Sunday, 31 August 2014

GeniAus' Hangout on Air - What a Month That Was #NFHM2014

I can now add another achievement to my list of activities for NFHM 2014 - I participated in +Jill Ball's (aka GeniAus) Hangout on Air recapping #NFHM2014.

This was my first hangout & Jill made me feel comfortable being a part of this.  Now this is saying something because I really don't like speaking in front of an audience (I'm even uncomfortable & self-conscious about speaking at grade assemblies).  So a special thank you both to Jill & the GeniAus community :)

NFHM 2014 – 31 Genealogy Activities for Researchers

#NFHM2014 is almost over & this is my round-up of the activities I have participated in:

1. Visit the NFHM sponsors page and consider entering the prize draw for individuals
I entered to win a research voucher with Shauna Hicks.

2. Apply for a National Library of Australia e-resources card and explore genealogy resources online at home if you have not done so before
I have a card but I haven’t used the e-resources much.  I need to add this to my to-do list.  I probably need to have a good look at what resources are available & how they might help me & then make a strategy from there.

3. Visit your State library and see what genealogical information they hold. If distant, do a virtual visit. If you do not already have a State library card, apply so that you can use their e-resources at home.
I also have a card for the Stage Library but haven’t used their e-resources much.  I probably also need to add this to my to-do list.  A Hangout on Air or an alternative format to discuss the resources that are available & how people have used these to further their research might be useful.

4. Check out all the new resources on Ancestry and enter the prize draw to win a year's subscription - major sponsor and prize sponsor.
I use Ancestry regularly.  I also subscribe to their blog which lets me know about the latest resources they have available.  Actually, many of the genealogy blogs I follow alert me to new resources on Ancestry.

5. Have a look at some of the great genealogy cruises coming up with Unlock the Past - prize sponsor
I had a look at the online catalogue of cruises for 2014 –2016.  I have heard a lot of positive feedback about these cruises & the idea of geneacruising is tempting.

6. Visit your State Archives and see what resources they hold and look at their fact sheets and guides. If distant, do a virtual visit.
I regularly visit the NSW State Archives & I’ve used their online search facilities a few times this month.

7. Remember to check out the National Archives of Australia - NFHM launch sponsor

I’ve only really used this site once before, to search for & order my grandfather’s service record.  This month I visited the site to look at their resources & I read their fact sheets. 

8. Attend one of the online events in the NFHM web calendar
I attended several online events this month.  The Society of Australian Genealogists hosted ‘A Smorgasboard of Webinars for the Family Historian’.  I watched 2 webinar repeats: English BDM Indexes – Using Them for Research Success! with Audrey Collins & GENUKI – The World at Your Fingertips with Martyn Killion.

I also watched GeniAus’ Hangout on Air for National Family History Month, the Society of Australian Genealogists’ webinar on Evernote with Cyndi Ingle & Shauna Hicks’ webinar Gold Genealogy Rules: Tips to Uncover Your Family Heritage.

9. Explore your surname in the MyHeritage Last Name Directory - major sponsor and prize


I looked up my surname & found its distribution across the world, most popular given names, & possible family trees connected to my surname.

10. Visit your local genealogy/family history society and see what resources they hold. If you are not a member, think about joining or perhaps join a society near where your ancestors lived.
I didn’t visit my local society, but I did check out other nearby societies online.  

11. Visit the NFHM Facebook page for updates throughout August

Have you Liked our page yet?

I’ve like the page & visited it a few times during August..

13. Download the free August genealogy ebook from genEbooks - prize sponsor.
I didn’t download this month’s free genealogy ebook, but I have downloaded a few in the past.

16. Attend/listen to a webinar or Google + hangout  - why not join Google + and see what other Aussie genealogists are doing?
I watched several hangouts & webinars this month, but this is something I always do anyhow.

17. Early NSW ancestors? - have a look at the Biographical Database of Australia - prize sponsor
I have a subscription & almost forgot about this resource.  I think I need to add this to my to-do list.

18. Read a family history blog or start your own genealogy blog writing stories about individual ancestors or families.
I read many, many genealogy blogs. 

19. Have another look at that brick wall - construct a time line of known facts and relook at everything.
I found another surname variation for Rae this month & again tried to locate my elusive ancestor’s arrival in Australia.

20. Visit your local library and explore the genealogy and local history 
sections. Or visit your local historical society or a virtual visit to an historical society near where your ancestors lived.
I visited my local library.  There really is a great range of genealogical & local history resources available there.

26. Explore FamilySearch and perhaps do one of
their online tutorials. Major sponsor

I watched tutorials on genealogy methodology.

28. Plan to attend the next AFFHO congress in Canberra in March 2015 - Major sponsor and prize sponsor

There are some very interesting talks scheduled & some speakers who’d I’d love to hear.  I subscribed to the Canberra Calling newsletter for updates.

Even though I didn't complete some of these activities, they put the resources back on my radar.  I now need to plan a strategy to utilise these resources more.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

NFHM 2014 Geneameme

This geneameme was created by Pauleen Cass (Family History Across the Seas) to celebrate National Family History Month in Australia.

What are you doing for NFHM?
I am completing some of the 31 Activities for researchers during National Family History Month, as well as continuing my own research & taking part in genealogy education events.

What do you hope to learn in NFHM?
I hope to learn something from every activity I take part in, whether it is something that improves my research, exposes me to new areas of learning or reinforces something I have already learnt.

Do you research at a family or local history library?
I haven’t done any research at a Family History Library yet, but I have used the State Library of NSW & I visit the Local History & Genealogy section of my local library regularly.

Do you do all your research online?
Not all of it, but most of it.

What’s your favourite place to store your family tree?
I store it in a few places & in a few ways.  I have paper pedigree charts & I have online trees at Ancestry, My Heritage & Geni.  I also use genealogy programs.  I store my family tree online, on a USB & a portable hard drive as a back-up.

If offline, which genealogy program do you use? (do tell us its strengths/weaknesses if you like)
I mainly use Family Tree Maker for my database, but I’m also trying out Legacy, Roots Magic & Ancestral Quest to explore their programs.  I am still learning the strengths & weaknesses of each program & their features.

How do you preserve your family stories for future generations?
At the moment I am more in the research stage – I don’t have many ‘family stories’ yet.  What I do know I pass on to my children, & write blogs posts about some of my ancestors.  My next step will be to write biographies of my ancestors & tell their stories this way.  In the future I hope to publish my family history in some way.

Have you any special research projects on the go?  
I am recording baptisms, marriages & burials of my family names in Sussex.  I could see this becoming a one place study or the beginning of a one name study.

What is your favourite family history research activity?  
All of them, whether it’s researching in a library or an archive or on the internet; receiving birth, marriage or death certificates that I have ordered & discovering the facts they hold; watching Hangouts on Air & webinars & listening to podcasts to learn more about genealogy & research methodology; reading great books about genealogy & research; or holding original wills of my ancestors that are a century or more old; solving ‘brick wall’ problems.

What is your favourite family history research place/library etc?
Like +Alex Daw from Family Tree Frog, I love going to my State Archives & holding or seeing the original documents.

What is your favourite website for genealogy research?  
I have too many of them.  The major sites like Ancestry & Family Search, I also use My Heritage, Geni, Find My Past, & The Genealogist UK.  The Cornwall Family History Society has a great website for members, as does Sussex Family History Society.  Then there’s Trove and many other smaller sites.  Google is also fantastic as you can use different search strategies to find things you would never be able to find otherwise.

Are you part of a Facebook genealogy group? If so which one?
I belong to several Facebook genealogy groups, but I don’t really make use of them.  Most of the groups are focused on a locality or using technology or organising your genealogy.  Some of the groups I belong to are: Australian Settlers DNA Group, Australian Convicts, The Organized Genealogist, Australian Genealogy, South Australian Genealogy, Australian Family History & Genealogy, County Donegal Ireland Genealogy & Technology for Genealogy.

Do you use webinars or podcasts for genealogy? Any tips?
I use both webinars & podcasts.  I find them interesting & informative, & it helps me feel like I’m part of the genealogical community.  I also watch a lot of Hangouts on Air & Youtube videos to further my knowledge.

Do you use social media? eg Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn
I do use social media.  I use Facebook & Pinterest, but also Google+.  I don’t think I’m really utilising social media for genealogy.  Though it’s probably not technically ‘social media’, I follow a lot of blogs.

What genealogy topic/class have you learnt the most from this year at a webinar/conference/seminar?
I learn from every single thing I participate in.  Maybe the topic I have been able to implement immediately is using Excel to improve & organise my research.

Do you have a favourite research strategy to knock down your brick walls?  
Keep at it, read & re-read everything you have carefully, follow other immediate family members (e.g. if you can’t find where your grandmother’s father was born, get certificates for your grandmother’s siblings – the information might be on one of these).

Have you used DNA testing for your genealogy?
Yes, through Family Tree DNA.  I had my MTDNA tested & also Family Finder for autosomal DNA.

Have you made cousin connections through your DNA tests?
Yes, I joined the Curran DNA project & even though I wasn’t able to take a Y-DNA test, my autosomal DNA & the family I knew about was enough to link me to the person who runs the DNA project & at least 1 cousin in Australia.  This was especially lucky as this cousin knew nothing of my grandfather & his family so I was able to fill him in on his missing part of the family tree.

Do you have a wish list of topics for NFHM 2015?
I would love to see more online events. +Jill Ball, the idea of a 12 Hour GeniAus Hangout on Air event is terrific!  I don’t know how much I could contribute but I’d definitely be watching!

It would also be great if there was somehow an online or a ‘watch later’ component to other events.  There have been many events on offer through societies or libraries that I would have loved to have been a part of but I haven’t been able to attend because they are on when I am at work.

The idea of having streamed or levelled topics, particularly in methodology could also be interesting.

What do you most love about your family history research?
I am always learning something new, whether it is about an ancestor, about history, or about uses for technology (some of which I’ve used in my teaching job).

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Genealogy Learning Activities

I've added a page to my blog, Genealogy Learning Activities.  This is a list of genealogy learning activities I have participated in.  I regularly watch webinars, videos and Hangouts on Air about a range of genealogy topics & have decided to start sharing these.

Excel for Genealogy

Over the last 2 days I have been watching hangouts & reading discussions about using Excel for genealogy.  I have learnt how genealogists use Excel to make research logs, to do lists, simple timelines & timelines to answer specific questions.

I started to use Excel for genealogy to create databases of baptisms.  I have been researching family surnames in Sussex lately & decided to make a database for baptisms for each surname that I am researching.  I thought that recording all instances of a surname would be more beneficial than simply identifying events of known ancestors.  This will enable me to reconstruct family groups as I continue my research. 

I watched Lisa Alzo's webinar Research Recharge: Turning Old Clues into New Leads on Legacy Family Tree Webinars & she discussed using research logs.  She showed an example of Thomas MacEntee's genealogy research log, which is a free Excel spreadsheet available at  

DearMYRTLE has been focusing on using Excel for genealogy in her Wacky Wednesday Hangouts on Air this month.  On August 12th's Wacky Wednesday hangout, More Excel for Genealogy, +Julie Goucher shared her presentation on how she uses Excel for research logs & to do lists.  Julie has made this video, as well as a copy of her Excel research log spreadsheet & her presentation on how she uses them on her blog, Anglers Rest.

I have never used a research log before as I didn't need one, but earlier this year I had a few months when I didn't have the time to research.  When I did have the time to continue, I found it hard to pick up where I'd left off.  Using a research log would have helped a lot in this situation.

Another potential use for Excel would be in creating timelines for my ancestors.  I have found a few good examples of how people have used them for this purpose & I can see how they would be beneficial to me.  Jenny Lanctot discusses how she uses Excel for simple timelines & also how she uses timelines to answer specific questions in her blog, Are My Roots Showing?.

How do you use Excel in your genealogy research?