Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Using the 1939 Register: Recording the UK population before the war

The National Archives UK have released a talk on the creation and use of the 1939 Register.  Available either as a webinar or audio podcast, the talk runs for just over an hour and is presented by Records Specialist Audrey Collins.
The Register, taken on 29 September 1939, provides a snapshot of the civilian population of England and Wales just after the outbreak of the Second World War.  As the 1931 census for England and Wales was destroyed by fire duringWW2  and no census was taken in 1941, the 1939 Register helps fill the gap created.  Whilst the 1939 Register is not a census, it is arranged along similar lines and includes similar, if less detailed, information.
The records were used to produce up-to-date population statistics and identification cards and, once rationing was introduced in January 1940, to facilitate the issuing of ration cards. Information in the Register was also used to administer conscription, and to monitor and control the movement of the population caused by military mobilisation and mass evacuation.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Genealogy Cruising

My countdown is on as I prepare for my second Unlock the Past genealogy cruise.  This is the company's 10th cruise and it runs from Auckland to Fremantle, with all the usual luxuries on offer on a cruise ship with the added bonus of a genealogy conference, mostly on our 'at sea' days.
The countdown app on my phone tells me it is 24 days until I fly out, as I am having a few days alone in Auckland before joining my fellow Geneacruisers on board the Celebrity Solstice.  I'm starting to feel organised - I have my passport, my flights and hotels are booked, my packing list is pretty much done, I have some New Zealand currency for sundry shopping, the suitcase is out in the spare bedroom and the cat is starting to sulk because his human is preparing to go away without his permission.
Our cruise ship the Celebrity Solstice
I will be reporting on the cruise in this blog, so watch this space for cruise news, or check out the Unlock the Past 10th Cruise website to see what you're going to miss out on!  Some of their main cruise speakers will also be speaking in several cities in Australia and New Zealand around the cruise time, so check out their schedule and book in the see them if you can.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Clean out the shed and share the stories

Over the Christmas / New Year break, my sister and I faced up to the daunting tast of clearing out the shed at our family home.  After the deaths of our father in 2013 and mother in May 2015, and having already sorted the contents of the house, if was time to face the shed.  And not just any shed, but a SHED!  3 car garage with a workshop the same size behind, with another smaller shed at the rear, our shed is bigger than many a house. 

Full to the brim with the accumulation of over 40 years in the same house, packed even further when I moved home to care for our aging parents, it was a substantial undertaking.  Amidst all the junk - unfinished knitting and sewing projects, chipped crockery, non-working electrical appliances, old light fittings, etc - we found treasures!  Baby cards received when each of us were born, old photos we had never seen, travel journals kept by our mother on long-ago trips, letters written by our father just before our parents' marriage, so many things!  An emotional journey, several times we found ourselves wishing so much that our parents were still with us so we could ask all the questions the items we found created for us.  Why had this china cup been kept?  Whose was it and how long had it been in the family?  There were so many bits and pieces put away that we had no idea of the history of, and so generally didn't keep.  If my sister and I didn't know, there was no one left to ask.

What items do you have tucked away in odd corners, rarely taken out and dusted off??  When was the last time you had a sort-through of that cupboard, closet or shed where you put all those things you never use but cannot part with??  Do your children or grandchildren know the stories behind those treasures you have stored away??  If they don't, chances are they will dismiss those items as junk and they will be lost.  If your children don't know the story behind Great Aunt Mary's tea set - or even that the tea set in the shed was Great Aunt Mary's and not something you picked up on a whim at a jumble sale - then they will have no reason to keep it, value it, and ultimately pass it on to another generation.

So over the next few weekends, I will be busy scanning and digitising photos, letters and journals, preserving them, and their story, for future generations.  I will also be having a look at some of the stuff I keep 'just because', and maybe having a little clean out of my own.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2015

Each year Jill Ball invites us to take part in this activity by responding to the following statements/questions in a blog post. You can write as much or as little as you want or just answer a few questions and
once you have done so please share your post's link with Jill via email to I did this exercise last year and thoroughly enjoyed it - it is well worth doing.
Remember to accentuate the positive.

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was - not as much progress here as I would like, as the year contained several distractions and major events.  My geneaprogress for 2015 was more finding out details about existing family members - which is all progress.

2.  A precious family photo I found was - Lots of them!!  Several bundles and some framed as well.  After my mother passed earlier in 2015 my sister and I have spent time clearing out the family home.  While coming to the conclusion that my parents were HOARDERS, we found quite a few treasures, many of which we had no idea existed or had been kept.  Many I'm sure my parents had no memory of keeping either!

3.  An ancestor's grave I found was - I found a few of these thanks to new content on Ancestry, although I am still working out why some of them highlighted as little green leaves in my tree and others didn't - and some that were missed were very obvious.  The key is to keep looking.

4.  An important vital record I found was - an article in Trove about the divorce of my great-grandfather James Nicholas Clark and his first wife Eliza (Hawley).  While I already knew they had divorced the article gave extra detail about the reasons their marriage broke down.  Perhaps not a vital record, but one I was very glad to find.

5.  A newly found family member shared - notes on common ancestors.  I keep basic trees on several sites - Ancestry, FamilySearch, My Heritage, etc mainly as 'cousin bait' to make contact with others researching in the same tree so we can share information - and every now and then I strike it lucky.

6.  A geneasurprise I received was - while clearing out an old tin trunk out in the shed I found a little bundle containing all the cards my parents received when I was born, along with my baby wrist band from hospital.  Inside the same trunk was my baby book - complete with notes and photos.  Treasure!

7.   My 2015 blog post that I was particularly proud of was - my tribute to my mother after she passed away in May.  It was quite sudden but followed a long illness,
and she has been a huge influence on my life and the person that I am.

8.   My 2015 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was - a link to a 17th century animation of London. 
Six students from De Montfort University have created a three-minute 3D representation of 17th century London, as it existed before The Great Fire of 1666.

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was - my new laptop.  Windows 10 has been quite an adjustment and not always a happy one, especially when treasured and familiar old software decided that this upgrade it just couldn't cope with.

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was - google.  Never underestimate the power of doodling around on Google - you never know what you might find.

11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was -
The 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry in Canberra last March.  I attended the conference and had a few extra days looking around Canberra, and had a great time.  I learnt so much, caught up with geneafriends, visited the War Memorial and the National Library, wonderful!

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave at/to - Library patrons at Echuca during Family History Month in August.  I have done these for several years now and greatly enjoy them.

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was - not yet!

14. I taught a friend how to - download her family tree from Ancestry.

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was - Pinning your family history by Thomas MacEntee.

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was - the National Library in Canberra!  I spent a whole day there, looked around, did some research and chatted to the library staff - librarians on holiday always seem to find a new library to visit.

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was - as above - Pinning your family history.

18. It was exciting to finally meet - everyone at the Canberra Congress, many of whom stayed in the same hotel a short walk from the convention centre - so there was always others to eat with, walk with, share notes with and chat to in passing.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was - did I mention the Canberra Congress?? 

20. Another positive I would like to share is ... Treasures hidden away in dark corners.  As mentioned above, I have been clearing out the family home - a work in progress throughout the yearHidden amongst the junk were treasures - photos, my grandmother's diaries, letters written by my father to my mother just before they married, travel notebooks kept by my mother, all my old school reports from my first year at primary school, my father's old income certificates back to 1955, show ribbons won by my father for his Merino sheep back in the 50's and 60's, family ornaments - all this stuff!!  I am SO glad my sister and I have them, but kept cursing our parents for not producing all this when they were alive and we could ask about them!

Also exciting is the upcoming Unlock the Past cruise from Auckland to Fremantle in February - I am booked, my packing list started, and the list of speakers looks great.  The countdown app on my phone tells me I have 42 days left until I fly out.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Inside History Magazine

The Jan-Feb edition of Inside History magazine is out now.  Features of this edition inlcude:
  • The unique historical website aiming to link every colonial-era Australian to original record sets
  • 105+ new family history resources online
  • Why World War I repatriation records are among our most precious datasets
  • The story of an Aussie surf lifesaver come World War I ambulance stretcher-bearer
  • Mark Tedeschi AM QC’s insights on the 1960 kidnapping case that shocked the nation
  • The grand heritage mansion restored to its historic glory
  • A historical outback adventure in the Northern Territory
  • Our military history expert’s advice on tracing your Digger beyond their wartime alias
  • The New Zealand pilot caught up in the famous 1944 ‘Great Escape’
  • The latest history news, events, book and app reviews, and more.
The issue is out now in newsagents, or read electronically via Zinio - FREE with your library membership at Campaspe Regional Library.