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...

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...

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...

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...

Twile: A Different Way to Show Off Your Family Tree...

Let me introduce you to Twile. This is something I’ve been playing with recently, but it has actually been around for a year or two now, so some of you may already know how fun it is. First up let me just say that Twile is a website that allows you to display your family and milestones as a timeline … and, not only that, it is totally FREE. As it offers timelines, don’t expect a traditional tree-type chart from them. The timelines are created by using data that you either you enter, or a gedcom file you upload. To add to this, you can also add photos, milestones, and historical events which everyone in your family can view and contribute to. At RootsTech 2016 Twile won both the People’s Choice Award as well as the Innovator Showdown, so it’s certainly grabbed people’s attention. And the claims that it “makes genealogy more engaging” is true. Apart from a graphical timeline of your own tree, they can create a statistics infographic based on your family. Now this is truly cool, and here’s mine …   To get this simply upload your gedcom (or link to an online tree) – if you hadn’t already got one there for your timeline, wait a few mins … and wallah, it’s there in your inbox!! Go ahead and try it for yourself http://ww.twile.com/numbers, and if you have Irish ancestry, there’s a special green infographic for you here https://twile.com/numbers/irish. So if you’re looking for a novel way to show off your tree, or a way to get your family interested in family history, why not try Twile? It could just be the thing you’ve been looking...

Another Copyright Issue

Copyright. Yes, it’s that word again. The word few like the hear. The word that gets me kicked out of Facebook groups. But the word copyright is an important one. Copyright is there for a reason. Copyight is a law that is there to protect the work of the author or compiler. But before I get into that, let me just say that there’s no doubt that genealogists for the most part, are a wonderful bunch of generous people who love to help each other out. Be it on research advice, cemetery visits, or lookups. Research advice, fine. Cemetery visits, transcriptions or headstone photos fine. But lookups can be an issue. The issue of doing lookups from big-pay-sites has been mentioned before, and you can read all about that here, as has the general copyright issue before which you can read here. But another copyright issue has come up that needs to be addressed, and that is offering lookups from books. In theory doing a lookup from a book sounds fine. You have a book, you offer to do lookups, and respond back to those who ask with details of yes/no they’re in there. But this is the digital age, and what I saw on Facebook was someone offering to do lookups from a number of books (probably all out of print, but all still in copyright). But to help out fellow researchers, the person had kindly photographed the entire index of each book and pasted it online. Like it or not, that breaches copyright law. Several in fact. But not only that, the person then posted photographs of EVERY page that anyone was interested in. Again. That breaches copyright. Copyright is there for a reason. It is to protect...

1 Name. 61 Variants

Anyone who’s been researching been researching for longer than a week will know that name variants play a big HUGE part in research. Both with first names, and surnames. Figuring out how names were potentially spelt (or ‘spelled’ for my North American readers) can be the difference between finding them or not. I’m not going to go into the in’s and out’s of name variants, but rather I wanted to highlight two particular surnames, and all the variants that I’ve found for them so far. There’s 61 of them for one, and 31 for the other. And truth is, I really wouldn’t be surprised if more show up. So let’s start with ELLIOT. This is one of Mr Lonetester’s branches, while ELLIOTT (with two “Ts”) is one of mine, with no connection that I know of between them at this stage. We all know that there are numerous variants of Elliott: one “L”, two “Ls”, one “T”, two “Ts”, but what I didn’t realise is just how many more there really are. One thing I like to do when beginning searching a new surname is to note down all the variants. That way when I’m searching, be it a website, a book or records, I can look for them all, and see what I come up with. Mr Lonetester’s ELLIOT family possibly came from Sussex (that’s still to be verified), but I headed (online) to the Sussex Family History Society to browse around and see what they had. Now they have the coolest thing on their website, and that’s the Sussex People Index.  In their words … The Sussex People Index consists of any names that anyone can submit from anywhere – the only condition is that the event reported must...

Are You a Genealogist or a Family Historian?...

Are you a genealogist or a family historian? What is the right term? What is the difference? And what is the definition? Let’s take a look a the term “genealogist” first, you’ll see that it is defined as: – A person who studies, professes or practices genealogy. (www.yourdictionary.com) – An expert in genealogy. A person with special knowledge or ability who performs skillfully. (https://www.vocabulary.com) While the term “family historian” is said to be: – A family historian is person who has the most accurate information knowledge passed down to them by one of the oldest members, a patriarch or matriarch of their particular branch of the family. (http://www.yourdictionary.com) While I could leave it at that, I realised that everyone has their own way of approaching things, and family history, just like any activity is no different. Some go gung-ho, others take the cautious step-by-step, others like to just dip their toe in. So apart from the terms genealogist and family historian, here are some others that you may have come across: The Bragger The Bragger isn’t one that actually researches their family history, but they have a family member who does. The Bragger is one who grabs hold of the juicy stories (you know the criminals, the royalty, the explorers, and the heroes), and lets everyone know that they are connected to them. The BSO (Bright Shiny Object) Researcher The BSO Researcher is one that gets easily excited, and easily distracted. They are known to be researching one line, only to be totally distracted by a new and more interesting ancestor that they’ve just discovered. The BSO Researcher does tend to have fascinating stories on their family members. The Cemetery Traipser Also sometimes known as the Grave Walker, the Cemetery Traipser...