Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas traditions

As the year draws to a close and many of us are getting ready for family time, I have been thinking about my family's Christmas traditions.  Sorting through the box of decorations that came with me when I moved house earlier this year, it struck me that many, while a littel tatty, date back to my childhood or years before I was born, and some decorations are generations old and greatly treasured.  While we have always had the traditional Christmas tree, wreath and turkey for Christmas lunch, some of our family traditions were more unique to my family - like watching "The Muppet's Christmas Carol" on Christmas Eve.  Some traditions have also changed - after the year of the tinsel-obsessed cat that resulted in a rather expensive Christmas day visit to the family vet (again - we are so sorry, Debbie), tinsel does not feature in our festive decorations.

Below are some unusual traditions from around the world.

Giant Lantern Festival, Philippines
The Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul Sampernandu) is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando.  Eleven barangays (villages) take part in the festival and competition is fierce as everyone pitches in trying to build the most elaborate lantern.
Originally, the lanterns were simple creations around half a metre in diameter, made from Japanese origami paper and lit by candle. Today, the lanterns are made from a variety of materials and have grown to around six metres in size, illuminated by electric bulbs in a kaleidoscope of patterns.

Gävle Goat, Sweden
Since 1966, a 13-metre-tall Yule Goat has been built in the centre of Gävle’s Castle Square for the Advent, but this Swedish Christmas tradition has unwittingly led to another “tradition” of sorts – people trying to burn it down. Since 1966 the Goat has been successfully burned down 29 times – the most recent destruction was in 2016.

Krampus, Austria
In Austrian tradition, St. Nicholas rewards nice little boys and girls, while Krampus is said to capture the naughtiest children and whisk them away in his sack. In the first week of December, young men dress up as the Krampus (especially on the eve of St. Nicholas Day) frightening children with clattering chains and bells.

Kentucky Fried Christmas Dinner, Japan
Christmas has never been a big deal in Japan. Aside from a few small, secular traditions such as gift-giving and light displays, Christmas remains largely a novelty in the country. However, a new, quirky “tradition” has emerged in recent years – a Christmas Day feast of the Colonel’s very own Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Not sure this will catch on elsewhere!

The Yule Lads, Iceland
In the 13 days leading up to Christmas, 13 tricksy troll-like characters come out to play in Iceland.
The Yule Lads (jólasveinarnir or jólasveinar in Icelandic) visit the children across the country over the 13 nights leading up to Christmas. For each night of Yuletide, children place their best shoes by the window and a different Yule Lad visits leaving gifts for nice girls and boys and rotting potatoes for the naughty ones.

Saint Nicholas’ Day, Germany
Not to be confused with Weihnachtsmann (Father Christmas), Nikolaus travels by donkey in the middle of the night on December 6 (Nikolaus Tag) and leaves little treats like coins, chocolate, oranges and toys in the shoes of good children all over Germany, and particularly in the Bavarian region. St. Nicholas also visits children in schools or at home and in exchange for sweets or a small present each child must recite a poem, sing a song or draw a picture.
But it isn’t always fun and games. St. Nick often brings along Knecht Ruprecht (Farmhand Rupert). A devil-like character dressed in dark clothes covered with bells and a dirty beard, Knecht Ruprecht carries a stick or a small whip in hand to punish any children who misbehave.

Perhaps one of the most unorthodox Christmas Eve traditions can be found in Norway, where people hide their brooms. It’s a tradition that dates back centuries to when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. To this day, many people still hide their brooms in the safest place in the house to stop them from being stolen. 

Love Christmas, but think it could be improved by a spot of roller-blading? If the answer is yes, visit Caracas, Venezuela this year. Every Christmas Eve, the city’s residents head to church in the early morning – so far, so normal – but, for reasons known only to them, they do so on roller skates.
This unique tradition is so popular that roads across the city are closed to cars so that people can skate to church in safety, before heading home for the less-than-traditional Christmas dinner of ‘tamales’ (a wrap made out of cornmeal dough and stuffed with meat, then steamed).

Day of the Little Candles, Colombia
Little Candles’ Day (Día de las Velitas) marks the start of the Christmas season across Colombia. In honour of the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception, people place candles and paper lanterns in their windows, balconies and front yards.
The tradition of candles has grown, and now entire towns and cities across the country are lit up with elaborate displays. Some of the best are found in Quimbaya, where neighbourhoods compete to see who can create the most impressive arrangement.

Cavalcade of Lights, Toronto
In wintry, wonderful Toronto the annual Cavalcade of Lights marks the official start to the holiday season. The first Cavalcade took place in 1967 to show off Toronto’s newly constructed City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square.
The Square and Christmas tree are illuminated by more than 300,000 energy-efficient LED lights that shine from dusk until 11 pm until the New Year. On top of that, you’ll get to witness spectacular fireworks shows and engage in some outdoor ice skating.

Friday, December 15, 2017

New and Updated Records on Ancestry

Below are some of the new and updated records available on Ancestry - Australian, Unites Kingdom and Worldwide.  Remember Ancestry is free to search at all branches of Campaspe Regional Library.

New and Updated - Australia
UPDATED Australia and New Zealand, Obituary Index, 2004-2017
UPDATED Australia, WWI Service Records, 1914-1920
UPDATED Australia and New Zealand, Find A Grave Index, 1800s-Current
Queensland, Australia, Mining Accident Index, 1882-1945
Queensland, Australia, World War I Soldier Portraits, 1914-1918
New South Wales, Australia, Colonial Secretary's Letters, 1826-1856
Australia, World War II Military Service Records, 1939-1945
New South Wales, Australia, Miscellaneous Records, 1787-1976
Web: Victoria, Australia, Outward Passenger Index, 1852-1915
Sydney, Australia, Anglican Parish Registers, 1818-2011
Web: Australia, University of Sydney Biographical Information Including World War I, 1880-1980
Northern Territory, Australia, Probate Index, 1911-1994
Victoria, Australia, Wills and Probate Records, 1841-2009
New South Wales, Australia, Sheriff's Papers, 1829-1879
Australia, Newspaper Vital Notices, 1841-2001
New South Wales, Australia, St Peters Cooks River Select Births, Marriages and Burials, 1839-1963
South Australia, Australia, Passenger Lists, 1853
New South Wales, Australia, Index to Deceased Estate Files, 1859-1958

New and Updated – United Kingdom
Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, Carnegie Music Institution Registers, 1910-1920
Find A Grave Index for Burials at Sea, 1300s-Current
UPDATED UK and Ireland, Find A Grave Index, 1300s-Current
UPDATED UK and Ireland, Obituary Index, 2004-2017
UK, Electoral Registers, 2003-2010
Fife, Scotland, Asylum Registers, 1866-1937
Huntingdonshire,   Extracted Church of England Parish Records, 1559-1836
UPDATED Wiltshire,   Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1916
UPDATED Wiltshire,   Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812
UPDATED Wiltshire,   Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1916
UPDATED Wiltshire,   Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1916
Suffolk, England, Extracted Church of England Parish Records, 1538-1850
UK, Absent Voter Lists, 1918-1925, 1939
England, Dreadnought Seamen's Hospital Admissions and Discharges, 1826-1930
Berkshire, England, Electoral Registers, 1840-1965
UK, University of London Student Records, 1836-1945
Fife, Scotland, Electoral Registers, 1914-1966

New and Updated - World
UPDATED Texas, Naturalization Records, 1852-1991
UPDATED New Mexico, Civil Records of New Spain, 1621-1821
Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, Carnegie Music Institution Registers, 1910-1920
UPDATED Brazil, Find A Grave Index, 1800s-Current
UPDATED Sweden, Find A Grave Index, 1800s-Current
UPDATED U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
UPDATED Global, Find A Grave Index for Burials at Sea and other Select Burial Locations, 1300s-Current
UPDATED Caribbean, Obituary Index, 2003-2009
UPDATED Canada, Obituary Collection, 1898-2017
UPDATED Norway, Find A Grave Index, 1800s-Current
UPDATED U.S., Obituary Collection, 1930-2017
UPDATED Italy, Find A Grave Index, 1800s-Current
UPDATED Australia and New Zealand, Obituary Index, 2004-2017
UPDATED UK and Ireland, Find A Grave Index, 1300s-Current
UPDATED Canada, Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
UPDATED Australia, WWI Service Records, 1914-1920
UPDATED UK and Ireland, Obituary Index, 2004-2017
UPDATED Mexico, Find A Grave Index, 1800s-Current
UPDATED U.S., Cemetery and Funeral Home Collection, 1847-2017
UPDATED Germany, Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
UPDATED Australia and New Zealand, Find A Grave Index, 1800s-Current
Traunstein, Germany, Residence Registers, 1840-1910
Montana, Divorce Records, 1943-1986
Traunstein, Germany, Military Records, 1853-1945

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

December Who Do You Think You Are Magazine

The December issue of BBC Who Do You Think You Are magazine is out now.  Now available in digital form free to Campaspe Regional Library patrons via RB Digital.

Inside this month's issue
  • 10 essential records
    Laura Berry, Who Do You Think You Are? genealogist, reveals how to uncover your family's secrets with these key research tools
  • Greek tragedy
    In autumn 1943 British soldiers fought valiantly but unsuccessfully to defend the Aegean island of Leros from the Germans. Julie Peakman tells their stories
  • Reader story
    Simon Marley shares the dramatic life of a maternal great grandmother who worked in a Yorkshire coal mine
  • Victorian toys
    Janet Sacks explores the history of toys, and unwraps the presents awaiting our 19th-century forebears under the tree
  • Studio portraits
    Jayne Shrimpton reveals how you can date formal family photographs
  • Plus...
    The best websites for WW1 airmen and ground crew; the lives of ancestors who worked as glovers; exploring servants' wage books; and more...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

2016 Family History

2016 Family History is a new, free Irish genealogy education website, created by the National Archives and and formally launched earlier this year. The site is aimed primarily at secondary school students, but can be used by anyone with Irish ancestors to learn how to use the many online sources now available.

The website guides you through the free online resources that now exist to help you with researching you Irish family history, with a workbook, detailed guides to the different kinds of records, case histories and targeted tasks you can undertake if you wish.

Modules include :
  • Hints and tips
  • Surnames
  • Placenames
  • Census
  • Civil
  • Church
  • Property
  • Military

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

British Newspaper Archive

The British Newspaper Archive has advised it will be digitizing and putting online the historic archives of Trinity Mirror, Britain’s largest newspaper group.
The digitization project will consist of over 12 million pages of historic newspaper content. It is expected to take roughly two years to complete the digitization process and put the content online.
The British Newspaper Archive currently has some 22.5 million pages of historic newspapers online and it is anticipated that this latest digitization project will increase the content held by the website by roughly 50%. It will also significantly increase the twentieth century content as the oldest newspapers held by Trinity Mirror only date back to the era of Queen Victoria.
There are some 320 newspaper titles in the Trinity Mirror archive, with the titles spread geographically throughout the country. The two most notable titles in the collection are the national papers The Daily Mirror (founded in 1903) and The Daily Telegraph (founded in 1855). Also included in the holdings of Trinity Mirror are the Birmingham Post and Mail and the Liverpool Daily Post.
Note that the British Newspaper Archive is a subscription database.  It has options that allow a pay as you go subscription, or you can choose between monthly, quarterly or annual subscriptions.  You can also register for a taste of the database, which allows you to view 3 pages for free.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Change at FamilySearch

For anyone who uses the FamilySearch database, you may have noticed a major change is coming - we are soon going to have to sign in to use the site.
Many of us who use the site regularly are already signing in - to use some of the extra features or create an online tree signing in has been necessary for a while now.  For others this is a new development.  It is worth noting that sign in requirements are minimal - name, username, a password you select, an email address or phone number in case you lose your password and need to get back into your account, a little bit of demographic data (male or female, country of residence, birthdate and whether you’re a Church member, since Church members have different needs from the website), a security captcha code to make sure you’re not a robot and your agreement to the terms and conditions and privacy policies of the website, and you’re in.  There is the facility to remember your login details on your PC or device, so overall it is a very quick process.
So why does FamilySearch require logins now?  Firstly, FamilySearch needs to be accountable to its records partners — the towns, counties/states and other repositories that made the records available for filming in the first place. Many of those records partners want to know that the data is being offered in a safe and secure online environment.  The second reason is because there’s more that can be made available on a personalized basis if you use some of the other features of the website and log in first.  You can now built a free online family tree and link in all the records you find, much as you can on Ancestry and other subscription databases.  It is worth remembering that all the wonderful content of the FamilySearch site is still free.
So take a look at all the FamilySearch site has to offer, and don't be put off by the new sign-in requirement.  They have put in a massive amount of effort in creating the site and is has a great deal to offer those if us researching our families.  And did I mention the word FREE!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Welsh tithe maps go online

Do you have Welsh ancestry?  The National Library of Wales has completed a project to make tithe maps of Wales searchable online.
The new Places of Wales website is in beta and welcomes feedback from visitors.  It makes over 300,000 records searchable online, along with accompanying apportionment documents.
Tithes were payments charged on land users. Originally, payments were made using commodities like crops, wool, milk and stock. Tithe maps were produced between 1838 and 1850 to ensure that all tithes were paid with money rather than produce.
These are the most detailed maps of their period and they cover more than 95% of Wales. The apportionments accompanying each map list the payable tithes, the names of the landowners and land occupiers, the land use, and in most cases (75%) the field names.
An almost complete set of the tithe maps for Wales is held in the National Library of Wales as part of the diocesan records of the Church in Wales, who kindly consented to them being digitised as part of the Cynefin project.  A complete set of accompanying tithe apportionments was supplied in digital form by The National Archives in London, who had digitised these documents before the start of the project.

Friday, November 3, 2017

November WDYTYA Magazine

The November issue of BBC Who Do You Think You Are magazine is out now.  Now available in digital form free to Campaspe Regional Library patrons via RB Digital.
Inside this month's issue
  • How to track down your Army ancestors
    Phil Tomaselli surveys the records available on Britain's fighting units, from the 14th century to the 1950s
  • Explore your archive
    Don't miss our guide to the wealth of information stored in the UK's 600-plus local archives
  • Reader story
    The pupils of Wycliffe Preparatory School in Gloucestershire uncover the lives of Old Boys who died in the First World War
  • Queens of industry
    John McGoldrick tells the story of the 20th-century 'industry queens' who became national celebrities
  • Postal ancestors
    Susannah Coster of the Postal Museum explains how to investigate relatives who worked for the Post Office
  • Plus...
    The best websites for military medals and awards; the lives of ancestors who worked as railway navvies; exploring churchwardens' accounts; and more...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

South Australia Immigration Records on FamilySearch

Over 200,000 records of those who emigrated to South Australia are available in a new collection on free family history website FamilySearch.
The new collection of immigrants ship papers, dating from 1849 to 1940, contains records of the names and ages of 201,371 immigrants, many of whom were British, Irish or German, and the ships they sailed on. The collection also includes over 6,000 digital images of the papers,  allowing researchers to view more details about the immigrants, including their profession and county of origin.
Immigration record of my Beseler ancestors
Information on images varies but may include ship's name, master's name, tonnage, where bound, date, port of embarkation, names of passengers, ages, occupation, nationality, and port at which passengers have contracted to land. Original records are located in the State Records of South Australia, Adelaide.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What "I Didn't Find Anything" Really Means

When you’re researching in any resource — a book, database, microfilm or whatever — remember that “I didn’t find anything” really means “I didn’t find what I was looking for in this resource.” It doesn’t mean that your person isn’t there, it just means you didn’t find them in that particular resource with the search strategy you were using.
It is entirely possible, of course, that your person really isn’t in those records. But before you write them off completely, ask yourself if there’s something else you should be considering or another way of searching for the records you are after.
Consider the source you’re using.  Was it a database or an index? Not finding someone in an index is different than not finding them in the records themselves.  Look at the source – is it complete, or are there gaps, missing pages or years that could cover the record you are looking for.  Some records haven’t survived in complete form.  Is it transcribed?  Could there be spelling errors in the transcription – or in the original records themselves?
For those times when the record you’re looking for doesn’t exist — either your ancestor isn’t in the record or the record was destroyed — think about other records that could give you the same information.
If you’re in a database, will it search variations in spelling or do you need to do multiple searches to find both “Smith” and “Smythe”? What about Mc and Mac?
Did you put too much into your search? Some databases will try to match everything that you enter, and if you search for William Ramsey, born 1870 in Kyabram, it won’t return a record that has William Ramsey, born 1869 in Kyabram. Play with your search terms – sometimes less is more.
Consider not searching at all.  Stop searching and start browsing. You never know what you might find hidden by a spelling error or some other small difference when you browse through a set of records.