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...

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...

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...

Leaving Comments on a Blogger Blog...

Has anyone else had issues leaving comments on someone’s Blogger blog, or is just me? I’m of the opinion that blogging is a two way thing. Someone writes something cool and interesting, you read it, and if you like you should leave a comment acknowledging it, or share it on social media.  So when I read blogs, I do like to comment. However some people who use Blogger have theirs set up differently, so that unfortunately won’t allow me to do so. As these bloggers probably aren’t aware that they’re missing out on potential comments, I thought I would highlight it here. Example 1. This seems to be the standard set of options which it allows you to sign into to leave a comment. However I don’t use LiveJournal, TypePad or OpenID. I have no idea what AIM is, but it doesn’t seem to be anything I can use. And yes, I do have a WordPress blog, but I have a WordPress.org not a WordPress.com one, so I don’t have a WordPress account. So none of these options work for me. I will admit that on rare occasions I have used ‘Unknown’ and just typed my name in as part of the comment, but it’s not ideal by any means. Example 2. This is actually a different issue I have with some Blogger blogs. you’ll see that there is no dropdown list, but rather simply a box to type. However comments based on your Google+ account. Now I manage four Google+ accounts, and it seems to be permanently preferrenced to my work ones. As yet I haven’t yet figured out how to change it, although I’m familiar enough with swapping between accounts themselves on Google+. So again, I don’t...

The Intriguing Story Behind Barber Poles...

It’s become universal. A red, white and blue striped pole means barber shop. But why and when did it become a thing? Let’s me start by saying I work in a shop that has a barber shop next door. Being a good barber (and a Greek one at that), he loves to talk, so it was only natural that one day we got on to the topic of barber poles, and significance of the stripes. So I gave him a little history lesson! Way back … and we’re talking back in medieval times here, barber’s didn’t just cut hair and offer shaves. No, no, no. They were also the local dentist, doctor and surgeon as well, and they were known as barber-surgeons. Elizabeth Roberts writes it well … “Up until the 19th century barbers were generally referred to as barber-surgeons, and they were called upon to perform a wide variety of tasks. They treated and extracted teeth, branded slaves, created ritual tattoos or scars, cut out gallstones and hangnails, set fractures, gave enemas, and lanced abscesses. Whereas physicians of their age examined urine or studied the stars to determine a patient’s diagnosis, barber-surgeons experienced their patients up close and personal. Many patients would go to their local barber for semi-annual bloodletting, much like you take your car in for a periodic oil change.” Just to clarify things, physicians were the academics, who tended to work in universities, and mostly dealt with patients as an observer or a consultant, and considered surgery to be beneath them. I sure can’t imagine my shop neighbour doing anything of the like. In fact I think he’d faint at the sight of blood. Anyway back to the significance of the barber poles. Dr Lindsey Fitzharris,...

Well, That Was Disappointing: The Value of “Negative Evidence”...

We’ve all been there. We’ve done searches looking for an ancestor, and simply came up with nothing. We’ve tried numerous alternate spellings. Eliminated the date. And even omitted the parents names. And still Zip. Zilch. Nada. In fact the name you were searching doesn’t even appear. Or anything even remotely like it. So what now? Some would say that they’ve wasted time, effort and money, but in reality this couldn’t be further from the truth. What you’ve done is find “negative evidence”. In effect you are eliminating sources. So then narrowing down your search list. Negative Evidence is far more valuable that most give credit for, so don’t ever discard this information. Record it in a research log, noting down your search term, what (book, website, journal, archive etc) you searched, what you found (or not), and the date. If is is a website, you might want to note to recheck it later, as we all know new records do get added online regularly. An added bonus with a Research Log is that you can see exactly what you found (or didn’t find) when. So when you pick up that line a couple of years later, you don’t have to repeat all the same searches (unless they’re websites of course). And if you don’t have a Research Log as yet, you’ll find some great Research Log Templates over on Cyndi’s List which you can download and printout for free. So while it’s not as exciting as finding your ancestor, NEGATIVE EVIDENCE really is a GOOD thing. Try it. You’ll be amazed at how much time it can actually save...

The Top Hat, the Riot, and the £500 Fine...

On this day 220 years ago, 15 January 1797, something lifechanging happened. The world of fashion changed on that day. Top hats were created. Yes, that right. The fashion icon of the upperclass and gentry in the Edwardian and Victorian eras, and a must have accessory for anyone who’s into Steampunk style, was created. But not all went smoothly for the creator John Hetherington, as his newly designed head attire caused a riot. The condensed version of story is as follows … The first Top Hat was worn by haberdasher John Hetherington on 15 January 1797, in London, England. When Heatherington stepped from his shop at 11am wearing his unusual headgear, a crowd quickly gathered to stare. The gathering soon turned into a crowd crush as people pushed and shoved against each other, resulting in a broken arm for one person there. As a result, Hetherington was summoned to appear in court before the Lord Mayor and fined £500 for breaching the peace. He was also charged with appearing “on the public highway wearing a tall structure of shining lustre and calculated to terrify people, frighten horses and disturb the balance of society”. However, within a month, he was overwhelmed with orders for the new headwear. Trove has many articles detailing the “origin of the Top Hat”. Here’s a few of the longer versions of the story if you wish to check them out. – How the First Silk Hat Startled London, Launceston Examiner, 17 February 1899 – The First Silk Hat, Evening News Sydney, 25 February 1899 – The First Top Hat, Canberra Times, 10 June 1927 Personally I’m totally thankful to John Hetherington, as I’m a lover of the Victorian era style, and really LOVE top hats,...

10 Inspiring Genealogists From 2016...

The year is almost over and as I’m not one for resolutions I’m not going to write about what I plan to do in 2017. And I’m also not going to write about what I ‘should’ have done this year either, but rather I’m writing about those who inspire me. Everyone has people they look up to and admire. Those whose talks you enjoy listening to, articles you read, or who give great advice,  and in essence – inspire you. So as the year comes to a close I’m taking a moment to look back and see who from the genealogy-world who inspired me throughout the year. Amy Johnson Crow – Amy Johnson Crow I’m a newbie follower of Amy’s, but I’m a total convert. Her blog posts are a pure learning experience, both in terms of content and in the presentation style. With her 31 Days to Better Genealogy, along with Top Tips, and 5 Sources… and so on, take a moment to check out her blog and see what you can learn from it. Cyndi Ingle – Cyndi’s List I am a regular user of Cyndi’s List, and as such I am always amazed at what I find on there, and that simply due to the hard work of Cyndi Ingle, who without her, Cyndi’s List wouldn’t even exist. Her dedication to keeping her site up to date with new links, and fixing broken ones, has made Cyndi’s List one of the top tools for any researcher around the world. And is a credit to her and her character. Helen V. Smith – From Helen V. Smith’s Keyboard With Helen’s knowledge and enthusiasm, how could anyone not be inspired? Despite being a fellow Aussie, I haven’t had...