Monday, March 28, 2011

Last day of the Unlock the Past Cruise

Friday was a very full-on day, from a point of view of presentations I attended.  A few highlights only of the day:-

Cora Num gave a talk entitled “How did they get here:  Locating Shipping and Immigration records”.  Key points were that there can be more than one index to any particular record series, and there may be differences between them, so if there is more than one index, make sure to check them all;  hospital admission records may list the ship of arrival;  children over 14 are listed as single males or single females, and not with the family, so make sure you check that section of the passenger lists.

Jeremy Palmer’s talk on English and Welsh Probate Records pointed out that although Ancestry has the National Probate Calendar from 1861 to 1941 (with some gaps), the Society of Australian Genealogists has the microfiche for these calendars from their start in 1858 to 1943, without the gaps.  The other point is that the maps in Phillimore’s Atlas show which parishes were part of “peculiars” for the purpose of proving wills.

I went to a talk on document preservation by Diane Foster, who had been an archivist working in various archives throughout the world.  She started by acknowledging that the ideal materials to facilitate preservation are expensive, and that people will not always be able to make use of them, but said she would talk about the ideal solution, and then an “acceptable” one.

She spoke about the differences between Ground Pulp Paper (the normal type) and Chemical Pulp Paper (much more expensive – this is the “archival” paper which can also be labelled Permanent Paper or Long Life Paper).  Paper labelled “Museum Quality” has a high content of rag, and is even better.  Next point was about shelving.  Ideally it should be metal, but as most of us have (and want) wooden shelving at home, the best way to avoid the wood coming into contact with the valuable book etc was to line the shelf with Tyvek.  A few other points
·         Paper (and books) should be stored on edge, unless it is oversized
·         Even plastic paper clips will damage paper by bending it and making the paper fragile at the position of the bends
·         Don’t use hairdryers to get photos out of old magnetic albums (will damage the photo)
·         Henzo photo albums are good – the best are the ones with slip covers to keep out the light and dust
·         When printing digital photos print matt copies, not glossy, and make sure you use pigment ink, not dye

At lunch I was again “hosting” a table, this time on Oral History, which went well.  One of the people on the table was from Penrith Library, so was interested in capturing community history as well as family history.

At the end of the cruise I will say that I learnt a lot, met lots of new people, and am totally exhausted – it was more like work than a holiday!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thursday on the Cruise

Thursday I attended a talk by Mike Murray on DNA for the Genealogist.  I had listened to a talk on DNA by Kerry Farmer a few years ago, but since then the autosomal tests have come forward leaps and bounds, but they are still not going to tell you your complete family tree back to Adam and Eve.  Next was a talk  by Cora Num on Occupational Records, where she mentioned lots of useful places to get information about your ancestor via his/her occupational records, or at least built a picture of what that occupation was like.  Many of her examples related to South Australia, which was not as relevant to me, but a couple of things she mentioned that I must have a look at were that SAG has indexed Sydney’s Sewerage Plans (I didn’t make a note of the date), which shows the names of occupiers (or was it owners?) of properties, along with maps, and that State Library of NSW has Surveyor General’s Detail Sheets on their web site.  These don’t list names, but are still relevant as historical maps.

Next I spoke on Medieval Genealogy.  Had what I considered a very good turn out – 20 (which was the maximum that room can hold) – which I thought was very good as I think it is a rather specialist subject.

This afternoon was Rosemary Koppitke talking on Findmypast Australasia.  A few interesting records there that I must look at, like Victorian Monumental Inscriptions, Government Gazettes for most states, Police Gazettes and some Victorian Land Records, just to name a few.  Shauna Hicks talk about Trove came up with a couple of interesting things.  If you search for pictures through Trove or through Picture Australia, they will come up in different orders, so try both.  Also, searching the newspapers through Trove is faster than going to the Newspapers link.  Don’t ask me why.  Finally Allan Murrin spoke on Familysearch, comparing the old site to the new one.  A key point with the new one is that if you create a login (which is free, of course) and sign in, you will be given access to more records than if you come in as an anonymous user.

Tuesday & Wednesday on the Cruise

Tuesday was another shore day, this time on Lifou.  Very pretty, and not at all built up.  In the morning we went on a Melanesian Encounter, where we were taken to a Melanesian Village, shown their church, visited the chief’s hut (a round thatched hut very like an English iron age hut) and then taken to see a demonstration of their chicken cooking, which was an underground style of cooking.  We got to taste a bit of “one they had prepared earlier” which was very nice.  The afternoon tour was scenic drive and a swim at a beach – much appreciated because it was incredibly hot and humid.

Back on the ship there were some talks in the dome.  I missed the first one as I was not yet back on board, but attended one by Allan Murrin and Jan Gow on the recent RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City.  They videod all the talks, and a few of them have been put online – they can be accessed at  There was also another excellent historical chat by Dr Leigh Summers, this time on Contraception and the Victorians, followed by a Trivia Quiz.

Wednesday had nothing scheduled as it was a full day ashore on Vanuatu.  Once again it was incredibly hot and humid, but we had a great tour around the island.

Monday on the Cruise

It’s been a few days since I have been able to enter a blog, as everything has been so busy, especially with the shore tours...

Monday morning I was too tired to make it to the talk on “Using unit histories to unlock the past”, which was at 8am, and didn’t think I’d get any value out of “Beginning your Family History”.  So the first talk I attended was one I’d given before – Assisted and Bounty Immigrants, which was in the Captain’s Lounge.  It went well, and after that I had nothing until lunchtime.  At lunchtime I was on a table in the main dining room, leading a Q&A on NSW research.

The afternoon marked our arrival at our first port of call – Noumea in New Caledonia.  Unfortunately, the tour we had selected and pre-booked had been cancelled, so we had to make another choice.  In hindsight, I don’t think we made the best choice.  But before our tour started, we had a little wander around Noumea.  Nothing much very interesting to see.  That hasn’t changed in the 30 years since I’ve been there, although Noumea is a lot bigger now.  The tour we chose was the scenic drive with wine and cheese stop.  It basically consisted of a drive through Noumea, then going to two lookouts (Our Lady of the Pacific, and then Ouen Toro) and then driving past Anse Vata beach where we stopped and went to a restaurant.  There we had three French cheeses, accompanied by three French wines.  That was very nice.  We had thought of eating in Noumea, but it was starting to rain and we hadn’t seen anything promising on our little walk, so we went back to the ship for dinner.

Monday, March 21, 2011

First full day of the Genealogy Cruise

Saturday continued wet and raining.  Dinner that night in Luke Mangen’s Salt Grill Restaurant was really yummy.   Sunday morning it was still raining, and continued raining most of the day. 

First talk was at 8am (bit early for a holiday!) and it was Shauna Hicks talking about the conditions on the emigrant ships that bought our ancestors to Australia.  She pointed out the importance of looking for diaries etc to get the feel of what the voyage was like, even if those are not written by your ancestor, or even from the same ship.  It will all paint a picture of the voyage.  She mentioned various sources that can be used to get pictures to add to that understanding, such as Picture Australia and the Illustrated London News (available on the NLA site under eResources)

Next talk was Jeremy Palmer on “Tracing Back to the Country of Origin”, which was about where you can look to find clues as to where people came from.  He kept using an example of his wife’s Kelly ancestors, and then he put up a copy of a death certificate of a Kelly, which had been registered in Hampton.  After the talk I asked if they were the Kellys who had run the Half-Way Hotel at Hampton.  They were.  My great-grandmother, Merab Annesley, had a half sister, Minnie, who married Joe Kelly!  So that was a connection found.  Maybe one day it will lead me to a better photo of Minnie.

Next I had a bit of a break, then off to hear Helen Smith talk about breaking down brick walls.  It really was a good talk.  I had never heard her talk before, but will definitely look out for any other talks she gives.  In this one she talked about a lot of things that should be common sense, but which people forget.  She particularly stressed going back to the start and reviewing what you know.  It may be that a witness to a marriage is now someone you know, whereas you didn’t when you first got the marriage certificate.  Interestingly, that had happened to me, when I went back and saw that the witnesses to the marriage of Joseph Brockbank and Agnes Nelson were Jane Ellen Brockbank & Ned Ward.  By that time I knew that Ned Ward was Jane Ellen’s fiancĂ©, who went on to murder her and kill himself. 

Another point she made was not to skip straight to an index, but to make sure to read the introduction etc, which most of us don’t do.  Even though a particular index may say it covers a certain date range, the introduction may make it clear that some years are missing, and there is no point in looking for an event if that year is missing.

Next thing it was my turn to give my UK Census talk.  It had to be very rushed, as it is a one hour talk and I only had 30 minutes to do it, so couldn’t spend as long stressing the different search techniques as I would have liked to.

After lunch I listened to Carol Baxter again talk about the Biographical Database of Australia, and then Dr Leigh Summers talk about fashion history in the 1920s.  Not strictly genealogical, but a very interesting talk – she is a very good speaker – and I kept thinking about my grandmother who was a flapper in the 1920s, so I guess for me there was a genealogical connection.

By the end of the day the rain was starting to clear up....

Saturday, March 19, 2011

We're off and cruising

Today we boarded the ship and started on our cruise.  It has been raining ever since we left the hotel, which is a bit of a pity.  Means that sitting on our own balcony is not an option at the moment.

There was some mix ups with the times, and the Unlock the Past meet and greet, which was scheduled for 1:30 had to be postponed, because that was when we had to do an emergency drill.  So it took place at 2:30 instead. 

They still haven’t worked out who will be doing extra talks when, so I don’t know if I will be doing any talks yet.  There is nothing scheduled for today, and dinner is at our own leisure, so we have booked to go to Luke Mangen’s Salt Grill restaurant.  That way we can be sure we a free for any dinner table talks I am interested in, or to give any talks over dinner.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ready for the Cruise

Well, we are up in Brisbane, ready to go on the Unlock the Past Genealogy Cruise tomorrow.  I’ve had a walk about the South Bank Parklands, and will start to think about dinner.  From tomorrow on it’s genealogy galore.

I will be trying to update this blog with what I have learned, internet access permitting