Monday, 10 July 2017

Masonic archives, NFHM 2017, & other news - Genealogy Notes 2-11 Jul 2017

Another week taken up with family issues but we have finally managed to get Mum into aged care and here on Bribie Island. That will certainly cut  travel time with no more trips down the highway to Brisbane. We have also spent lots of time going through Mum's things and deciding what to keep, donate or toss. So many memories are in a home and furnishings. At least Mum is still with us to explain when and how something came into her possession.

For example, the crystal duchess set was an engagement present to her from her mother, my grandmother. How many of us have captured that kind of background information on our own possessions?

Provincial Grand Masters Regalia
RW Bro Thomas S Burstow
Brisbane Masonic Memorial Centre
Jul 2017
While in Brisbane I took some time out to visit the Masonic Memorial Centre where an old friend has taken on the job of voluntary archivist. It is always good catching up with friends but it is even better being able to have a behind the scenes look at an archive.

Many organisations save their old records but quite often they don't know what to do with them so the records are stock piled around an organisation. It is a huge job and I'm looking forward to her progress reports.

I also came away with some information on two Masons in the family. Seeing something that was once worn by an ancestor is amazing and it gives you a greater insight into their lives and what occupied their time.

Read more about my visit here and find out what I discovered.

There is an AFFHO meeting tonight where I will be giving an update on National Family History Month for 2017. There are 157 events so far in every state and territory with the exception of the Northern Territory.

There are even some online events including a blogging challenge and no doubt more events will be added between now and 1 August when the fun begins. So far 31 genealogy/family history societies have added events along with archives and libraries. It will be another great month.

Lost Cousins newsletter for this week had some interesting pieces, especially around DNA. I felt better when the editor said "I've still got thousands of matches to analyse". I'm not alone!

I feel a bit inundated at the moment with DNA matches, smart matches and record matches and possibly my own fault as I have posted my family information on a number of sites. Some connections are really distant but good if you are wanting to find every descendant of an ancestor in Australia. Others are more recent and might be good to meet up with and some I can't work out what the connection is in the first place. It is really time consuming but perhaps things will be less hectic once I get NFHM over for another year.

This coming week I have to finalise my five talks for the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to Papua New Guinea coming up in two weeks. I also have to work on my talks for National Family History Month as I start giving talks as soon as we get back from Papua New Guinea. Although I am taking time out to go to Brisbane for the Unlock the Past two day seminar on Researching Abroad: Finding British Isles and European Ancestors. August is full on and to see all the places I am speaking go to the Events page of my website.

Have a great genealogy week and start planning what you will be doing for NFHM2017. Until next time, happy searching.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Talks & Conferences Coming Up & Other News - Genealogy Notes 25 Jun -2 Jul 2017

It's been a busy week and all I seem to have done is make travel arrangements to attend genealogy events coming up. I have now booked my accommodation for the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies annual conference in Orange, NSW. It is on 22-24 Sep 2017 and the theme is Your Family Story: Telling, Recording & Preserving which is really relevant and there are some great speakers on the program.

I'm now an ambassador for the Researching Abroad: Finding British Isles and European Ancestors tour around Australia and New Zealand with Chris Paton and Dirk Weissleder. This is between 8 and 26 August so a perfect event for National Family History Month. It's straight after I get back from the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to Papua New Guinea so a very busy couple of weeks of genealogy talks and networking with geneamates.

Just as well P&O sent me a reminder about the need for a travel visa to Papua New Guinea - just print the form, fill it in and hand in at check in. So simple, but lucky I saw the email and didn't delete as advertising.

I've also committed to the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to Alaska next year. Having never traveled to the US or Canada before this is my big opportunity to resist the lure of Asia and Europe. Chris Paton and Dick Eastman are the keynotes on the cruise and they are always good value and entertaining sessions.

Unfortunately I can't go to everything but for those able to get to Cowra, NSW easily you should think about attending this year's Royal Australian Historical Society conference.  It's on 28 - 29 October 2017 and the theme is Finding Lost Places, Lost People.

The Trove Tuesday blog challenge was successfully met this week with my Did the Family Ever Make Contact Back Home post. In the absence of surviving family letters how can we prove or even guess that our ancestors kept in touch with the family members they left behind. Trove can sometimes throw light on this question and in my case, it was through a court appearance.

National Family History Month is now only 4 weeks away and I have been busy approving events on the NFHM web calendar. There is always room for more events and it is really good to see the National Library of Australia hosting two events this year plus other local libraries and genealogy/family history societies across Australia.

Scotland's People announced the release of Presbyterian church records which was exciting but didn't lead to any Scottish breakthrough.

FamilySearch announced the discontinuation of their microfilm services which was no surprise as they continue to digitise their microfilm holdings and either make them available online or through their Family History Centres. I can still remember visiting the LDS Library (as it was then) in Brisbane in the late 1970s early 1980s and using microfilm on really awful microfilm readers and having a sore right arm from hand winding for days afterwards. What we have today with the internet and digitised records is truly amazing.

This coming week I'm off to Brisbane for a visit to the  United Grand Lodge of Queensland, Masonic Memorial Centre to check out their archives. One of my uncles was fairly high up in the Masons and so was Max's great grandfather so it will be interesting to see what I can find out. I have also got to finish my five talks for the PNG cruise and keep monitoring the NFHM website and promoting it to all.

Enjoy the coming week and if you are attending any of the above events, I look forward to catching up with you. Happy searching until next time.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Talks, Genie Cards & Other News - Genealogy Notes 8 - 24 June 2017

Another couple of weeks where family and health issues were the priority. Time seems to go even quicker and time away from the computer means that you simply can't keep up with what's new or get that blog post out. Two weeks ago I discovered something super exciting on the Spencer family in Trove and was all set to write a Trove Tuesday blog post when I was sidelined. Now I'm getting ready to reveal it next Tuesday.

My talk on my own DNA experience went well and the Bribie Island Family Interest Group had one of their biggest meetings and even picked up some new members. Obviously a lot of interest in the subject. I was relieved to get an email this week from Family Tree DNA to say that they had received my mother's DNA test. By testing Mum I can rule out any matches on her side and any unknown matches should be then on my father's side. I also need to track down some Carnegie cousins to rule out any connections from Dad's mother's side. Anything other matches will be Dad's father's side of the family assuming of course that someone tests.

I did manage to make it to Ipswich Central Library for my session on Demolishing Brick Walls. It was a smaller audience but I think that was due to the change of venue from Redbank Plains to Ipswich Central - some people only received the notice the day before. As usual the presentation is on my website Resources page, scroll down to Presentations.

There are no more talks now until the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise to Papua New Guinea in July where I will be giving five presentations. Then there are the 11 talks for National Family History Month during August at various places in the Moreton, Sunshine Coast and Noosa areas. I'm doing a closing event for NFHM this year in Townsville with another two talks at an all day seminar organised by the Family History Association of North Queensland. It should be really good and a fun way to end NFHM 2017.

While I have been offline, it was good to see more societies and libraries adding their events to the NFHM web calender. My apologies for the slight delay in making those events visible and I hope that we get lots more before the start of August. Remember that the National Institute for Genealogical Studies early bird prize for genealogy and family history societies entering their NFHM events onto the web calendar closes on 30 June. You can still add events after that date, but just won't be eligible for the prize. Full details on the NFHM website.

My thanks to the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office for helping me out with a couple of research problems recently. I was all excited to find a reference to someone but the link was pointing to the wrong page. For the first time I used their online chat and the person confirmed that the link was wrong and gave me the correct one within 60 seconds with the promise that the staff would correct it permanently. The next time online chat was offline so I used the email form to report that only one page of a will had been copied and that I thought there should be another page or two. Within a day I had an email reply with the missing images attached. What fantastic service and it shows that if you do spot something not quite right, report it and after investigating the staff will fix it if it is definitely wrong. They can't fix errors in original records but if it is an indexing or digitising error then they can.

I had to cancel the last Bribie U3A advanced family history class but was still amazed that the nine weeks had gone so quickly. Seems like only yesterday I was wondering if I should do it. The majority of students were all still keen so I will be running it again in Term 4 for another 10 weeks. The interesting thing is that I discovered new material on my own families as I prepared the classes each week. Using my own examples also helps to show students what you can find and how to do it themselves.

Finally I've received my new genie cards courtesy of Gould Digital. I was pleased to accept their offer to try out this new business venture and the hardest part was selecting a design and working out what I wanted to put on the front and back of the card. They actually look nicer than my business cards but then I designed them 8 years ago and my approach has changed since then. At the moment they have free shipping if you sign up to the enewsletter and 100 cards cost for $27. The cards are handy to give out to people when you meet at genealogy events and are not as easy to misplace as scraps of paper.

This coming week there will be more medical dramas and family issues but there are no talks or travels so I'm hoping to write up some of those new discoveries, catch up on emails, promote NFHM and even do some blog posts. The warm sunny winter days are also beautiful for sitting outside and catching up on my journal reading. Have a great genealogy week and until next time, happy searching.