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

Congress Post 2

The welcome function in Anzac Hall at the Australian War Memorial has been a blast.  What a great setting for our meet and greet.  After spending the day at the Librarian's Seminar, where most efficiently we had our conference satchels and tags delivered to us, it was off to the War Memorial.
The Australian War Memorial

One of the many World War 1 dioramas

Lancaster Bomber G for George

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Congress Post 1

The National Library
I have arrived in Canberra and it is the day of the Librarian's Conference, held the day before the Congress itself begins, at the National Library.  This is a new feature of the Congress, a chance for library staff like myself to get together and discuss things like assisting new genealogists getting started in good research techniques and disillusioning them that all their information is just waiting for them in one place online.

As Genealogy and Family History grow ever more popular libraries have a lot to offer, with many of us offering free access to one or more of the major subscription databases, classes on various family history topics, local history information and assistance in finding that elusive record.

The day was a great start to the congress, my notebook already has several pages filled and it has been great to catch up with so many other librarians.  On to the Welcome function in Anzac Hall at the Australian War Memorial.

As my Canberra internet connection is a bit dodgy, I may end up drafting these posts and uploading them all when I get home.

Friday, March 20, 2015

52 Weeks of Genealogy - Week 33 - Church Records

I am still following Shauna Hicks' 52 Weeks of Genealogy and Shauna has chosen Church Records as her topic for Week 33 - but not the 'church records' I assumed when I started reading her post.

Shauna tells us that "within the broad category of church records there are lots of different kinds of records. For the purpose of this week’s blog post, I am only looking at church publications. This includes newsletters, magazines, journals, newspapers, yearbooks, church histories and so on."

Now I must confess that this is not an area that I have given the time and consideration that I should - an error I will definitely have to remedy.  I have visited my mother's family church in Brighton where my parents married.  I know my father's paternal line were quite involved in church work in the family church at Fordham, Essex, where the family lived for a number of generations.  I also know that several branches of my father's maternal line, who lived in Suffolk, England, were Baptists.  I have not, however, put much effort into locating church newsletters and other publications - and in neglecting this resource I have done quite a disservice to my efforts to flesh out my family history.

This is the great thing about following a challenge like Shauna's 52 Weeks - it encourages me to think about all the different types of records out there and if I am using them effectively, or, in the case of church publications, if I am actually using them at all!  Thanks again Shauna - please click here to read Shauna's full post on Church Records.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Silver War Badge Records 1914-1920

Was your ancestor discharged from the military because wounds or illness left them unfit to continue service?  They may have been among the 800,000 recipients of the Silver War Badge whose records are now available at

In September 1916, King George V authorized the Silver War Badge (SWB) to honor all military personnel who had served at home or overseas since 4 August 1914 and who had been discharged because of wounds or illness. The SWB was a small, circular badge made of sterling silver that bore the king’s initials, a crown, and the inscriptions ‘For King and Empire’ and ‘Services Rendered’. The badge could also be worn by personnel who were discharged because of age. 
The SWB was not simply an honor; it also served a practical purpose. At the time, men of military age in England who were not obviously in the service were sometimes accosted or insulted by civilians presenting them with white feathers—a symbol of cowardice—for shirking their patriotic duty. The badge, which was worn with civilian dress, served as an outward symbol that the wearer’s duty to country had been honorably fulfilled. 

Thousands of women appear on the rolls as well, serving overseas in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, which provided cooking, mechanical, clerical, and other support services.  Many others served as nurses.

 One thing to keep in mind as you search for your own WWI ancestor. Millions were wounded in the war—some, like J.R.R. Tolkien, so severely that they never did return to the front—but unless they were discharged, they won’t be on the Silver War Badge rolls. 

For those of you who do not have a subscription to Ancestry, check your local library to see if they have a library subscription.  Ancestry Library Edition is available via our free public internet at all branches of Campaspe Regional Library.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Canberra Congress

There is little more than a week to go before the AFFHO Canberra Congress 2015 begins and I am in full swing getting ready.  The car is serviced, the suitcase is out, the neighbour has been organised to catsit and the cat is sulking.  My 'to do' list is finally shrinking rather than expanding as I am actually crossing off items faster than I can think of new ones to add.

This is the first time I will attend a Congress, having missed out on the last few due to family and work commitments, and I have been following official Congress Bloggers like Shauna Hicks and Jill Ball as they talk about everything in store for us and interview many of the speakers.  Many thanks to both these ladies, and all the other bloggers out there who have been talking about the Congress and how to get the most out of your time there.  I have even installed the Congress App on my smartphone.

It has been diffcult to choose which sessions to attend from each of the four concurrent sessions per time slot.  I considered each according to speaker, topic and relevance to my research areas and current expertise - and still wanted to be in two (or three, or even four) different places at once.  I'm also looking forward to visiting vendors in the Exhibitors hall, sharing and networking with colleagues and Congress delegates.  There is also the Librarian's Seminar the day before the Congress itself - just to make sure I really get into information overload!  We are fortunate to have access to so many international and Australian speakers during the Congress, as well as the exhibitors and other events.

See you at the Congress!

Monday, March 16, 2015

New Military Records Online

Ancestry has added thousands of Australian service records from the First World War. Digitised from dossiers held by The National Archives of Australia, the collection covers personnel from the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF), Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train (RANBT), Australian Flying Corps (AFC) and the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS).

Ancestry has also uploaded a tranche of records regarding UK citizens resident in the United States who served in the British Expeditionary Force between 1917-19. Released in partnership with the US National Archives and Records Administration, the collection comprises scanned index cards, providing the name of the resident, their address, date of birth, marital status, civilian occupation and date they entered service.

Finally, Ancestry has added the records of men who served in the Royal Navy during the First World War. Spanning 1900-1918, the Registers of Seamen’s Services can reveal information such as birthdate, birthplace, vessels and dates of service. Family historians can also click through from the transcriptions to view scans of the original documents, held at The National Archives, which provide additional details such as physical description.

Thousands of women’s military records have been made available on Findmypast for the first time. Launched to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Service Records collection provides details of women who served in the unit (known by the acronym WAAC) in England, France and Flanders during the First World War. Digitised from records held at The National Archives, the files reveal details such as birthplace, physical description, medical history, education and parents’ nationalities.

Forces War Records has now uploaded more than 100,000 First World War medical records to the web. Originally launched with 30,000 entries in October 2014, the Military Hospitals Admissions and Discharge Registers collection comprises transcriptions of files created by field hospitals between 1915-18, containing details of men treated on the front line and the nature of their ailments.

Researchers looking for family living in Jersey during the WW2 German occupation can now download their registration card, including a photograph. The collection of German Occupation registration cards, recognised by UNESCO for its importance, has been digitised and added to the Jersey Heritage website by Jersey Archive. The collection includes 90,000 images that can be searched for free, although there is a fee of £5 to download a card.

With so much happening during the Centemary of World War 1 I'm finding it quite hard to keep up with all the records and information coming online - especially as I an researching family members in several countries.  I hope you all find something useful in the sites mentioned above.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

England's Immigrants 1330-1550

The British National Archves has just launched England’s Immigrants 1330-1550, a major new research database.  This work is the result of a three year project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) directed by Professor Mark Ormrod, of the University of York’s Centre for Medieval Studies, who headed a team of researchers based in York at and here at The National Archives.
The British Isles has seen a steady flow of immigrants over the past two millennia. Invasions by the Romans and Normans, sanctuary sought by the Protestant Huguenots, or the need for a workforce encouraging West Indians to immigrate all have had a part to play in making Britain the nation it is today.
Alien poll tax inquest for Northamptonshire, 15 April 1469

The central information is drawn from taxation records. In the mid-fifteenth century, as a response to growing tension against England’s immigrants, a series of alien subsidies were granted by parliament. Other records from the period also survive, including various letters patent on the Patent Rolls, detailing requests for immigrants to remain in England and be treated like denizens.  It reveals evidence about the names, origins, occupations and households of a significant number of foreigners who chose to live and work in England in the era of the Hundred Years War, the Black Death and the Wars of the Roses. 
The database contains the names of a total of 65,000 immigrants resident in England between 1330 and 1550. In one year, 1440, the names of 14,500 individuals were recorded, at a time when the population of England was approximately 2 million.
All of this information has been gathered onto the database providing easy access to complex data for the first time.  The database is accessible to all and is a fully searchable and interactive resource, from which data can be downloaded.