Phonetically Speaking

For those of you who have been reading my blog for at least the last couple of weeks, you’ll know that I recently visited Finland for a holiday to meet family and see the places where my ancestors came from. One thing I found when being with my relatives, was that all the names and places I knew from correspondence with family and various Finnish archives, I had been pronouncing very wrong. I had simply seen them written down, and gave them my own Australian-version of the pronunciation as best as I knew without ever hearing it. Now that I’ve heard the names and places said in Finnish, it’s made me realise how easy someone simply listening to it said could give a whole different spelling. One thing I did while I was in Finland was create a listing of names and places with both the proper Finnish spelling, and then I wrote each with the pronunciation as it sounds in Australian-English, which was quite often VERY different. An example of this is one of my family names, BACKBERG. It seems simple enough, Back (as in the back of something), and Berg (like an iceberg). But when it’s said in Finnish it is actually pronounced BACH-BERRY. Now had I simply ‘heard’ the name, I would have had no idea that is actually spelt Backberg. And the same goes for place names too. Add into the mix all of those who emigrated to another country, and you have foreign names and places, said with an accent and you have the perfect recipe for some very creative spelling. It’s not news for researchers to find alternate spellings on documents. In fact it would be far more unusual if you didn’t. But...

Do You Have an “About Me” Page on Your Blog?...

Think about it, you read an article or story and if you enjoy it you are likely to look to see who the author is, right? You’re intrigued. You want to know more about the person. Novels normally have a have a biography of the person, while articles online or in a magazine usually have a paragraph or two. I know I read those, and  I’m sure I’m not the only one. But there are a number of bloggers (geneabloggers included) who choose to remain effectively anonymous online. That’s their choice, and I say ‘each to their own’, they have their reasons. But there are some compelling reasons to have an About Me page on your blog. Let me start by saying that I see the usefulness of an About Me page on my own blog. I use Google Analytics to keep track of my blog stats for me, and using that I can see how many people look at what posts each day (or even hour if I wanted to). And from that I can see that my About Me page ranks in the Top 10 looked at posts on most days. So that tells me that people are interested to find out more me, and about who is writing this blog. I’m not saying your have to have your whole life story written there, but just enough to give those reading a sense of who your are. Besides, it adds a small personal touch to your blog, and that’s also important. My own About Me page which you can read here, is small, but I think it says enough. It includes my name, where I’m from, approximate age, experience in genealogy and my goals! But it can say whatever...

This Time I’m an Ambassador...

I’ve been to many genealogy events over the years. Local South Australian ones, big Australian ones, and even bigger International ones, and while I’ve written about many of them over the years, I’ve never taken on the role of “Official Blogger”, or the more recent term of “Official Ambassador”… at least until now. Unlock the Past’s “Researching Abroad Roadshow” is coming up in August 2017, and I’m excited to say that I will be an Official Ambassador (ie. Official Blogger) for the event. I will be going to the Adelaide leg of their tour (23-24 August), and will get to hear both Chris Paton (from Scotland) and Dirk Weissleder (from Germany) speak, together with other guest presenters on DNA, as well as British Isles and European resources that are available to use locally. I have met Chris a number of times over the years, and he’s one of the funniest and easiest people to listen and learn from, and his knowledge of Irish and Scottish research and records is incredible. While I haven’t heard Dirk speak, he was a speaker at RootsTech earlier this year, so I managed to meet him there, and I look forward to catching up again, and learning how to to go about researching Mr Lonetester’s German roots. It’s always been one of those “I’ll get to it sometime” branches. Anyway going to an event is not only inspiring, and a way to learn and get totally enthused, but you also get a vibe from meeting others who love genealogy just as much as you do! So they totally understand. As an Ambassador I’ll be reporting about how it all went in due course. But why not come along anyway. The Roadshow will be visiting Auckland,...

South Australia’s History Festival 2017 in Review...

Well May came, and May went … and to say it flew by is an understatement. So that means bye, bye to South Australia’s History Festival for another year. As far as attending events, I did better this year than I have in the past, as I planned ahead and made sure I booked into things early, and I even managed to get a little time off to go to some but I had to stop looking at the program, as I was just getting annoyed at all the awesome things on, that I couldn’t get to. Anyway I promised a mini review of the events I went to, so here goes … Friday 5 May 2017 & Saturday 6 May 2017 Exploring & Writing Family & Local History seminar organised by Unlock the Past This seminar was organised by my work, so I was partly working at the event (manning the Gould Genealogy display tables). But as our tables were in the same room the talks, I got to hear them too. There was 16 talks packed into 2 days, so it was pretty full on, but the talks were great, and much was learned. There was a great turnout for the event with a number coming from country South Australia, and even a few from interstate. I’m not going to write a review of each talk, but there was many great points gained from them. House history, maps, DNA, writing your history, oral history, photos, black sheep and so much more was covered. As a bonus I got to catch up with two fellow geneabloggers, and that’s a real treat as there doesn’t seem to be too many of us in South Australia. Monday 8 May 2017 Meet...

Blog Tips – the Collection...

Blogging is an amazing way to be able to share and communicate with others. You can tell stories, show photos, give facts … and more. And it seems that genealogy blogging (aka geneablogging) keeps growing in popularity as people understand what a blog is, and realise the usefulness of them, and decide to make the leap into the exciting world of blogging. But it’s not simply a case of sign up for a free Blogger or WordPress account, and get writing. Ok, technically you can, but there’s some things that you can do to make you blog a “great blog”, rather than “just a blog”. Over the past few years I’ve written a few posts with tips on blogging which are useful for the general blogger as well the geneablogger. So for ease of use, I’ve compiled them together for you: – Tips for Geneablogger Writers and Readers – Tips for Genealogy Bloggers – 17 Websites to Find Photos for Your Blog – Leaving Comments on a Blogger Blog – Facebook vs Blogging: The Pros and Cons I’m no professional blogger, and don’t claim to be. I’m simply just someone who enjoys writing and and reading blogs. And during that time I’ve seen what makes a good blog, and what doesn’t. So to all those who blog (particularly my geneablogging friends), keep on blogging. Remember every post you write, you are recording (and sharing)...

Those BSOs Make it Hard to Focus...

As researchers we want to find out everything possibly can, about every member of our family. Right? I’m sure I’m close anyway. While family might say we’re nosy, we tend to prefer the term detective or record keepers. Tracing your family history is a good thing, however you DO NEED TO BE FOCUSSED. Because when you’re not and want to find EVERYTHING at once, it becomes so overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there, so I can truthfully speak from experience. And despite me knowing this, I can feel myself edging towards it again. Why, because of BSOs (yes, those bright shiny objects). You know the ones that distract you, and your suddenly are off chasing someone else. Needless to say that I have a few of these at the moment. I haven’t actually been doing any real solid research for a couple of years, instead I tend to pick up a branch, family, or ancestor and follow them for a bit. I have done that with Charlotte Phillips (one of my fav’s), and also my great grandpa, Otto Winter. However a new and “reasonably-likely-but-yet-to-be-proven” convict has taken my attention recently (you’ll probably read about him in due course), and last week Trove had the most incredible article on my great grandpa going to prison (a family story that wasn’t passed down, well not to me anyway). Again that’s another story, but it needs a little more research first before I share it with the world. And did I mention that I’m completely fascinated by the Adelaide Arcade now? I did a ghost tour there recently, and I am totally in love with that place, and have big long post planned. But seriously the history in that building is phenomenal....

Blogger Recognition Award...

I got a huge surprise when I found out that Barb from the Decluttering The Stuff blog had nominated me for a Blogger Recognition Award. To say I was blow away is an understatement. Thankyou Barb, I’m truly honoured. So to accept the Award, there are some ‘Rules’: – I must thank the Blogger who nominated me and provide a link to their blog. – I must write a post to show the award. – I must write a brief story on how my blog started. – I must give two pieces of advice to new bloggers. – I must select 15 bloggers to pass this award on to. – I must comment on each of their blogs to let them know they have been nominated for this award and provide a link to this post. So a brief history of how I started … well I started genealogy blogging for work back in 2009, but was finding I was wanting to write more about my own family, and experiences in genealogy, and having my own works far better than mixing it with my work one. So in 2011 Lonetester HQ was born, and I’ve been writing ever since. Two pieces of advice … hmm narrowing it down to two, that’s hard, so I’m going to make it five. – Write in your own “voice”, then it sound like you. – Have share buttons. Never underestimate the usefulness of them. If someone can’t share your post easily, they won’t. – Photos. They are important as people do like graphics (ie. Instagram, Pinterest and a decent portion of Facebook). – Have categories. As your blog grows add categories, and file them into them, because it’s ridiculously hard to find something on someone’s blog if it’s just one l-o-n-g...

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....

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...