Wednesday, December 6, 2017

December Who Do You Think You Are Magazine

The December issue of BBC Who Do You Think You Are magazine is out now.  Now available in digital form free to Campaspe Regional Library patrons via RB Digital.

Inside this month's issue
  • 10 essential records
    Laura Berry, Who Do You Think You Are? genealogist, reveals how to uncover your family's secrets with these key research tools
  • Greek tragedy
    In autumn 1943 British soldiers fought valiantly but unsuccessfully to defend the Aegean island of Leros from the Germans. Julie Peakman tells their stories
  • Reader story
    Simon Marley shares the dramatic life of a maternal great grandmother who worked in a Yorkshire coal mine
  • Victorian toys
    Janet Sacks explores the history of toys, and unwraps the presents awaiting our 19th-century forebears under the tree
  • Studio portraits
    Jayne Shrimpton reveals how you can date formal family photographs
  • Plus...
    The best websites for WW1 airmen and ground crew; the lives of ancestors who worked as glovers; exploring servants' wage books; and more...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

2016 Family History

2016 Family History is a new, free Irish genealogy education website, created by the National Archives and and formally launched earlier this year. The site is aimed primarily at secondary school students, but can be used by anyone with Irish ancestors to learn how to use the many online sources now available.

The website guides you through the free online resources that now exist to help you with researching you Irish family history, with a workbook, detailed guides to the different kinds of records, case histories and targeted tasks you can undertake if you wish.

Modules include :
  • Hints and tips
  • Surnames
  • Placenames
  • Census
  • Civil
  • Church
  • Property
  • Military

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

British Newspaper Archive

The British Newspaper Archive has advised it will be digitizing and putting online the historic archives of Trinity Mirror, Britain’s largest newspaper group.
The digitization project will consist of over 12 million pages of historic newspaper content. It is expected to take roughly two years to complete the digitization process and put the content online.
The British Newspaper Archive currently has some 22.5 million pages of historic newspapers online and it is anticipated that this latest digitization project will increase the content held by the website by roughly 50%. It will also significantly increase the twentieth century content as the oldest newspapers held by Trinity Mirror only date back to the era of Queen Victoria.
There are some 320 newspaper titles in the Trinity Mirror archive, with the titles spread geographically throughout the country. The two most notable titles in the collection are the national papers The Daily Mirror (founded in 1903) and The Daily Telegraph (founded in 1855). Also included in the holdings of Trinity Mirror are the Birmingham Post and Mail and the Liverpool Daily Post.
Note that the British Newspaper Archive is a subscription database.  It has options that allow a pay as you go subscription, or you can choose between monthly, quarterly or annual subscriptions.  You can also register for a taste of the database, which allows you to view 3 pages for free.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Change at FamilySearch

For anyone who uses the FamilySearch database, you may have noticed a major change is coming - we are soon going to have to sign in to use the site.
Many of us who use the site regularly are already signing in - to use some of the extra features or create an online tree signing in has been necessary for a while now.  For others this is a new development.  It is worth noting that sign in requirements are minimal - name, username, a password you select, an email address or phone number in case you lose your password and need to get back into your account, a little bit of demographic data (male or female, country of residence, birthdate and whether you’re a Church member, since Church members have different needs from the website), a security captcha code to make sure you’re not a robot and your agreement to the terms and conditions and privacy policies of the website, and you’re in.  There is the facility to remember your login details on your PC or device, so overall it is a very quick process.
So why does FamilySearch require logins now?  Firstly, FamilySearch needs to be accountable to its records partners — the towns, counties/states and other repositories that made the records available for filming in the first place. Many of those records partners want to know that the data is being offered in a safe and secure online environment.  The second reason is because there’s more that can be made available on a personalized basis if you use some of the other features of the website and log in first.  You can now built a free online family tree and link in all the records you find, much as you can on Ancestry and other subscription databases.  It is worth remembering that all the wonderful content of the FamilySearch site is still free.
So take a look at all the FamilySearch site has to offer, and don't be put off by the new sign-in requirement.  They have put in a massive amount of effort in creating the site and is has a great deal to offer those if us researching our families.  And did I mention the word FREE!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Welsh tithe maps go online

Do you have Welsh ancestry?  The National Library of Wales has completed a project to make tithe maps of Wales searchable online.
The new Places of Wales website is in beta and welcomes feedback from visitors.  It makes over 300,000 records searchable online, along with accompanying apportionment documents.
Tithes were payments charged on land users. Originally, payments were made using commodities like crops, wool, milk and stock. Tithe maps were produced between 1838 and 1850 to ensure that all tithes were paid with money rather than produce.
These are the most detailed maps of their period and they cover more than 95% of Wales. The apportionments accompanying each map list the payable tithes, the names of the landowners and land occupiers, the land use, and in most cases (75%) the field names.
An almost complete set of the tithe maps for Wales is held in the National Library of Wales as part of the diocesan records of the Church in Wales, who kindly consented to them being digitised as part of the Cynefin project.  A complete set of accompanying tithe apportionments was supplied in digital form by The National Archives in London, who had digitised these documents before the start of the project.

Friday, November 3, 2017

November WDYTYA Magazine

The November issue of BBC Who Do You Think You Are magazine is out now.  Now available in digital form free to Campaspe Regional Library patrons via RB Digital.
Inside this month's issue
  • How to track down your Army ancestors
    Phil Tomaselli surveys the records available on Britain's fighting units, from the 14th century to the 1950s
  • Explore your archive
    Don't miss our guide to the wealth of information stored in the UK's 600-plus local archives
  • Reader story
    The pupils of Wycliffe Preparatory School in Gloucestershire uncover the lives of Old Boys who died in the First World War
  • Queens of industry
    John McGoldrick tells the story of the 20th-century 'industry queens' who became national celebrities
  • Postal ancestors
    Susannah Coster of the Postal Museum explains how to investigate relatives who worked for the Post Office
  • Plus...
    The best websites for military medals and awards; the lives of ancestors who worked as railway navvies; exploring churchwardens' accounts; and more...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

South Australia Immigration Records on FamilySearch

Over 200,000 records of those who emigrated to South Australia are available in a new collection on free family history website FamilySearch.
The new collection of immigrants ship papers, dating from 1849 to 1940, contains records of the names and ages of 201,371 immigrants, many of whom were British, Irish or German, and the ships they sailed on. The collection also includes over 6,000 digital images of the papers,  allowing researchers to view more details about the immigrants, including their profession and county of origin.
Immigration record of my Beseler ancestors
Information on images varies but may include ship's name, master's name, tonnage, where bound, date, port of embarkation, names of passengers, ages, occupation, nationality, and port at which passengers have contracted to land. Original records are located in the State Records of South Australia, Adelaide.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What "I Didn't Find Anything" Really Means

When you’re researching in any resource — a book, database, microfilm or whatever — remember that “I didn’t find anything” really means “I didn’t find what I was looking for in this resource.” It doesn’t mean that your person isn’t there, it just means you didn’t find them in that particular resource with the search strategy you were using.
It is entirely possible, of course, that your person really isn’t in those records. But before you write them off completely, ask yourself if there’s something else you should be considering or another way of searching for the records you are after.
Consider the source you’re using.  Was it a database or an index? Not finding someone in an index is different than not finding them in the records themselves.  Look at the source – is it complete, or are there gaps, missing pages or years that could cover the record you are looking for.  Some records haven’t survived in complete form.  Is it transcribed?  Could there be spelling errors in the transcription – or in the original records themselves?
For those times when the record you’re looking for doesn’t exist — either your ancestor isn’t in the record or the record was destroyed — think about other records that could give you the same information.
If you’re in a database, will it search variations in spelling or do you need to do multiple searches to find both “Smith” and “Smythe”? What about Mc and Mac?
Did you put too much into your search? Some databases will try to match everything that you enter, and if you search for William Ramsey, born 1870 in Kyabram, it won’t return a record that has William Ramsey, born 1869 in Kyabram. Play with your search terms – sometimes less is more.
Consider not searching at all.  Stop searching and start browsing. You never know what you might find hidden by a spelling error or some other small difference when you browse through a set of records.

Friday, October 27, 2017

What's in a Name?

From church records to birth, marriage and death registrations, census records to electoral rolls and passenger lists to immigration and naturalization records, many of our favourite sources for family information have captured a variety of spellings, handwritings, and abbreviations.  As those historical collections have been digitized and transcribed, modern day technicians have struggled to correctly interpret and preserve an entry from long ago, and subsequently we as researchers have struggled to find them.

If there is one thing I have learnt in my years of researching my family, it is that NO surname, however simple, will EVER be recorded with the same spelling all the time.  When researching, always consider how a name may have been misspelled or incorrectly recorded.  Remember that the clerk creating the record spelled the name the way he felt like spelling it - how it sounded to him at the time.  And frequently he got it wrong.  Sometimes he got it spectacularly wrong!

Abbreviations can also complicate research - William was often abbreviated as Wm, Thomas as Thos or Tom, Patrick as Pat or Patk or Patr, Daniel as Dan or Danl or Danny, Margaret as Maggie, Elizabeth as Beth or Eliza.  When searching for an ancestor, be mindful that an exact search for a given name may unintentionally hide an ancestor from view if the original record or transcription used an abbreviation.

In addition to alternate spellings and abbreviations, another source of name variations comes from errors made during the transcription process.  As people transcribe family history records, they seek to preserve content exactly as it appears in the historical original.  Despite best efforts, errors do occur and names can be unintentionally altered.  Consider how old handwriting may be misinterpreted - both by you and by earlier transcribers or indexers. 

Some databases are quite flexible in regards to spelling variations when searching, but they will never cover every possible error and sometimes several searches are necessary to locate an elusive record.  Remember to be creative and keep digging - you never know what you might find - or how it may be spelled!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Researching others

Our ancestors did not live in a vacuum. They had extended family members, neighbours, business contacts, colleagues, friends and aquaintances. This has implications for us in two ways:
  • People tend to do things in groups.
  • People tend to follow predictable patterns of who they associate with.
Both of these can benefit our research. In genealogy, researching one member of a group can lead to answers about another member of the group. We can piggyback onto these “other” people to find the ones we’re really looking for.
Look at the people mentioned in wills – who were the executors and administrators of the estate?  Who were the guardians of any minors?  Remember guardians were not necessarily appointed to take care of the children – their role was to protect their legal interests. Who were the beneficiaries?  Wills do not just list surviving children, they often also give the married names of adult daughters and other information. Who witnessed a will?  All these important roles were generally not given to strangers.  How does each person fit in?
Look at godparents at a christening or baptism, not just for your direct ancestor, but for all their siblings as well.  Each child may have different godparents – again, it is not a role given to strangers.  Who are they, and why were they chosen for the role?
Unless they eloped, look at the witnesses to a marriage.  Remember to look at both the civil and church marriage records if applicable, and if a person married more than once, check both - or all - marriages.
The same applies for informants on a death certificate, even the neighbours in a census or electoral roll.  Often families lived close to one another.
What about immigration?  Many of us have a tale of migration in our family. (“Great-great-grandad came to Australia from Italy”) but great-great-grandad probably didn’t do so in isolation. Chances are he either came here with a group of people and/or he was moving to an area where he already knew people.
This doesn’t just apply to moving to a new country. Our ancestors’ migration within a country (or even within a state or county) is often part of a group migration (people moving together all at once) or a chain migration (a few people go out ahead and other people follow later). We can use this to our advantage.
In shipping records, look at where others on the same ship came from.  Look at others already settled in the place your family settled.  People from the same area may have migrated in a group or followed earlier settlers.

Friday, October 20, 2017

England and Wales GRO Online Trial

The General Register Office (GRO) is piloting another scheme allowing researchers to order birth and death records as PDFs.
From 12th October the digital records will be available to order via the GRO website for £6 each for the next three months, a cheaper alternative to ordering print certificates, which cost £9.25 each or £23.40 for priority certificates.
GRO, which has run three previous pilot PDF schemes, said the scheme would run for a minimum of three months to allow it to “assess the demand for this service over a prolonged period”.
The scheme applies to birth certificates from 1837 to 1916 and death certificates from 1837 to 1957.  Marriage certificates are not available through this trial.
The records will not be immediately viewable, but are sent directly to your email address.  If you are using the GRO site for the first time you will need to complete their registration process.  Remember searching their online indexes is free.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Deniliquin Family History Expo

I was fortunate to spend last weekend in Deniliquin at their Family History Expo, spending a lovely two days visiting the many exhibitors, picking up flyers and buying books, chatting to many stall holders and listening to a number of wonderful speakers.  Every speaker had useful information to use in my family history research, and I am still sorting through all my notes - and the big bag full of goodies I happily carried home.
For those of you who could not attend - a brief summary of the speakers.

10.00am-11.00am Jason Reeves, Acquisition Manager for Ancestry Australia and New Zealand
Jason discussed searching the Ancestry database, using both the general search and the card catalogue, including optimising wildcard searches and using the search filters.
11.15am-12.15pm Anne Burrows, State Library Victoria
Using Susannah Nicholls as a case study, Anne showcased the records available through the various SLV collections.
1.30pm-2.30pm Andrew Gildea, creator of Finders Cafe
Andrew discussed the issues of sharing our research, documents and photos online, including plagarism, unfounded claims and lack of source citation and recognition, and the solutions to these issues offered by Finders Cafe.
2.45pm-3.45pm Joy Roy, fellow of Genealogical Society of Victoria
Did your ancestors swim to Australia?  Joy explored the sources available to research our ancestors' shipping records and how to access them.
7.00pm-8.00pm Dr Tim Sherratt, University of Canberra
Tips and tricks for researching the collections available through Trove, including refining searches and building an online collection.
8.15pm-9.15pm Lt Col Neil Smith from Mostly Unsung
Neil spoke about sources for researching the military service of Australians in World War 2, moving beyond basic military dossiers to more in-depth research of unit histories and each soldier's individual experiences.

10.00am-11.00am Jason Reeves, Acquisition Manager for Ancestry Australia and New Zealand
Jason spent time charing more tips for searching Ancestry's many databases, then covered the details of taking an Ancestry DNA test and analysing the results.
11.15am-12.15pm Dr Kate Bagnall, University of Woollongong
Kate discussed researching Chinese Australian families, including understanding Chinese names and tracing families back to China.
1.30pm-2.30pm Suzanne Voytas, family historian
Despite the growth of records available on the net, not everything is available online and not everything online is correct.
2.45-3.45 Debra Parry, Melbourne Conservation Services
Debra showed how to preserve and protect our collections, including safe handling and storage of documents, photographs, memorabilia, artwork and other items.  She also horrified us all with images of the results of incorrect handling and storage.

This was the third Family History Expo I have attended in Deniliquin, and I congratulate the Deniliquin Genealogical Society on organising a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

DNA and Genealogy

I was recently reading a post by Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, on DNA, and how the results of a test can be misinterpreted.  I've been thinking about doing a DNA test recently, and found her blog post absolutely fascinating.  I have included a link to it above.

Judy gives two examples of how the results of a DNA test can be misinterpreted.  Firstly - identical twins.  Because the DNA of identical (NOT fraternal) twins is the same, the children of both twins will share sufficient DNA to appear as siblings, and will share enough DNA with their parent's identical twin for them to show as parents.  So if your mother is an identical twin, her identical sister will show as a parent match, and that identical sister's children, your cousins, will show as sibling matches.  Just imagine the trouble misinterpreting those results could cause!

The second example is one I never would have considered.  If the person tested has ever had a stem cell or bone marrow transplant, then the autosomal DNA will match the donor, NOT the person's biological parent.

I know a number of people who have has a DNA test with one company or another, and for most of them the experience has been a positive one and the results have been approximately as anticipated.  There have, however, been a few people I know who have been surprised - or quite rudely shocked - by their results.  One friend (who has given me permission to refer to his results) turned out to NOT be a DNA match to the man he had always thought to be his father.  This was something both his parents has been aware of, but he had not.

While 'unexpected' results to a DNA test seem fairly rare, they are always a possibility - just as when researching your family history there will sometimes be surprises, shocks and scandals.  We all need to be aware of this - and be prepared to accept that our ancestors may have been fallable, our family stories may not be 100% accurate, and that every family has the occasional black sheep.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Historic Melbourne Directories now online

The Melbourne History Workshop has completed the first phase of the Melbourne Directories project, which involves the digitisation of volumes from 1857 to 1880. PDFs of the first tranche of directories can be found on the Melbourne History Resources site. Due to size constraints, each yearly directory is broken up into multiple files.

The University of Melbourne’s Baillieu Library holds copies of Melbourne directories published first as Sands & Kenny’s directory (1857-59), then Sands, Kenny & Co.’s directory (1860-61) and finally as the Sands & McDougall’s directory.

The Melbourne directories are a comprehensive listing of city addresses and occupants organised alphabetically by streets across the city. It is augmented by alphabetical, trade and professional listings, as well as information on leading financial, government, official, ecclesiastical, legal and municipal institutions, and other miscellaneous advertisements, maps and information. The directory includes town as well as suburban listings, with coverage including Melbourne proper and, from year to year, the expanding suburbs of the greater metropolitan region.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Who Do You Think You Are Magazine

The October issue - which is also the 10th Birthday special issue - of the BBC Who Do You Think You Are magazine is out now.  Campaspe Regional Library members can download and read the online issue FREE now through our subscription with RB Digital, along with a range of other magazines.

Inside this month's issue
  • Discover your London ancestors
    Dr Jonathan Oates shares tips for tracing forebears who lived in the capital
  • 10th anniversary competition
    Win £1,000-worth of top prizes
  • 10 tips for smarter census searching
    Laura Berry shares some advice for optimising your search results
  • London's street children
    For many, Dickens's portrayal of street life was a grim reality, says Janet Sacks
  • Holocaust records
    Jeanette R Rosenberg on key sources relating to Jewish family members during the Second World War
  • Plus...
    The best free databases; the lives of ancestors who worked as gamekeepers; exploring Irish newspapers and more...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

German scripts

I have just discovered a great website where you can type in your ancestral name and see what is would look like in several old German scripts.  As I have German ancestry and my one year of high school German was both a long time ago and totally inadequate to translating old documents, I'm finding it quite useful.  Anything that helps me decipher the old documents I find is great news, and as you can see from the scripts below, some of the results look nothing like the name I typed in.  So here is the name Beseler in several different scripts.
The surname Beseler in various scripts
 Some of these, yes, I can see it is the Beseler surname at a glance.  Others, not so easily.  If I was rapidly scanning a document I would probably not pick it up - in several the B looks like L, the Es look like Ns and the S is an F.