose settings are elsewhere. Which came first, the sense that “other is better”, leading to the exodus of much of Australia’s talent, or the relative weighting of other and local?

One story, A First Place, is about growing up in Brisbane and how its particular topography and lifestyle defines not only who we become as adults, but how we think. That certainly gave me pause for thought, and I can’t decide the merits of the case, but is that because it’s part of me?

Brisbane is a hilly city – not mountainous, just hilly, where travelling by car or foot anywhere involves the negotiation of hills. From a large-scale view, the hills are not so obvious, it’s when one is on the ground that it becomes so much more apparent. One of the earliest things a Brisbane learner-driver has to come to terms with is hill starts in a geared car. After nearly two decades of living in flat-as-a-tack Darwin I sometimes forget I have to change gears or use more power when going up a hill. Our geography does change our daily patterns.

Taken from a hotel in the CBD, this view is to the south.

Taken from a hotel in the CBD, this view is to the south.

Malouf posits that the topography of the city means “it shapes in those who grow up there a different sensibility, a cast of mind, creates a different sort of Australian”. The hilliness of the city means that its residents miss the long vistas of flatter cities like Adelaide or Melbourne. They become accustomed to new views at every rise, and this may make them restless in the absence of variety, as well as precluding a clear map of the mind. I’d suggest it might also inculcate a sense of mystery in the same way that a door into a garden, rather than shut you out, makes you more curious what lies behind…or is that, once again, the Brisbane girl in me? He’s certainly correct that it gives the legs a good workout, especially if you grew up relying on Shanks’ pony to get you everywhere – something that’s noticeably absent from Darwin’s flatness, and the laziness that tropical humidity generates.

He also talks about the river’s unusual snake-like twisting through the city: one of the reasons the flooding a few years back caused so much damage, as it has in the past. Add to that the relative lack of bridges forcing the traveller to negotiate twice as many suburbs as a direct route would allow.  The river conspires to shut off vistas as do the hills, but I think it also opens up a sense of a city of two sides on both banks.

Brisbane River snakes through the city and here, the CBD. You can see some of the bridges, two of which are new.

Brisbane River snakes through the city and here, the CBD. You can see some of the bridges -the one in the centre is a new pedestrian bridge, called the Kurilpa Bridge (or the Knitting Needle Bridge as I do).

Now that the river has become an active character in the Brisbane landscape with the arrival of the City Cats (ferries) along with the riverside walkways, it does open up the city in a different way. In much the same way as the hills, it makes you wonder (if you don’t already), what is round the next corner. No wonder a river tour has become so popular over the past decades.1113 Brisbane river and ferry stop

The hills and river combine in a story my father has handed down. I often wondered whether it was something he’d made up, even though it made eminent sense, until a friend whose father was also a born-and-bred old Queenslander confirmed the same story. In the pioneering days, the drays would travel across the city along the ridges of the hills when the river was in flood. My father did much the same when my cousin’s house was in imminent risk of flooding back in 1974, helping him to get his belongings up to the ceiling before the flood hit (reaching very close to the ceiling – two floors).

The Story Bridge at sunset, a city cat, and in the distance my school, one of Brisbane's heritage sites.

The Story Bridge at sunset, a city cat, and in the distance my school, one of Brisbane’s heritage sites.

As Malouf says, Brisbane has a radial design, striking out from the city centre. In the days when few families had their own car, this meant that setting out on a journey could make two suburbs seem immeasurably far apart, and mystifyingly disconnected. This is how I experienced visits to my grandfather at Buranda from Kelvin Grove, or family friends at the outside reaches of Mt Gravatt. It wasn’t until we acquired a car, or until I travelled more by car, that the geography of the city started to make sense in a quite different way. The CBD of the city may be suitably laid out in grid-fashion (and flat) but not the rest of the place. Motorways (and bus lanes) cut through suburbs like knives now, but the new tunnels and underpasses generate a lack of knowledge of the landscape above, until one pops out, bandicoot-like, at the other end, hopefully in the right place, or somewhere you recognise and can navigate from.

Although not in a very hilly street, the home my grandparents lived in is a good example of the Queenslander style of house.

Although not in a hilly street, the home my grandparents once lived in is a good example of the Queenslander style of house.

Malouf also has a theory that Brisbane’s tree-house-like homes, built on stilts to accommodate the hills and introduce breezes, affect the psyche of those who grew up there.  His argument is that their openness, with doors always ajar, introduce an element of not-seeing, not-hearing as appropriate to the circumstances. The timber of the building moves in a way that brick structures do not, and are more vulnerable to climate as well as protecting the family from it. I’m not entirely sure that I agree with his thesis on the effect of Brisbane (or more accurately, tropical, housing). It seems predicated on a particular type of house, the old Queenslander with its encircling verandahs rather even than post-war timber housing, and certainly not on the more modern brick bungalow or two-story house. On the other hand, doors are only shut here because of air-conditioning so perhaps he has a point.

“Under the house” is a different world from that above where all serious living takes place. Home of the household washing machine, tubs, wringer or boiler, Dad’s workbenches and the kids’ play area, it has a sort of wondrousness about it as well as a daily practicality. It offers the chance to explore what Malouf calls “a kind of archaeological site”, hosting as it does all sorts of odds and ends that have found their way to rest there, as well as on-going practical items. This space certainly features prominently in my childhood memories of both my own home and that of my grandparents next door. I used to love using my grandfather’s vice to crack the Queensland nuts (now known as macadamias) which grew on our tree. Usually enclosed by timber battens, “under the house” is both open and yet secure. Surely this experience is different from those for whom a basement may serve similar functions?

Malouf asks himself “what habits of mind such a city may encourage in its citizens, and how, though taken for granted in this place, they may differ from the habits of places where geography declares itself at every point as helpful, reliable, being itself a map”. I suspect it gives your internal GPS such good training that ever after you are more able to understand other places.

The Brisbane River approaches the city from the west.

The Brisbane River flows out to Moreton Bay -you can see the Gateway Bridge here, dwarfed by altitude. Very kind of the pilot to take the river and city route that particular time -doesn’t happen frequently, and then you have to have the camera ready too.

If a good writer’s goal is to make one think, and challenge our internal assumptions, then Malouf has achieved this for me today.

Have you thought about the impact of the geography of where you grew up? Do you think it has affected how you see the world psychologically and emotionally, your habits and sense of the world’s geography.

Book: A First Place, David Malouf. Random House 2014. A collection of personal essays and writing from David Malouf to celebrate his 80th birthday. This includes the following short story: A First Place. 1984 Blakelock Lecture.

Like so many cities, Brisbane has its own sight-seeing ferris wheel. Adjacent is the Cultural Precinct.

Like so many cities, Brisbane has its own sight-seeing ferris wheel. Adjacent is the Cultural Precinct.

Just cruisin’ – genealogy at sea

Some of you may have missed the post I submitted (late) as my February contribution to the new Worldwide Genealogy blog. It offered my perspective on the pros and cons of genealogy cruising.

You can read it here or find “genealogy cruising” in the left hand sidebar.

While you’re over there visiting, why not have a look at the diverse posts being submitted by genealogists from all over the world. It’s great to have so many different stories and approaches all in one place. This innovation was the brainchild of Julie Goucher from Angler’s Rest.

Diary of a Genea-cruise: Day 9 – the finale

314 pyramidWednesday was Day 9 and the final day of our cruise as we headed for Sydney with another warning from the Captain that there would be “motion on the ocean” but that he had no control over it, being subject to a “higher power even than my wife’s”.

The UTP cruisers had a full schedule of activities for the day ahead with some earlier talks rescheduled due to illness. It was difficult to buckle down to being alert and “on plan” after the time in port at Hobart and I confess I made this one of my “time out” days, missing a few sessions. Inevitably there were clashes in the programming so I still missed some I’d liked to have heard.

RESEARCHING A HEALTH HISTORY

Helen Smith kicked off the morning with excellent advice to prepare a family tree (genogram) without names but with gender, cause of death and age at death. Even reflecting quickly on the topic as Helen spoke I could see some scary family health risks, though to be fair, none that were a huge surprise….my family is largely blessed with longevity.813 dreamworks exp

She asked “what risk factors do you have?” and encouraged us to take preventive health measures to ensure we live long enough to do our family history. Also to talk with family members about health conditions such as miscarriages, mental health issues or cancers, but being aware of people’s sensitivities around the topic.

Key messages:  Approach your family tree using health data, rather than names and see what health conditions are prevalent. Talk to family members to tease out illnesses other than the specific cause of death.

IRISH LAND RECORDS

Chris Paton was as always amusing and informative.

I was excited to learn that the Irish National Archives will “soon” be adding to their site, the extant field, house and tenure books which lie behind the Griffith Valuations. I’ve used these in Dublin before for the townland of Ballykelly but not for some of my other places and I need to revisit the images I have to make more sense of them. The website to watch is http://genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/

I didn't get to spend a minute in the sun loungers...

I didn’t get to spend a minute in the sun loungers…

402 pool deck

Or on the pool deck….but I did make it to the day spa.

Chris also mentioned the Revision books (aka Cancellation Books) which update the original Griffith Valuations. These are absolutely gold in terms of tracing who took over your family’s property over the decades and can provide clues to when someone died. They are available through the LDS Family History Centres by ordering in the microfilm, but they’re very difficult to follow because they’re only in black and white whereas the originals are in colour so you can follow the entry across the page. The Valuation Office in Dublin will send a copy to you for E40 if you know where you’re looking. It may be expensive but it’s cheaper than a trip to Ireland, though nowhere near as much fun!

Other land records are available at different sites eg the Defaulters’ Books (for those who refused to pay the Tithes) is on FindMyPast as are the Landed Estate Court Records.

The National University of Ireland in Galway has a database on the landed estates of Munster and Connacht…the provinces where so many Irish in Australia came from. This database will let you search for the owners of estates and whether there might be surviving estate records (but do look elsewhere as well). Those with Clare ancestry can use the wonderful Clare Library site to learn more about their ancestor’s parish and the estates before turning to this database.

PRONI (the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland) also has great information for those with northern Irish ancestry, including a national schools index.

Key messages: All of the above. If you haven’t used any of these resources then check them out.

My advice: Land records are a key gateway into Irish genealogy though you do need to know where your ancestor came from (well anyone will tell you that!). If you’re struggling to locate their townland or village check out obituaries, funeral notices and funeral directors, newspaper stories, the name they called their house/property, gravestones, family stories, immigration records and so on. Be lateral, sometimes that’s the only way you’ll find them.

822 DreamworksFAMILY HISTORIAN: Queries and Plug-ins (Jane Taubman)

I didn’t attend all the Family Historian sessions offered by Jane, largely because of clashes with other sessions. I have the program on my computer and have imported some data but have yet to really play with it. The program I have used for years is an Australian one, Relatively Yours, which offers great flexibility but doesn’t export to other programs as consistently as I’d like.

Key message (for me): Get my act together, experiment with Family Historian and decide if it suits my purposes.

DNA FOR GENEALOGISTS

Kerry Farmer provides really clear advice in her presentations and the DNA session was no different. In theory I understand the process and significance but ….every time I turn my mind to this task I wonder how it can still befuddle me despite five years of science training, albeit a long time ago. One of my stumbling blocks is that I don’t have any other (known) relatives who have tested and all the 3rd or 4th cousins who pop up only identify relations within the USA. Kerry suggests asking them if they know of anywhere overseas their families came from. Perhaps it’s time to follow Kerry’s lead and offer to pay for tests for key people in my family puzzles.

Key message (for me): try, try again to understand my DNA results, read blog posts, download the data and try to make more sense of it. Kerry’s tips: get other family members tested, join the haplogroup that fits your profile (and perhaps a surname group, if applicable), and follow Family Tree DNA on Facebook to get early warning of special deals. There are also some good webinars online. Plainly there’s lots of homework to be done, and some concentrated thinking instead of head-in-a-bucket methods.

LOST IN ASYLUMS

Shauna Hicks gave a great talk on benevolent asylums and similar that housed consumptive patients or the infirm. The key places to find information about these is the relevant archive and they can be rich sources of information which can solve many mysteries or add more information not available elsewhere –I’ve certainly had great success with them. Many of the archives have at least some of these records indexed so do have a look at them. My notes on Shauna’s talk include a lot of reminders of action to follow up.

Key messages: Don’t forget to use an advanced google search combined with the relevant URL eg www.archives.qld.gov.au.

CRUISE FINALE

It was a shame to know the cruise was coming to an end even though our brains were getting rather befuddled and full of information. Once again our table had a lovely time chatting –what a pleasure it was to spend time with Cathy, Dot, Marlene and Thomas…we never did see the other person who had been allocated to our table (we must have looked scary). Nearly every evening we were among the last tables to leave the dining room. Thanks for your company each night my new friends!

319 the dining room

The evening post-dinner session was held back in Cleopatra’s Needle and there were lots of prizes handed out to participants and my table mates were all thrilled that the big prize of $2500 towards any Unlock the Past cruise went to our new-found friend Marlene!! I think we were more excited than she was as she seemed quite stunned but accepted her prize with what is her characteristic graciousness.

The waiter's finale

The waiter’s finale

Chris Paton gave the final presentation of the conference speaking on British civilian POWs in the First World War. While it has specific relevance to his family it had broader implications and was a fascinating study of Ruhleben Internment Camp. After the nuts and bolts of the conference talks it was intriguing to listen to a broader historical topic. It was amazing to hear the diversity of learning that occurred in the camp as professionals and academics (and no doubt tradesmen) passed their skills on to their fellow internees.

Thank you to Unlock the Past for the learning opportunity of a conference held on board ship. I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite my earlier “me, cruise…never!” attitude. Now I think I may have caught the cruising bug! I will most likely write a separate post in a day or two on my general perspectives of the cruise.

616 sunrise in Sydney

Thank you also to each of you for journeying along with me…I hope you’ve got a sense of the fun we had, and that I’ve shared some of the learning opportunities.

The steward's towel monkey...our final towel creation.

The steward’s towel monkey…our final towel creation.

Diary of a Genea-Cruise: Days 7 and 8 – Hobart Town

It was a longish voyage from Adelaide to Hobart (yes, I know, our ancestors would disagree!)  so we had a combination day with genealogy and then some sight-seeing after our arrival in port at 2pm.

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

I loved arriving by sea into Hobart because it brought to mind that Mary O’Brien had probably come this way before me, back on 4 April 1853. Just imagine the relief of all those on board the Florentia after four and a half months at sea, with a diminishing supply of provisions. Hobart is such a pretty town with its encircling hills and Mount Wellington towering over the city. It may not have the drama of Sydney’s sandstone cliffs but it has an amiable, welcoming vibe. I could happily live in Hobart but that wouldn’t be an improvement on the remoteness of Darwin, and my heat-loving tropical friends would simply refuse to visit. It must surely have been appealing though to the immigrants from Ireland, England and Wales on board the Florentia.(Apologies to my mates who are heartily sick of Mary O’Brien from County Clare).

It was a public holiday for Regatta Day as the captain brought his huge ship to dock at the wharf. Little boats were skimming round the harbour but my friend Sharn and I chose to head off along the wharf to Salamanca Place and Battery Point for some sight-seeing. Having decided to stop for a coffee, we joined other Unlock the Past Cruisers for a chat at a local coffee shop.

Sailing into Hobart on Day 7

Sailing into Hobart on Day 7

But first there was some genealogy while still at sea:

Dealing with Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy (panel discussion)

GeniAus (Jill Ball) hosted this Panel on Ethics which got good feedback from the audience. The panel was Kirsty Gray, Maria Northcote and myself and Jill had prepared a range of pertinent questions for us to respond to in turn. It was interesting to see the consistency between our responses …and there’d been no prior consultation or discussion. (if anyone has thought on the session I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on the panel – difficult to retain it all while in the thick of it)

391 ethical dilemmas

Chris Paton again unravelled the complexities and variability of Scottish records with his talk Scottish marriage: instantly buckled for life. Scotland may be (currently) part of the UK, but Scottish family history is really not the same as that for England, make no mistake! Among the warnings Chris issued is that people only needed to have a witness to their commitment and the marriage was a valid one, and also the the (wonderful) ScotlandsPeople only has marriages for the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Churches. If you can’t find your ancestors you may wish to follow up the Statistical Accounts to see which other denominations were active in their parish at the time. 

After arrival in Hobart people scattered to their various activities and plans. I was fortunate to spent a few fun hours with fellow genie and photo obsessive, Sharn from Family History 4 U. Some of my photos from the day will eventually make it to my photo and travel blog Tropical Territory and Travel which has been sadly neglected of late, like other things. Although the weather looked a little precarious in the beginning it turned into a magnificent afternoon with crystal clear vivid blue skies.

The day finished with a very good fireworks display over the harbour, with resounding toots of the ship’s “horn” in thanks for the display. It certainly gathered the crowds on the high decks and afterwards I was invited to join my table-mates, Cathy and Dot and friend Maria in the cocktail bar on Deck 14…a very pleasant end to the day.

547 painting the shipDay 8 was another full day in port and imagine our surprise to look out from the verandah and see another cruise ship had arrived overnight. It was interesting to see that life at sea involves little down-time for the crew who were busy painting any blemishes on the ship’s hull.

My priority for Day 8 ( a shore day) was to hit the archives in Hobart although initially I’d hoped to go to the Cascade Factory. However that was superseded by following up all possible leads on the Florentia and whether they would offer any further clues to whether Mary O’Brien was on board as an unassisted immigrant when the ship sailed into Hobart. Despite searching a range of pre-ordered documents, the answers were still ambiguous by the end of the day. My research outcomes re the Florentia will be the subject of an upcoming post.

And so we sailed from Hobart Town with my thoughts reflecting on whether Mary O’Brien and her sister Bridget were similarly sorry to leave this pretty place behind to head north to Moreton Bay, or in my case, to Sydney Town.

Leaving Hobart behind.

Leaving Hobart behind.

Diary of a Genea-Cruise: Day 6 – Motion on the Ocean

Before I tell you a little about Day 6 of our genea-journey, for those who are interested, the slides from my talk Becoming a fan of FANs is now on a separate tab on my blog under Presentations. Here is a quick link to it.420 shreck

Day 6 of our adventure was a sea-day en route between Adelaide and Hobart. The Captain warned us there’d be “motion on the ocean” but it was pretty good. By the time we got to Hobart we were swaying on land, not ocean.

Although we were so preoccupied with the many presentations in the conference room I occasionally caught a glimpse of the featured DeamWorks characters which are a feature of Voyager of the Seas so I grabbed photos of them for the grandchildren.

Kerry Farmer: Convicts from trial to freedom

Although I have no convicts in my ancestry (no royalty here or abroad! Just a peasant), I just had to listen to Kerry Farmer’s talk on Convicts. Kerry is such a good presenter and sets out information clearly and concisely. Ancestry and FindMyPast both have good convict records. I was interested in the Parramatta Female Factory information and especially the Roman Catholic orphanage.

She reminded us too, that it was secondary offenders who ended up in places like Moreton Bay, Port Arthur and Norfolk Island. However, there were exiles (the later convicts circa 1840s) who went directly to Moreton Bay receiving a conditional pardon on arrival.

Key messages (for me): this will be useful when it comes time to do Mr Cassmob’s convict research. Convict deaths may not be registered in the normal death indexes for NSW.

Jill Ball: Free Australian Websites.

Jill gave us a whirlwind tour through the websites she loves to use and it’s amazing just how many wonderful sets of information are online. I’m sure some were familiar were to listeners while others were great reminders of ones we may have visited once upon a time, but had disappeared into the maw of our bookmarks or forgotten. Others provided new points of research. I found I was making notes to myself about following up different aspects of my own research through the websites.

Key messages: Try the ABC (radio) podcasts, searching for genealogy. Visit Mapping our Anzacs (an ANZAC site) which is apparently being taken down “soon”. You can download the whole file so if you want information from there, do it NOW. Don’t forget Family Search wikis for information on your places.

Jane Taubman: Family Historian – Reports

Strange as it may seem I don’t much like genealogy programs as I tend to feel straight-jacketed. I generally prefer to have narrative instead which allows for more nuances.

However I’ve been using an Australian program Relatively Yours for many years because it offers the opportunity to add more personal information and allows for nuances in relationships which the bigger programs don’t always do. Having said all that, I like the clean format of Family Historian which tends to appeal to me.  Because I have yet to decide between these two programs and The Master Genealogist, I attended some of Jane’s talks. When I get home I’ll be playing around with it a little while I decide.

Key message for me: Come to grips with which program I want to use, and which suits my purposes best.

Thomas MacEntee: Google Alerts and Books

817 Thomas MacEnteeAs always Thomas’s talk was full of tips for making our genealogy research more organised and efficient. I knew some of this already from reading Thomas’s and other blogger’s posts on the topic.

Do you have alerts in place for your family’s street addresses, towns, your own website or blog, your areas of interest?

Don’t forget you can set up a Bookcase of books which you find on Google Books and mark them private or public. Don’t shy away from “limited view” books and also use more common phrases to look at other pages.

Key message: Use alerts and Google Books to the max. Kudos to Thomas for always repeating the question from the audience so everyone knows what was asked.

Geneareaders Circle hosted by Jill Ball

This was such a fun activity with a group of people sharing their favourite genealogy or history books. It was interesting to see even relatively esoteric books were held by others in the group.

Apart from the joy of learning about new books to follow up, it was a pleasure just to share with like-minded people.

It was both heart-warming and amusing to see Maria Northcote from Genies Down Under nearly fall off her chair when one of the participants, Alan Jones, talked about his SAG thesis on Kilmihil, the very place in Clare where Maria’s ancestors came from. You can imagine the chat that ensued!

Genies Down Under

After the circle, Jill Ball and I were interviewed by Maria for the podcast which was fun as well. Maria’s included her chat with Jill and I, as well as Alan Philips, Chris Paton and Joy Avery in her March podcast here. It’s very obvious we were having a good time and no longer noticed the ship was working its way through the captain’s famous “motion on the ocean”. Maria is just a delight to chat with, and so calm and quietly confident.

Key message: A great opportunity for attendees to get involved and share their love of books. Thanks Jill for this inspired idea. If you’re going on a genea-cruise do make sure you add this to your list of “must attend” events.

Sorry this has been so long arriving – it’s been sitting in my drafts waiting for the photos to accompany the story..and now can’t find ones I’m happy with…except a great photo of Thomas on the welcome night. I did better when I was on board ship.

art work

Anne Daniels from Drawing on the Past, offered sessions on photo collage for family history.

Diary of a Genea-Cruise Day 5: Hot, hot, hot!!

Today is…..

Saturday 8 Feb

And it’s going to be hot, hot, HOT in Adelaide, South Australia!

welcome to Adelaide1

It can’t be said that the cruise terminal in Adelaide is the most astonishing port in the world with its array of industrial buildings and containers. However a very pretty sunset over the harbour was a beautiful offset between nature and industry which I enjoyed.

sunrise

Adelaide also turned on the best show for the arriving mega-liner and its 3500 odd passengers. I liked that it had a bush band playing old Aussie songs to welcome people and while a cynical person could say the shops were there to take advantage of the tourists, they had some lovely products. With my purple, aqua and green obsession (good feminist that I am!) how could I resist a beautiful hand-painted fine merino wool scarf.

Bush band

The Old Gum Tree-O. Permission received to publish photo.

None of us were too thrilled at the prospect of a 42C day but it wasn’t too bad. The train from the cruise terminal into town is both convenient and efficient, and even better, free for seniors!

I met a former colleague and friend for lunch at the Art Gallery, and who should be at the next table but Jackie from Jax Trax, mum Jan and “little brother”. Many genea-cruisers have taken the opportunity to meet up with friends and family at ports along the way.

Back on the ship and dinner completed, our only learning activity for the day was the choice of two talks: You use WHAT for genealogy by one of my dinner-table companions, Thomas MacEntee, or Tracing the history of a community: the Society for One-Place Studies by Kirsty Gray.

Kirsty Gray presents on One Place Studies.

Kirsty Gray presents on One Place Studies.

Given my obsession with Dorfprozelten, Murphys Creek (Qld), and Broadford (Co Clare, Ireland), I just had to go to Kirsty’s talk and I’m now even more committed to getting the last two registered with OPS. I love the marriage of family and local history and the diversity of understanding that can bring.

Blogger Beads

Blogger bead possibThanks to the inspiration of Thomas MacEntee and the spending spree by Jill Ball, the geneabloggers on the cruise have been wearing their blingy blogger beads. I did rather like these beads at the Art Gallery SA which I think would make pretty good blogger beads.

 Good night, sleep tight

This little piggy went to market….

This little piggy went to sleep…

piggy

Diary of a Genea-Cruise: Day 4 – at sea

No I haven’t forgotten how to count – Day 3 will come to you later today – wifi permitting – it’s a fine balance using the dongle while in port as the on-ship connections have been temperamental.

After our little excursion back on land yesterday we’ve been “hitting the books” again today.

Here’s a little glimpse of the talks I listened to, and what my “take home” message was from each of them.

PODCASTS

Maria Northcote’s presentation on Using free Podcasts kicked the morning off early today.

Maria’s calm presence and professional skill came to the fore as she worked through default positions B-F trying to solve various problems. All those who attended really enjoyed learning more about her podcasts with their tips and tricks and she taught us all about new podcasts we might enjoy.

One suggestion was to look at the podcasts published by archives and libraries. If you haven’t been following Genies Down Under, do yourself a favour and have a listen. Also search your favourite specialist library or archive to see if they present general historical or informational podcasts.

Key Message: These are great learning tools which you can use in your family history.

TIMELINES

Helen Smith: Using timelines for family history

I’d been really keen to listen to Helen’s talk and it had been on my wish list all along. I did manage to see a little of it, but with my talk coming up next the butterflies were kicking in so I took myself away a little earlier to draw a breath.

There were lots of good ideas for creative timelines, mainly using Excel. I’m quite familiar with the program but it hadn’t occurred to me to use the graph potential in the ways Helen suggested, including colour coding. I’ll certainly be using this option in my research when I get home especially with those niggly McSherry/McSharrys who seem determined to elude me.  Hopefully it will help me see anomalies.

I’ll certainly be looking at the presentation to have a closer look at Helen’s suggestions.

Key message: Try drawing up timelines and graphs to track your ancestor’s events, and combine it with historical events as well.

Pauleen editFANs

Some strange woman called Pauleen Cass then talked about Becoming a fan of FANs (Friends, Associates or Neighbours). I’ll leave it to others to comment on that.

Key message: Cast your net widely, look beyond your direct line.

SCOTLAND

After a short break it was back to the main conference room to listen to the engaging and ever-humorous Chris Paton explain to us about the Godly Commonwealth …the vagaries and complexities of the Scottish church structures in an historical context. It also explains why we may not find out ancestors in Scotland’s People, wonderful as it is. I think I’ll be buying a copy of Chris’s Unlock the Past (UTP) book on the topic.

Key message: Buy the book –there’s a lot to get your head around!

Chris Paton

PUBLICATIONS

Have you explored all the UTP collection of publications? They are really great and their content routinely belies their slight appearance. They’re available as e-books too so perfect for taking away when you’re researching.

Key message: Check out the UTP book list.

If there’s one downside to genea-cruising, it’s the sheer smorgasbord of conference topic choices. Sometimes you just have to take time out to chat with fellow genies, enjoy their company and learn about what they’re researching and how they go about it.

Key message: Sometimes you have to skip class to spend time with others and enjoy their company.

IRISH

With so many Irish in my family how could I go past Chris Paton’s Irish Records Online (and accompanying book)?

Chris had so much to offer and he mentioned all my favourite Irish sites, including Family Search, Roots Ireland and Irish Genealogy. One place I haven’t explored is the PRONI website as I don’t have any Northern ancestors but his reference to the learning resources has convinced me it will be worth a look.

Chris also told us about some great releases due to come out soon from the Republic of Ireland’s Irish National Archives. I’ve already tried to find Pension Applications for my Mary O’Brien’s relatives when visiting Ireland but I’ll be looking again when they are released.  I’d so love to find that Honora Garvey had applied for a pension, citing those 1841 and 1851 census records.

One qualification that Chris made which I think is important is that Roots Ireland data is drawn from whichever records that county’s societies have been working on. This just might explain why there are gaps in what you’re finding. I certainly know I’ve got church entries which don’t appear in the Roots Ireland database and conversely it has records I’ve not found elsewhere.

Anyone who has attended the many UTP sessions in the capital cities doesn’t need me to tell them that Chris Paton is one of those speakers whose talks are full of content, but presented in such a way as to fully engage our attention.

Take home message: keep an eye on the Irish National Archives for new releases. Oh, and buy Chris’s UTP book…there was a big queue lining up to do just that.

Jill in flightCATALOGUING AND SHARING BOOKS

Another engaging speaker is Jill Ball aka GeniAus whose talk today was about LibraryThing, an online program which enables you to catalogue and tag the books you own and read.  You can also snoop at compare the books your fellow genies own and see what they’ve read that you might find useful as well. This program is simple but diverse and Jill took us on a whirlwind tour of it in her allotted 25 minutes, convincing many people to adopt it as their own library system.

Take home message: Library Thing is a great tool for small societies which want to catalogue their library to professional standards.

NEWSPAPERS ONLINE

Shauna Hicks – Online Newspapers and Indexes

Shauna gave a great talk setting out the huge variety of newspaper sources which are available to us. We are so very fortunate in the resources which are available to us.  Shauna reminded us that stories were often syndicated and published in newspapers far and wide, so if you we can’t find them here, online or on microfilm, to try indexes and also overseas newspapers including Papers Past.

There are great online newspaper resources but it’s fair to say they don’t quite match Trove for usability.

Those who aren’t on the cruise can have the chance to read the slide presentation on Shauna’s website: www.shaunahicks.com.au

Key messages: If you don’t have a National Library of Australia card, sign up for one (they’re free) and also sign up for Trove so you can correct text, and add tags and lists to categorise stories relating to your research interests.

Meanwhile back in the real world of cruising, the penguins were a huge hit on the Promenade Deck. I thought this photo was just gorgeous.

penguins2

CHOICES, CHOICES

As always one of the sad things about conferences is there are always competing streams of topics which you’d love to listen to. With 245 genies onboard it can be challenging to connect up as well and lists are being prepared to combine research interests.

And then there’s the dessert choices.

dessert

Good night, sleep tight.

Tonight's towel arrangement appears to be a puppy.

Tonight’s towel arrangement appears to be a puppy.

Diary of a Genea-cruise: Day 3 in Melbourne

Today is….Thursday crop

It must be Melbourne. And OMG, I’ve just woken up and there goes the ….

Welcome to Melbourne

sign. After a few nights with four hours’ sleep the alarm plainly couldn’t succeed in waking me, so it was a whirlwind tour through the shower to be ready in 15 minutes.DSC_0845

My friend Sharn (from Family History 4 U) and I went to the National Gallery of Victoria to see the Art Deco exhibition which included some magnificent costumes from the 1920s. Some I’d be happy to wear today but sadly I’ve no longer got the 1920s figure I had in my youth. The photographs by Edward Steichen were amazing –dramatic and full of character, and none really the same as another.

What a lovely start to the day! Melbourne had turned on magnificent weather, not too hot, not too cold and lovely and sunny. I had a little wander through one of Melbourne’s lovely arcades…how good does this cake look?

choc fig tart

I was lucky enough to meet up with my new-found cousin Bev and we had a lovely lunch and exchange of news and a bit of family history over lunch at St Kilda. People were actually swimming in the ocean …how weird is that!! No stingers, crocs or sharks!!St Kilda beach

Back on board we had a post-dinner session hosted by Thomas MacEntee in which a panel were asked for their opinions on the “Future of Genealogy”. The panellists were Shauna Hicks (Qld), Mike Moore (I think, WA), Chris Paton (Scotland) and Kirsty Gray (England).  I’m not going to attempt to give you much on that but here are my take-home messages.

  • Social media was the tie-breaker on opinions with some being devotees and one panellist scoffing at it. Blogging, tweeting and Google+ing are still seen to be frivolous wastes of time. But then which group had the greatest solidarity on the ship….hmmm, the Geneabloggers!
  • Genealogists should consider using more people power to convince governments of the errors of their ways when implementing legislation which runs counter to our interests (eg the SSDI in the States).  Seems to me this is where social media just might be helpful.
  • Chris Paton emphasised his view that more attention needs to be paid to improving cataloguing in archives rather than just digitising records. After all if other records can’t be found, what’s the point. Without understanding the context the documents lose their “sense”.  Couldn’t agree more Chris.
  • Societies need to look at how they provide value to their members and look beyond those in the immediate area. This might include digitised records which are available online only to members. Every time a member pays their next membership fee they are saying “You’ve given me enough info/services to stay with you”.
  • Long term interest in genealogy: will it change with the demise (ultimately) of WDYTYA etc. My view is that we all started our family history because we wanted to know about our families and learn their stories. I doubt that will change though it may cause some leaf-collectors to drop away.
  • Shauna promoted Family History Month in Australia and encouraged everyone to support it within their societies.
  • Several speakers commented on concerns about dropping numbers of volunteers in today’s busy lifestyles. I suspect it’s more complicated than that.
  • I did like Chris Paton’s frankness in saying he didn’t have a clue as to where we’d be in five years.

Thank you everyone for thought-provoking responses to Thomas’s questions. I think there’s food for thought in the days and weeks ahead.

Good night, sleep tight.

Here I was thinking I was on the briny deep with the smell of the ocean in my nostrils. This little fellow on my bed made me wonder if I’d strayed back to Africa.

elephant