Monday, April 13, 2015

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 34 - Maps

After the excitement of the Canberra Congress, suddenly I find myself a few weeks behind in Shauna Hicks's 52 Weeks of Genealogy challenge, so now I have to try to catch up.
Shauna has chosen Maps for her topic in Week 34, and tells us "I love using maps with my research as they give a different perspective on your family. Knowing where they lived and how far they had to travel to work, school, church or to shop helps to build a picture of their daily lives."  She adds that "while old parish maps tell us about our ancestor’s properties, modern maps can also do the same. With Google maps we can simply search on an address and see where it is  and if we use street view, we can even see what is still at that address. Is it the same house our ancestors lived in or has the area been developed and modernised?"
There are a lot of sources for maps around, many of them free, and I have a small collection of maps of the areas where my ancestors lived.   I have also used google maps to take a virtual walk around several of their home villiages in England.
Fordham, Essex, where my father's family lived.
Looking at old parish maps, I can see how far my ancestors had to travel to go to school or work, to visit their local church, shops and markets, what kind of landmarks and terrain they encountered, and the distances between the homes of ancestors who married.
Maps are yet another great resource Shauna has highlighted.  To read Shauna's full blog post on Maps, please click here.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Victorian Soldier Settlement Scheme 1917-1935

The Public Records Office of Victoria have digitised selected documents from Victorian Government files kept on returned World War One soldiers who were approved to lease a block of farming land in Victoria. They were known as soldier settlers.
Victoria sent about 90,000 men and women to serve overseas in the First World War, about 70,000 of whom survived to return home. As the war continued, the issue of repatriating returning soldiers became increasingly urgent.  As well as providing War pensions and other financial assistance, State governments of the time set up ‘settlement’ schemes to support returning soldiers with work. These schemes involved subdividing large rural estates into smaller farming blocks and leasing them back to discharged service-people.  Reports from the time indicated there were around 11,000 farms created, although it seems likely this figure includes successful applicants to the scheme who did not end up going on to the land.  Returned service people and their families moved on to the land from the first mass demobilisations right up until the 1930s, although the majority of blocks were granted in the early 1920s.
The records you may see include:
  • Applications for a Qualification Certificate
  • Applications to lease particular blocks of land
  • Lease documents (called Selection Leases or Conditional Purchase Leases)
  • Lease transfer and cancellation documents
You can search for government records about soldier settlement files on this website by soldier name, or click on the embedded map and select individuals based on their geographic location.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

National School Registers

Originally launched in September 2014, the National School Registers collection at has now been expanded in a second release of records to include material from 16 new regions across England and Wales: Breconshire, Caernarfon, Ceredigion, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwent, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Monmouthshire, Pembrokeshire, Suffolk, Sussex and Wrexham.  Also included are maritime school records held at the Maritime Archives & Library at National Museums Liverpool, as well as documents for counties previously covered by the collection, including Devon and Middlesex.
Spanning 1870-1914, the collection includes colour images of the original handwritten school admission registers, which can reveal an array of useful details for the family historian, including dates of birth, names of parents and address.  These are complemented by logbooks, varying in the level of detail, recording daily life at the school. They can reveal information regarding exam results, visitors and sporting events, providing researchers with additional context to help them understand their ancestors’ school days.

Each of the archives and record offices that have supplied documents belong to the National Digitisation Consortium, which was formed in 2009 to make historic material available online through commercial partners.  Supported by The National Archives and the Archives & Records Association, the National School Registers project is the first of its kind, and will conclude with a third and final release in September 2015.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Congress Post 6

Congress Booklet
It is the last day of the Congress and I have to admit my brain is a bit tired.  My note-taking is slowing down and I am very glad I chose to get a copy of the Congress Proceedings so I can read through all the speakers notes later - not to mention reading all the notes on the presentations I couldn't get to.  With 4 concurrent sessions most of the time there were some hard choices to make about which ones I would attend and which ones I would merely read about later.  Thank goodness for my conference booklet and the conference app on my phone - otherwise I would never keep track of which talk was on when and what room I was supposed to head for.

My day started with David Holman's "Fascinating facts and figures from five centuries", then Tim Sherratt's "The many meanings of Trove", morning tea, Roger Kershaw's "Getting the most out of the National Archives UK", Colleen Fitzpatrick's "Genealogy and the six degrees of separation", lunch, Cora Num's "Front page to back page : using online newspapers", then the family history research panel and suddenly the conference is closing down.  A final farewell to many of the people I have chatted to, sat with, lunched with and shared notes with and it is time to head our many various ways.

Map of the Convention Centre
A huge congratulations to the organisers of the Congress and the many speakers - you have done a magnificent job and created a great learning and sharing experience.  The next conference will be in Sydney in 2018, and I truly hope I can make it there - this may have been my first Congress but it certainly won't b my last.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Congress Post 5

Day 3 and there is a noticeably smaller crowd at the 8.30am Keynote address - where is everyone??  At church?  Sleeping in after the full day of talks then the Conference Dinner last night??  You're missing out!!  I'll sleep later.
First up today is Michael McKernan's "Meeting people at war : writing war on the home front".  This is followed by Paul Milner's "Tracing your Pre-WW1 British Soldier", morning tea, Simon Fowler's "Hidden gems : finding and using unusual record collections", Cora Num's "Mapping out families", lunch, Grace Karskens's "Men, women, sex and desire", Pauline Cass's "Harness the power of blogging" (preaching to the converted here), afternoon tea, and David Rencher's "Chasing the poor and landless".  During breaks I visit more of the booths in the Exhibition Hall, chat with fellow genies about which talks they have chosen and how much they have learnt, and am so busy talking that I forget to take a photo of the Exhibition Hall and am almost late to David Rencher's talk after afternoon tea.
The front of the Convention Centre

Congress Post 4

Day 2 of the Congress began at 8.30am with a keynote address by Joshua Taylor from Find My Past "Connecting across past, present and future".  This was followed by Jenny Joyce's "Wills from England and Ireland", morning tea, Paul Milner's "Scotland - maps and gazetteers", David Rencher's "Irish census and census substitutes", lunch, Richard Reid's "Realities of 19th Century Ireland", John Blackwood's "Separation and divorce in Scotland", afternoon tea, and finally Perry McIntyre's "Remembering and commemorating our ancestors".  During lunch the Geneabloggers met to have a group photo courtesy of Jill Ball and Mr GeniAus (thanks to you both, and yes, I am there, I'm just hiding a bit). 
Geneabloggers - photo by GeniAus

A quick break then it was off to the official Congress Dinner in the great hall of Parliament House.  The dinner was one of the highlights of the Congress and again was a masterpiece of organisation, right down to the shuttle buses that took us from the Convention Centre to Parliament house and back at the end of the evening.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Congress Post 3

Day 1 of the main congress began with the official opening at 8.30am and the opening address by Dr Matthew Trinca of the National Museum of Australia in the main Royal Theatre - a huge space that gradually filled up with genealogists.  The three big screens were a bonus for those sitting further back as there was generally a camera on the speaker showing them on the main screen and any slides showing on either side - so no matter where you sat you could still see.

Royal Theatre
After the opening addresses there was morning tea.  All lunches and teas were served at several stations in the main exhibition hall, which was also where all the exhibitor's booths were located.  Breaks throughout the Congress were a great opportunity to mingle and chat, visit various booths, pick up brochures and purchase books and supplies and, if you were not already in information overload, visit the Ancestry Speakers Corner for shorter less formal talks.  You could also go for a short walk in the courtyard behind the Convention Centre or just sit quietly and soak it all in.
After morning tea the concurrent sessions began, with 4 different talks to choose from.  First for me was Cora Num's talk "What can I find using eRecords".  Unfortunately Cora was unwell and could not attend the Congress, but in true soldier on fashion she video recorded all her talks and they were shown on the big screens on the Royal Theatre - a big achievement and congratulations are well deserved by all involved.  Then it was on to Paul Milner's "Buried treasure : what's in the English Parish Chest", lunch, Roger Kershaw's "Tracing free immigrants to Australia", Carole Riley's "Dropbox and Evernote for family historians", afternoon tea, and Heather Garnsey's "The Joint Copying Project" - and that was just Day 1!!  A short walk back to my accommodations for tea and a good rummage though all the goodies in my Congress satchel, then off to sleep.
Satchel, lanyard and name tag, and blogger beads