Lost in the Genealogy Wilderness...

Ever have that feeling where you don’t know where you are, or which direction to turn? Or even what to do next? I’m sure some of you have, while others have never experienced that feeling. Of course I’m talking about this in relation to your genealogy research. And that is where unfortunately, (and unexpectedly), I’ve found myself at. I’m not a professional researcher, and I don’t claim to be, but I have been researching for a number of years. However my research these days tends to consist of me seeing new sets  records released, so I’ll go check for so-and-so … or hear a tidbit from another relative about this other person, or something they did, so I’ll go see what I can find. In otherwords it’s very piecemeal. Very unfocussed, very unstructured, and without an exact goal in mind. More like dabbling if you like. So now when I find that I have a free weekend (not that it happens often, but it’s nice when it does), and I want to settle in to doing some research – I am unable to just get into it, as I have no idea which line or person to get going on. So I’m rather lost in the genealogy wilderness, and I really just need to set myself some research goals and FOLLOW them … Or even better, get entering the piles of stuff I have collected that I “STILL” haven’t entered.  (Is anyone else like that? You love finding stuff, but hate entering it, or is it just me?) Actually I really, REALLY should do that entering stuff first. Sort out what I have, note it, file it … then get back the fun part of the searching! So while I’m...

Counting Down to Geneacruising Alaska in 2018...

What’s better than a cruise? A genealogy cruise of course. Well, it is in my opinion anyway, and I’m already looking forward to my next one … Alaska. In September 2018 (7 September 2018 to be exact), Unlock the Past’s Alaska cruise will leave from the docks at Seattle, USA, and head up the coast for a 7 day cruise to Alaska and back. I have seen some amazing places on previous cruises, but I’ve not been to Alaska. But everyone who has, tells me it is absolutely incredible, so I’m looking forward to it. But then combine the amazing scenery with a phenomenal ship that has everything catered for, and a genealogy conference with world-class speakers … what’s not to love? So yes, I’m counting down! WHEN: 7-14 September 2018 ITINERARY: Seattle, USA > Inside Passage, Canada > Juneau, USA > Skagway, USA > Tracy Arm, USA > Victoria, Canada > Seattle, USA SHIP: Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas  COST: from AU$1471 (approx US$1100, GB£870) and includes all onboard accommodation, standard meals, taxes, gratuities and conference cost. PRESENTERS: Chris Paton (Scotland) Dick Eastman (USA), Dr Janet Few (England) Jan Gow (New Zealand) Caroline Gurney (England) Shauna Hicks (Australia) Cyndi Ingle (USA) Eric Kopittke (Australia) Rosemary Kopittke (Australia) Mike Murray (Australia) Mile High Transcripts (USA) Michelle Patient (New Zealand) Pat Richley-Erickson (aka Dear Myrtle) (USA) Helen Smith (Australia) … and more still the be announced! So apart from the awesome group of speakers, and meeting with a great bunch of other genealogists, there are still further benefits of genealogy cruising: – there are no meals to prepare (not even mentioning the incredible buffets on offer) – no housekeeping (your room is tidied everyday by cruise staff) – and you...

Unlock the Past’s Researching Abroad Roadshow in Adelaide...

Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to attend the Unlock the Past Researching Abroad Roadshow, with Chris Paton from Scotland and Dirk Weissleder from Germany as the key speakers. This two day seminar was designed specifically for those who are researching their British Isles (particularly Scotland and Ireland), and European (particularly German) ancestors. But first up a little disclosure: technically I went as part of the organising committee (Unlock the Past), and as an exhibitor (Gould Genealogy). But still, I got to enjoy, learn and be inspired by such great speakers … so I wasn’t complaining. Chris and Dirk, along with  others from the Unlock the Past crew have been touring Australia and New Zealand for the past 2 1/2 weeks already, with Adelaide being stop six of seven. Perth is the last one, which is on today, before they head on home. DAY 1 – Wednesday Chris kicked of the event by talking about British and Irish Newspapers, and says that if you haven’t been using newspapers as part of your research – you should be. There was a new-to-me Irish one he mentioned which was the Irish News Archive. A pay-site, they offer a 1 day, 1 month and year options, so that will be something I need to check out when I tackle my Irish lines. Also be check which edition of the newspaper you’re looking at of that day (early edition or late edition) as they can vary. Chris did three other talks throughout the day: Scottish research resources before 1800, British censuses and substitutes, and Irish family history resources online. I’ve got a bunch of notes scribbled down together with web addresses to check out … so really, I just need more time to research,...

The Origins of Shampoo

You know, every time I’ve been in my bathroom over the past few weeks the same question pops into my head “I wonder when shampoo was invented?”. This was always followed by “I wonder what did they use before?” So I decided to find out. Let’s start by saying that I’m talking about the liquid shampoo that comes in a bottle. I need to state that because when I was looking around, I found many earlier references to shampoo, but that was for “soap” shampoo and even ‘”powder” shampoo. So yes, prior to liquid shampoo being available, soap was what was mostly used. My 96 year old grandma even remembers using soap for shampoo as a young child. Anyway so I headed to Wikipedia for some info  … So firstly the word, “shampoo” …. The word shampoo entered the English language from India during the colonial era. It dates to 1762, and is derived from Hindi chāmpo itself derived from the Sanskrit root chapayati (which means to press, knead, soothe). But what about liquid shampoo? For that we fast forward 165 years … In 1927, liquid shampoo was invented by German inventor Hans Schwarzkopf in Berlin, whose name created a shampoo brand sold in Europe. Originally, soap and shampoo were very similar products; both containing the same naturally derived surfactants, a type of detergent. So we all know the brand Schwartzkopf, right? Well it seems Hans Schwartzkopf wasn’t ‘just’ a name in the hair care industry, he was the actual inventor of liquid shampoo, and in doing so revolutionised hair care. The Schwartzkopf website even has a timeline history which is a fascinating read, and you can check that out here. So to Mr Schwartzkopf and those that followed and continued...

National Family History Month – Bring it ON!...

July has all but gone, which means that August is almost here, and for family historians (at least in Australia and New Zealand), that’s good news as August is National Family History Month. YAY!! So what does this mean? It means that we (meaning ‘we’ as researchers) have an opportunity to share our knowledge with others and encourage them in their search. It also means we should take some time to self-educate ourselves … afterall, the more you learn, the better researcher you’ll be. Read a guidebook, watch a webinar, go to your local library or society to check out what they have. Grab a copy of a genie mag from your local newsagent and find out the latest news and tips from that. Revisit a website you haven’t been to for a while. Interview a relative, even just a question or two. Scan or simply file and label photos. Order a certificate. Do some transcribing. Maybe even take the plunge and start your own blog? There’s so many things you can do for NFHM, it’s not hard. Getting started …  For those that haven’t started the search, or have ‘just’ started, this is a great time for you. Just check with your local library or genealogy society to see when they’ll be open, and what they offer in relation to beginners talks, or one-on-one help.  Do yourself a favour, and get some good guidance at the beginning, it makes the world of difference and will help your search. And why not join a genealogy Facebook group (trust me there are 1000s out there). The events … The National Family History Month website is the place to check to see what organised events are on in your area. With over...

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)...