Sunday, February 4, 2018

How to knock down a brick wall

Photo by Nicole Köhler on Magdeleine

I've been researching family history for a very long time...a very long time.  Let me say that again....a very long time.  So you think I'd know better but....we all get into habits and routines.  We all think we know how to do research. 

So, let me tell you a story about what happened to me the other day.  The other night actually.  Wednesday night specifically.

Wednesday night had been looming large in my consciousness because it was when my final assignment was due for the Writing Family History unit I'm studying at University of Tasmania (yes - even though I live all the way up in Queensland - don't you love modern technology?) The assignment was due at midnight.

So anyway, I'd decided to write about my two great-great-aunts Clara Rebecca Conner and Harriet Conner because I am obsessed with them.  During the course I had written a couple of short stories about them.  

Photo by Library Company of Philadelphia on No known copyright restrictions

No that's not a photo of my aunts.  Aunt Fossie (someone else's aunt) is on the right apparently.  That photo is just to get you in the mood. Now, back to the story....

This course was a challenge for me because you were encouraged to write fiction and I have been so used to writing non-fiction and having all the facts that I found it quite confronting.  But it was a good course because when you don't have all the facts - what can you do?  You stretch your imagination and write well-informed fiction.

So here are the basic facts about my great-great-aunts.  Clara was eight years older than Harriet.  They were both born in Portsmouth, Hampshire or thereabouts in 1858 and 1866 respectively.  Their father worked in the Naval Dockyard.  They trained to be teachers.  Clara had a baby out of wedlock and shortly after moved to Yorkshire.  Harriet followed a couple of years later.  Clara got married to WH Smith in 1884 and they all moved to Australia and taught in Queensland in 1885.

My brickwall (and don't worry I still have plenty more when it comes to these girls) was that I could not for the life of me find them in the  1881 census.  Actually I couldn't find any of the Conners in the census anywhere - not Rebecca and Edward (the parents) and their youngest son Edwin or the two sisters.  I wanted to know why on earth Clara chose to go to Yorkshire after having the baby Daisy.  Did they have relatives there? 

So in the absence of the facts, I wrote the story in italics below and submitted it well before the due date on Sunday night. Then I re-wrote it and submitted it again on Monday night.  And then I re-wrote it and submitted it for a third time on Tuesday night.  

The first time I wrote it, the letters were from Harriet.  The second time I wrote it, the letters were from Clara.  Then I gave it to my husband to read and he wanted to know why Clara was so uppity.  So, I pulled her down a peg or two . Here it is.

Photo by CJS*64 on / CC BY-NC-ND

10 September 1880

Dear Father

I cannot begin to thank you enough for all you have done for me this past year.  Allowing Harriet to join me in Liversedge is a great demonstration of your faith in my redemption. I did not realise quite how much I missed you all until I saw you at the station.  I know I should not speak of her, but giving up little Daisy  was almost more than I could bear and I have felt so alone of late.  Aunt does her best to make me comfortable and I am very grateful to her for taking me in, given the circumstances.   

I will be sorry to leave some of the teachers at Norristhorpe  but must take up this offer of advancement and, in so doing, make amends to you and Mother for the shame I have caused you.  Having Harriet as my Assistant  will be an enormous help and provide me some comfort besides. She tells me that the current Head Teacher at Robert Town is very disaffected with his placement.  I think the children and Harriet will all be relieved when he departs as his manner is so sour. He says he will be seeking a position in Commerce where he will be rewarded more for his efforts.  “God speed”, say I.

Harriet is finding the pupils very different to those in Portsea. She complains that she cannot begin to understand what any of them are saying. She was even more disconcerted to find that many are “half-timers”; they work in the mills or must help at home while their parents work.   She feels the pressure  and I have told her that she must apply herself.  If she does not pass the examination at the inspection, her stipend will not be forthcoming.
How is little Edwin?  How is the Dockyard Extension progressing?  It must be nearly finished now surely.

Please know that you are in my prayers.

Your Loving Daughter 

Photo by The Library of Congress on / No known copyright restrictions - and yes I realise that this is an American postman but just go with me okay? Just imagine that is Edwin.

25th December 1880

Dearest Edwin

The happiest of birthdays to you.   You see that I have not forgotten you.  I hope you received our little parcel. It is very cold here.  Harriet and I walk together to school every day and our feet are quite numb by the time we arrive.  It is dark when we set out and dark when we return.  

Edwin, I know it must be lonely without Harriet at home now.  Father works so hard and mother has high standards.  You must be patient with them both.  They love you very much and with Edward at sea, you are all they have now.  Promise me you will study hard at school.  The Navy will not want you unless you have very good results.  Running away to sea may seem like a good idea at the age of eleven, but you will not want to be a stoker all your life.  You must learn to be an Engineer like your Papa.  

If you want to be the master of your fate and captain of your soul,  do your duty, as we are doing ours and forgive your older and wiser sister for lecturing you on your special day.

Your Loving Sister Clara

Picture of school after HM Inspector's Report 1986. Head Judith Jones centre, Addingham, West Yorkshire - can you believe I found this photo when I put HM Inspector into the search bar?

2nd April 1881

Dear Father and Mother

You will be pleased to know that HM Inspector gave Roberttown Board School a most favourable report.  Harriet passed her examination and so will be able to repay your advance within the month.  

We are saving our pennies for our return to you in summer.  Have you heard from Edward? How is little Edwin? I do miss him and his ever ready wit.   

Father you must not trouble yourself about young Mr Smith and his intentions.  He is obviously very devoted but I have made it clear that he can have no expectations of any return of affection on my part until he proves himself. To that end, he has enrolled at London University for a Bachelor of Arts and intends to apply for another position back home in Hertfordshire.  He says that, since my departure, the atmosphere at Norristhorpe has taken a turn for the worse and that the young boys there have no manners to speak of whatsoever.   

Harriet and I despair sometimes of ever keeping our charges from ignorance and vice.   Many of them can barely stay awake to hear their lessons. Opportunities for leisure are far and few between here.  I do miss our musical evenings with the Rowlands. Those days seems so long ago now. 

Your Loving Daughter Clara

A view of laundry, East Marton bu stephengg on Flickr

10th March 1883

Dear Father

You will be most amused to hear that Miss Philippa Wilkinson of Balmgate House successfully claimed damages from the Liversedge Board for injury to a dress caused by the dirty state of the town’s water to the tune of £2, according to today’s copy of the Leeds Times.   Such is village life.

Young Mr Smith continues to be gainfully employed at the Beechan Grove Boys School at Watford.  He has become like one possessed in his determination to win my affection by working all day and burning the midnight oil to obtain his matriculation.  You would find him most agreeable in conversation as he has a scientific mind and is currently studying Acoustics and Magnetism.  

Aunt is like an Admiral, commanding a flotilla of elderly acquaintances to provide cover and distraction should any young men in the district show the slightest interest in Harriet or myself.  I am grateful for her concern as our good reputation is essential to maintain respect in the district.  You know what small towns are like; positively famished for gossip.  I confess it is starting to grate on my nerves and I yearn for bigger horizons.

How are Mother and Edwin?  I hope the latter is applying himself to his studies and the former to your comfort.  Please give my warmest regards to the Rowlands. I have heard from the most reliable of sources that they are thinking of emigrating to Queensland, Australia  – can this be true? 

Your Loving Daughter Clara

A job well done or so I thought.  I rewarded myself with some Facebook time.  

Some marvelous soul had created a group for the students in the course and we were all chatting about our assignments and posting when we had finished etc.  Someone asked how we had tackled fictional accounts in the absence of facts and I explained my brick wall and how I had to guess why they went to Yorkshire.  Another student, Anthea, piped up that she was from Yorkshire and wanted to know how I knew they had been there and where they taught.  I explained that their teaching records held at the Qld State Archives noted which schools they had taught at in England.  Anthea hadn't heard of the villages in question but asked me to message her the names and dates of birth of my great-great-aunts and she would do a bit of hunting.  

Photo on - yes I know it looks like a gratuitous photo of a cat but that's what came up when I put "hunting" in the search bar.

My husband started to clang plates about in the kitchen so I raced out and whipped up a meal.  We watched the news.  I washed up.  I brushed my teeth.  I read some George Eliiot.  I thought I'll just check my phone before I turn off the light.  And there was Anthea's message...

"I've found them!"

The surname CONNER had been transformed into CORMER.  And they were living with not one but two Hannah SUGDENs - one aged 73 and one aged 34.

Anthea found them on Family Search.  

She said "I searched for a Harriet of the right age born in Hampshire and living in the West Riding". 

So there's a tip folks.  Forget the surname altogether and you may have better luck.

"Can I re-write my assignment in an hour do you think?" I asked Anthea.

"No!" was the firm reply.

I still have no idea who the Sugdens are to the Conner girls - apart from landlady and boarders.  The census says that the two Hannahs are sisters but I think that is an error.  A search for them in previous census tends to suggest that they are mother and daughter. 

Needless to say, I tried to stay in bed and go to sleep as it was 10pm and I have to be up at 4:45 in the mornings.  But I must have lasted about 2 minutes, threw back the covers and got up to see where they lived.  Boy oh boy.....Heckmondwike is very atmospheric indeed. Google 202 Brighton Street Heckmondwike and have a look at where they lived.  The cemetery next door is very Bronte-esque.

Photo by Urban Outlaw on / CC BY-NC-SA

So thank you very much indeed to Anthea Fraser Gupta - fellow student and super sleuth.  

Lessons learned? 

1.  If you're not having any joy, try searching without the surname and put in keywords like occupation (in this case "teacher") - Ancestry seems to be best for this sort of search I think.

2. Let people know you've hit a brick wall.  Fresh eyes, unbiased, unjaded eyes can often see things you can't

3. Facebook is a tool for good - sometimes :)

4. Keep learning - never stop.


Birth Certificate of Edwin Conner born 25 December, GRO Ref1869, J Quarter in PORTSEA ISLAND  Volume 02B  Page 377

Birth Certificate of Daisy Clara Conner born 6 January 1877 GRO Reference: 1877  M Quarter in FAREHAM  Volume 02B  Page 580

Marriage Certificate of Clara Rebecca Conner and William Henry Smith married 23 October 1884, West Yorkshire Archive Service; Wakefield, Yorkshire, England; Yorkshire Parish Records; Old Reference Number: D1/18; New Reference Number: WDP1/3/10

Marriage Certificate of Harriet Conner and John David Rowland married 23 December 1908, Registration Number 1909/1031 Queensland Registrar General

Record of Clara Rebecca Smith’s service, Dept. of Public Instruction, Item ID 822995, M/film no Z8565 Page no 522 Queensland State Archives Ref SRS5138/1/1 Vol. 1

Record of Harriet Conner’s service, Dept. of Public Instruction, Item ID 987874, M/film no Z7591 Page no 171 Queensland State Archives RefEDU/V17 Source Vol V 

Record of William Henry Smith’s service, Dept. of Public Instruction, Item ID 987862, M/film no Z7587 Page no 253 Qsa ref EDU/V5 Source Vol V

“Portsmouth Police Court”, Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle etc (Portsmouth, England), Saturday, May 19, 1877; Issue 4670. British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900.

Bartle, George F, ‘The impact of the British and Foreign School Society on elementary education in the main textile areas of the industrial North, History of Education, Vol. 22 No. 1, 1993, pp33-48

Coppock, David A. ‘Respectability as a prerequisite of moral character: the social and occupational mobility of pupil teachers in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’ History of Education, Vol. 26, No. 2 1997, pp. 165-186

“Bradford”, The Leeds Times, Saturday, March 03, 1883; pg. 3; Issue 2603. British Library Newspapers, Part III: 1741-1950

“School teachers and all friends of education”, The Leeds Times, Saturday, July 14, 1883, p3.

Henley, William Ernest, Invictus, Book of Verses, 1888 accessed 29 January 2018

Horn, Pamela, The education and employment of working-class girls, 1870-1914’ History of Education, Vol. 17, No. 1 1988, pp71-82

Horn, Pamela, The Victorian and Edwardian Schoolchild, Gloucester, Alan Sutton Publishing, 1989

Middleton, J. ‘The overpressure epidemic of 1884 and the culture of nineteenth-century schooling, History of Education, Vol. 33, No. 4, 2004, pp 419-435

Ordnance Survey Yorkshire CCXXXII.SW (includes: Cleckheaton; Gomersal; Heckmondwike; Liversedge; Mirfield.) 1894

Qld State Archives Index to Assisted Immigration 1848-1912 John Rowland aged 1 and family 15 Dec 1884 Item ID18481 M/film 1 Z1961 M/film 2 M1700 Page 330 Ship Waroonga Source

Thody, Angela M., ‘School management in nineteenth-century elementary schools: a day in the life of a headteacher’ History of Education, Vol. 23, No. 4, 1994, pp.355-373

“Assault on a Farmer’s Daughter”, Yorkshire Evening Post, 1 Feb. 1892, p. 4 British Library Newspapers Accessed 27 Jan. 2018

Saturday, February 3, 2018

January Genea-pourri

Photo by [Segle] - REFLEX IS BACK ! on / CC BY-NC-SA

With thanks to Randy Seaver and Jill Ball for the meme - Pot Pourri - It has been a very productive month for me family history wise.

Here is what I have been doing.....


I completed another unit of my Diploma of Family History - Writing Family History on Wednesday night - the last day of January.  During January I had to write 3 x 250 word short stories and then one 750-1000 story. So that was quite a bit of work as you can imagine.

And then because I am a sucker for punishment I enrolled in another unit - Families at War.  I have to complete 8 units altogether to finish the Diploma.

I have completed:
  1. Intro to Family History
  2. Convict Ancestors
  3. The Photo Essay: an Introduction and
  4. Writing Family History
So that's all my foundation units done.

I have also completed Oral History.  So only two more units to complete after Families at War.  Writing the Family Saga and Convicts in Context are the two most likely.  I did start Place, Image, Object but unfortunately had to drop out.

Photo on


I decided to order a marriage certificate for a Harriet Conner in New Zealand because it was for the time period when I had lost my Harriet Conner.  I ordered it on 5th January and it turned up last week I think, so not really a long wait when you think about it.  It cost $33 which isn't cheap and, as I suspected, it is not my Harriet CONNER but a "No" result is still a result.

I ordered a birth certificate for Harriet Conner using the new GRO's PDF service which is much cheaper than the full certificate service. Cost is about $10.70.  I ordered it on the 7th January and received it on the 11th.  Fabulous service.  Did I learn anything new?  Yes, I learned that her family lived in Sydney Street.  Yay.

Needless to say I've order a few more since then - the birth of Clara Rebecca Conner, the death of Rebecca Conner and the marriage of Clara Rebecca Conner and WH Smith in Watford, Hertfordshire. They got married twice within a month - once in Hertfordshire and once in Yorkshire.

ISO Republic photo


I went to Queensland Sate Archives on the first Saturday opening for the year and ran into genea-buddy Helen Smith.  This was to try and find more out about Harriet Conner's experience at Bustard Head Lighthouse - I didn't really find out any more information but it was good to go back to the Archives and see how they've moved furniture around again - specifically the microfilm readers. You can now pre-order records before you visit so that it's ready when you arrive (thanks for that hot tip Chris Goopy) - pre-orders must be received by 12pm the day before your visit but you can order up to 1 week prior.  This is a trial so let's make sure we use it so that it is implemented.  

To pre-order records go here, then select 'General enquiries" and then "Other".  

The National Archives of Australia sent me an image of a house in Darwin which I requested when I was studying Oral History last year mid December.  It took six weeks for the CD to arrive and cost an eye-watering amount of money.  I don't know why I didn't order a digital download.  It would have cost $20 less but I think I just didn't read the form correctly or realise that option was available. Sigh.  I blame the rush before Xmas and being in a new job which was a bit distracting.

I wrote to the West Yorkshire Kirklee Archives service on 25th January and received a reply the next day.  A negative one but a speedy one :)  Kirklee suggested I write to Wakefield which I did.  I recevied an automated response and then a real one today so that wasn't very long to wait either.  Also a negative response but at least a response.  

I wrote to the Brunel University London Archives and received a response the next day - also negative but with some great suggestions.

I wrote to the UCL Institute of Education in London archives and received a reply the next day - once again speedy and with suggestions of where else to look.

I wrote to the Church of England record centre in London also seeing if they could assist with information about school archives - they wrote back within a couple of days too. Again a nil result but confirmed what I suspected.

Photo by DRs Kulturarvsprojekt on / CC BY-SA


I purchased a digital copy of a map of Portsea from the National Library of Scotland. Cost $13.60.  Being able to look closely at this map was enormously helpful in the writing of one of my assignments and gave me a real sense of the place.  It also provided me with lots of other place names which I could search for in newspapers and gave me better insights into where my ancestors lived.  If you haven't checked out these maps, you should really give it a go.  You don't have to pay for maps like I can just look.  It's just I wanted to be able to enlarge and print certain sections which you can't really do on the website.  I ordered the map on the 20th January and received it two days later.  What a great service.

photo by Andrew Neel on Magdeleine

I found a great little book called The Victorian and Edwardian School Child by Pamela Horn on the Internet Archives.  I could read it on my desktop or borrow it and download it as a PDF.  They offered me two choices of file - encrypted Adobe PDF and encrypted Adobe ePub.  I chose the PDF which had apparently High Quality Page Images whereas the other file could contain errors.  I couldn't read it at all when I opened it on Adobe Digital Editions.  When I went back today to have another look, I downloaded the ePub file and it worked perfectly - pictures and all - just so you know.

Books I borrowed to try and help me with my research or give me a feel for the time were:

Tracing Your Yorkshire Ancestors by Rachel Bellerby - this was a great reference book and helped me pinpoint which society I should join and which repositories to target.

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (1791-1840) edited by Helena Whitbread - I didn't get to really get into this book but wow, what an interesting subject and a labour of love on behalf of the editor.

Writing a non boring Family History by Hazel Edwards - this looked great.  I didn't get to finish it but would borrow it again.

Felix Holt, the Radical by George Eliot  - I confess I am finding this somewhat protracted and turgid.

I confess to going to the Lifeline Booksale and buying quite a few peculiar cookery books and 

From my own personal library I pulled out:

Miss Marjoribanks by Margaret Oliphant - I am in absolute awe of Mrs Oliphant's prodigious output and career.

photo by Annie Spratt on Magdeleine

I joined the Huddersfield and District Family History Society in an attempt to find out more about why Clara and Harriet CONNER may have moved to Liversedge all the way from Portsmouth.  No joy so far. Cost $32.64

I received a Congress Newsletter from SAG and realised I'd better get on with booking travel and finding a place to stay in my old home town and birth place of Sydney. Congress will be held at the swanky new convention centre in Darling Harbour.  Here is what Darling Harbour used to look like when my grandfather was just 2 years old.

Darling Harbour from the Tyrrell Photographic Collection at the Powerhouse Museum - Gift of Australian Consolidate Press under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme, 1985

It looks a bit different today doesn't it?

A night time shot of Darling Harbour by Daniel Lee on Flickr

Social Media

Rootsfinder asked if they could feature me as a guest blogger on their site and I said "Yes" so look out for that in March.

I wrote a New Year and Trove Tuesday blog post.

Finally - I have made use of a few new-to-me Photo websites e.g. Foter and Magdeleine and ISO Republic - one of the handy tips I picked up on the Aussie Facebook group - Australian Local and Family History Bloggers. Thanks chums.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Trove Tuesday - Trudgeon

NOTABLE LADY SWIMMERS. (1924, February 13). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), p. 13. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from

It's Tuesday so time for some Trove-ing.

I am currently studying Writing Family History at University of Tasmania and was thinking about my ancestors' childhoods.  Swimming sprang to mind.  

My paternal grandmother Ethel was a pretty good swimmer.  I have written about her before here.  

Her younger sister Rene was pretty good too and you can see her featured in the photo above when she visited Brisbane in February 1924.  I wonder if she was able to attend Ethel's wedding on the 18th of that month.  I suspect not.  Newspaper article dates indicate that she stayed in Queensland for a couple of weeks.  You can view my list of Rene Carrett articles here.

What intrigued me most about some of the articles though (apart from some fantastic photos) was the mention of the trudgeon or trudgen stroke.  I had never heard of it before.  Perhaps you have - particularly if you play water polo, for which apparently it is very useful.

Here is a great clip which explains how the stroke works.  And here is an interesting blog post which explains its evolution/adoption.

This is the article that mentions Rene teaching this particular stroke.

COURTEOUS VISITORS (1924, February 16). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), p. 2. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from

And here's a couple more photos of Rene found on Trove...

No title (1924, February 13). The Daily Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1903 - 1926), p. 9. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from

No title (1924, February 22). The Daily Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1903 - 1926), p. 14. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from
No title (1924, February 17). The Daily Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1903 - 1926), p. 1. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from

I wish I could say that I had inherited some of my grandmother's and great-aunt's prowess in the pool.  You can be sure that I will be attempting the trudgeon/trudgen style next time I take a dip though.  And I will also keep that word up my sleeve when playing Words with Friends :)

Are you a good swimmer?  What is your favourite swimming style? Happy Trove Tuesday!

Monday, January 1, 2018

5 things to be grateful for in Family History

It's that time of year when we look back at what has happened in 2017 and are looking forward to the New Year.  What or who has helped us along our research path in our quest for our ancestors' stories?  I have much to be grateful for and at the top of my list is ....


Number 1 - Arwen (my training partner)

Now I know you are probably wondering how an earth a dog can help with family history.  Is she very good at sniffing out ancestors????  No, not really.  But she is very good at nudging me to get off my bottom and go for a walk which keeps me healthy (so I have even longer to do my family history!! Tee hee!).  In fact I was going to say at the very beginning of this post that I am incredibly grateful for my good health but I thought "Who or what can I thank for that?"  

Of course I could thank my ancestors and their good genes but I really do have to thank Arwen.  I could sit for hours in front of the computer screen getting lost on ancestral trails if she didn't put her wet nose under my elbow and softly whine.  Going for walks with Arwen is great because it keeps me fit (so I can walk around large repositories and up and down stairs).  It also gives me thinking time (I have some of my best thoughts when out walking) AND it gives me a chance to listen to podcasts or books which brings me to Number 2...

Number 2 - Podcasts and audio books

The Genealogy Guys podcast and others like The National Archives or Genies Down Under (which is having a break at the moment) are very useful for when your local radio station doesn't cut it anymore or there's too much negative/depressing politics on air that seems to be going nowhere.  I have just started a new job with a reasonably demanding commute (over 2 hours a day) so there is no excuse for not listening to as many audio books and podcasts as I can.  Where do you get audio books?  Well that brings me to Number 3....

Number 3 - Libraries

Yes, of course I am completely biased - I am a librarian after all - but I really am grateful to all the magnificent Libraries out there.  

A not very good selfie in front of the NLA - well it was freezing!

From the Grandaddy of them all in Australia - the National Library which keeps us busy with Trove - to my society's library at QFHS...and all the ones I can't visit in person but have helped me anyway.  For example - I borrowed 136 books alone from one of the library services I belong to this year - just think how much money that has saved me.  

QFHS has a small lending library and it was from this that I borrowed and read my first Nathan Dylan Goodwin book this year - Hiding the Past #1 in the Forensic Genealogist series.

Through my local library service I was able to obtain, via Inter Library Loan, a book called Speaking volumes : the Victorian Parliamentary Library, 1851-2001.  Understandably it's not a book everyone wants to borrow so is not widely available, but it was of great interest to me once I found out an ancestor had worked there in the early 1900s as per this blog post.  I was also able to borrow Roslyn Petelin's book How writing works : a field guide to effective writing to see what it was like.  I was so impressed it, I bought it.  The same was truce for Blaine Bettinger's books.

I would also like to give a big shout out to Suzy Young at the Northern Territory Library who helped me recently with finding maps of Darwin during the cyclone in 1974 for an oral history assignment I was doing at Uni.  Which leads me to Number 4...

Number 4 - Teachers

A big shout out to all the teachers out there - official and otherwise.  

I am studying a Diploma in Family History at UTAS at the moment and am enormously grateful to the staff for opening my eyes to different ways of thinking about what I do and who help me to dig deeper.  

I also joined SAG late last year and have enjoyed being able to attend webinars despite living so far from Sydney - this year I learned more about the Biographical Database of Australia and High Definition Ancestry DNA testing from Living DNA.

But there are lots of other "teachers" out there too.  All the lovely people who give so much of their time to local libraries, societies and in the blogging community generally.  There are so many to name but I'll give you a taste - Shauna Hicks who spoke about Ancestors in Church at Moreton Bay Library Service, Helen Smith whose talk on Treasures in the Quarter Session records I was able to attend at QFHS in October (you can see her upcoming talks here),  Sue Reid, Charlotte Sale, Geoff Morgan and Chris Schuetz - my fellow teachers on the Beginners course at QFHS, Judy Webster who keeps us up to date with all things Queensland and much else besides,  Alona Tester who is a powerhouse and has updated the latest list of Australian family history Facebook links, Chris Goopy who is another fabulous blogger who posts the most amazing links on a weekly basis - I don't know how she does it - and organizes great meet-ups for fellow genealogists.

Number 5 - Volunteers

I do bang on about this quite a bit but I think we all know just how little we would have to work with if it wasn't for the family history volunteers around the world who index records or correct text in Trove or help people in Society libraries use the equipment or locate records.  Gosh that was a long sentence!  See how much volunteers do?

A big shout out to anyone who volunteers their time for this wonderful hobby.  


QFHS Volunteers at Open Day 
What helps you in your ancestral quest?  Who or what do you give thanks for?  

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2017

The fabulous and amazing Jill Ball from Geniaus has invited us once again to reflect on our Geneayear.  What a great tradition.  Here are the questions with the proviso that we Accentuate the Positive and stop lashing ourselves for those things we didn't get round to or achieve:

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was

Thank goodness for death notices.  I discovered my ancestor Peter Sinclair was a librarian at the Parliamentary Library in Melbourne on this blog post here. 

2.  A great newspaper article I found was

I reckon I found a photo of my maternal grandmother and her twin sister at Randwick Destitute Asylum in The Star in 1908 as per this blog post here. 

3.  A geneajourney I took was

I had hoped to go to the NSW Family History Conference in Orange this year but we mustn't be maudlin.  By all accounts it was fantastic.  Shauna Hicks reports on it here.

4.  An important record I found was

Peter Sinclair's death certificate and will and probate.

5.  A newly found family member shared

I got to meet a fellow researcher on my husband's side of the family, Jane Wolfe, at the Footsteps in Time conference on the Gold Coast this year in May.  She kindly invited us to a mini-family reunion of the Hindes (descendants of the Duncans) at Nerang Cemetery in October to witness the unveiling of two pioneer headstones she commissioned for Rose and William Duncan.  To quote from Jane's email:

The stone used is Numinbah granite and the bronze plates commemorate their pioneering work in the timber industry, education and establishing the district. The research and work having the headstones made was done by Kerry McGrath and Joan (and Jack) Rudd.  Kerry and Joan are also direct descendants of Rose and William.

While I wasn't able to attend, my two sisters-in-law and my brother-in-law were very pleased to be able to do so.  

Photo by Jane Wolfe 2016

Jane has also reminded me that there will be a Last Post Ceremony in Canberra next year on Sunday 10 February for Private Thomas Hinde.  I wrote about Thomas and his brother Edward here.

6.  A geneasurprise I received was

Look what you find when you google things...for those of you who don't know, I just started working for the City of Gold Coast Library service.  Now I have another reason to go and have a look at the Burleigh Heads Library ASAP!

7.   My 2017 blog post that I was particularly proud of was

I hosted a Geneameme for National Family HIstory Month and found that the All the Rivers Run mini-meme was quite popular with Bloggers.  I certainly enjoyed finding and looking at all the pictures of the rivers that my ancestors would have identified with as part of their familiar "home" landscape.

8.   I made a new genimate who

see above

9.  A new piece of technology I mastered was

As a Librarian I always seem to be learning new technology but for the purposes of this exercise I am going to talk about technology I used for recording and transcribing oral history.  I attended the NLS symposium in Canberra earlier this year.  You can read all about it on my other blog here.  I learned to use an app called Wave Pad.  To assist with transcribing I used an app called Speech Notes.  It's not perfect of course but it does grab about 50% of what it hears which is better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick, as they say.

10. I joined

My father used to be a member of SAG years ago so as a Xmas present last year I joined us both up because I'd heard so much about their online seminars et al.  I also joined the Yass & District Historical Society.

11. A genealogy event from which I learnt something new was

Bill Kitson's session on Hydrographic Surveying of the Queensland coast 1860-1880 at the Footsteps in Time Conference.  My father and I have ancestors in the Navy (Conne/ors) and this was much of their work so we were fascinated by this account.  Our interest was piqued particularly when Bill started mentioning someone by the name of Edward Richard Connor who joined the Navy in 1861.  Our ancestors also used the name Edward quite frequently.  We can't find a connection yet but I haven't given up hope.  Bill will publish a book on this subject soon but in the meantime you can get a sense of the subject here on the Fraser Coast Libraries blog.

A blog post that taught me something new was

There are so many bloggers that I follow but without a doubt the one who impresses me most in terms of the sheer volume of stuff that she manages to keep on top of is the lovely Chris from That Moment in Time. 
13. A DNA discovery I made was

14. I taught a genimate how to

I taught lots of genimates how to blog!  

15. A brick wall I demolished was 

16. A great site I visited was

My father and I finally got to see the MacArthur Museum....something we had wanted to do for ages.

And while I was doing the Photo essay course I was referred to this site which I find just fascinating even though I don't have any American ancestors (to my knowledge) who would have been involved in the Civil War.  

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was

This book isn't necessarily new but it was new to me.....Men and a River: Richmond River District 1828-1895 by Louise Tiffany Daley.  I haven't finished it yet but it is very well written indeed.  And sorry, but I can't stop at one book.  Another book I thoroughly enjoyed dipping into and am fully resolved to read more is 100 Canberra Houses: A Century of Capital Architecture by Tim Reeves and Alan Roberts - beautifully produced and fascinating stuff.

18. It was exciting to finally meet

See Point 5 - Jane Wolfe !

19. I am excited for 2018 because

We have Congress in Sydney this year and I get to do a little bit more of my Diploma in Family History with UTAS.

20. Another positive I would like to share is ...

There are so many positives I can't stop at one!

I continued to study my Diploma of Family History through University of Tasmania enrolling in and completing two courses - Photo Essay and Oral History.  These courses continue to make me look more closely at my work and evaluate what I do and how I do it.

As part of National Family History Month I agreed to participate in a radio interview with fellow QFHS member and Beginners course teacher Charlotte Sale to spruik the value of joining a society like QFHS with all it has to offer.  It was great to see the new ABC Studios at Southbank, although I was somewhat stage-struck, I confess ,when confronted with a microphone.

Charlotte at the ABC Radio Studios Southbank

I contributed to the 31 Links in a Chain stories theme held by QFHS as part of National Family History Month in August.  My story is here.

Some of you may know that for the past couple of years I have been part of the teaching team at QFHS delivering a course called Finding Your Family.  We ran two courses in 2016 and two in 2017.  The greatest joy for me this year was that my sister-in-law Patricia came along to the last course and embraced family history with the kind of zeal known only to fellow geneaenthusiasts.  It is so lovely to have a partner in crime now who absolutely "gets" the complete absorption this hobby has for us  She has set up her study rather like a detective in New don't have to watch all of the clip below but I did have a bit of a giggle for the first few minutes.  I do enjoy watching all these old dogs bumbling their way about in the new world - and this episode features my favourite topic - libraries!

I hope that your year has been equally fruitful and rewarding and may I take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for the Silly Season.  

Speaking of Silly, here's something a friend shared on Facebook recently which I hadn't seen before....I do love a good Hallelujah chorus!  Particularly with lots of shaking and jumping ;)