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.