Family History Alphabet: You’re a Family History Star

I thought it would be fun to consolidate all the attributes that I came up with in Alona’s Family History through the Alphabet series.

You can see that not only are you a research star, but just how many diverse attributes we draw on, to pursue this adventure we love so much. I’ve added in your comments as well so thank you for providing the supplementary attributes. We really are a multi-skilled lot.

If you want to see this in interactive form (so you can see all the words) you can click this link. This image was built using Tagxedo.

Beyond the Internet: Week 44 Offline Newspapers

This is Week 44 in my Beyond the Internet series in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens. This week’s topic is Offline Newspapers. Being in something of a newspaper mindset lately, I’ve moved this topic up on my planned schedule.

Australian family historians are quite rightly enamoured with the astonishing resource we have in Trove. TThe New Zealanders have Papers Past, Americans Chronicling America, and the British the British Newspaper Archive or 19th Century British Newspapers (available here via NLA membership).

Old and new technology: image from wikipedia commons.

It’s easy with so many options at our fingertips (quite literally), to forget that there are still many newspapers which have not yet been digitised and may never be so.  If your family lived in a major city, it can be a case of swings and roundabouts –the paper will probably have a complete run and be digitised but against, that the average person is much less likely to hit the pages except in the public notices like births, marriages, deaths, funerals or probate.

However if your family lived in a smaller rural area it’s well worth finding out what papers were published there over the decades –often changing names or starting and folding over a short period. Once upon a time there was a small monograph called “Australian Newspapers” which included all the known papers published in different areas. I imagine there are copies languishing in a reference library near you and that would be one way of finding what papers might have been published. point.

 I’ll give you a few examples of offline newspapers and leave the rest to your own discoveries.

Official welcome to the Queen to Bundaberg 1954. SLQ image from the Australian Womens Copyright expired.

I was excited way back when the Australian Women’s Weekly came online with Trove. BUT there is a hidden trap which I wrote about early last year.

The Post Courier is the most commonly read newspaper in Papua New Guinea. There would be a wealth of references to Australian, and other expats, living there especially in the pre-Independence era (before 1975). While there is an index of Australians in PNG available through QFHS, it cannot include all these entries. How do I know? Because our family makes zero appearances even though I know there should be at least half a dozen in the public notices alone. Sadly the National Library can’t afford to digitise this newspaper without significant sponsorship, so if you know an organisation that could provide the funding, why not bring it to their attention.

The Toowoomba Chronicle, a wonderfully gossipy newspaper, is not on Trove although the  contemporaneous Darling Downs Gazette is. If you find a reference in one it might be worthwhile looking in the other for a slightly different spin.

After my posts on German newspapers over the past weeks, Prue discovered that the newspaper of interest to her research has not been digitised for the timeframe she needed.

How about your ancestors’ religious affiliations? Might there be stories about them in newspapers published by that religion, eg The Catholic Leader? Advice I need to follow myself when I’m next near the relevant research opportunities.


Of course the biggest trick with searching newspapers offline is actually finding the stories. We’ve become so spoiled by Trove that we’ve lost the art, and the patience, for steadily trawling a microfilmed copy.

The limitation is that you will be searching for likely known events such as obituaries, weddings and the like. The unexpected finds that turn up in Trove become even more serendipitous if you happen across them scanning a microfilm. Luckily if the event was news-worthy enough it may be mentioned in a paper from further afield, tipping you off on the date when you need to search locally.


Here are a few places to search:

  1. Check your National Library, searching by place and limiting your search to newspapers
  2. Ditto with your state reference library
  3. Check the catalogue of the major university libraries and their reference sub-libraries (you’ll be surprised by what you’ll find there). For example there are 55 reels of the Queensland Times for Ipswich at The University of Queensland.
  4. Ask the local historical society who may know whether there are copies held anywhere –including in their own libraries.
  5. Like Prue, ask an expert in the local area especially if it’s overseas.

So there you have it, even more opportunities to build up your family stories through offline newspapers. Offline searching is much more laborious and time intensive but may well repay your efforts. Why not experience what genealogy life was like in the pre-Trove era? Trust me, you’ll appreciate those digitised papers all the more <grin>.

I’ve remarked in family history courses that it’s interesting how we have such a generally low regard for journalists in the modern era, yet take almost every word they say as gospel for times past. (Bias warning: we have a few journos in our families).

Family History Alphabet: Z is for

My theme for the Family History through the Alphabet is the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents we need to bring to our research. This week we finally reach the letter Z, a tribute to our persistence in documenting our theme for the Alphabet challenge. Thanks Alona from Gould Genealogy and LoneTester for inspiring us all to do the challenge and commenting on all our posts along the way!!

So here are my final contributions to the diverse attributes of family historians.

Z is for ZEST: The very fact that we’ve all made it through the alphabet proves that we have an enormous zest for what we do as family historians. We may get knocked down by a brick wall, or stumble as we are baffled by one mystery or another, but our sheer zest picks us up and gets us back into the research quarry.

Z is for ZEAL: I think it’s fair to say that along with our zest and enthusiasm, we are filled with zeal in the belief of this great adventure we’re on, to discover our ancestors and their lives. There is the risk that living family members may conclude we’re more zealots than enthusiasts, as we burble on about this or that discovery or mystery. Geneablogging probably stops our zeal just a touch short of zealotry so we can share our discoveries with fellow obsessives hobbyists and save the non-believers from our zealousness.

Some of us are just more zany than others.

Z is for ZANY: I just had to include this attribute which is encapsulated in Ms Skeletons‘ amusing, pertinent and concise posts. Thanks Fiona for enlivening the genealogy blogosphere!

Z if so ZZZZZ: what we’ll all be doing now we’ve finished this great series.

Call back in a few days and I’ll offer you a consolidated view of just how talented you have to be to pursue your family history.

I have had a great time on this alphabet challenge and judging on everyone’s posts, I’d say you all have too. Thanks once again Alona, your idea has been a great success!

As before, images are from Microsoft Office clip art.

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 44 Conferences

It is Week 44 in the 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy series by Amy Coffin and hosted by Geneabloggers. The topic this week is Genealogy ConferencesWhat was your best genealogy conference experience? Why is it so memorable in your mind? Who hosted the event? What did you learn from this experience? How does it impact your genealogy research today? I couldn’t resist this topic because of the significance of one talk way back in 1994.

The most memorable genealogy conference I’ve attended was the 7th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry hosted by AFFHO at The University of Queensland in Brisbane way back in 1994. I was waiting to take up a new position at UQ so I had some time on my hands and was able to attend, and it was a pivotal conference for my research.

One of the speakers was Jenny Paterson from New South Wales and she was speaking on the employment of German immigrants to eastern Australia in the 1850s[i]. She presented a list of some names with their corresponding places of origin. I nearly fell of my chair when one place recurred against several names, and that place was Dorfprozelten, home of my George Kunkel. Regular readers of this blog will know that George has led me a merry chase trying to find any immigration records (still unsuccessfully).

A street-side shrine in the village of Dorfprozelten: there when the emigrants left and still there today.

Jenny’s talk revealed the significance of the German vinedresser scheme which had been relatively unheralded. For years I’d been told there were no Catholic Germans in Queensland, even though George plainly fitted that bill. Her talk also opened the door to my sideways research into learning as much as I possibly could about this cluster of Dorfprozelten emigrants, their backgrounds and their migration experiences. It really was a pivotal moment in my German research and led to me presenting what I’d discovered about the Dorfprozelten migrants to the Darwin AFFHO Congress in 2006[ii].

Jenny Paterson continues to write on the larger German migration experience through her regular articles in Ances-Tree, the Burwood and District Family History Group’s magazine. They are valuable reading for anyone with German ancestry to Australia and would provide an excellent comparison for north American researchers whose German ancestors migrated around the same time.

It was at the AFFHO congress on Anzac Day 2003, that I was stunned to hear the British keynote speakers talking about my husband’s great uncle, Walter Edmund Cass. I posted about it earlier this year in this post.  Mid-year 2012 Mr Cassmob and I went to see an exhibition about Brig WEH Cass and his wife Helena at the Shrine in Melbourne.

You just never know what you’ll learn or who’ll you’ll meet at a genealogy conference. You may read about the topics and the speakers but every now and then, a total surprise will leap out at you and propel your research in a totally unexpected direction!

[i] Available from the National Library of Australia Blending the cultures : congress papers / 7th Australian Congress on Genealogy and Family History ; 7-10 July 1994, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

[ii] They weren’t all Lutherans – A case study of a small group of German Catholics who emigrated to Australia from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria. Cass, P. Published in the Proceedings of the 11th Australasian Congress on Genealogy & Heraldry, Darwin, 2006.