Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Dream Time: FGS, Rootstech and the Family History Library

The Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference is coming to Salt Lake City on February 11-14, 2015.

It will be a special conference as for the first time RootsTech and FGS are having some shared sessions particularly the Keynotes and a shared expo hall (and there are a lot of fantastic exhibitors coming!)

Wednesday 11th is the FGS society day with many presentations with a society focus. The program is available here

Family History Library
As President of my society I am particularly interested in these sessions.  They cover a broad range of subjects by excellent presenters: CeCe Moore talking about setting up a DNA SIG at your society, Lisa Louise Cooke talking about using YouTube as a marketing strategy, a number of talks on ways of engaging members who are not local.

Even if you are not on the board of your society many of these talks would be very worthwhile to attend so you can take the ideas back to you society. Of course you could also spend the Wednesday at the Family History Library (FHL) which is literally just around the corner or spend the day at the exhibitors' booths or indeed catch up with genie friends you already know and take the time to make new friends.

If you haven't been to the FHL before it can be a bit like being let loose in a candy store with a months allowance. Planning will help you get the most out of your time.

This is where you still have time to plan.

1. How much free time are you going to spend at the Library? Can you arrive a couple of days before or leave a couple of days later?

2. You need to maximise the time you do have available, so looking at things that you could look at home anytime is a waste. The FHL is online so you can see what is there before you go. You can also see what is available online from the FHL now, remember the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) is digitising their microfilm holdings with the aim of eventually having all of them available online, for free.

There are many of their films available which have not as yet been indexed. 

The FHL has a large book collection as well as their huge microfilm collection. The other thing they have is microfiche produced by many family history societies from around the world. These are not able to be circulated to the branch centres and will not be digtised by the library.

3. Use your research log. What's that, you haven't got one? All the genealogy programs have a research log option where you can record that you want to look at a certain record for a certain person and which archive/library holds the record in question. You are able to print the logs and then take them with you.

If you haven't started using the log as yet , you still have time to start or you can make one in Excel or Word listing what record, where it is in the library, what you want to find ie baptism date for John Quested Ashford, Kent England 1825-1835 father John mother Mary

If you have English research I would strongly suggest looking to see if Bishops Transcripts have been filmed for your areas as sometimes you can find extra information in thses that were not in the original parish registers. Each year on Lady's Day the vicar had to send a copy of the baptisms. marriages and burials he had done in the previous year to his Bishop so they are an excellent secondary source particularly if your parish register for that time frame has been burnt, flooded, stolen or eaten by mice.

4. You will need to be organised with your battle plan in place. Your objective is to use your time wisely to maximum effect. If it is your first visit take advantage of the Introduction to the Library classes which are run regularly. The staff are wonderful and helpful but with two major conferences with attendees coming from all over the world it will be BUSY so the more you can do before you get there the better for a productive time.

5. You will also need to be comfortably dressed with good walking shoes (the library is spread over five floors), have a cardigan or equivalent as it can be cool among the film readers. 

6. You will need a USB drive so you can download images, I also take a camera with me as I can photograph microfilm, microfiche, books etc

7. You will need to decide if you are going to have your computer with you (lots of power points available) or your tablet or your pad and pen. Remember you have to look after whatever you take with you.

8. You will also have access to many of the pay sites while at the library.

I can guarantee there will be something at the FHL relating to your family but what you take home with you will depend on how much preparation you have done before you go. 

So the time to start preparing is now!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Uncover the Details of Australia’s Criminal Past

The Prosecution Project: Get Involved

This is quite an exciting project that will be of interest to historians everywhere whether they are family historians local historians, crime historians, social historians or indeed anyone interested in history.

The project was launched in October and a lot of work has been done behind the scenes already. It is based at Griffith University in Queensland and  is funded by the university and an Australian Research Council grant.

The group of academics and the recruited citizen historians will be indexing the court trials in each Australian jurisdiction (source Supreme Court and State Archives) and also then linking to Trove and the newspaper reports providing a free online database of trials for research by anyone. 

You can do a keyword search now and below is the information returned on a search for Evans and another for Smith. The ability to do the keyword search will allow you to look for types of crime, places where crime occurred and more.

When a link to Trove exists you see the magnifying glass and you go to Trove to the article. 

The project is calling for volunteers and the indexing work is done in the comfort of your own home.

The information below is from the media release from Griffith:

Uncover the details of Australia’s criminal past

On 13 October 1941, Patrick Drew, a 49-year-old Brisbane painter, plead guilty to
fifty-one charges of theft and breaking and entering, which he had committed over a
period of thirteen years. Drew, who was liable for 600 years’ imprisonment, was
described as Queensland’s ‘most successful burglar’ by Justice Philp. However, out of
consideration for Drew’s war service, the judge sentenced him to only two years’

The story of Queensland’s best burglar is one of many that has been uncovered by a
team of researchers at Griffith University engaged in exploring the history of the
criminal trial in Australia, with support from the Australian Research Council. One of
the outcomes of The Prosecution Project, which is directed by ARC Laureate Fellow
Mark Finnane, will be the digitisation of registers of Supreme Court cases from across
Australia from the early nineteenth to the mid twentieth century. Details of over 25,
000 trials have already been entered into this database.

Some of these records are already available for searching by family and local
historians on The Prosecution Project’s website. To complete the digitisation of the
registers, volunteers are being sought to enter details of cases and link them with
newspaper reports on Trove. This will enable researchers to analyse long-term
patterns of crime, prosecution and punishment – and provide an invaluable index to
these records for public access.

Those who sign up to help in the transcription process will receive records
electronically, so volunteers will able to assist this worthy cause from home, their
local library or anywhere else with computer access. Volunteers are also able to
specify the jurisdiction or period they are interested in working on when signing up to
participate in the project.

To assist in the data entry of historical court records and uncover some of Australia’s
criminal past for yourself, click on the ‘Become Involved’ link on The Prosecution
Project’s site.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Justifiable Homicide?

I was recently reading a report of Inquests in Victoria 1852-1853 published in 1854.
This made very interesting reading and I came across a mention of "Justifiable Homicide" relating to the inquest into the death of Jeremiah Fahey.

It stated he was "Shot by some person unknown, whilst engaged in a murderous attack upon the inmates of a tent" and in the remarks section said " The verdict of the Coroner's Jury accurately describes the case which was one of Justifiable homicide"

The Coroner was J. McCrea and the inquest was held in Bendigo on the 15th August 1852.

This excited my curiosity and of course the first stop was Trove. Nothing was found in the Victorian papers on Trove but two entries relating to the event were found.

One was in the South Australian Register  11 September 1852 and the other was in the

The Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News 1 October 1852.

They are pretty much the same text reproduced here for easy reading:

"A fatal affray occurred at Peg-leg Gully on Saturday last. A dispute between two men arose about a hole, and violence was resorted to. The man who got the worst of the struggle chanced to be an Irishman. He went away and returned with a number of his countrymen, who had armed themselves with pick-handles and other bludgeons. A regular fight ensued, and the Irishmen were beaten back. They returned to the attack, however, to the number of about 150, and on this occasion fire-arms were displaced. They scorched the tents of several parties for a man whom they wished to find, and among others, that of three brothers named Hood. One of the Hoods ordered them to leave the tent, and on their refusing, turned them out. An Irishman, named Jeremiah Fahey, then struck one of the Hoods on the head with a bludgeon, through the calico of the tent, when Hood fired, and Fahey fell dead. A general engagement now took place, and many individuals were wounded, some of them severely. A man named Casey suffered concussion of the brain, and is said to be since dead. Another received a severe wound with a pick on the back of the neck. Broken arms and legs and heads were numerous. The assailants bore away five very severely injured, to what part of the bush is not known. The three Hoods are in safety, which probably they would not be if following their usual avocations. The verdict in Fahey's case, "Justifiable Homicide," has irritated the Irishmen, and they promise to repeat the attack. It is to be regretted that the affray assumed a somewhat national aspect. Disputes, hitherto, having been usually confined to Gold claims, have been of short duration and trivial consequence; but the introduction of national prejudice is likely to aggravate and perpetuate the present feud, especially in the somewhat lawless locality in which it occurred."  

(There was no mention of an inquest for Casey listed in the Inquests)

So remember to expand your search to other geographic locations that may report on your event and it is also important to allow enough time as often it will be reported much later in those newspapers ie 11 September in South Australia and 1st October in Perth  for an event that occurred in August in Bendigo.

Victorian inquest reports are held at the Public Record Office of Victoria, at this stage not available on their website as digital images. It looks as though they have been digitised as Family Search have a page saying it is a coming collection but only from 1865-1925 so maybe they will also become available at PROV online  sometime in the future.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Angling for Ancestors: Gold Coast FHS Conference

Have had a great day at the "Angling for Ancestors" conference run by the Gold Coast Family History Society. I was invited to be the Mistress of Ceremonies for the day  which is always fun.
Helen and Tanya Honey

More than a 120 people came today to listen to Jan Gow from New Zealand and Graham Jaunay from South Australia give three presentations each.

I was very happy to finally be able to meet Tanya Honey in person for the first time. We have been online friends for quite a while.
Jan Gow

Jan Gow:
Ten Ways to Research Your Family History - with and without a computer
Delving Deep into FamilySearch -learn how to find your treasure in the treasure that is
Saint Serendipity on Duty: a case study using UK records doing in 30 minutes what used to take 30 years

Jan gave ways of researching with or without a computer. Many of the ways we do things may have changed but the underlying idea of what we do has remained constant. 

We still need to contact relatives, whether we do this by writing a letter, putting it into an envelope and posting it or by writing an email we still need to contact our relatives, near and far.

We still need to be organised in our research and with our results, whether this is with a filing cabinet, Jan's favourite computer program TreePad or some other way with our computer, the computer is just a tool we use as researchers.

We are the important item as researchers, our determination, drive, analysis.

Jan's talk on the many facets of FamilySearch reminded everyone that FamilySearch is not just a place to type a name to see a return from an index. The Learning Centre, the Wiki, the mapping, the digitised books and so much more including the family tree. There is so much going on behind the scenes. 

There are many, many non-indexed images on the site with all the teams using digital cameras around the world. There is a large community around the world who are working to index these images so they are searchable for all. The indexers have achieved one million indexed entries in a day but new indexers are always welcome. It is very easy and the images are divided into levels of difficulty. There are also a range of images from other countries so if you know another language there are sure to be some for you too. I have been indexing for a few years and enjoy giving back.

Graham Jaunay
Graham Jaunay:
Research in England Prior to Civil Registration in 1837
Researching the Maternal Line - researching women is uniquely challenging and has its roots in the social position of women in society
Identifying and Dating 19th Century Family Photos

Graham showed some of the treasures contained within the parish chest as well as the documents that can help so much with our research including wills and deeds.

His talk on researching women covered the range of records in which we can find women remembering that due to the limited legal status a married women had, prior to the Married Woman's Act in 1872 where they had no legal authority, were not allowed to sign a contract or leave a will can make it difficult. They literally became their husband's property on marriage including all possessions and even the clothes in which they stood. You need to branch out to find mention of them. Wills are particularly useful and not just direct relative wills but wills of sideways relatives. Once they became a widow they gained legal status again (and can be a reason why some women "lived in sin" once they became a widow rather than lose those rights.)

Convict Connections and those bonnets!
Graham's last talk was on identifying and dating old photographs. This talk involved a lot of detail and I was pleased I had his book from Unlock the Past (also available as an ebook) as it saved me taking notes.

Exhibitors were Gold Coast Family History Society Inc., Unlock the Past Cruises, Gould Genealogy, Queensland Family History Society, Guild of One Name Studies, Convict Connections group of the Genealogical Society of Queensland, Queensland State Archives, National Archives of Australia, Tales from the Past and the Ryerson Index. 

Convict Connections was there and you can always find them as the lovely ladies wear the convict bonnets!

In between MC duties I was on the Guild stall
The QFHS Display board of their CD indexes available

My haul


I love books as you all know and it was great to see some pre-loved books for sale. I even managed to find some I did not have which was nice to add to my library.

After the conference around 40-50 of us went out to dinner where we continued to talk family history and a great time was had by all before Eric, Rosemary and I headed back to Brisbane as we had commitments there on the Sunday. Many of the others stayed on to participate in the visit to the Light Horse museum.

The Gold Coast Family History Society are to be congratulated on a well run conference. The organisation was superb as was the catering! I hope this will continue as an annual event.