Monday, March 4, 2024

Family Tree US Magazine

The latest issue of Family Tree US magazine is now available free online for Campaspe Library members via our subscription to Libby eMagazines. 

Inside this month's issue :

  • Pro Tools
  • Original UK Wills in Danger
  • New Features at MyHeritage
  • Re-Discovering Memories
  • Sister, Sister
  • Where should you “plant” your family tree?
  • The Next Steps - DNA
  • Kissing Cousins - history of cousin marriage
  • Find Your U.S. Ancestors
  • May the Road Rise to Meet You - Irish Genealogy Research.
  • Where in the World?
  • Estate Records
  • Building a Family Tree at Geni
  • Saving Hair Keepsakes
  • Help Resources at the Big Genealogy Websites
  • Y-DNA and Surnames
  • Online FamilyTreeTracker

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Week 10 (Mar. 4-10): Language

Language is something which constantly evolves, with words over time taking on new meanings and new words constantly added to any vocabulary.  This is something we need to be aware of in our family history research - what a particular word meant 200, 100 or even 20 years ago may not be what it means today.  Similarly, what was acceptable language years ago may not be acceptable or commonplace today.

This change in language is particularly clear in newspapers - not merely the language itself but also what was acceptable in reporting and how events were reported.

My great uncle Norman Clark died at the age of 18 when he was taken by a shark off Middle Brighton Pier on Feb 15th 1930.  He was the first swimmer to be killed by a shark in the bay for over 50 years, and was killed in full view of hundreds of people as there was a boating regatta taking place at the time.  The incident was reported in numerous papers around Australia - not just the Melbourne Argus but papers like the Rockhampton News, Launceston Times, Adelaide Advertiser, Brisbane Courier and Western Australian Mail.  Below is one of the many (over 70!) newspaper reports which appeared in papers around Australia in the days after Norman's death.
Just looking at the language is fascinating - I doubt it would be allowed today to describe a young man's death in a shark attack as a "thrilling struggle".  This sub-heading does highlight how language much changes - not just the basic meaning of a word but also how it is used.  At the time of this headline 'thrilling'  more closely meant 'dramatic' rather than 'exciting', and certainly what was acceptable when reporting such a tragedy back in 1930 is not what our newspapers would publish today.

The description of the attack is graphic and would not be reported in such a way today - it simply would not be acceptable.  Even reporting the victim's full name prior to all family members being notified - I have a subsequent report from the Adelaide Advertiser in which his older sister is interviewed and reveals that she found out about her brother's death by reading about it in the newspaper while she and her husband were on holiday in Adelaide.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Who Do You Think You Are Magazine

The latest issue of Who Do You Think You Are magazine is now available free online for Campaspe Library members via our subscription to Libby eMagazines.

Inside this month's issue: 

  • Money-saving tips How to make your money go further while researching your family tree
  • For Evermore Discover a new project to commemorate Commonwealth soldiers killed in the World Wars
  • Evacuees The stories of the children evacuated during the Second World War
  • True stories Including a family connection to Franklin's doomed Arctic expedition
  • Merchant Navy relatives Where to find their records online
  • Lancashire family history Our complete guide to 'the Red Rose County'
  • And more...

Thursday, February 29, 2024

RootsTech 2024

Don't forget the RootsTech 2024 "Remember" Conference this weekend February 29 to 2 March 2024.  The conference will once again be run as a paid in-person and a FREE virtual conference.  Registration is still open at

  • 200+ new online sessions in over 26 languages
  • Join keynote sessions live from the comfort of your own home
  • Chat online with other attendees worldwide
  • Get digital syllabi and class handouts

I will be attending the conference online, as I have for the past few years.  I have already examined the sessions, scheduled to ones I want to listen to, and am ready to visit the Expo Hall to see what the various exhibitors and sponsors have on offer.  As many of the sessions I want to see run concurrently, I'm very glad recorded session remain available after the conference is over, so I will be able to work my way through my list of sessions.

So take a look at what RootsTech has to offer and take advantage of the many online talks and sessions that are available to those, like me, who are unable to attend the conference in person.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Week 9 (Feb. 26 - Mar. 3): Changing Names

Our ancestors changed their names for a variety of reasons.  By far the most common was a surname change for a woman upon her marriage, but there were many other reasons a person might change the name they were given at birth.  From using a preferred nickname, name contractions, altering names to fit a new home, or completely changing a name to escape the past - there were many reasons you might find an ancestor under a different name.  

We also need to remember that it was often a clerk, secretary, enumerator or other official who recorded names on official documents, and mistakes were often made and not corrected.  The name was recorded as the recorder heard it, and so spelling variations abound. They all can make tracing your ancestors that much more challenging.

There were the commonly used spelling variations, abbreviations and diminutives.  For example, if you don’t know that Polly was a diminutive of Mary or that Nellie was a diminutive of Ellen and Eleanor and Helen, you may struggle to find your ancestors’ entries.  Harry for Henry, Bill for William, Fred or Alf for Alfred, Dick for Richard, Charlie or Lottie for Charlotte, Maggie, Meg or Maisie for Margaret.  Elizabeth was another extremely common name with multiple diminutives - Eliza, Liz, Lizzie, Betty, Betsy, Beth, Bessie, Lisbeth, Liza - the list goes on.  

I have one female ancestor, baptised Elizabeth, who was known throughout her life as Betsy.  This was the name she used in census records, her marriage record, her children's birth/baptism records and on her death certificate and burial records.  The only time I can ever find her referred to as Elizabeth is at her own baptism. 

Naming patterns were common in many families, although they are by no means a reliable way of predicting the names of children.  Traditionally, the first son would be named for the paternal grandfather, the second son for the maternal grandfather and the third son for the father.  For females, the first daughter would be named for the maternal grandmother, the second daughter for the paternal grandmother and the third daughter for the mother.  Providing, of course, these names were not the same.  

For my German branch of my family tree, anglicization of names when they emigrated from Germany to Australia saw the entire family change their names.  Friedrich became Frederick, Suatus became Susetta and eventually Susan, Heinrich became Henry, Margaretha became Margaret, and so on.  It helped to family to fit in with their new homeland.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Traces Magazine

Edition 24 of Australian history and genealogy magazine Traces is now available free online for Campaspe Library members via our subscription to Libby eMagazines.

Inside this month's issue: 

  • Heritage news
  • St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne
  • Finding the Throssell Sword
  • Colonel Gibbes: bigamist or impostor?
  • The fortress and the castle - Defending the nation
  • Affairs of honour
  • Unearthing graveyard clues
  • Memories of a Melbourne childhood
  • What’s that thingamajig?
  • Elizabeth Morrow versus colonial misogyny
  • Old Colonist mosaics inscripted
  • ‘Bandicooting’ and other phrases
  • What’s new online?
  • Exploring Hill End Historic Site

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Week 8 (Feb. 19-25): Heirlooms

A few years ago I posted about my experience of my sister and I cleaning out the family home after the deaths of our parents - our father in 2013 and mother in 2015 - and the importance of knowing the stories behind the many treasures tucked away in cupboards and drawers, or out in the shed.

Cleaning out the house, we came across treasures in every corner.  A hand tinted photo of my mother as a child, a box of slides and negatives from early in our parents' marriage, a small garnet brooch that belonged to my great grandmother, a bronze alligator nutcracker made by my grandfather, and so much more.  

Before the family house was sold, I took the opportunity to take cuttings from several plants I could not take with me.  One of these was a hares-foot fern that lived in our old, falling down greenhouse.  The original hares-foot belonged to my grandmother.  Before she passed away, my mother took a cutting from her plant, brought it home and potted it.  It thrived in our greenhouse and by the time my parents passed away it had overgrown its pot, attached itself to the wooden shelf the pot sat upon, and was firmly attached to the shelf.  Clearly it was not moving with me to my new home.  So much as my mother had done, I took a few cuttings, potted them and hoped for the best.

These two little cuttings have thrived.  They quickly outgrew the little pots I had started them in, and have since been transplanted to bigger pots.  They sit, one in my main bathroom and one in a stand in my dining room, and I think of my mother and grandmother whenever I see them.  I have recently taken a new cutting from one of these plants and potted it for a friend.  And so the heirloom hares-foot fern continues on, hopefully for many years to come.