Society of Australian Genealogists …. the Beginnings...

Most Aussies who’ve been doing genealogy for a little while will be familiar with the major genealogical societies in each state: QFHS, GSQ, AIGS, GSV, WAGS, GSNT, GST, SAGHS, HAGSOC and SAG. Today’s story focusses on the Society of Australian Genealogists in Sydney, which we commonly refer to as SAG. While recently browsing on Trove (as you do on cold, almost-winter evenings), I came across the following article which tells of the beginnings of the Society … So as you can see the Society of Australian Genealogists was formed way back in 1932. This made me go looking to see when the other state societies were formed, and here’s what I found: 1941 – Genealogical Society of Victoria 1964 – Heraldry & Genealogical Society of Canberra (also now known as Family History ACT) 1973 – South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society (also now known as GenealogySA) 1973 – Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies 1978 – Genealogical Society of Queensland 1979 – Queensland Family History Society 1979 – Western Australian Genealogical Society 1980 – Genealogical Society of Tasmania (now known as Tasmanian FHS) 1981 – Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory A snippet from the above 1932 article states… “Mr. H. J. Rumsey, said he was convinced that no country had more complete records from the time of its occupation by civilised people than Australia. Mr. Rumsey indicated the various sources of information available for research work, both in Australia and Great Britain … To help one another in genealogical study, Mr. Rumsey advocated the use of a card index system, so that members could be supplied with standard cards to record their investigation. Ultimately, he said, it was to be hoped that a genealogical reference library of their own...

Yes Folks, Genealogy DOES Cost Money!...

The commercialisation of genealogy, and genealogy costing money is not a new topic, as it’s one that seems to pop-up every now and then. This post is one that stems from comments I saw on Facebook from someone who is convenor of a genealogy-related Facebook Group who said she wouldn’t share any post (no matter how relevant or useful) if the blog had adverts on it, simply because they didn’t wish to promote commercial genealogy. This led to numerous comments asking why. Personally I don’t agree with this woman, as we should do all we can to help preserve our records and history, commercial or otherwise. MY DISCLAIMER Before I go on let me just state up front, that yes I do work in a genealogy bookshop, Gould Genealogy & History (www.gould.com.au). Yes, it is a commercial business, and currently lists about 7000 products on our website. No, it doesn’t make bundles of money, but we do have wonderful customers who have kept our little family business going for over 40 years. Would the fact that I work in the genealogy industry influence my opinion? I doubt it. Or maybe it has, as I see the work that goes into caring, restoring, archiving, housing and digitising records, and I know that it ALL costs money, so I have no objection when paying my subscription fees to various online websites, or to a number of societies and so on. THERE IS FREE STUFF For sure you can do a lot for free, and I do not condemn that in any way. In fact, I promote the use of free sites (just check my list of Discovering Links posts, and Facebook Links). But during your genealogical journey there comes a time...

… and DNA Proved It!...

DNA is without a doubt the latest BIG thing to hit genealogy. So big, that it is changing (or should I say supplementing) the way people research. Genealogical DNA testing has been in Australia now for a couple of years, but I’m never one to be first in line for new things. In saying that I have tested with both AncestryDNA and Living DNA, and I have interesting results from both. However it’s not exactly those results that I’m writing about here. Before continuing let me just state that I’m no expert in any form of the word on genetic genealogy. But I wouldn’t consider myself a “complete total newbie” either. Even so I wanted to share an interesting result with you. My family has some illegitimate births (as does every family I’m sure), but one particular family story was one that questioned the legitimacy of my great great grandfather’s last child. For privacy reasons I’ve chosen not to name names here. The story goes that after the death of his wife, my great great grandpa married the lady who had been his housekeeper for many, many years. She was 38, he was 77. Sadly due to ill health he died just a few months after they married, and her baby boy was born six months after that. Certainly among some people, there has been speculation as to if the baby boy really my great great grandpa’s child. Well, as they say “DNA doesn’t lie”. I’ve tested, and my mum has tested, and we’ve had matches with people who are connected to that particular line. So, yes we do indeed have his blood in us! And that puts paid to those rumours. So you see, it can be useful....

The End of an Era for Inside History Magazine...

It was with excitement and sadness that I received the latest copy of Inside History Magazine this week. I always get excited when it arrives as it’s such a good read, but sadness this time as along with the magazine itself was a letter stating that this would be the last. Cassie Mercer (founder of the magazine writes) … “It is with great sadness that I’m writing to let you know that, unless a publisher steps forward to take over Inside History, I’ve decided this issue will be my last. It’s been a difficult decision, on that I’ve only made after careful consideration …  As a sole trader for the past seven years it’s been difficult to break even, and for all the hard work I’ve poured into the magazine, I’ve never taken a salary. Rather, I’ve poured my own money into the business to keep it going and make up for the losses I sustained … “ I remember back to the time when the idea of an new Australian genealogy and history magazine was touted, and the enthusiasm and passion that Cassie had for the idea. I remember seeing a list of possible names for the magazine (and for what it’s worth, Inside History was an excellent choice). I remember when the Inside History Magazine team travelled to Adelaide in 2010 and exhibited at Unlock the Past Expo, and launched Issue 1 of their magazine there, and the buzz it created! it was amazing. I’ve been a subscriber since the first issue, and over the past 7 years I’ve seen it grow and get better. The historical articles, the events, the projects, the interviews, the blogger awards, website updates, the latest apps and book – all of...

Trove Tuesday: “There’s Gold in Them Hills …”...

The tiny town of Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills is well known these days for being the home of the world’s biggest rocking horse, the annual medieval fair, and of course wines. But believe it not, at one stage, Gumeracha was well known for its goldfields. Many who have connections to the area would have heard of Watts Gully Road at Forreston (previously North Gumeracha), this was one area where gold was, and was first found by James Watts back in 1884. Dead Horse Gully is near Watts Gully Road, and this was another of Gumeracha’s gold diggings areas. For my Trove Tuesday post, I’ve found the following article which discusses the Dead Horse Gully goldfields … and for someone who didn’t know about them (yes me), I found it fasinating, so thought I’d share it with you. Note: old references to this place list is as Deadhorse Gully (two words), or even Dead-Horse Gully (with a hyphen), current day spelling is Dead Horse Gully (three words). For consistency, I’m using the three word version. From the South Australian Register, dated Saturday 14 March 1885 … THE GOLD FIND AT GUMERACHA. During the last few days large number of men have arrived at Dead-Horse Gully on the gold rush. Now nearly 100 men are working in the gully around Mount Crawford. The rush was so great that on Thurs-day Hill & Co. put on a special coach from Adelaide. The rush is at Mount Crawford, about seven miles north-east of Gumeracha. To get at the field it is necessary to turn off the main road at North Gumeracha-road and to go right through that township. For the first three miles there is a good district road, but after that there is merely a vehicle...

Yes … I’m a Collector...

For some reason this kinda feels like a confession. “Hi, my name is Alona, and I’m a collector”. So just when does an interest in something suddenly turn into collector status? I figure if you have 1 or 2 items in your collection, it is an interest. Item 3-5 … there’s twinges of a collector starting, 5 and after … admit it, you are a collector. And after 10, you’re a die-hard. Some people seem to have more of an affinity for collecting, others probably start because of a certain something. Me … well I’ve sort of been a collector for a long time. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a collection as: “a group of objects of one type that have been collected by one person or in one place” I guess my parents encouraged it by buying me Mr Men books and Smurfs when I was little, so I had quite a collection of both back in the day. I remember that back in primary school I used to collect stickers, and I had a whole book with them stuck in. There was brand stickers, places I’d visited stickers, slogan stickers and so on. I was proud of my sticker collection, and yet I have no idea what happened to it. Then I had a rubber collection (note: that’s erasers for my US readers). It was quite a collection, as I had probably over 50 of them. And I had pretty much every novelty one that you could get. Again, I don’t remember what happened to that. But I do remember the excitement of going to the city, and going to my favourite shop and looking for more. Another thing I collected was sew-on badges. You know the ones you...

Facebook vs Blogging: The Pros and Cons...

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve seen a few geneabloggers writing about the topic of “is genealogy blogging dying” (see the links at the end), which are suggesting that there are far less active genealogy blogs and/or bloggers, now than there were a few years ago, and that people are turning to social media (namely Facebook) instead. They may well be, but I’m not going into that. Personally I can see that there is a case for both, but it purely depends on what the reason behind you doing it is. So I thought I’d just run through a few of the key features of both a blog and Facebook for you, to highlight the differences. FACEBOOK Let me start of by saying that there are different types of Facebook accounts. There is your own personal account, there are pages, and there are groups, and all of them have a different purpose. The Pros – it’s free – the amount of people there … Facebook states that they have over one billion active Facebook users – you can have a private group on Facebook (so you can have your own non-public family group, so you can get your cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces together on Facebook to chat and share family memories and/or photos) – you can have a group for Descendants of … to keep in touch with the wider family The Cons – not everyone is (or wants to be) on Facebook – it’s not indexed by Google – a photo or story that is put up, is essentially seen once, then lost in the feed – not everything shows up in Facebook, so many posts simply don’t get seen BLOGGING Please note some blogs...

“Dead” Soldier Returns...

Anzac Day. The day to remember those who fought for our country. Some survived. Many didn’t. And in reality those that returned were changed forever. It was while I was going through the military records of Arthur Vincent Elphick (Mr Lonetester’s great grandpa), that I kept seeing the name of Donovan Russell Elphick written in his records. Arthur was one of twelve children in the family, and Donovan was his youngest brother. On checking Donovan’s military records on the National Archives of Australia website, and reading through the dossier, one page in the record jumped out at me. But firstly, some background information … Born in Prospect, South Australia, but living in Western Australia, 24 year old Donovan signed up to serve his country in January 1915. After training in Western Australia, he was assigned to the 5th Reinforcements 11th AIF, and sailed to Egypt in June 1915, and was obviously in the thick of it from arrival, as within a week of arriving he was in hospital suffering from “deafness”. From here, I’ll let you read the article as that explains it all … The above article came from a Victorian newspaper, and is dated 20 October 1915. This story was repeated in numerous Victorian, South Australian and Western Australian newspapers over the weeks following. As you can imagine it was quite a story. And to say that it shocked his brother (Harold), when he walked in would be an understatement. Donovan was one of six boys in the family, with three going off to war. Sadly only two returned. And while Donovan Elphick did survive World War 1, he died in Perth on 25 December 1936, aged just...

You’re Searching. But Are You Researching?...

We’ve all done it. Jumped online, done a search for someone, and come up with nothing, zip, nada. So what’s next? Sadly that’s where many leave it. They simply go on to the next person. While a “researcher” likes to delve into the details. Finding out about the specifics of the records they were searching, such as what years were covered, what region, where the record came from, even the context of why it was compiled, and so on … and they may well find out that the area they’re after wasn’t even included. So then it’s a matter of searching further (usually offline) to search further. It’s like looking up an index, finding a name, without looking at the rest of the book for that actual information. The internet has made it easy to search, there’s no doubt about that. But is it making people forget about the actual research? Take online trees as an example. We all know that there are WAAAY too many trees online that have huge errors, and sadly these get copied on to other trees. Why, because copying is quicker than doing the research. Again, these people are searching, but not “researching”. I’m not sure if our “instant-everything” society is to blame and making people lazy, or is it that we’re not teaching these people how to research beyond the internet? It’s an interesting thought, and one that I come across often. And while I don’t have an answer for it, I just hope that some of the searchers, do in time become researchers. Besides who wouldn’t want to research further (meaning offline) when you hear that there’s only a tiny fraction of records that available are actually digitised and online. Think of all the...

Discovering Links: 25 FREE Links for Western Australian Genealogy Research...

Here’s another of my “Discovering Links” post. These posts consist of a collection of links that I have discovered, or found useful, and want to share with others. But rather than simply giving you a whole batch of random links each time, I am grouping them by Australian state, country or topic. You can see my previous Discovering Links posts here. For this one I’ve decided to share my Western Australian links. It is not intended to be an exhaustive collection (not by a long shot), but they are simply ones that many will find useful, and it may include some that you might not have known about. And while many people think that genealogy costs a lot of money, let me tell you that all of the links below are free. There’s plenty out there, it’s just a matter of knowing where to look beyond the big-name websites, and hopefully this will help with that. ======= DEAD RECKONING: A GUIDE TO FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCH IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA Produced by the Library Board of Western Australia as a book back in 1997, this publication has been updated and is now available online. If you are a novice family historian just starting out tracing your family tree or an experienced genealogy researcher looking for whatever happen to the elusive great uncle, Dead Reckoning is a great place start to learn about family history research in Western Australia. WESTERN AUSTRALIAN BICENTENNIAL INDEX (WABI) Western Australian Biographical Index is really the pre-curser to the Dictionary of Western Australia and Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians series. This is the information noted on card file, and all 85,000 of them have now been scanned, transcribed and made available through both the WA Genealogical Society...

15 April 1912 – The Day the “Titanic” Sank...

It was a disaster like no other at that time. The world’s biggest (and self-proclaimed ‘unsinkable’) ship set off from Southampton on 10 April 1912, bound for New York. It was her maiden voyage, and the crowd seeing it off was huge. Little did they know that just 5 days later all onboard would be fighting for their life, with the vast majority not making it. 2.20am, 15 April 1912, just a mere 2 hours and 40 minutes after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean, the unthinkable happened to the unsinkable. The Titanic sank. total capacity: 3547 passengers and crew total onboard: 2206 passengers and crew total survived: 703 passengers and crew  That was 105 years ago, and it still has an impact. The movie below is from British Pathè’s collection, and is just one of the 85,000 old movies they have made freely available. Showing actual footage of the ship, the rescue ships, together with interviews of some survivors, it is chilling. There’s no doubt that the Titanic has become the stuff of legend. I remember asking my grandma about it though she wasn’t born at the time, but her older sisters were, and they remembered it, being aged 11 and 12. So I decided to see what the local South Australian newspapers wrote about it. The following was the first report of it in South Australia’s “The Advertiser”, was was dated 18 April 1912. Not too bad considering that communication back then wasn’t as instant as we have today. It didn’t make front page like it did in the US or England, but it did make a big article on page 9. The article blow is just a small portion of it. And as you would expect, every...

South Australia’s History Festival 2017 is Coming!!...

May is the month that all South Australian history-lovers look forward to, as it is South Australia’s History Festival, which really is just a month-long history-fest! To say that I was excited to get a copy of the SA History Festival program guide last weekend is an understatement. I’ll admit that I’ve already gone through it all (only once so far), and have put post-in notes on a heap of events, and even printed out a calendar for the month so I can keep track of what’s on when, and hope that not too many double up. South Australia’s History Festival is presented by the History Trust of South Australia, and it began its life as South Australia’s History Week back in 2004, and changed to a month-long event in 2011. This proved to be a good move, as it has grown in popularity every year since. And with over 600 events from 340 organisers this year, the interest continues to grow. With events held not only in Adelaide city, but also Adelaide Hills, the Barossa and rural regions of the state, even Kangaroo Island, more people are learning about the history of this beautiful state of ours. There’s an absolute overload of events on for history-lovers, and even non-history lovers. From talks and seminars, to guided walks, and bus tours. There’s workshops and exhibitions, open days at various places, and more. From making jam the old way, to walks in cemeteries and Adelaide’s old buildings. From learning how to create audio and visual presentations with oral history recordings, to learning the stories of South Australia’s pioneer settlers, seriously there is something for everyone. I have so many events I hope to get to, but unless I can take...