28 November 2010

Genealogy Name Search Challenge

I recently had an email from a genealogist in the USA who is investigating an alleged association between a SHREWSBURY and her FRISTROM ancestor during his brief visit to Australia. She was stunned when a rather optimistic Google search for 'FRISTROM +SHREWSBURY' (together on the same page) led her to a 'name + alias' entry on my Web site.

This started me thinking about uncommon surnames. Just for fun, using Twitter, I offered a prize to the first genealogist to search my Web site and find an unusual name from their family tree. Within minutes, Kerry Farmer (a researcher, instructor and blogger who makes a huge contribution to family history in Australia) announced that she had found entries for her FAZACKERLEY and ETHERINGTON.

The Twitter experiment was so much fun that I decided to take it one step further. To set the scene, I should explain that my Web site lists over fifty thousand names from my indexes to archival records (and a few certificates, photographs and headstones). Although most of the sources are in Australia, many of those 50,000 people were born and/or lived in other countries. I am therefore issuing this challenge to genealogists worldwide:
  1. Think of an unusual name (surname or given name) in your family tree. If none of your names are unusual, choose someone who is a 'brick wall' in your research.
  2. Search for the name using the Google box (top right corner) on my Web site.
  3. If you find the name on my Web site, write a comment on this blog, mentioning the name that you found and the index in which it appears.
  4. You also have the option of ordering (via me) a copy of the original source. Just follow the instructions on the Web page where you find the name.
At the end of each month, in a random draw, I will select one person who has left a comment here and placed an order with me. That person will receive $10 credit towards the cost of any photocopy, book or genealogical research that he/she orders from me.

This offer will remain open until further notice, and you can participate every month if you wish. Happy searching!

10 October 2010

Old Age Pension Records (Sources Sunday)

For an updated version of this post, with a link to an online index to names of 9,000 applicants for the old age pension, see Old Age Pension Records for Genealogy (February 2014).

24 September 2010

Sassy Jane Genealogy (Follow Friday)

'Follow Friday' is a theme used by Geneabloggers. This week my suggestion is Sassy Jane Genealogy.

Here you will find practical advice from a family historian who is also a librarian and archivist. Pay particular attention to posts with 'Wisdom Wednesday' in the title. Items that I liked include:

19 September 2010

Genealogy conference papers (Sources Sunday)

From time to time, using my theme 'Sources Sunday', I talk about a source that I have used for genealogy. It may be a specific source or series in a record office; a book; or a library, museum etc as a source in the broader sense. You won't see 'Sources Sunday' here every week because it is sometimes in one of my other blogs (which are listed in the sidebar).

This week I am recommending published papers of genealogy conferences to help you locate and understand a wide variety of sources. Well-known overseas speakers (and locals with expertise in overseas research) present papers at the Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry and some small conferences here - so wherever you are in the world, have a look at the Web page listing topics covered at six major conferences. Some of the papers on Irish and English research are outstanding.

16 September 2010

Newspapers, birthdays and Christmas gifts

What was happening in the world on the day your grandfather was born?

A good family history is one that includes historical context, and newspapers are an obvious resource. My 'list of things to do' includes 'Find a newspaper for the day each of my direct ancestors was born and died'.

I once researched a person who died in Sydney NSW at the age of 103. Normally I would have expected to find a short paragraph in the newspaper, but the death was completely overshadowed by reports of the dramatic opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

A few years ago, as Christmas gifts for my father and sisters, I laminated A3 photocopies of the front page of a major local newspaper for the day each of them was born. My father was born in 1919, and his page was filled with stories about the aftermath of World War I. My youngest sister was born during a cyclone, and the newspaper reports prompted Dad to tell us some interesting tales about rushing to the hospital in cyclonic conditions.

I hasten to add that important documents should never be laminated, as explained in 'Step away from the laminator!' The A3 pages I laminated were not for long-term preservation. They were just inexpensive gifts (which are used as place mats for informal family meals!)

08 September 2010

Family History Library catalogue (52 Weeks to Better Genealogy, no.36)

Challenge no.36 was 'Check out the Family History Library catalog. Search by place, surname, keyword, title, film/fiche, author, subject, and call number. You do not have to be a member of the LDS Church to utilize this service.'

I had previously used this site to find English parish registers and Australian probate records. For a few dollars I was able to order microfilms for use at a Family History Centre near me. Nowadays members of some genealogical societies in Australia can also order films for use in their society's library.

This week I did searches using both the original site and the new 'beta' site. The beta version produces results that look nicer, with all details on one screen; but identifying a particular parish is sometimes more difficult. It depends how the 'place search' results are presented when there are several places with the same name. Presumably this issue will be resolved as the site develops.

('52 Weeks to Better Genealogy' is a series of tasks devised by Amy Coffin for Geneabloggers, whose Web site has a full description of this week's challenge.)

04 September 2010

Sources Sunday

The traditional blogging theme 'Sentimental Sunday' is not really relevant to me, so I am using a new theme: 'Sources Sunday'. I will feature a source that I have used for genealogy, such as a specific source or series in a record office; a book; a non-print publication (microfiche or CD-ROM); or a library, museum etc as a source in the broader sense.

If the source is at Queensland State Archives I will post to Queensland Genealogy - but even if your research is in another State or country, you may find my comments helpful because National, State and local record offices throughout the world often hold similar material. There are also many documents at Queensland State Archives for people from other States and countries. One example is the Supreme Court probate file for Ellis READ (Qld State Archives: SCT/P421 file 11083).

Statements in the file show that Ellis READ lived in Guadalajara 1882-1890. Between 1887 and 1890 he made business trips to London and lived there for a few months at a time. He died in Mexico in 1890. Ten years later his widow applied for administration of his estate. I don't know whether Ellis ever lived in Australia, but he owned land here. When that land was sold, a grant of probate was required so that a certificate of title could be issued. The probate file includes an affidavit regarding Ellis READ's death certificate, giving his age, native place, occupation, wife's maiden name, father's name, mother's maiden name, and his cause of death and burial place.

RIENECKER (Surname Saturday)

RIENECKER was my maternal grandmother's maiden name. Her father, Carl Ludwig RIENECKER, came to Queensland as a boy. I have seen the surname spelled many different ways, and indexed in even more ways. Sometimes it is under K, which in some handwriting looks like R.

The RIENECKER family has been researched to some extent by my distant relatives, but as their findings are largely unsupported by source references, I guess I will have to reinvent the wheel.

I found a Supreme Court naturalisation record for Carl Ludwig, which raised doubts about his alleged date of birth. Last week I had a look at FamilySearch's pilot site. (I was very impressed with the way it allows you to refine and further refine your searches. If only Ancestry searches were as easy!)

In the collection 'Germany Births and Baptisms 1558-1898' I found an entry for the baptism of Carl Ludwig RINECKER (that is the spelling in FamilySearch) at Bohlschau, Westpreussen, Prussia. I hope to have a copy of his original baptism record in a few weeks time!

('Surname Saturday' is a theme used by Geneabloggers.)

03 September 2010

Follow Friday: Geniaus

'Follow Friday' is a theme used by Geneabloggers. My recommendation this week is Geniaus, where I especially enjoyed these blog posts:

  • 10 things I can't live without to support my genealogy addiction. Jill illustrates how people (including volunteers and decision makers) play a vital role in our research. She also mentions Trove, which has material of interest to genealogists worldwide (journals, magazines, photos, maps, and searchable Australian newspapers). Note that Australian newspapers often print death notices etc that were originally published overseas.

02 September 2010

31 August 2010

LostCousins is free this week

(An updated version of this post was published in January 2012.)

Until Sunday 5th September 2010, the LostCousins site is completely free. You can contact any relatives you are matched with even if you only have free standard membership. Ask your fellow family historians to spread the word, because the more people who use the site, the more likely you are to find someone who is researching your family.

LostCousins is probably the only web site that identifies (with virtually 100% accuracy) people who share the same ancestors. You do not waste time corresponding with people who are not related to you.

To use LostCousins you need to find your relatives in the census for England & Wales 1841, 1881 or (a recent addition) 1911, Scotland 1881, United States 1880, Canada 1881 or Ireland 1911. Then you enter the source/page details at LostCousins. Read their instructions (see 'Information - Read this first') before gathering and entering data, as requirements for each census are different. If you prepare well, entering the data is a lot quicker. Be sure to include brothers and sisters of your direct ancestors, because it is their descendants who are the 'cousins' you want to contact.

After entering some relatives, click 'Search', and the system checks whether someone else has entered identical data. Remember to log in periodically, go to your 'My Ancestors' page and click 'Search' again.

21 August 2010

CuriousFox (Follow Friday)

Those with genealogy interests in Ireland or the USA may want to read my blog post about CuriousFox, a gazetteer and message system that connects family and local historians. There are two versions: one for the the UK and Ireland and another for the USA.

31 July 2010

Emergency Chain (52 Weeks to Better Genealogy, no.30)

This week's 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy challenge was 'Create an emergency chain. If you are unable to get online for a significant period of time, how will you let everyone know? This challenge was inspired by Hurricane Ike and 14 days without power.'

I asked two close friends who are familiar with the Internet to be my 'emergency chain':
  1. I will ensure that my 'chain members' - can I call them my 'chain gang'? (wicked grin) - always have my current postal address, telephone number, and main and alternative email addresses.
  2. I will let them know if I will be without Internet access for more than a couple of weeks. If I am silent for an unusually long time, I hope they will check whether I am OK.
  3. In case they are unable to contact me, I have given them my sisters' phone numbers.
  4. I will ask them to inform the genealogical community, in whatever way they think appropriate, when I go to meet my ancestors in Heaven.
  5. I have given my sisters a printed page entitled 'In the event of my death' (which includes instructions on how to access my email accounts). I will update that page to include contact details for the friends in my Emergency Chain.
  6. In my electronic calendar I have set periodic reminders to check that the details I have given everyone are current.
('52 Weeks to Better Genealogy' is a series of tasks devised by Amy Coffin for Geneabloggers.)

26 July 2010

What I Do: Technology I use

I was interested to see what technology other people use. Here is my list (yes, I know I am behind the times!)

* Hardware: desktop PC + notebook PC (Windows XP).
* External storage: CDs + a few 2GB/4GB USB flashdrives.
* Online storage: AOL email account; Blogger; Rootsweb Freepages/WorldConnect. I may try Mozy.
* Backup: CD/flashdrive/paper *in another town* in case of a local disaster.
* Virus protection: AVG free recommended by computer repairman.
* Printer: Brother HL2040 laser (b/w) + HP Deskjet (colour).
* Phone: landline + Nokia mobile without a camera.
* Browser: Firefox + Internet Explorer 7.
* Blog: Blogger.
* RSS: Mozilla Thunderbird + Google Reader in IE7.
* FTP: WS_FTP + sometimes FileZilla.
* Text editor: Windows Wordpad.
* Screen capture: PrintKey.
* Social media: Facebook.
* Social bookmarking: None yet.
* Social profile: Blogger.
* URL shortener: TinyUrl.
* Office suite: Microsoft Office 2007 (Word, Excel, Powerpoint).
* E-mail: Eudora.
* Calendar: Lotus Organiser (came with computer) + mobile phone.
* Accounting: QuickBooks.
* PDF generator: PDF995 (free; works nicely with Word).
* Genealogy database: TMG (The Master Genealogist) v.7 Gold edition. With this I use SecondSite2 (creates Web pages from TMG data) and TMG Utility. Before TMG I used Relatively Yours.
* Genealogy tools: ParLoc2 (parish locator).
* Other tech stuff:
- My scanner died so I use a digital camera (Canon Powershot A100).
- Treepad (great little programme to file bits and pieces).
- PowerDesk (file manager for Windows).
- Diskeeper Lite (free defragmenter).
-Webpage generator = me! Apart from blogs and family tree pages from TMG, I create my Web site by writing the HTML in Wordpad.

25 July 2010

10 Things I Can't Live Without

In the discussion ('meme') 10 Things I Can't Live Without (related to genealogy), nine of Elyse's ten things require a computer. My list is very different - possibly because I did most of my research in the 1970s/80s! Genealogy is certainly easier and more fun if you have a computer, email, the Internet, and the ability to visit local libraries or LDS Family History Centres - but a lot can be accomplished without them. Just ask any genealogist who is a full-time carer or physically unable to get out and about.

I am often without a computer for a week or so, but I can still work on my family tree if I have:
  1. The family history 'book' that I wrote on a typewriter in the 1980s. It has a lot of my data, detailed source references and a bibliography.
  2. Address book and Correspondence log (I can write letters on paper to relatives or repositories); 'Style sheet' to remind me how my filing system works; 'Where Is It?' index book.
  3. Small magnifier; 2B pencils; enclosed pencil sharpener (so I can put it in my pocket at repositories); good quality coil-bound notebook (A5 or A4); 4-ring binders and copysafe page protectors.
  4. Camera. Preferably digital, but an old SLR and a roll of film will do.
  5. Pedigree Charts and Family Group Sheets. With these I take a summary of names, dates, places etc to repositories where I cannot take a computer.
  6. Maps, including the Ordnance Survey Motoring Atlas of Great Britain. It shows rivers, hills etc that may influence where people went to market, church etc, and has a good place name index.
  7. The Macquarie Book of Events (Bryce Fraser). I can put my ancestors' lives in context if I know what was happening in Australia. The book covers Discovery, Settlement, People, Transport, Communications, Industries, Trade, Taxes, the Economy, Work Force, Regal/Vice-Regal, Politics, Law, Defence, Education, Religion, Health, Social Welfare, Science, the Environment, Arts, Disasters, Sport.
  8. Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History (Mark D. Herber).
  9. The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers. Parish maps, topographical maps, location of parish registers/indexes (England, Scotland, Wales).
  10. Newspapers in Australian Libraries: a union list. Part 2: Australian newspapers. Often quicker than the Internet if you want to know what newspapers were published when/where and the location of copies.
Before I go travelling without a computer, I use my genealogy software (The Master Genealogist + SecondSite) to create (on a USB flash drive) a family tree in HTML format. I omit living people for privacy reasons. If I am visiting friends or a public library, I can usually look at my tree (which is just a series of Web pages) on their computer.

What would you put on a 'Top Ten' list of things you need for genealogy?

24 July 2010

Reading Handwriting (52 Weeks to Better Genealogy, no.29)

Challenge no.29 was Practice reading handwriting. Deciphering the penmanship of our ancestors is an exercise in patience, but this is a great skill to have.

Family historians love indexes, but most indexing errors arise from difficulty in interpreting handwriting. If the first letter of the name is indexed incorrectly, you will not find that entry unless you 'think outside the box'. To help you do this, my Web page on using and compiling indexes has examples of letters that are commonly misinterpreted and names that have been incorrectly indexed. It also warns of other indexing mistakes, such as incorrect sorting of names, listing a person's middle name instead of their surname, listing 'Senior' or 'Junior' as a surname, etc. (I was honoured when Shauna Hicks recommended this page in her book Family History on the Cheap.)

Ancestry's index got it wrong!
There is always something new to learn, but indexing tens of thousands of names from old documents at Queensland State Archives has given me lots of practice. About 51,000 of those names are on my Web site.

('52 Weeks to Better Genealogy' is a series of tasks devised by Amy Coffin for Geneabloggers.)

07 July 2010

03 July 2010

Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century

On Blogger's Dashboard, on the 'Blogs of Note' tab in 'Reading List', I rarely find anything of interest to me. This week I did. Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century has some excellent photographs. Can you find similar moustaches (that's how we spell it in Australia) in your own family photographs?

02 July 2010

Google Books (52 Weeks to Better Genealogy. No.26)

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy is a series of tasks devised by Amy Coffin for Geneabloggers. Challenge no.26 was 'Take a stroll through Google Books. Most of us have probably used Google Books in our genealogy research, but have you really taken the time to explore what's there?'

I had used Google Books before, but I had never looked at their section for Magazines, so I started by searching there for ancestry OR genealogy. 'Ancestry Magazine' dominated the search results. To make it easier to find more obscure titles, I changed my search terms to ancestry OR genealogy -"ancestry magazine".

My most interesting find was an article in 'Life' Magazine, 3 Apr 1950, p.89. It is about 81-year-old Gertrude HANSON (in the USA), who combined her hobbies (genealogy and hooking rugs) to produce a beautiful carpet for her stairs. It depicts family houses (with dates) and churches associated with the family. There is a photograph of Mrs. HANSON and the carpet.

I also found references to 'The Rotarian' (official magazine of Rotary International). The August 1980 edition says that the newsletter 'Rota-Gene' provided up-to-date information on genealogical resources and a query section in which members could exchange information.