Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Victorian Wills on FamilySearch

FamilySearch.org has indexed 1 million records from their State of Victoria probate register collection. The collection covers the years from 1841 to 1989 and generally involves wills. A typical record lists the name of person, date of death, address, occupation, date of testament and a declaration. Most wills list names of children, names of heirs, name of the spouse and name of the administrator of the will. Access is free.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Genealogy Cruise Post 6

It is hard to believe that today is the last day of the cruise, and tomorrow we arrive back in Sydney and disembark.  This has been a fantastic trip, with time to relax and unwind as well as the opportunity to hear so many great talks and meet so many enthusiastic genealogists.  It truly is the people who make this cruise what it is - so many friendly faces.  Amongst the many passengers on board we have all learnt to recognise the white and red Unlock the Past lanyard that identifies a fellow genealogist and even when not attending talks we tend to congregate - at meal times, at shows, in the library and the coffee shops.
Talk highlights today have included researching your family's Health History (mine all live forever - I hope I have those genes!) with Helen Smith.  Another great talk by Chris Paton on Irish Land Records, which he followed by later in the day with Scottish Inheritance.  As he said, when it comes to wills and probate, Scotland is NOT England.  And here I thought Scottish Church history was twisted and murky!!  Another highlight was Finding the Poor in 16th and 17th Century England.
The final talk of the cruise - Chris Paton again, I think he was losing his voice at the end of all this - was in the evening and focused on British civilian POWs in World War 2.
A big congratulations should go out to the team at Unlock the Past and to all the speakers for a thoroughly enjoyable and very informative program, and I hope to cruise with you again.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Genealogy Cruise Post 5

A morning of talks before our arrival in Hobart for the afternoon and all day tomorrow.  Jan Gow started my morning with Delving Deep into FamilySearch, a site I am quite familiar with but which is constantly changing and uploading more information.  There is so much more to this site than is immediately obvious, and it is easy to make the mistake of heading straight for the records and missing all the other resources and information the site has to offer.  My dining room tablemate Kirsty Gray also gave a talk on the World of the Workhouse - the history of how they developed and were administered, and what they were like for those unfortunate enough to need them.  Now to explore Hobart.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Genealogy Cruise Post 4

After a hot and sunny day walking around Adelaide, it is back to the Conference Room for more great talks.  The Top 10 Tips for finding hard-to-find ancestors has reinforced for me just what a huge undertaking family history can be and how persistent and sometimes just lucky we have to be to find that elusive clue that leads to a brick wall breakthrough.  Jill Ball's talk on free websites for Australian genealogy has me once again amazed at how much information is now available online and the sheer scale of effort that has gone into various digitising and scanning projects.  Also just how much is still left to do - it is certainly not all online.  Other talks today have included Lost in London, Civil Registration in the British Isles, and World War 1 diggers.  My brain is full.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Genealogy Cruise Post 3

Today kicked off with a talk by Helen Smith on using timelines in Genealogy.  This is  not something I have considered before now, but I really like the concept and will put it to use.  I do need to consider the social and historical context more for my ancestors - the major events (local, national and worldwide) that took place during their lives.  It tied nicely with Shauna Hicks's talk on mapping your ancestors, something I have done to some extent but I see a whole new area of focus opening up for me.  Chris Paton's talk on The Godly Commonwealth has me despairing of ever unravelling Scottish Church history - I only have one small branch of the family that is Scottish but quite a few of my ancestors were non-conformists (apparently we have a history of not being followers of the common path!), so they can be tricky to find.  These and several other talks today have left me with even more notes and severe information overload - I went back to my room, sat down to relax for a few minutes and woke to find I had slept through dinner!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Genealogy Cruise post 2

After deciding not to go ashore for our day in Melbourne, the city on the cruise that I know the best, I have been reading back over my notes after having spent the morning thoroughly exploring the ship.  I loved Jill Ball's talk about blogs (thanks Jill for your kind comments about mine), and Thomas MacEntee's talk on building a genealogy toolbox have made me think about all the tools I use for genealogy - the programs, the websites, the charts, the documents... and how I store and keep track of what I use.  Having recently had a major reorganise of my files I am currently in a fairly good position to be able to find things, but my organisation could definitely be better.  Neil Smith's talk on Australia's military history was timely considering the huge number of projects underway this year for the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1.  While I have the basic war records of most of my military family from WW1 & 2, it is amazing to realise how much else is out there that I have never thought of or tried to access.  Finally for day 1, Kerry Farmer's talk on immigration has reinspired me to find the shipping records of several ancestors.  The can't ALL have swum...
And finally, I have to say how much I love the way they deliver our towels....

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Genealogy Cruise post 1

So the 4th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise is underway.  Currently internet connection aboard the ship is rather dodgy - I hope that will improve along the way, but I will post updates as I can.  Having boarded the ship, found my cabin and settled myself in, I will not bore you with descriptions of the ship and it's amenities - you can look that up online for yourself.  It is time for the genealogy to begin, starting with a talk by Chris Paton on British and Irish newspapers.  While there is certainly more out there than I had realised, I will admit to a bit of patriotic satisfaction and say the United Kingdom is nowhere near as organised and simple as the Australian site Trove.  Of course, the United Kingdom probably has a few more papers over the years to deal with....

While not all UK newspaper sites are free to use, I will echo the advice that you need to check your National Library and State Library to see if they have a subscription.  Membership of both is free (as is membership of your local library - hint, hint), and you may be able to access these resources online for free with your membership too.  Why pay if you don't have to??
Numerous other talks during the day have left me with about 30 pages of notes (most of which I can even read) and a severe case of information overload.  I'm going to need our days in port to recover and time after the cruise to sort my notes and take it all in.
While there have been a few hiccups (does technology EVER completely work properly the first time??) overall the cruise is off to a great start and my biggest problem is trying to get to all the talks I want to hear.  I have yet to learn how to be in two places at one time.