Saturday, September 27, 2014

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 22 - Family Letters

Shauna is back after a very busy August as the National Voluntary Coordinator of Family History Month, and a HUGE congratulations is in order for all her work and enthusiasm in making the Month bigger and better than last year.  There was an impressive number and variety of activities across the country and I'm sure a lot of people were delighted by the offerings.  Well done to everyone involved.

Shauna's Week 22 topis is family letters and she tells us that "with the widespread adoption of email , Facebook and other social media as a means of communicating with family members, letters and correspondence between people is becoming a rarity. As family historians however, we cherish finding long lost letters written by our ancestors or correspondence highlighting family events and containing information that we are not likely to find in official documents."

I have very little in the way of old family letters but did manage to save some correspondence from one of my great-uncles, who I wrote to in my teens when I first became interested in my family history.  G-Uncle Russell had a very individual style of writing and sometimes it took a bit of effort to decipher exactly what he meant, but I am so glad I saved his letters - and that they were not among the many things my father threw away without my knowledge during one of his 'cleaning up' sessions.

Like many others, I rarely handwrite letters today, finding e-mail so much faster and easier, but looking back over the few family letters I have, I must say it is a shame.  I do print out and save important e-mails, but it just isn't the same as a letter someone has taken the time to sit down and write by hand.  It may be harder to read but a handwritten letter is just more personal - but it is also a dying art.

Shauna tells us "this blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world."  Read Shauna's article on Family Letters here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Canberra Congress

I have just booked myself in to attend the 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry in Canberra next year, and what a selection of papers they have on offer again.  Once more the organisers have excelled with a varied program of speakers covering a wealth of subjects.  The Australasian Congress is generally held every 3 years, and I missed the last one in Adelaide due to the ill health of my father.  I'm really excited to be able to make it to this one, and can only regret that I still cannot be in two places at once as there are a number of concurrent talks I would love to attend.

It is not just the talks that make these conferences so wonderful - the exhibits, the mingling with other genealogy enthusiasts, the swapping ideas, resources and brick wall suggestions.  This year there is even a Librarian's Meeting the day before, so I will catch up with some colleagues as well.

The theme for the Congress is Generations Meeting Across Time, and there will be more than fifty presentations and/or workshops allowing Congress participants to hear about the newest developments in family history research, emerging issues and the latest technologies.  There will also be an extensive trade display showcasing the latest publications, products and services for the family historian.

To all those out there who will be attending also, I look forward to seeing you in Camberra next year!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Irish Archives Resource

The Irish Archives Resource portal has significantly expanded the number of collections that can be searched on the website from 360 to over 500 different collections. It covers 34 archives in Ireland. Although this website does not provide ancestral records, it does provide index searches to many of Ireland’s key repositories. By searching keywords such as an ancestor’s name, it is possible to find out what archives hold what records. This is an important resource for anyone wanting to trace their Irish ancestors. This latest expansion makes the website much more powerful. Access is free.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Old and Interesting

Old and Interesting is a website devoted to the history of everyday domestic items such as washing boards, irons, brooms and kitchen utensils. What does this have to do with genealogy? Two things: it can provide context on how your ancestors lived and it can be a useful resource when you are trying to date old images and photographs that might happen to contain household items.
The website is a wealth of information on everyday household items, how they were used, why they were used and what they looked like. As an added bonus, by looking at this website you may be able to finally figure out the purpose of that old family doohickey/heirloom.
Thanks again to Genealogy in Time for highlighting another useful resource.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hear Names

One of the biggest challenges in genealogy is overcoming the spelling of names. As your family tree goes back in time, spelling becomes more uncertain. Part of the problem lies in known spelling variations for certain names (Smith, Smyth, Smythe, etc.). The main problem, however, is that historically many people did not know how to read and write.
Names that were said out loud were often mistakenly written down in a different format. Knowing the proper pronunciation of an ancestor’s name can therefore be a good starting point in trying to decipher how it may have been written down on an old immigration form, a census record or a parish record. But what happens if your ancestor was from Finland or Croatia and you don’t know how to pronounce names in these languages?

Enter Hear Names. This is a website dedicated to the pronunciation of names from around the world. You can either type in a name and it will tell you how to pronounce it or you can search for names by language. Over 25 different languages are listed on the website. Hearing the proper oral pronunciation of a name is a good starting point for trying to reverse engineer how a name may have appeared in written format on historic documents, such as immigration forms.
Hear Names continues to be built out. The authors have informed us that new names can still be submitted to add to the database.
Thanks to Genealogy In Time for highlighting this website.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Measuring Worth

Have you ever come across an old family will or an old land record that states the value of an estate and you wondered how much it would be worth in today’s dollars? There are many websites on the internet that will convert an historical amount into today’s value, but none do it better than Measuring Worth.
Run by two academics with a deep knowledge of alternate ways to compare the historic worth of things, the website provides several ways to convert an historic price into a modern price.
It also converts across currencies just in case you want to know how much UK £10 in 1810 is in today’s dollars (answer $838 using CPI inflation data). The currencies covered by the website include US dollars, UK pound and the Australian dollar. The dataset goes back into the 1700s.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Irish Records Online

Ireland Genealogy Projects has put online a national list of school teachers for the 1873-1874 school year. The list is organized by region and then alphabetically by the name of the teacher. The list also includes monitors, who were senior students aged 12 to 18 that assisted the teacher. Many monitors later went on to become teachers.

 The Clare County Library has added more school rolls to their collection. The latest addition involves the roll books and school register for Lacken National School, which was located east of Kilmihil village. The records for boys cover the years from 1865 to 1922 and the records for girls cover the years from 1889 to 1922. You can search the registers by either school year or surname. Each record lists the student’s name, year of birth, year entered school, home town and parent’s occupation.

A new website has been launched that contains historic Irish street directories and some historic maps of the country.
Included on this website are a collection of digitized maps of Dublin and Ireland, viewable in Google map format, a revised and improved townland database, scans and extracts from a number of directories, a guide to the important, and unique, system of land divisions of Ireland (townlands etc), and a brief introduction and guide to Irish records. 

All are free to access.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Canadian WW1 Records

The website Canadiana has put online the militia lists of each unit of the Canadian Expeditionary Force as of August 1914 (the beginning of World War I). Each record lists the name of each member of the unit, rank, country of birth and date and place of enlistment. Some records also list next of kin and address. Canada was unprepared at the start of World War I. It had only 3,100 men under arms. As volunteers were quickly recruited and organized in Canada, members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force were sent to Europe to help reinforce these newly formed units. Therefore, when looking for ancestors in this collection, be aware that they most likely left Canada under one unit and then were reassigned to a different unit as soon as they arrived in Britain. This collection can be searched by keyword (such as name) and date range. Access is free.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Family History Month

August and Family History Month are now over.  Thanks to all those people who attended my classes in Rochester and Echuca - your enthusiasm has been greatly appreciated.  My apologies to those in Kyabram whose sessions were cancelled while I was ill, I hope to reschedule soon.  During September I will upload the handouts from all my classes onto the Campaspe Regional Library Genealogy page, and will try to keep them updated regularly.  Questions, comments and feedback will be welcomed.
I have always enjoyed running these classes and this year has been no exception.  Not only is it wonderful to see other people's enthusiasm for family history, preparing for and running these classes fires up my own enthusiasm as well.  There is always something new to discover, another hint to track down, another detail to add to my family history.  Not much housework this weekend - I'm going to be researching!
Thanks everyone - I hope to see you in the library again soon!