31 July 2020

Why You Don't Get Replies from Ancestry Users

If you're waiting... and waiting... and waiting for a reply to your message to an Ancestry user, this may explain why.

When Ancestry introduced the new messaging system, I was annoyed that I no longer received email notifications about incoming messages. I contacted Ancestry, and they explained how to overcome that problem:
As part of the new message system, we are attempting to cut down on the emails we send to our members. The sheer number we are sending in some cases is causing email domains to pre-filter our important emails out along with promotional [spam!] and this is causing considerable hardship.

We have changed the process, so that we only send out one email for multiple replies, and we only send an email when you have been logged out completely from our site for a while. This way, you are not getting emails while you are working, but can still view your new messages within your account as they come in.

If you just close your browser instead of logging completely out, the emails may not send at all, because your browser's active login cookie tells our site you are still signed in. To prevent this, simply click on your name or username at the top right and choose Sign Out.

Once you have been signed out for a little while, notifications will start coming through email again.

This works! I now log out each time I use the site, and I'm getting notifications again. But many people don't know about this, and our messages are just sitting in their inbox at Ancestry.

There are, of course, many reasons why someone might not reply to your message - but please share Ancestry's 'log out' explanation with your friends and family history groups.

See also the excellent advice in this post by Margaret O'Brien: In-Depth Guide - Chapter 9 - Send Ancestry Messages that get Replies.

Note that you have until 31st August 2020 to download and save your messages from Ancestry's old system.

This post first appeared on https://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2020/07/why-you-dont-get-replies-from-ancestry.html.

29 July 2020

How to Keep AncestryDNA's Small-Segment Matches

From late August 2020, AncestryDNA will delete matches who share less than 8 cM with you - unless you have added a note about them, added them to a custom group, or messaged them. Some of my known relatives only share 6 cM or 7 cM with me, and I'm sure there are others whom I haven't identified yet. Here is my strategy to prevent those people from disappearing.

#1. In my AncestryDNA account, I created a custom group called '6-8cM Keep' (but you could skip this step and just add a Note to matches you want to keep).

#2. In the 'Shared DNA' filter, I select 'Custom centimorgan range' and set it to min=6 and max=8; then I do a series of searches, and on the results screen I either add a Note or assign people to my group '6-8cM Keep'. Examples of searches (with 'Custom centimorgan range' set to min=6 & max=8):

#3. Filter for 'Common ancestor'. (Some of the 'potential ancestors' will be wrong, because Ancestry's Thrulines derives those ancestor predictions from other people's trees, many of which are wrong - but I need to prevent those matches from disappearing so that I can later check the Thrulines theory.)

#4. Using 'Surnames in matches' trees', I do a series of searches for end-of-line ancestors' surnames, 'brick wall' surnames, unusual surnames, etc.

#5. Using 'Birth location in matches' trees', I do a series of searches for the main places where my families lived. I've also done some combined surname + birthplace searches, eg: "Surname in matches' trees" = CAMPBELL, combined with "Birth location" = Argyll, Scotland. (CAMPBELL is so common that I don't want to keep all the matches, but some small-segment matches with CAMPBELL ancestors in Argyllshire will be my relatives.)

How close is an 8 cM match? In some cases it will be closer than a 4th cousin. To see the full list of possible relationships, with probabilities for each, enter '8' in the interactive Shared Centimorgan Project tool.

* Roberta ESTES explains a more thorough strategy for preserving small-segment matches that may be useful.

* Blaine BETTINGER explains why many small segments are *not* valid shared DNA.

* My personal thoughts on using DNA as a tool for family history.

(This post first appeared on https://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2020/07/how-to-keep-ancestrydnas-small-segment.html.)

24 April 2020

Do Online Surveys to Earn Money for Genealogy

Image courtesy of digitalart (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
If you have some free time because you're staying at home to avoid Covid-19, here's an idea that may appeal to you.

In recent years I have been able to spend more on family history (buying certificates, wills, subscriptions etc) because I earn money by doing online surveys.

Reputable sites do not generate spam emails or unwanted phone calls. Surveys are conducted by various companies, Government agencies, universities etc. Some surveys involve product testing, and I've enjoyed sampling (and giving my opinion on) items such as icecreams, cereals and teabags.

Some survey sites pay cash. Others let you choose a gift card (Coles/Myer, Woolworths/Caltex, Amazon, iTunes, Bunnings, etc). All the details will be on the site (look for FAQ or Help).

Survey panels to which I belong include:
  • Pure Profile: Available to residents of many countries. This site is my favourite, and nowadays I earn at least $400 per year here. Pure Profile pays you 5c-20c even if you are screened out of a survey. Each time you log in, click 'Surveys' to see what's currently available. You will qualify for more surveys if you log in every day (or as often as possible). The surveys will be more relevant if you regularly check whether there are more questions to be answered about your preferences and interests (click 'Profile').

  • Australian Meal Panel: For Australians only. When asked for the 5 digit pin, enter 86127. Earn money by doing a 3-minute survey about food about once per month, and receive extra payments if you send in supermarket receipts. You will be paid via PayPal or by deposit to your bank account.

  • MyView. You can redeem your points by chosing from a wide range of gift vouchers, or you can make donations to charity.

  • Your Voice: [No longer available] I occasionally earned $50-$70 for a single survey here, and I earned $20 by doing an interesting survey about travel, TV programmes and other topics; but even the smaller surveys gradually add up to a decent amount.

Don't despair if your earnings are low at first. Many surveys are targeted to specific groups, so you will increase your chances of being invited to relevant surveys if you answer the questions in your 'profile', update them periodically, and (if applicable) do the 'welcome survey' when you join.

(This post first appeared on https://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2020/04/do-online-surveys-to-earn-money-for.html.)

12 August 2017

British Isles and German Genealogy (Roadshow 2017)

This month (August 2017) family historians in Australia and New Zealand have a unique opportunity to hear leading international genealogists Chris Paton and Dirk Weissleder explain how to research our British Isles and European ancestors.

Chris and Dirk are giving a series of presentations during Unlock the Past's genealogy roadshow entitled Researching Abroad: Finding British Isles and European Ancestors. Right now the roadshow is in Auckland, then it moves on to Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth. On the roadshow's main page, click on your city to see full programme details and a booking form for that venue. There are also links to pages about the speakers, prizes, special offers, sponsors and exhibitors.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 2-day event in Brisbane. Chris Paton (an engaging and entertaining speaker) talked about many aspects of Scottish and Irish genealogy. He packs a huge amount of useful information into his talks!

I also learned a great deal from Dirk Weissleder, who spoke mainly about resources for Germany, Poland, Prussia etc. He highlighted the importance of using maps to determine where our ancestors lived, and the reasons for (and problems associated with) boundary changes. He also explained why 'understanding how Germans think' can be an advantage if you want to contact record offices or visit the area where your ancestors lived.

While Chris and Dirk took a break, local speakers briefly described MyHeritage technologies, and British and European resources held by libraries and societies in Brisbane. Unfortunately we didn't learn much about the Genealogical Society of Queensland's holdings, and I was disappointed that the Queensland Family History Society didn't do more to promote their magnificent index 'Emigrants from Hamburg to Australasia'.

In each Australian city a different (local) person will give an introductory talk about using DNA tests (a genealogy tool that is starting to pay dividends for me now).

I didn't let myself get carried away at the roadshow's bookstall, but there are some good discounts available. There are also great prizes to be won at each venue. And of course, it's always fun to catch up with friends and colleagues whom I rarely see, and to meet new people who share my passion for family history.

For a more in-depth report, see Pauleen Cass's posts in Family History Across the Seas.

Disclosure: Unlock the Past gave me a free ticket to the roadshow, but my comments here are my honest opinion and would be exactly the same if I'd paid my own way.

(This post first appeared on https://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2017/08/british-isles-and-german-genealogy.html.)

24 April 2017

Win a 12 month Findmypast subscription!

I've already mentioned this on Genealogy Discounts and Freebies plus UpdatesGenie and my genealogy pages on Facebook and Twitter... but it's worth mentioning again.

If you'd like to win a 12 month Findmypast subscription, this is your chance! The winner can choose whether the subscription is for British, Irish, Australian/NZ or USA records.

Submit your entry (in just two easy steps) on my Prize Draws and Competitions page. Entries close at 8am (AEST) on Wednesday 26 Apr 2017.

I'm very grateful to Findmypast for allowing me to give away such a wonderful prize (RRP $114.50). I've had a Findmypast subscription for many years, and I love it!

After some lucky person wins the Findmypast subscription, I will also give away a second (smaller) prize.

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2017/04/win-12-month-findmypast-subscription.html. Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, Freedigitalphotos.net.)


16 December 2016

40 of my Favourite Genealogy Indexes and Sources

I love using (and indexing) 'neglected' records that are great for overcoming brick walls in family history. Here are some that I find especially exciting. Don't take too much notice of headings that refer to a particular area. Most of these sources have information about people from all over the world. You may be surprised to find your ancestors or their siblings mentioned in records held in distant lands!

Links open in a new window.
  1. Hospital Admission Registers. These superb records are usually more informative and more accurate than certificates. Sometimes they are the only surviving source with immigration details. Links lead to pages with source descriptions plus the names of over 12,500 patients (many born overseas).

  2. Croydon Hospital admission registers 1888-1925. In the 1880s-1890s about 70% of the patients were born in Britain or Ireland. Smaller numbers from elsewhere (especially interstate and overseas mining areas) were also admitted to this North Queensland hospital. The records include the period of the local goldrush.

  3. Brisbane Hospital Patient Records. Some patients were from other areas (Cairns, Charters Towers, Adavale, Tambo, Goondiwindi, Stanthorpe, Maryborough etc). I have indexed admission registers and patient charts. Admission registers for Brisbane Hospital are even more informative than those for Croydon.

  4. Missing Friends records. The people sought include emigrants, missing relatives, eloping daughters, wife/child deserters, women who abandoned a child, missing beneficiaries of wills, suspected bigamists, etc. Stage 1 of the index is online (spread over 3 pages, with about 8,000 names yet to be added).

  5. Mental Asylum records. If someone vanished, or if children were not raised by their mother, check mental asylum records. Many patients (including children) were only in an asylum very briefly, so you may not know about it. Some insanity files have superb information about the patient's relatives!
  6. Goodna Asylum case books. Mental asylum case books are different from insanity files.

  7. Court of Petty Sessions records. These have details of complainants and offenders, especially in minor cases. There are various types of CPS records. Indexes include some for Queensland, Victoria and Ireland.

  8. Police Gazettes. These are an excellent source for family history, with information about offenders, victims of crime and many other people. Notices may give biographical data, immigration details, a physical description, and clues for further research in other records.

  9. Police Watchhouse records (people arrested and victims of crime). Offences range from serious to minor, including 'being a neglected child'. This page explains the genealogical value of the records, with links to lists of names for various districts.

  10. Prison Records. Many people were imprisoned for minor offences such as having no lawful visible means of support. There are different types of prison records, and many are indexed. They include records for North Queensland, St. Helena (Queensland), New South Wales, Victoria and Ireland.

  11. Records that name the father of an illegitimate child. If his name is not on the birth certificate, there are other places to look. I've indexed sixeen record series (dates range from 1858 to 1950) and indexing is on-going.

  12. Will Books. Wills for many people from other States and countries are included in New South Wales will books. Click 'Learn more' above the search boxes to find out more about the collection, and read my personal search tips.

  13. Passport Records. There are records for people who were emigrating, or returning to their home country, or going overseas on holidays. I've updated the description of some passport records in Australia and added links to sites for other countries' records.

  14. Statements by witnesses called before Queensland Government Committees. The witnesses were ordinary people from all walks of life (publicans, miners, labourers, seamen, farmers, graziers, railway employees, civil servants, etc). Two indexes are online (1860-1901 and 1902-1920).

  15. Ryerson Index. Extracts from death and funeral notices, and a few probate notices and obituaries, in Australian newspapers. A great way to find exact death dates if you can't get them from Registrar-General's indexes.

  16. Yorkshire Collection. The largest online collection of Yorkshire records! I've had great success with this, and millions more records (including images of original parish records) were added in 2016. Search each record set separately. Highlight/copy the results list, paste it into a spreadsheet, study the results, then view any images that may be relevant. Look at the transcription too, because it usually has the source citation.

  17. National Probate Calendar. This includes people from all over the world, so don't be put off by its official title (Index of Wills and Administrations, England and Wales). For 1858-1995 the most powerful search options are on Ancestry, but to search more recent years or order copies of wills, use the Government site. (UPDATE, July 2019: Copies of those wills now cost only £1.50!)

  18. Civil Service Evidence of Age records. There is information about people from around the world (including 654 from Australia and New Zealand) although the records are primarily British. I've found exciting details (especially for people whose birth was never registered) in images in this record set. Click the right arrow to see the next related image, which is often a baptism record.

  19. British Nationals overseas. There are separate indexes for births, marriages and deaths (including deaths at sea). While researching my British ancestors and their siblings, I was surprised to find births and marriages in China and Canada.

  20. Trade Union Records. This collection has membership records for Australia, Belgium, Canada, Channel Islands, England, Germany, Gibraltar, Ireland, Isle Of Man, Malta, New Zealand, Rhodesia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, USA and Wales. Occupations include railway staff, carpenters, joiners, cabinetmakers, woodworkers, lithographic artists/printers, designers, engravers, boilermakers, iron shipbuilders, etc. Australian branches include Adelaide, Ballarat, Bathurst, Bendigo, Brisbane, Broken Hill, Charters Towers, Fremantle, Geelong, Hobart, Ipswich, Kalgoorlie, Leeton, Mackay, Melbourne, Mildura, Mount Morgan, Newcastle, Perth, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Sydney, Townsville, Wollongong and others.

  21. Helen Harris's Historical Indexes. There are references to people from all over the world; and for research in Victoria (Australia) this site is a must. Indexes include missing people; wife/child deserters; criminal case files; Infant Life Protection Act indexes; Victoria Police; women lecturers; etc.

  22. Alphabetical Index to Newspaper Cuttings 1841-1987. Most of the records are for New South Wales, but a few are from Queensland. The cuttings are mainly for marriages and deaths, but a few are for births or the 1811 census.

  23. Victoria Coastal Passenger lists 1852-1924. They include people travelling locally and those from overseas, and they cover the goldrush years. Images of original documents are online.

  24. Passenger lists. Passengers en route to other ports (eastern States etc) are included in this indexed collection for 1897-1963 ship passenger arrivals, crew lists, air arrivals and quarantine lists for Fremantle, Western Australia.

  25. Queensland Burials and Memorials. This database includes indexes to headstones in many Queensland cemeteries and lone graves, plus records of seven funeral directors. The total time frame covered is 1820-1996. Be sure to read 'Learn more' and 'What information can I find'.

  26. Old Age Pension records 1908-1909. The records include many people who were not on electoral rolls. Before you check the list of names (over 9,200 applicants, born worldwide, including many whose application was rejected), read the explanation of who was eligible for the pension.

  27. Historical Photos or Sketches of People (from public records that most people overlook). Photos/sketches are accompanied by information that is superb for family history. More names will be added as indexing progresses.

  28. Billion Graves Cemetery Index for Australia and New Zealand. Each entry has a transcription with a link to an image of the headstone with GPS details. Without this index I would not have found my great-grandfather's grave, which is in a country cemetery with several sections separated by bushland.

  29. Miscellaneous Australian Certificates Index. All names on the certificates have been indexed (the deceased, the child born or baptised, the bride, groom, relatives, witnesses, undertaker, minister, doctor, midwife, district registrar etc.)

  30. Society of Australian Genealogists manuscript collection. Family papers, unpublished research notes, pedigrees, photographs, certificates etc from Australia and overseas. Searchable catalogue with over 55,000 files and still growing! Without this I would never have traced my WEBSTER family in London.

  31. Index to Sydney Benevolent Asylum records 1857-1900. Many people from interstate are in these records. Some went to Sydney to 'hide' the birth of an illegitimate child.

  32. Great Western Railway Shareholders. The image often has death/burial details, occupation, address, names of other parties, marriage date etc. Although most events relate to residents of England and Wales, the shareholders, executors, beneficiaries and others include people from Scotland, Ireland, Australia, and other countries.

  33. Queensland Government Gazettes. They contain a vast amount of historical and genealogical information about ordinary people. Before you do a search (1855-1905), scroll down on that page and read 'Learn more' and 'Search tips'.

  34. Nurses and Masseurs registered in Queensland. Some were working interstate or overseas. In addition to the list of names, see 'Other Suggestions' near the bottom of that page.

  35. Women Granted Protection Orders. This page lists names from a Queensland Justice Department register of protection orders (one of many unusual sources that I've indexed).

  36. Toowoomba Regional Council: Deceased Search. This covers nineteen cemeteries in the region. Search results link to headstone photos if applicable. Use this site to find death dates that are too recent to be on the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages website.

  37. Undertaking Files 1929-1955. An 'undertaking' was an agreement to repay the cost of a fare (usually interstate or overseas). This period includes the Great Depression, when many people travelled great distances in search of work. The list of names may include your relative who 'disappeared'.

  38. Gregson and Weight Index to Funeral Records 1972-2010. Records of funeral directors on Queensland's Sunshine Coast have details of burials and funeral services that took place not only in Australia but also in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Fiji, Sweden, Greece, Hungary, Austria and the Netherlands.

  39. Indexes for Queensland Genealogy. This list includes other indexed sources that I recommend. Some are online; others are in libraries or other record offices.

  40. Postems on FreeBMD. This shows how you can use Postems on free civil registration indexes for England and Wales to get extra details or contact distant relatives.

I hope you find those sources as useful as I do. Feel free to share success stories or other suggestions via the comment form below.

(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2016/12/40-of-my-favourite-genealogy-indexes.html.)

13 December 2016

Canadians and Americans in Cooktown Hospital

Modern photo of Cooktown's old hospital
(source: scampiferous on Flickr)
Listed below are some of the Americans and Canadians who were admitted to hospital at Cooktown, Queensland, Australia, 1884-1901. Spelling of names and places is rather erratic. The hospital's admission registers are printed volumes with space for these details (which, if supplied by the patient, may be more accurate than those on a death certificate):

Name;  date admitted;  age;  birthplace;  occupation;  religion;  ship of arrival;  how long in colony;  place of residence;  marital status;  place of marriage, at what age, and name of spouse;  names and ages of children living;  number and sex of children deceased;  father's name and occupation;  father's present residence if living (or 'father dead');  mother's maiden name;  disease or reason for admission;  date of discharge or date and cause of death;  sometimes additional remarks (medical history, social circumstances, etc).

William BARRON born St Johns Newfoundland
Ira BASSIE born Manitoba Canada
Laurence BERNARD born Prince Edwards Island Canada
Andrew BROWN born Prince E Island, Canada
Edward BROWN born Toronto Canada
William CASEY born New York America
Louie DUVAL born Montreal Canada
Richard HIGGINS born Wisconsin America
William Henry LAWSON born St John, New Brunswick
Frank LENNOX born Mitigan(?), NY State America
Frank LENNOX born New York State America
Franshaw LENNOX born Silver Creek America
Joan LORD (nee STREET) born New York
John MORGAN born Philadelphia America
Edward MOSEBY born Baltimore America
Joan STREET (born New York; married name LORD)

To search for other names, or to find out how to obtain copies from the original hospital registers, see the three Web pages about Cooktown hospital.
(This post first appeared on http://genie-leftovers.blogspot.com/2016/12/canadians-and-americans-in-cooktown.html.)

18 June 2016

Favourite Web Sites

This is an updated version of a post that I wrote a few years ago in response to a survey at Genea-Musings. We were asked to rank eight Web sites in order of importance to our research. I don't use some of the American sites listed in the survey, so I have substituted sites that are important to me.
  1. Google for general searching, blogs, and Google Alerts.

  2. GENUKI - best starting point for UK/Ireland genealogy.

  3. FindMyPast for indexes, transcripts and images of original documents, with (usually) more accurate indexing than Ancestry.

  4. Discovery for records held by The National Archives (UK) plus 2,500 archives across the country. Over 9 million records are available for download.

  5. Trove for searchable digitised Australian newspapers and much more.

  6. Cyndi's List for the biggest list of genealogy links worldwide.

  7. FreeBMD for civil registration indexes (England & Wales); and see how to use FreeBMD Postems to find distant relatives.

  8. FamilySearch for its catalogue (especially good for finding out what records exist for a town or parish), genealogy guides, indexes, European records, etc.

Other sites that I use frequently:
  • LostCousins (for Britain, Canada and the USA).

  • CuriousFox (gazetteer, maps and message board system for the United Kingdom, Ireland and USA).

Although I've had great success with some of Ancestry's databases, especially the National Probate Calendar (an index of wills and administrations that shows the names and whereabouts of vast numbers of people in other countries), I cannot bring myself to rank Ancestry in the Top 8 because its indexing is often inaccurate and I don't like the way it presents search results.

Which Web sites do you find essential for your research?